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Stray, Chapter Two: Fugitive In Paradise, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Two: Fugitive In Paradise, pt. 2
Well, I probably don't need this yet, with both existing parts still on the front page, but I'll need it eventually, so...

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

I left Sirius in the tropics... well, the folklore animal is Brazilian, so I may as well cop to thinking of it as Brazil. It's not Rio; it's somewhere that has both beach and a big river, as Sirius sits on the beach and watches people wrestling with a boiuna, a giant river snake (he wanted to wrestle it, but lost interest when the boys treated him as a grown-up). Maybe Recife, but he's not staying long enough for me to memorize street plans. It's probably quite a hike from place to place, but Sirius likes having the freedom to move around, so enjoys it and doesn't dwell on the length. ;p Anyway, after he gets back from an exercise flight with Buckbeak, he finds two Aurors (Tonks and Kingsley, though he doesn't know either at this point) showing his picture to a bartender who'd previously tried to sell him a drink at a beachside wizarding bar.

Sirius thought--very briefly--of fading back into the jungle with Buckbeak, but decided it was safer to keep an eye on this pair of Aurors, if that was what they were. If they were where he could see them, after all, they wouldn't be sneaking up behind him.

He re-cast Buckbeak's Disillusioning spell and tied his lead to a handy tree. "I'll be back later," he whispered. "Be still." Buckbeak had grown used to this command over the weeks they'd been together, and crouched down quietly in the undergrowth.

Sirius slipped around to the far side of the shack (which was actually a well constructed building meant to withstand some rather extreme weather while still looking like a casual lean-to) and positioned himself in the shadows, where he could see and hear better without showing himself. A wild part of his brain wanted to sit down and order a drink, to see if they recognized him, just for the thrill of having a quiet drink six feet away from people who wanted to send him to prison. At the last minute before he stepped into the plaza, reason won out over desire, largely because he remembered that he hadn't brought any wizarding money with him from the hotel.

The young bartender finally took the wanted poster and peered at it for what seemed a long time, then shrugged. "I don't know. He looks like a vampire."

"Imagine him well fed and with a haircut," the older Auror said, waving his wand at the poster to alter it.

The bartender frowned in puzzled concentration, then shook his head and said, "Maybe. But lots of people come through here."

The Auror sighed. "Fine. It was another long shot, anyway." He turned to his companion. "Shall we have something to eat before we go back?"

"God, yes," the girl said. "One more day of take-away curry in the office, and I might make a run for it." She pulled a chair out from one of the high tables, then promptly knocked over three bottles of flavoring potions and a floating candle. "Oh!" She looked apologetically at the bartender. "Sorry, mate, I'll just... er..." She waved her wand and everything righted itself, then smiled sheepishly at her partner. "They're not going to make me take the stealth test again, are they, Kingsley?"

The man--Kingsley, apparently--muttered, "I may. Honestly."

The girl picked up a menu and scanned it absently, chewing her lip. "Kingsley," she started, then stopped.

He raised his eyebrows. "Out with it. You've been keeping your mouth shut way too often lately."

She taped the base of her wand on the table thoughtfully, then carefully said, "A Confundus Curse would have worn off by now. It's been weeks."

Kingsley rubbed his head. "You want to talk to the Potter boy."

"I want to talk to all three of the children. Fudge said they were all there, and Confunded into thinking Sirius Black was innocent."

"I know."

"If the curse has worn off, they could tell us what happened and how he got away."

"They were locked in the hospital ward," Kingsley said quickly. "They wouldn't know how he escaped from the tower."

"And if it wasn't a curse, they could tell us why they think he's innocent."

Sirius's ears perked up. He hadn't really considered the idea that they might revisit his case. Both Dumbledore and Remus thought it unlikely, but an Auror...

Kingsley let out a long, slow breath. "And then what?"

"What do you mean?"

"If we find out why they believe he's innocent. What do you propose we do with the testimony of three children?"

"Well, we... we give a report! If it's a good reason and makes sense, of course. We re-open the case. We--"

"We aren't picking him up for the murders," Kingsley said interrupted. "We're arresting him because he's escaped from Azkaban. The murder case was closed twelve years ago."


"I don't like it any better than you do. I smell a great, huge rotten fish, if you'd like the truth. But do you know what I like less?"


"Aurors playing at being judges. That's not our job. There's a reason that's a separate division altogether."

"But he wasn't properly tried the first time."

"Then he should have bloody well stayed put and asked for a trial this time!" Kingsley jabbed his wand at the menu, and his order appeared over a short order cook's grill. "Why would an innocent man hide for year--even from his friends--and then run? You can't tell me that Dumbledore wouldn't have sought amnesty while we tried to figure it out, if he'd gone to him first."

Sirius felt his spirits droop. He hadn't realized how well he liked the direction of the conversation until it changed. Why hadn't he gone to Dumbledore? It seemed so obvious now, but he'd been convinced that he had to do everything himself...

The girl looked less than convinced of Kingsley's line of argument. "Still, I think--"

"Don't," Kingsley said. "Look, I know what you're getting at, and for you own sake, don't. They're already suspicious of you for the obvious reasons--"

The girl made an unladylike suggestion about where the Auror Division might store whatever its "obvious reasons" were, and Sirius decided that, if and when his name was cleared, he wanted to buy this particular Auror a drink.

Kingsley was apparently used to her; he just smiled faintly. "Nevertheless, let me handle any questions about this. It's my case, anyway; you're just helping."

She frowned at him, then shrugged. "D'you reckon this tip was any better than the one in Athens?"

"I'm starting to doubt it. It sounded good--I was in my first year at Hogwarts when he was in his seventh"--Sirius tried, and failed, to remember him--"and he was something of a legend. Wrestling a boiúna is just the sort of thing he would have done--but no one in the wizarding district seems to recognize the picture. I think our young tipster may have just got overexcited when he saw the wanted poster after talking to a dark-haired Englishman." Their drinks came, and Kingsley paused to pay for them. "Not," he said when they were alone again, "that I mind getting out of London for a few days. If they decide to send me out to check the World Cup site one more time, I'm demanding tickets."

"You can have mine," the girl said. "They didn't mind handing me two tickets because they knew damned well they were going to schedule me to work for the first three days of it."

Kingsley grinned. "You're our junior Auror. Don't tell me--it's you and Williams at the office."

"Everyone else seems to have found heretofore unsuspected holiday time. Savage couldn't get time off either, but his mother fell ill. Looked just terrible when I saw her zooming around the Ballycastle goal posts, laughing her head off."

"Well, it's an odd sickness going around. Totally symptomless, but serious enough to require care from several members of any given extended family, and completely curable by Viktor Krum catching a Golden Snitch."

"You think it'll be Bulgaria?"

"I think it'll be Krum. There is no Bulgarian team, just a Seeker. And that's all they need."

Their food appeared on the table with a flash, and they tucked in. Sirius almost left, thinking their conversation was over, and they seemed to be on their way, but between bites, the girl said, "Is it me, or Crouch been twitchy lately?"

Sirius, half-turned, stopped dead at the name. In his year on the run, he'd learned quite a bit about Bartemius Crouch, but even disgraced and demoted, it seemed impossible to imagine the strutting little bastard being "twitchy."

Kingsley snorted into his plate. "Probably afraid Black will come after him next. It's been since he got away."

"Mmm." The girl ate a few bites. "Right interested in where Bertha Jorkins has got to, though. He's been on Scrimgeour to get us on that instead of Sirius."

"That's odd. He's the one who had Black imprisoned in the first place. I know he was quite embarrassed by the escape."

The girl nodded seriously, then the corners of her mouth twitched and she hiccuped out a broken laugh.



"What's nothing?"

"Oh, I just have a brilliant theory. How does this strike you? Crouch and Jorkins were having a torrid affair for years, but while he was off for hours at work, Sirius Black seduced her, and now she's run off to be with him. It' all very melodramatic." She grinned. "Well, come on, Kingsley--just think of Bertha in a filmy nightgown standing on a picturesque sea cliff somewhere, torn between two lovers who are mortal enemies..."

Sirius bit his lip to avoid laughing.

"You're an odd woman, you know," Kingsley said.

"The really funny part is that I can't think of a better theory. That doesn't bode well for my career."

"Well, it's certain outside the box," Kingsley told her. "And it fits the facts we have. Or rather, they fit inside of it, and have a lot of room to grow."

The girl smiled, then grew serious again. "He forgot I wasn't a trainee anymore," she said. "He set me to the Jorkins business until Scrimgeour pulled me off for this. Did you know there've been animal mutilations near where she was meant to be traveling?"

Sirius frowned.

Kingsley looked up sharply. "What?"

"Or that it's close to where Professor Quirrell went off to on his sabbatical year, and came back so... odd?"

"I knew it was in the same country," Kingsley said. "I caught the Quirrell case when he died, not that there was much to find. No one found anything there, and that forest has always had a bad reputation."

"Apparently, a well-deserved one."

"Sometimes, reputations really are deserved." He tapped his fork against his plate. "Do you know what bothers me?"


"Dumbledore. He came to Scrimgeour about a Muggle who disappeared. Scrimgeour wasn't interested, but Dumbledore seemed to think it meant something."

"Should we look into it?"

"As I was reminded when I suggested it, the Ministry doesn't exist to investigate the whims of the Headmaster of Hogwarts. I think--oh, damn."

The girl looked up in surprise, and Sirius peeked around the edge of the bar far enough to see what they were looking at. A self-important little man was striding into the bar, his elbows thrust out to the sides. "Communication from London," he said "You're to return to a floo point immediately."

The girl rolled her eyes extravagantly. "If it's not a World Cup emergency--"

"Not enough grass to cover the ground? We don't have enough security set up in the upper atmosphere?"

"--I'm putting my money on a tip from Outer Mongolia."

"Mm," Kingsley said, dropping money onto the table. "I'll put ten galleons on Madagascar."

"Oh, can I change mine? In case I jinx us, I'll pick somewhere nicer. Bali, maybe. Ten galleons on someone absolutely seeing Sirius Black in Bali."

"That will take a few days to get through the floo system, anyway..."

Sirius watched them go, then slowly went out to their table, trying not to attract attention. The girl's half-finished drink still had ice cubes melting in it.

Sirius debated following them, but decided it was too much of a risk to go into Rua Escondida only hours after they'd been showing his picture. He'd have to be much more careful than he'd taken the trouble to be when he left.

But he would have to go later.

It sounded like there were matters in need of investigation.
13 comments or Leave a comment
tdu000 From: tdu000 Date: June 8th, 2007 04:57 am (UTC) (Link)
This is getting very interesting! I think you're safe from being canon-balled on this one. What Sirius did during GoF is hardly going to be discussed in the next book. The most is that there'll be a couple of names thrown about that we haven't heard before. I'm glad you are starting this as most of the fics I'm reading are all being finished off in time for DH
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 8th, 2007 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I always get paranoid about jossing before new material comes out. ;P Most of the time, unless there are serious thematic problems, I just retcon. :)
sugarannie From: sugarannie Date: June 8th, 2007 07:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to admit that I haven't found the time to leave a comment on the previous chapters, so I'll just leave a general one right now: I am so happy you started this story, as it is a fascinating point of view to be had, and it always makes me glad to check my friends list and find nice fics.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 8th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks--glad make the f-list check worthwhile! :)
springdove From: springdove Date: June 8th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't yet commented either, but I'm LOVING this story! You are such a good writer! And it's nice to see Sirius during the one time in the book when one can imagine him actually being some sort of happy.

I found a couple of possible typos:
"She taped the base of her wand on the table thoughtfully"
I'm guessing this was supposed to be "She tapped the base..."

""Well, it's certain outside the box," Kingsley told her"
(This one may or may not be, as I'm not sure of adverb usage in the UK.) Possibly should have been "it's certainly outside the box..."?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 8th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, that is certainly a typo. Thanks. Also, she's definitely tapping, not taping, her wand. :eyeroll: This is what I get for handwriting and paying more attention to what I'm typing from than what's actually being hit on the keyboard.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: June 8th, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant! I can see the structure you have planned out for this book and my insides are bursting with glee just thinking of it: Kingsley and Tonks on Sirius's trail all year, Sirius having the time of his life dodging them, and what a whopper the two aurors have waiting for them in the end! After Shifts amd OotP, I'm so glad this looks like it's going to be a happy-Sirius story.

Loved this installment, but I think you may want to roughen the edges of it a little - give Sirius a few interruptions or at least throw in honks and screeches instead of letting him hear the whole conversation in perfect peace and clarity. The dialogue between Kingsley and Dora is excellent, but I clean forgot we're hearing it through a massively wanted guy who's hiding and eavesdropping.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 8th, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I was kind of tossing that around--did I want to get Sirius involved in danger in Brazil or not? I may still do it; the Aurors are still in the magical area, and a part of me really wants to have Tonks be extremely observant and already conflicted before the next time we see her, but at the same time, since he's picking up and heading smack into the middle of the search for him--aka, anywhere in Harry's general vicinity--I wasn't sure I wanted to get him involved in danger in a place where he probably would have been safe staying.
golden_d From: golden_d Date: June 8th, 2007 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh... So exciting. I love the banter between Kingsley and Tonks, especially:

"Not enough grass to cover the ground? We don't have enough security set up in the upper atmosphere?"

Hee!! Also, I like that you avoided using Tonks's name, since it means that Sirius has no idea who she is...but wants to buy her a drink anyway. Can't wait for the next one - I'm amazed at how fast you turn these out.
reihla From: reihla Date: June 8th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm... a reasonable convo with Dumbledore or flying off on a stolen hippogryff.... I think we can see which option would appeal to Sirius on the spur of the moment. :)

You totally killed me with the whole "Jorkins/Crouch" scenario. lol. Funny how sometimes the merest suggestion of a thing can create the most vivid mental pictures.
matril From: matril Date: June 8th, 2007 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, this makes sense. Overhearing two Aurors talking about Bertha Jorkins disappearing in the vicinity of Voldemort's last known whereabouts - that, combined with Harry mentioning his scar hurting, would definitely be enough to get Sirius back to England. I'm looking forward to more!
excitedrainbow From: excitedrainbow Date: June 8th, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Right, before I say anything, here's a typo.

"Look, I know what you're getting at, and for you own sake, don't.

It should be "for your own sake".

Ok! I love this second part, you have their voices completely right. Kingsley is perfectly doubting of the MoM, yet determined to stick to his job, whilst Tonks is the new Auror - questioning and willing to bend the rules. Haha, I love that Sirius wants to buy Tonks a drink without even knowing who she is - it did seem like they got along really well in the books. Their speculation and banter about the World Cup was lovely as well .

Hmm, Sirius's reaction was good, but I wonder if you could make him more aware of the risk of the position he's in? I know, it isn't a hugely dangerous situation, since he's not in their direct view, but I think he would still be a bit on the edge.

Anyway, apart from that, lovely as usual :)
nundu_art From: nundu_art Date: June 12th, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
*does a happy dance* A new FernFic©! Yea! You know I'm rubbish at critiques, etc. All I can do is 'squee' and enjoy the ride. I just always really like your tangents. They feel so real within canon.
13 comments or Leave a comment