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Stray, Chapter Two: Fugitive In Paradise, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Two: Fugitive In Paradise, pt. 3
Sirius is in the tropics. He saw Kingsley and Tonks, who were investigating a tip that they didn't take very seriously (so to speak), and listened to them talking about Bertha Jorkins' disappearance and other odd Voldemort-related things. They get called off to take a Floo message, which they are betting will send them to some other far flung place. Sirius decides it's too dangerous to trail them, but decides he'll have to go into the magical neighborhood (Rua Escondida) to do some investigating, even though he's avoided it so far. (He and Buckbeak are staying in a Muggle hotel, much to Buckbeak's discomfort.)

As a couple of people mentioned on the last section, he seems not to be paying enough attention to his status as a fugitive. So I thought I'd give him some danger.

At one point, Sirius sees a sign translated into multiple languages. I used Babelfish for this, so if people who speak those languages notice a real issue with the translation, please mention it. Babelfish is very handy, except when it gives, you know, a Babelfish translation.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Sirius slipped back into the jungle and went to the tree where he'd tied Buckbeak. The hippogriff was quiet, but had dug deep furrows in the marshy ground, apparently out of boredom. The Disillusioning spell kept him hidden, but as Sirius approached, he could see the shimmer of movement as Buckbeak got up to eagerly greet him.

He gave a quick bow--it wasn't necessary anymore, but it was a good a greeting as any--then untied the lead and took the quickest route back to the hotel that wouldn't involve passing through crowds. He stopped behind the kitchen quickly to forage for rats, letting Buckbeak catch a few of his own as long he was out, then took the fire stairs back upstairs. The heavy tropical evening was darkening in its vivid, lovely way--night plants were beginning to open, night birds starting to make their strange sounds in the trees, prey and predators awakening to another shadowy chase only a mile beyond Sirius's room.

His safe, comfortable room.

He looked around at it--at the large but somehow sterile bed, the spotless desk with its unused writing paper and visitors' brochures, the rug that was blameless other than Buckbeak's area (which Sirius kept under a spell that distracted the housekeeping staff), the anonymous art on the walls, the silent Muggle telephone.

What are you doing here? What sort of place is this for a Black?

"Shut up, Reg," he mumbled, rubbing his eyes. His fourteen-years-dead brother seemed to have developed quite the running commentary on every subject under the sun this year. That particular voice had arisen from Sirius's first flat, where Regulus had been absolutely forbidden to visit him, as he no longer existed. He had visited anyway, but spent the entire time criticizing the accommodations.

Stupid little git was probably just gathering information for his little friends in masks, Sirius told himself. In case they needed to curse his toothbrush or whatnot. Though he supposed the Death Eaters could have used Peter by then, if they hadn't been using him all along, if they'd wanted to know in which drawer Sirius Black kept his small collection of cutlery.

He broke the Disillusioning spell, and Buckbeak shook his feathers a little at the sensation, then looked over his shoulder imploringly.

"I can't take you back out," Sirius said. "It's not safe."

Buckbeak turned his back on Sirius, then scooted to the far part of his corner, sat down, and pouted. Sirius considered giving him a pat on the beak, but he'd seen this mood before, and decided he'd rather not spend another three days trying to get a hippogriff bite to heal. There was just no way to take him out as often as he wanted to go. Especially not if the Aurors were already poking around.

Buckbeak was safe here.

Just like me.

Sirius swept his arm across the desk, scattering the brochures and writing paper. A loose bit of paper fell on his shoe, and he picked it up and tore it.

Bertha Jorkins had disappeared. Animal mutilations. Somewhere that Voldemort had been.

"That's it," he muttered. "I'm doing something."

He looked dubiously at John Lupin's wand, then shook his head, pointed it at his hair, and said, "Cirratus." His hair curled absurdly into ringlets. It also turned green. Not entirely inconspicuous. He ended the spell and tried again. It curled into large, bouncy waves this time, but stayed black. With some trepidation, he tried Erubesco to turn it red, which worked, but looked absurd. He sighed and left it; he was trying to hide himself, not impress anyone. He didn't dare try more advanced appearance charms without his own wand, and it was now fully dark, so dark glasses would be more than a little noticeable. He'd have to count on the brim of his hat and hope no one looked too closely.

"Buckbeak," he said, "I'll be back soon."

Buckbeak snorted, then lay down with his beak on top of his talons, staring into the corner.

He thought about changing into a set of wizard robes that he'd stolen from a clothesline in Florida as he flew through, but decided against it. Robes weren't nearly as entrenched here; his Muggle tourist clothes wouldn't cause a stir. He grabbed a bag of wizarding money, then slipped out into the night, where the dance clubs and shows were beginning to take over. Crowds of attractive young people passed to and fro, laughing and playing. A golden-haired boy took a great leap in the air to catch something his companion had thrown, and shouted in buoyant French when he got hold of it.

Sirius turned away from them, and headed for the shadowy neighborhood that led to Rua Escondida. On the outside, it looked like one of the city's slums, but that was a carefully maintained facade. Someone who looked closely would note that the trash was always suspiciously fresh, the indigent oddly polite and and helpful, and always suggesting the same tacky little tourist shop.

The shop itself was called A Casa de Praia--The Beach House, Sirius guessed--and the front of it was a selection of bad plastic figurines of people on the beach. Further back, there were some equally bad figurines of a one-legged plastic boy with a red cap and a pipe--a saci, Sirius remembered from long ago classes with Kettleburn--and finally, worked into the back wall, a mosaic of a lizard, labeled "Teinagua," worked into the tile. Flanking it on each side were tiles with a design that would be meaningless to Muggles but clear to any wizard tourist: they showed a golden bar pointing at a series of red hexagons that diminished in size. Sirius looked at the lizard and poked his wand against several randomly arranged red tiles, from the biggest to the smallest.

The mosaic lizard turned its head, then slipped down onto the floor and looked over its shoulder at Sirius to follow. It slithered along the floor, tiles clicking against each other, to a tiny door marked "Saída de emergência -- o alarme soará/Salida de emergencia -- el alarmar sonará/Notausgang -- alarmgesichert/Emergency exit -- alarm will sound/Sortie de secours -- l'alarme sonnera."

The lizard slipped beneath it, then it glowed brightly and opened onto a torch-lit street with a banner stretched over it, announcing an upcoming festival. As in any tourist area Sirius had ever visited, there was a money changing booth sitting right at the entrance.

The lizard waited expectantly, and Sirius tossed it a Sickle, then went to the money changing booth. He considered putting on a different accent, to throw the trail off, but if he did it badly, it would be more memorable than simply one more Englishman from London's well-off class, taking a holiday here in the tropics. The young girl on duty took no notice of him whatsoever, actually continuing to read her magazine as she waved her wand over the coins Sirius had spilled out onto the counter. As he watched, they rearranged themselves, expanded more than a little, and turned into wide gold pieces with blue edges and green centers. A handful of smaller green stones appeared, and Sirius supposed they were change. The girl shoved a directory of monetary values at him and muttered, "Boa noite."

Sirius smiled, hoping that it was "Good night," and thinking that he might have done better to try Guyane, as he knew enough French to pass. But Guyane was still connected to the French government, and the damned Ministry would have contacted them, and they'd be on a deeper lookout.

He turned a corner and nearly slammed his nose into himself--the wanted poster was hung on a notice board in a plaza. Some local wag had drawn horns and a tail on it, and the Sirius in the picture--much to the amusement of the real one--had given up his endless braying laughter to bat at it and twist away in great offense. Sirius used John Lupin's wand to add a fake mustache, curled diabolically up at the ends. The picture started clawing at its face in horror. Sirius stuck his tongue out at it.

Amusing, but not what he was there for.

He had found the back of the international news stand as a dog, and scrounged a handful of Daily Prophets, but the way inside was blocked by powerful spells. He'd never been able to get more than scraps. He had to come in through the human gateway, and find his way there. It would be on the east side, he knew--it was toward the beach. He moved on down the street. More posters appeared, one on each hut, all screaming at him. They looked oddly fresh and new.

He found the shop he was looking for eight buildings down. It was open-fronted, and three walls of newspapers and magazines surrounded a comfortable looking plaza. Sirius took a deep breath and went inside. A sign informed him that they spoke English, as well as French, Spanish, German, and Dutch, and could perform a translation spell into several other local and international dialects. He went to the counter and asked for the past mont's Daily Prophets, paying with two of the large gold coins. He received a handful of green and blue stones in return.

He skipped the front page stories--mostly about the fast-approaching Quidditch World Cup--and went directly to the back pages, to the stories buried between advertisements, the little things that no one cared about. Most seemed genuinely trivial--settled legal matters, fashion tips, and so on--but he carefully circled those that seemed suspicious to him.

The Albanian Minister for Magic missed his national team's elimination due to an unexpected illness.

A breach of security at a magical serpent preserve in Croatia, with one particularly large snake still at large.

Livestock missing in Austria. A week later, more livestock missing in Germany. The reporter drew the connection between the two events, but no one seemed to be connecting them with a giant missing snake... or to be connecting a giant missing snake with a particular speaker of Parseltongue.

Unicorns killed in the Black Forest. There was a small hand print found at the scene, but the article didn't note whether or not it was missing a finger.

A Belgian girl predicting the end of the world because she'd seen a hundred rats marching like an army.

Always moving north and west.


"Catching up on our reading, are we?"

Sirius froze.

The Auror he'd seen earlier, the girl with wild-colored hair, was standing at the far side of his table, wand drawn, looking at him with deep suspicion.

He gulped and pushed his chair back. "It's been a long holiday." He stood and dipped a small bow in her direction, hoping she would be fooled by the hair color and think she was mistaken. "Have you been here long?"

She didn't warm. "I'd like to see some identification."

The man at the counter scuttled over. "What are you doing? You were meant to be gone!"

"Can't get a Portkey until morning," the girl said, then turned back to Sirius, wand leveled. "Which may turn out to be a good thing." Sirius moved his hand, and she said, "Don't even think about going for your wand, Sirius. If you come back, you'll get a--"

But Sirius didn't let her finish. She was young and naive. In a quick movement, he hooked his hands under the table and flipped it upward as hard as he could, shoving it into her, knocking her into the proprietor.

He ran for the edge of the Apparition barrier.

"Kingsley!" he heard her shout as she pushed her way out of the newsstand. "You were right! He's here! Must've been in the Muggle district!"

A Stunning Spell flew at him, and he jumped to avoid it, knocking over the notice board he'd seen earlier. His ink-mustached face gaped at him. He rolled over and put the board between himself and another Stunning Spell, now from a new direction.

The gate to the shop yawned before him, and he dove through it just as the Aurors cast a closing spell at it. This didn't buy him any time--they blasted through the back wall of the shop.

Sirius ran full tilt through the rows of merchandise, knocking down figurines and tourist kitsch and sending it shattering into the corridor as he made for the Muggle street. The more debris he could get on the floor, the more obstacles there would be.

A spell that he suspected was stronger than a Stun hit the wall beside the door, knocking out a chunk of wood, but it only grazed Sirius's shoulder He launched himself at the door, and a moment later was beyond it, in the strange, fake slum. A young witch wearing stylized rags looked at him in surprise.

The Aurors burst out behind him.

"Sirius Black!" Kingsley called. "You are--"

But Sirius didn't stay to hear, "Under arrest."

He Apparated directly back to the hotel room, nearly landing on top of Buckbeak, who gave an angry squawk.

"No time," he said. "No time at all." He grabbed his bag and stuffed what he could into it--anything that would identify him went first, then anything magical. There was no room for any of the extra clothes; all that he had left were the Azkaban robes that had been ignored at the bottom of the bag since he'd got here. There would be no time to clean up Buckbeak's mess.

"Come on," he said to the hippogriff. "We need to leave from here."

Buckbeak backed into his corner, balking.

"Not now, come on." He pointed his wand; Buckbeak raised a talon.

Sirius gritted his teeth, then his eyes went wide. He could hear footsteps pounding in the hall outside.

The girl's voice: "You're sure this is it?"

"I got him with the tracer. He's got the room blocked, but this is where he came."

"He could Apparate out..."

"Dammit," Sirius hissed, and cast a quick security hex on the door. He bowed stiffly to Buckbeak. He could Apparate out. Buckbeak couldn't, and Buckbeak's sentence was steeper than his own. A thundering fist hit the door.

Shaking, Buckbeak bowed back. Sirius slipped forward and took his lead, winding it around to make a harness.

The door burst open in a rain of wood.

For a moment, he and the Aurors looked at each other.

"The missing hippogriff," Kingsley said. "You got away on the damned hippogriff?"

"I'm innocent," Sirius tried. "They won't--"

"You're under arr--"

Buckbeak reared up, flashing a talon and knocking Kingsley's wand down. Kingsley toppled into his partner.

Sirius pointed his wand at the window and hooked one knee behind Buckbeak's wing joint. "Reducto!"

The glass shattered outward, and Buckbeak ran for the open sky, Sirius hanging and jostled on one side.

Far below, he saw the Aurors rush out onto his tiny balcony, shooting spells up at him, already out of range.

With a tap of his wand, he Disillusioned himself and Buckbeak, and turned out over the open jungle.
35 comments or Leave a comment
From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 9th, 2007 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow - exciting, tense stuff.

German warnings: Notausgang is correct, but 'Warnung klingt' is definitely wrong. I bow to any native speakers out there's superior knowledge, but I'd suggest 'Tür alarmiert' (which means 'this door is alarmed', which oddly enough is the standard British English label - though obviously they'd be more likely to use the American in South America...)
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: June 9th, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi, I wrote my comment the same time as you did and German is my native language. You are right, the phrase "Warnung klingt" is definitely false. But in my ears the expression "Tür alarmiert" sounds like someone called a door to help (and to help is its job) or like said door is quite wary or frightened about something fishy thatseems to be going on. ;)
petitecrivan From: petitecrivan Date: June 9th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Woohoo! Go Sirius! Awesome chapter. I love this fic so far. Very fun stuff. So this would take place summer after three, correct? I love the young Tonks. I wonder when Sirius will figure out who she is.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2007 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)
It will follow GoF in general, but yes, at the moment, it's the summer after PoA.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: June 9th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
*finally catches up*
It's great that you've started a new fic! I really like your version of Sirius's POV. I'm looking forward to the next chapter!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I like Sirius. I never did before the first time I wrote in his point of view, but once he started yammering on... excellent.
other_girl87 From: other_girl87 Date: June 9th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi. This is wonderful as always.

The French seems a bit off to me. Sortie de secours is right, but I think the second sentence should be L'alarme sonnera instead of retentira. They're similar verbs, but sonner has more to do with alarms than retentir.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Sonnera would fit with the other translations, too, come to think of it.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: June 9th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice stuff -- 'feels' right, plausible and using the characters and setting nicely, and I like the fact that Sirius still hasn't realised that it's Tonks after him. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2007 02:51 am (UTC) (Link)
The setting's been fun to play with. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Great chapter! Very suspenseful. I was surprised that you had Tonks refer to him as Sirius, though; in PoA, at least, everyone seems to refer to him as Black. First name basis seems a bit odd to me, even if she did know him that way as a kid...

I loved how the aurors freeze when they see Buckbeak. I've gotten so used to the idea that a condemned hippogriff was saved by time-travel, and flew off to South America with an escaped convict on his back, but Kingsley wouldn't have, would he? :-D

I can't wait for the next update!

From: spitc1899 Date: June 10th, 2007 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually think it fits. I'd gotten the impression from other of Fern's fics that Tonks was tired enough of being thought of/referred to as a Black that it would make perfect sense for her to distinguish him that way. In Shifts, she's still referring to her aunts by first name and title, after all. I don't know if Sirius will notice that or not, though.

Incidently, Fern, I was thrilled when I saw the first chapter of this up, and I've continued to be so with every installment. I was silently begging you to give into the pressure. :o)

singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: June 10th, 2007 06:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Just a note on the Spanish: It should be "la alarma" not "el alarmar" as "alarma" is feminine (irregular, I know). "Alarmar" would mean "TO alarm"; "alarma" is the correct noun form. "Salida de emergencia" is the correct translation of "Emergency Exit."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm beginning to think I should just change it to "Emergency Exit" without the note about the alarm. ;p
mcgonagalls_cat From: mcgonagalls_cat Date: June 10th, 2007 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
*bows at your feet* Most excellent!

psst...letter missing:
He went to the counter and asked for the past -> mont's <- Daily Prophets, paying with two of the large gold coins. He received a handful of green and blue stones in return.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, thanks--replaced "week's" with "month's," and apparently paid no attention to the spell-checker.
sugarannie From: sugarannie Date: June 10th, 2007 08:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, great new chapter! I love the action in this one!
(and just wanted to say that although the discussion about the German phrase has obviously ended already , that, if you have a similar problem again, you can ask me if you want. German is my native language and I'd be glad to help....)
Anyway, can't wait to read more of this!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2007 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I mostly just check a quick dictionary if it's a toss-in thing like this (don't want to stop writing to wait for a response), but if I do anything with serious German in it, I'll remember. (And it's possible; in an effort to explain why Remus didn't take the job the year Lockhart did, I had him in one of his rare periods of gainful employment, helping with werewolf research in the Black Forest.)
aeterna13 From: aeterna13 Date: June 10th, 2007 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm ... I don't know, I almost think it would be better with the bad translations, and bungle up the English one as well, just for the effect. Maybe go Spanish to English in babelfish? Eh, I guess that's just my sense of humor, I just love seeing bad English translations on signs abroad.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can appreciate that sense of humor. :)
excitedrainbow From: excitedrainbow Date: June 10th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ohhh, this is great. A good change of pace, I really liked how you built up a general sense of tension and fear with what Sirius noted in the newspapers, and then sharpened it suddenly into the immediate and personal with Tonks's interruption.

Hee, I love that Sirius scrawled on his own Wanted poster. He can be such a kid - it's a small reminder of how little time he had in which to grow up properly.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
He really does have a bad case of arrested development sometimes! (So is Snape, though to different effect. No wonder the pair of them picked up school rivalries like they'd never dropped them... they hadn't!)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
The French "sonnera" sounded odd to me, like it was saying that the alarm will sound at some point in the future, independent of what happened to the door. French is my second language though, so I don't know if it actually gives that impression.

A building I walked through today had a sign saying "Sortie de secours seulement. L'alarme de sécurité se déclenchera si la porte est ouverte." This resolves the verb tense problem by specifying under which conditions the alarm will sound, but is very wordy (as French tends to be). You can remove the seulement, but that's about it. Also, this is Canadian French.
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