FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,

Stray, Chapter Three: The End of the Holiday, pt. 1

The chapter title may change; I'm not wildly in love with it.

Sirius barely escaped the Aurors--Tonks and Kingsley--in a Brazilian city, breaking out the window of his hotel room with Buckbeak, Disillusioning both of them, and flying out over the open rainforest. He had to leave behind all of his extra clothes, except for his Azkaban robes and what he happened to be wearing, which is a Muggle tourist get-up. Which has no bearing on anything, except that his clothing choices are limited.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

They flew inland along the curving slash of the river, visible in the moonlight like a shining path. Sirius kept Buckbeak high, not allowing him to skim the canopy as he liked, as the Aurors had apparently sent out half of the local law enforcement people on broomsticks. Disillusioned, it was impossible for them to see Buckbeak or Sirius directly, but if they made too much noise or commotion, it would be a giveaway. One came close enough that Sirius was sure Buckbeak's lower talons would graze him, but he dipped down at the last minute to circle back from another direction. He saw the pretty young Auror zipping back and forth in a very smart pattern to find someone hiding under this particular charm, casting detection spells in every direction. Kingsley, a bit further to the north, seemed to be doing the same thing. Sirius stayed above the range of the spells, urging Buckbeak further west, further across the canopy, moving as fast as he could, trying to far enough ahead of them for a hole to appear.

Or to outlast their patience.

The two Aurors finally zoomed toward one another and leaned forward to confer. Sirius could guess the direction of the conversation--had he slipped away from them, gone out to sea perhaps? Should they call it off?

Buckbeak was wheezing heavily from the effort of staying up this high, and bits of foamy sweat were standing out on what appeared to be thin air. They had to come down soon. A bead of sweat rolled off his flank and fell.

Kingsley looked up in disgust. "Damn! It's going to start raining again."

"He'll have to come down sometime," the girl said, her voice floating up in broken fragments. "He'll show."

With obvious regret, Kingsley sent a signal to their local partners, then he and the girl turned their brooms around and headed back toward the sea.

Sirius let out a sigh of relief, and leaned forward to let Buckbeak know it was all right to start down. Buckbeak dove gratefully toward the trees, and moment later, they skimmed the surface of the Amazon, then slipped into the deep shadows of the forest. Buckbeak landed at the base of a vast tree whose gnarled roots made a cave high enough for Sirius to stand up in. He looked around it suspiciously, then Conjured a tent inside of it, sealed against any creatures who might find wizard or hippogriff an exotic dinner, then fell to the floor and slept deeply. He dreamed of Azkaban.

In the morning, his back and arms were sore from the flight, and he could tell from the way Buckbeak was mincing about that he was sore as well.

"You get some rest," he said. "I'll find us something to eat."

Buckbeak looked at him with almost human gratitude, and collapsed back down to sleep. Sirius wished he had the makings of a Painkiller Potion. It wasn't the first time he'd wished it--Buckbeak had looked like this after the flight from the Outer Hebrides to the Greenland coast as well, and Sirius hadn't even been able to give him a rest, at least not until he felt out of the reach of European authorities. They hadn't really been able to rest until they found a secluded part of Northern Maine in the States, and even there, Sirius hadn't been comfortable. Canada and the States were easy to get lost in if no one was looking, but a warrant for a murderer carried perfectly well. The further they got away physically, the better it would be. Nowhere was entirely safe, but--at least as far as Sirius knew--the treaties were weaker in some places than in others, and he'd he had to make for one.

At least this time, Buckbeak didn't have to follow one frantic flight with another. He could rest, at least if Sirius could figure out what they could eat. He supposed fish would do as well as anything else, though catching them would be a bother. He supposed there would be plenty of small animals around that he could chase as Padfoot, but he was no naturalist--he didn't fancy the idea of getting himself turned around here and not being able to find his way back to his little camp. The river was a handy landmark, so it was the river he would go to.

The tree to the river, the river to the tree--it was the size of his world for the next week. The first two days were interesting, discovering a hundred creatures, magical and Muggle, living in that patch of land, but it all became routine quickly. Fishing turned out to be fairly easy magically--he just cast a Summoning charm on some of the slower fish and flipped them into a Conjured bucket. Aiming was difficult and it took some practice to keep hold, but an afternoon's practice was all it really took. Buckbeak wasn't impressed with the fare, but he ate it, and as the days passed, his movements became normal again. Sirius started thinking about where to go next. He belonged at home, watching over Harry, but that wasn't an option. He'd do Harry no good back in Azkaban.

Of course, he wasn't doing a fat lot of good here, either.

Buckbeak was also getting restless. He didn't like the heavy heat of the jungle, the near-steam that hung in the air. On the beach, the cooling breeze from the ocean had mitigated it somewhat, but here, the hippogriff, never bred for this climate, was falling into a sullen daze. He gave Sirius a rather large scratch on the eighth morning of their exile, and went off for a flight without waiting for Sirius to Disillusion him. He came back an hour later, and spent the rest of the day pawing at the dirt and looking up at the sky.

Sirius wondered briefly if a good warming charm would make Antarctica livable.

He awoke on the ninth day to a sound that was truly exotic here--the hooting of two owls.

One was a small brown owl with no distinguishing marks. The other was a great snowy owl... Harry's. Sirius had seen her when he'd been on the Hogwarts grounds last year.

He reached for her, and she held her head up proudly. The other owl looked a bit sheepish. Sirius was willing to bet that Harry's owl had been the one to find the way, while the other was lost.

He took Harry's letter eagerly. It began as a simple, newsy thing--how his life with the Dursleys was (unpleasant), how Dudley's diet was going (badly), and how they were kept in check by the knowledge that Harry's godfather might show up at any moment (Sirius paused to savor this notion). But the second-to-the-last paragraph, written in a tone so carefully casual that Sirius estimated it had taken Harry several hours to compose, read:

A weird thing happened this morning, though. My scar hurt again. Last time that happened it was because Voldemort was at Hogwarts. But I don't reckon he can be anywhere near now, can he? Do you know if curse scars sometimes hurt years afterward.

I'll send Hedwig with this when she gets back; she's off hunting at the moment. Say hello to Buckbeak for me.

"Hello from Harry, Buckbeak," Sirius muttered, then glanced at the P.S. on the note and smiled--Harry's yearly imprisonment was over, at any rate: he was off to Ron Weasley's, and apparently the tickets that had eluded Kingsley hadn't got far... Harry was going to be there.

He'd have to scrounge around his bag to see if he'd grabbed any parchment in his flight from the hotel. He knew he'd grabbed a quill and ink along with the magical items, as Muggles always seemed to find it curious. He decided to see what the second owl was carrying before he wrote his reply.

It hopped over. The writing on the envelope was Lupin's. Sirius took it and opened it.

I assume Harry has written to you, so I told this owl to find Hedwig and follow her. The owl I tried to send to your previous location returned somewhat confused.

Harry is fine.

I say that before I begin, because he may have told you he was actually
at the Quidditch World Cup when the Dark Mark went up--

"What the..." Sirius started.

--and the Death Eaters showed up. He is fine. Arthur Weasley got him safely out, and Dumbledore assures me that he is perfectly well protected at the Weasleys' home until he gets to Hogwarts. Don't come rushing back here to check on him. Of course, this may be the first you hear of it, and I rather hope it is, because I could open with what would concern you most. There is no need for rushing headlong back to Britain.

However, Dumbledore and I spoke at length after the World Cup incident. Things are changing in ways neither of us cares for, and I'd assume you don't care for it much, either. If you are careful--which means more careful than you apparently have been (yes, after my first owl returned, I heard about your close scrape)--it may be wise to be somewhat closer at hand. I have the impression that Dumbledore wants all of us ready; he's already brought Moody out of his "retirement" to fill my old post at Hogwarts. I am still where I have been, and the island is isolated, but be careful. I do have visitors from time to time, and am watched. If you come, don't approach without your best disguise, and keep your companion Disillusioned and quiet. I would personally prefer that you wait until we find Peter and bring him before the Wizengamot--he can lie to them, but they'll know he's lying, as he's actually there to give evidence rather than many years dead.

But things are moving in the world. Perhaps it's time for you to move as well.


Sirius pulled over his rucksack, found a crumpled piece of parchment resting along the side, and tore it in two. On the first half, he wrote a quick reply to Harry, telling him that he'd be moving north. On the second, he wrote,

I would have come even without your permission, though the hospitality is welcome. I'll be well-behaved and make no noise whatsoever. My companion and I will fly as quickly as possible.

He tied the letters to the two owls. "Don't be seen," he told them, then gave them a boost, one on each arm, into the sky.

When he turned around, Buckbeak was waiting, his lead dangling from his beak.

Oops, I forgot the most important piece of information that belonged in Lupin's letter--that Moody was going to Hogwarts! :eyeroll: I'll edit that in tonight.

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