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Stray, Chapter Twenty: News from Inside, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Stray, Chapter Twenty: News from Inside, pt. 3
Re-reading the upcoming scenes (and the scene related by Harry's letter). What in the hell is Sirius doing????? Why wasn't he at the Second Task? Why did it take him a month to write a sentence-long letter?

Er, sorry, that's my job, eh?

Anyway, when we last saw our intrepid cave dweller, he was finding his task in Hogsmeade fruitless and his comfort-ship with Fiona less than comfortable. Remus came to visit, bearing food, and told him that he had written to Harry, but, due to new werewolf laws, had to send it to him care of an adult. He quite unfortunately chose Moody. Just as they're settling into a long and meaningless chat, a brown owl appears with a letter from Harry, addressed to Sirius. Sirius says that Harry has written about Moody.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




"Moody?" Remus asked, sitting up with a cautiously interested look on his face. "What does he say?"

Sirius scanned the letter again. "Apparently, Moody helped him with a bit of an adventure. He was out wandering the castle at night--he doesn't say what he was up to, so I'll imagine that he's setting a grand trap for a Slytherin..."

"Not bloody likely," Remus said. "Harry actually accomplishes something when he sneaks out."

"Absolutely not in the spirit of the Marauder's Map, which he had with him, and which Moody has discovered and borrowed." Sirius grinned. "He wants to make sure I know--and probably that you know--that the Map was properly appreciated, though of course, he assures us that its provenance is unknown."

"I'm half surprised Moody didn't try to burn it as Dark Magic."

"That would have been an amusing effect," Sirius said. "I always wished someone would try it. You should have seen the fire-protection spell I put in. My best work, and no one yet has tried to burn the thing."

"Let Severus at it, I'm sure he'd have a go."

"Pardon me for a moment while I fantasize."

Remus looked ostentatiously at his watch for a few seconds, then said, "He did try to give it an order once. That's how he found out Harry had something of ours. Called me down by Floo."

"What did we say?"

"I don't remember entirely. There were the usual hair and nose insults." Remus nodded back at the letter. "What else does Harry say?"

"Well, actually Severus was in this little adventure." He straightened out the letter and read aloud: "'I was sneaking down the stairs, and I checked the Marauder's Map, and I saw that Bartemius Crouch was searching Snape's office. I couldn't figure out why, as he's meant to be too ill to work, and I was thinking about that when I stepped on a trick stair'"--Sirius rolled his eyes--"'and got stuck, and there was a great deal of racket. It brought Filch and Snape. Snape said someone was in his office but he didn't see who. Filch thought it was Peeves. I couldn't very well say. Then Professor Moody came, and he saw me with his magical eye'--hey, we've found something that can see through James's Cloak!--'and I thought I was done for, but he covered for me instead, and he got back the Map, but he thought it was brilliant and asked me if he could keep it to keep an eye on the castle. I told him that I saw Crouch. He reckons Crouch is looking for Dark Wizards. Anyway, you said to tell you about anything unusual, and I thought this was unusual. Best to you and Buckbeak. Love, Harry. P.S.: He didn't ask where it came from, but I wouldn't have told. I think it might get Lupin in trouble.'" Sirius raised an eyebrow. "As you can see, he's deeply bitter toward you, and resentful."

Remus smiled. "All right, then." He shook his head. "Crouch was searching Snape's office?"

"Crouch is missing work?"

"Haven't you been reading your Prophets?" Remus asked. "They're acting like he's at Death's door."

"And here I am without a good Stumbling Block Spell. Knew I should have learned that one."

"You must be so torn--either Crouch succeeds at something, or Snape gets away with something."

"Of the two, I'll side with Snivelly. At least everyone already knows he's a slimy git."

"Lily would be so proud of you."

Sirius looked down at Harry's letter. "The sad part is, she probably would be." He sighed. "I need to get more information before I get back to Harry. It's too hard to communicate. We can't just go back and forth on the subject. I need to have everything ready for his questions. Are the archives still there?"

"Yes. No one's been archivist since my parents died, but they're still there. Only open a day a week, mostly for processing, as I understand it. Just a Ministry clerk dropping in to do paperwork. I applied for the post, but..." He shrugged. "Did you want me to make an appointment? I don't think Umbridge has got around to blocking me out of the archives yet."

"Don't tell me you don't know how to get in there when it's closed."

Understanding dawned on Remus's face. "Oh, good. I was waiting for a chance to tour Azkaban."

"Not you, you idiot. I'll do it. I'm a fugitive anyway."

"And I'm the archivists' son. If anyone can get in there without tripping the spells, it's me."

"So we'll both go."

"It's a plan. What, exactly, are we looking for?"

Sirius thought about this. "I don't know yet. But I'll come up with a list of questions so we won't waste too much time."

The plan--such as it was--thus formed, they settled into a comfortable silence. Remus read Harry's letter to himself, and Sirius curried Buckbeak for a bit. He would have to see Harry, that was all there was to the matter. Letters and owls and easily-interrupted Floo conversations weren't ideal media in which to discuss matters like this.

Remus left before sunset, and Sirius set about foraging in Hogsmeade for gossip that didn't quite make the papers. It was hard to spot anyone with an inordinate interest in Harry, as the Second Task was approaching, and as far as Sirius was concerned, everyone was showing inordinate interest. He saw two adult witches trying to figure out how long it would be before Harry came of age (though they became easily distracted discussing Diggory and Krum, who were, at least, seventeen), and Rita Skeeter making a series of rather nasty comments about Hermione Granger and Harry. The nastiness was directed towards Hermione, who was referred to by several colorful epithets, most dealing with the sexual habits of Muggle teenagers (implied to be with various barnyard animals) or her appearance ("Miss high and mighty looks like a jarvey that took a swim in a Curling Concoction"). Sirius took the opportunity to steal several of her quills and bury them in the mud. It wouldn't do any good, but it was quite satisfying.

Several old wizards at the Hog's Head were bent over scrolls, trying to keep track of running bets. As Sirius approached them, he heard them talking about the Tournament.

"No, I been reading, you see, and the second task it's always got some sort of weird place that they've got to figure out. Back at Durmstrang--this was the last time they had it--it was in a cave. Lethifold got one of 'em."

"What was the task?"

"I don't think it was much, just going to fetch summat. The hard part was figuring out how to get around in the dark. Reckon it's a test of cleverness."

"Counts out Krum!" a jovial old part called out. "I hear the lad's got the brains of a slow mooncalf."

"Don't you believe it," another one pouted. "I was a Seeker in my day, and that ain't an easy job on the pitch. There's maths in it, you know."

"Both Hogwarts champions are Seekers," Aberforth Dumbledore put in, tossing a sausage to Sirius as he went by. "That can't hurt."

"Never heard tell of Harry Potter being much of a genius," the grumpy man said, contradicting his own statement about Seekers. "And don't forget that the French girl's got her reputation on Charms. Nothing better than Charms for getting around someplace new. I'm putting my gold on Fleur Delacour"--this was pronounced "Floor DEE-leh-COWER"--"with Krum to come in second."

"You're not betting on the Hogwarts champions?"

"Never bet on the home squad..."

Sirius decided that, annoying as they were, they were probably not a threat. He nosed about for more handouts--he wasn't eating at Number Twelve often now, and hadn't been to Remus's since he'd warned him about the threat, and he knew that the afternoon's meal wouldn't hold him long--then left.

He slept in the cave that night, and in the morning, and was awakened in the morning by the arrival of Remus's Patronus. It gave him a gimlet-eyed look, then said, "The archives are closed today. Shall we have a look? Meet me outside The Leaky Cauldron at ten. I think Snuffles could use a walk in the city, don't you? I'm at home and alone, answer as you like."

Sirius sent his Patronus back, agreeing, then checked his watch. There was time to write a quick list of questions. He did so, then Apparated to a safe spot on Charing Cross Road, transformed into Padfoot, and loped up to the entrance of the Leaky Cauldron.

Remus was waiting there, with a lead and collar in his hand. "Snuffles," he said. "Been looking all over for you. Don't run off like that again." He smiled wickedly and waved the collar.

Sirius glared at him, then submitted to the disguise.

Remus crouched down. "All right," he said. "Are you ready?"
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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 27th, 2009 07:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus smiling wickedly! Yaaaaaay!

And I appreciated a chapter that didn't give me a stomachache- this impostor Moody business made me SO angry and upset and I couldn't sleep... It was bad. hahah

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I did indulge my sadistic streak with Fake!Moody.
alkari From: alkari Date: August 27th, 2009 07:38 am (UTC) (Link)
What in the hell is Sirius doing????? Why wasn't he at the Second Task? Why did it take him a month to write a sentence-long letter?

The answer, as ever, is: JKR's maths. Which apparently covers her for calendar miscalculation plot holes too ...

But at least it gives you an excuse for a Moony and Padfoot adventure, bwahahaha.

"That would have been an amusing effect," Sirius said. "I always wished someone would try it. You should have seen the fire-protection spell I put in. My best work, and no one yet has tried to burn the thing."

"Let Severus at it, I'm sure he'd have a go."

"Pardon me for a moment while I fantasize."

Remus looked ostentatiously at his watch for a few seconds ...


Sporfle. Loved this little exchange, and the visions it conjures up.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I just got back from hanging out with my two oldest friends from elementary and high school. I'm in a Maraudery frame of mind.
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: August 27th, 2009 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful section, as usual. :)

"That would have been an amusing effect," Sirius said. "I always wished someone would try it. You should have seen the fire-protection spell I put in. My best work, and no one yet has tried to burn the thing."

Oddly enough, I was thinking just an hour ago about how the map is probably protected against fire (and other hazards) and that James or Sirius likely charmed it to react to fire in an amusing way.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I have no idea what Sirius actually made the thing do, but I fully agree that they'd have made sure anyone who tried to destroy the Map would regret the attempt.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: August 27th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, canon--don't you love the plot holes you get to fill? Although it does give you the chance to write Moony and Padfoot adventures, so it can't be all bad. In fact, the set-up looks very promising. Eagerly awaiting the next!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)
There is the "filling of plot holes" thing to cheer it on. I didn't intend to break into the archives until Sirius brought it up, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens there, too!
malinbe From: malinbe Date: August 27th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe Sirius had to convince Dumbledore to let him take Harry to his super secret cave? With Rita Skeeter around he would probably think it risky...

Nice to see the boys setting up for an adventure. Can't wait!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
It really was risky with the press crawling all over Hogsmeade, now that I think of it. I want to do a Ben Kenobi voice: "Use the Shrieking Shack, Sirius."
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: August 27th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's great to see an update for this story, and one that shows how well Sirius and Remus know each other, and how Remus allows Sirius bring out his hidden Marauder. So why do I think that their visit to the Archives may not go as smoothly as could be?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Because I admitted I'm killing time again? Love Jo, hate her timelines. ;p

Writing old friends is fun. Like I told alkari above, I just got back from visiting with my own Marauders. We haven't gotten together for seven years, and we can still finish each other's sentences.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: August 27th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love, love, love the reference back to previous TriWizard Tournament trials. I immediately wondered why Hermione hadn't looked them up, beyond seeing that previous contestants had died.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Really, since she did read about them, even if I haven't got a pattern picked up, you'd think she'd have said something about, "Oh, yes, in 1352, they had to steal the crown jewels out from under the Guard's noses" or something. Just to show she'd been researching it!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 27th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I don't remember entirely. There were the usual hair and nose insults."
Heh. This was always one of my favourite parts, I used to be able to quote all of it (now I don't quite remember who said what) - but of course, to Remus, this would all be nothing special. Never thought about that...

~Hermione Stranger~
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, just the usual. Snape, of course, probably remembers each insult, which one said it, and how many times it had been said to him before.
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: August 27th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, boys. Yes, they may be middle aged but they still garner that reaction from me. Especially the way you write them. I can't wait to see their archive adventure!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, they're only about 36 here... not quite middle-aged yet! But yes, definitely still the boys. Of course, I like men like that.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: August 27th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm, intriguing -- I suppose the gap in canon comes in handy here to explain how Sirius seemed so well clued up when he met the Trio. Have a nasty feeling that the trip to the archives won't go smoothly, because when does it ever with these two? And Remus totally needed to keep Sirius on a leash. :)

(And Harry's letter had me wondering: if the Cloak was supposed to be so perfectly concealing, how come Moody's eye was able to see through it?)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'd guess that the magical technology for Moody's eye may not have been conceived of when the Peverells were doing their inventing spree, so maybe it wasn't impervious to it. Or, to get all philosophical, Moody's eye continued to function after he ceased--it perhaps doesn't truly know death or contain death within itself, so is not affected by something meant to conceal yourself from Death until the the time comes.

Or, you know, JKR thought of the whole cloak-as-hallow thing later on. ;p
From: severely_lupine Date: August 27th, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
and in the morning, and was awakened in the morning -- Looks like a bit of a repetition there.

Good to see Harry's letter dispelling that nonsense that he's angry at Remus. But really, I just wish they'd go, "Wait, something's not right here..." But of course, they can't, can they?

The archives should be interesting. And how sad that Remus wasn't even able to get a job there.

I have a couple of possibly random questions, if you wouldn't mind:
- We know from this that Sirius recognizes Rita, but does Remus know her on sight? I can't remember what was said earlier in this story, but there's a part in Shifts where he sees her and doesn't recognize her.
- The birthing parties that we've seen several times -- are they your invention, or does someone somewhere actually do that sort of thing? It's a fabulous tradition, especially with the gifts, and I always love to read them.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Must re-read Shifts; I didn't remember that. Too many stories between then and now!

The details of the birthing parties are just mine, as far as I know, but I believe several more traditional cultures have made quite the fuss over births. Even now, we're starting to head back that way, what with video cameras so far-flung family can share, and fathers actually being in there going "Push, honey, push."
From: severely_lupine Date: August 28th, 2009 06:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it's just a quick bit where Remus is in the Shack and sees Hermione and Luna talking to Rita, but doesn't seem to recognize her. It might not be a bad idea to re-read. It's certainly one that merits a second read, anyway.

Well, good job on the birthing parties. You've painted such a heart-warming picture of the whole ordeal that I kind of wish it was an actual tradition. Especially the bit about gifts to the newborn. So lovely.
chrischewscud From: chrischewscud Date: August 28th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, goody! More Marauder madness :D. I liked what you've shown of the archives in your stories with young Remus and his parents.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 05:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel Maraudery this week. And of course, I have a soft spot for libraries.
chrischewscud From: chrischewscud Date: August 28th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me too :D.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 28th, 2009 05:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Speaking as an absent minded person who is always meaning to get around to things then not doing it, I have a certain degree of sympathy for Sirius.

However, that's when I have other things to distract me. Primary goals, like saving a godson's life, would probably not suffer from that problem.

Although that does give me a fiendish vision of how you could have gotten around this if you didn't mind a little character assassination. Just give us the Fifi LaFolle version of Sirius and Fiona. I'm sure that would account for a couple years worth distraction, much less a month.

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Writing would be far easier if I didn't mind a little character assassination here and there. Let's see, the Fifi version... Fiona would be a golden-haired beauty, and the girls perfect. Dougie (probably called Douglas in a Fifi novel) would be nobly dead after a horrible battle, and Fiona would be on the run from his killers. Sirius would have to pick up Dougie's mantle and finish the task of defeating the fearsome foe, while all the while his body ached with the desire for Fiona, despite the fact that she was hardly unavailable to him. And, oh yeah, he's got a godson someplace, but it turns out that the same men who are after Fiona might kill him, so he brings him in. As Harry grows up, he falls in love with Kirsty. Meanwhile, Sirius and Fiona have a strikingly lovely child, which allows her to go on despite her debilitating grief after he is lost... defending her, of course.
miss_polyhymnia From: miss_polyhymnia Date: August 28th, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOLOLOL! That paragraph just made my morning. I want to read that now.
alkari From: alkari Date: August 28th, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
ROTFL. But alas, I see Fifi doesn't believe in a "happily ever after" ending for Sirius. *sigh*
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 29th, 2009 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Giggle.

Yes, exactly. Of course, to bring it in at this point, Fiona starts going through a remarkable transformation ("her hair has gone quite gold from grief") while hanging out with Sirius, the years of grief and worry being washed away now that she no longer has to shoulder all her burdens alone (insert soppy scenes between Sirius and Fiona discussing this at length).

She feels horribly guilty about her attraction to Sirius (although this never seems to interfere with the romance except to give another lead in to soppy scenes about how, yes, it's wrong, but it's LOVE). Dougie's death, however (since I'm trying to just work it in where the story's at) brings all that guilt to a boiling point (the way characters are in some of these novels, I expect she feels guilty for having a three chapter romantic get away with Sirius BEFORE calling St. Mungo's to tell them a hit squad of Death Eaters was likely to attack rather than AFTER. Oopsies [OK, romance novels don't work that way although they should with all the things that get put on the back burner while the relationship is being worked out]).

But, she is freed from guilt when she finds a letter written by Dougie just before the dementors where he admits knowing Sirius was the only one for her and that he was actually on a suicide mission to Azkaban to bravely rescue Sirius at the cost of his own life when he got his soul sucked out before Sirius could be freed and could be with her.

How did he know they were destined for each other when they didn't even know each other? Besides reading ahead in the book? Trelawny had another prophecy, obviously, but Mrs. Black was the one who heard it and paid Dougie big bucks to court and marry the commoner witch and keep her away from Sirius (this wasn't too hard to talk Dougie into once he'd met Fiona, since she's the irrisistable heroine, and he would have done it for free).

When Sirius went to prison, Dougie was originally overcome with guilt, believing Sirius had only gone bad because he didn't have Fiona. Guilt forced him to keep looking into the matter, which is how he uncovered proof that Sirius was innocent. But he believed there was no way he could ever get the case re-opened, so he went on a suicide mission instead.

Of course, Fiona quickly realizes how the information can be used to clear Sirius (which she does at the last minute just before Sirius gets his soul sucked out [although the dementors defy the wizangamot when told to let Sirius go, resulting in a major fight. Sirius bravely saves Fiona (and - oh, yeah - the entire wizangamot, who all would have been soul sucked without him)]).

Sorry, got carried away, there.

Ellen

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 29th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG, that's some great Fifi-channeling, is what that is!
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: August 30th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love you, that was awesome. :D
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: August 30th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
*Snorts*

That just made my morning- oh, wait, it's afternoon. Well I jut woke up so it's morning for me.

Thanks for that. :D
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: August 30th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Loved this- I haven't commented in ages and I'm sorry about that. Still reading though, and loving all of it :).

Little random nitpick though, "'--hey, we've found something that can see through James's Cloak!-" - wouldn't Harry say 'Dad's Cloak' and not James's? I can't think of any time in canon wait- no, I remember one but I think that was in the 3rd person perspective, not his own words- where he refered to either Lily or James as, well, Lily or James, not Mom and Dad.

*Nitpick done, heh.*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 30th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's an aside from Sirius--it's not in Harry's letter! :D
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: August 31st, 2009 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh. That makes considerably more sense. Sorry about that then! :)
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