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Stray, Chapter Four: Auror Borealis, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Four: Auror Borealis, pt. 3
Sirius has landed at Remus's place and is getting along fine, though he's lost track of time, until Remus tells him that it's Halloween, which sends him into a tailspin, thinking about the night that James and Lily died.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

The black mood--so to speak, Sirius thought bitterly--lifted on its own over the next few days, and by the fourth of November, he had largely put it out of his mind. Transformed again, he was out on the island, not far from the hogboon's mound, hunting with Buckbeak while Remus, ignoring the hogboon entirely, set about building up a tower of peat (along with some wood he'd magicked in from the mainland) for a bonfire tomorrow. Kingsley, whose last name turned out to be Shacklebolt, had appeared for an unexpected tea on the second, and Remus had lied to him with great ease. Sirius was beginning to regret coming here, on some level--Remus was weaving a deep enough web of lies that, unless Sirius's own name was cleared soon, he'd be in Azkaban himself if he wasn't careful.

Or worse. There was always the possibility that Azkaban wouldn't want to handle a werewolf every month. Sirius didn't want to think about what they'd do instead.

Still, Remus never complained, and seemed glad of the company. Sirius was as well.

The weather was tenuously good--a chilly north wind had been blowing hard across the island for days, and Sirius thought he could smell rain on it, but given how much rain generally fell here, it might have just been a permanent part of the smell of the air. Of course, he wasn't smelling much of anything at the moment; he'd got a noseful of mold poking his snout into a rabbit hole, and was fighting not to sneeze.

He looked up a the sky to check the cloud-line.

A small speck was being buffeted back and forth, trying to circle in to land.

Sirius dropped the hunt and bounded up the mound to the top. Remus had made a truly prodigious pile of flammable materials, and was now placing a few anonymous guys on it.

Sirius barked sharply and looked up at the sky.

Remus looked up. "Owl," he said.

Sirius rolled his eyes.

Remus pointed his wand at the bird, helping to steady its flight, and, with some difficulty, it made its way down to where Remus could actually reach it and guide it the rest of the way. Shivering, it hopped across to Sirius. The note on its talon was addressed in Harry's hand... but the address suddenly changed from "Sirius" to "Professor Lupin."

Sirius looked up.

The pop from Apparition had been lost in the high wind. Dora Tonks was cresting the top of the mound, an amused little half-smile on her face.

"Working hard on the expulsion, I see," she said, eyes twinkling.

Remus gave her a weak smile. "Well, it may not like the bonfire."

"Mm." Dora looked down and saw Sirius. "Oh, your dog's still here. Good!" She dropped to the ground on her hands and knees and made a rough barking sound then, grinned and hugged Sirius. "Wotcher, pup," she said, then looked at Remus. "Have you given him a name yet?"

Remus gritted his teeth, and Sirius could nearly see the train of thought--"Padfoot" would be fine, unless she mentioned it to someone who may have heard Sirius called that in school. No one had guessed why the boys had the nicknames they did, but nearly everyone had heard them at one point or another. And they'd never even discussed a different name. In the silence, a fat raindrop plopped down to the ground. Finally, he shrugged and said, "I've mostly called him, 'You there.'"

"That's not very hospitable." She turned back to Sirius with an appraising gaze. "He's got the snuffles," he said. "I shall call him Snuffles."

Remus nodded soberly. "Snuffles it is, then." While her back was turned, he made a less than mature face in Sirius's general direction. More raindrops were landing.

"The owl seems to like him," Dora said, and Sirius noticed that the owl, intent on delivering its message, was still insistently presenting its leg to him.

Remus grabbed it and took the message, ignoring the squawks of protested dignity. "Apparently it's a new one," he said. "Can't tell the difference between a person and his dog." He glanced at the sky, which had suddenly darkened. "We should get inside," he said. "Or I'm going to end up with nothing but soggy parchment." He cast a quick protective spell on the bonfire base, then headed down, slipping the letter inside his cloak.

By the time they got to the house, the rain was steady and pounding. Sirius poked his head out the back door to check on Buckbeak, who was sleeping perfectly comfortably in a pile of fragrant grass (Sirius could tell by the impression in it that he was there). He came back in and sniffed the letter, which Lupin had placed on the work table, carefully treating it as nothing of great import.

"I brought you the Daily Prophet," Dora said. "Thought you might be interested in this."

Remus took it with some interest, then frowned. "Four champions?" he said. "Who put Harry's name in?"

He tossed it on the floor, the headline up.

Sirius ignored their conversation (Dora was fondly accusing Remus of sounding like Mad-Eye, he thought), and read the little blurb at the bottom of the page.

In a mistake without precedent in the ancient Triwizard Tournament, four champions, not three, have been chosen to compete... one of them significantly underage.

After duly selecting a champion from each of the three participating schools, the Goblet of Fire stunningly selected fourteen-year-old Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, as a fourth participant in the tournament, which carries a significant prize in gold as well as public acclaim. Representatives of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang expressed grave dissatisfaction, but are magically bound to continue the tournament once committed to it.

Daily Prophet will keep you informed of this historic event as it unfolds.

Sirius glanced over at Harry's letter, knowing what was inside of it now but wanting to open and read it anyway, unable to do so with Dora sitting four feet away.

He looked at Remus, who shook his head very slightly.

"...other champion from Hogwarts is Cedric Diggory," Dora was saying. "His father isn't happy with the Prophet for not mentioning his name."

"Yes, that's the salient point," Remus said.

"I know Cedric," Dora told him. "He deserves a bit of fame. Of course, his father's an idiot. Always ways. The night Cedric showed up in Hufflepuff, he was very worried about his father would say about him not being in Gryffindor. I sat up with him. He was fine after a while, and he loved Hufflepuff right off. He's supposed to have become a good Quidditch player."

"Very good," Remus said. "I saw him play last year. He beat Harry, though that wasn't really Harry's fault. There were Dementors."

Sirius barked sharply.

"Do you need something to eat?" Remus asked, raising his eyebrows.

Sirius barked again, having no idea what Remus was getting at.

Remus looked apologetically at Dora. "He's a bit of a slob when he eats; I've been feeding him in the storage room in back. Do you mind...?"

She didn't.

Remus brushed by the work table, upsetting his pile of correspondence and dislodging Harry's letter from its place. He picked everything up and--in a move Sirius could only admire--slipped the letter up the sleeve of his robes. Judging by Dora's uninterrupted patter, she hadn't noticed anything.

Remus led Sirius by the scruff into the back room and opened the letter, lying it on the floor beside an unused dog food bowl.

Sirius barked a thank you.

"If she comes out here, hide it," Remus whispered.

Sirius nodded impatiently, and Remus went back into the main house.

It was a very brief letter, only a couple of sentences (one of which was well-wishing for Buckbeak), but it established one thing with absolute certainty: Harry had not put his own name in the Goblet of Fire. He had no idea who had done so.

Sirius lay down, his chin covering the letter, his paws over his ears. This form made it more difficult to think clearly. What he really wanted to do was transform back to human--in his fantasy, Dora gaped for only a moment, then accepted him--and sit down to write a letter to Dumbledore, then head out and become Hogwarts' new guard dog. Particularly for the fourth year dormitory at Gryffindor Tower. What he had to do was find a way to contact Harry more quickly, be able to go back and forth without wind-tossed owls losing the thread of the conversation.

A Floo conversation would be perfect, but Remus had never added this place to the network. He needed to know the lay of the land, and if he was going to get it, he needed to interrupt... just whatever it was Remus was doing with Dora.

He stood up and nosed the door open, and went back into the living room. Remus and Dora were sitting across from one another. She wanted to place a house-to-house bet (Sirius marveled that his cousin had been a Hufflepuff... if Mum hadn't disowned her from birth, she certainly would have then), but Remus didn't appear to be in much more of a mood for bantering about the subject than Sirius was.

Sirius ground his sharp teeth, thinking that Dora had certainly got to be quite the talkative girl, frustratingly so. She seemed to be...

He sat back on his haunches.

She seemed to be deliberately stalling.

He looked at her again. Beneath the surface chatter, she was wary. He didn't think she suspected the truth, but she damned well suspected something.

"All fed?" Remus asked, seeing him lurking in the door.

Sirius barked once, briefly. For good measure, he went over to Dora and licked her face, letting her scratch his ruff.

She kissed his snout, then stood up. "Well," she said, "I'd best get back. I'll let you get to your letter."

"I'm sure it's nothing pressing," Remus said. "Some of the children still write to me."

"Yes, of course. Clearly, it's my cousin Draco, pouring out his hopes and dreams..."

"That's unquestionably it. It's completely unmitigated by the fact that his hopes and dreams include getting rid of half-bloods and werewolves."

The letter, Sirius realized dimly.

What did a person do when he got a letter? Opened it, of course, even if it was just to check and see that no one was sending him a note about an emergency. But Remus had set it aside to entertain her, completely unopened.

And who might an Auror think such a letter was from?

Sirius cursed the owl's timing.

"Well," she said, "tell him I said hello." She kissed Remus on the nose again--Sirius wondered briefly what that was about--then left.

Sirius waited until Remus said, "It's all right, she's Apparated," then transformed.

"I don't like this at all," Sirius said.

"I'm sorry. Telling her to leave would have been suspicious. I always let her stay as she pleases."

"I've noticed that. And you're getting free kisses for it." Sirius smirked.

Remus took a moment to manufacture a horrified look, then dismissed it with a wave of his hand. Sirius thought about needling him, but there were more pressing matters. "Harry didn't put himself up for this," he said.

"I guessed as much."

"I have to talk to him."

Remus gave him a shrewd, sidelong look, and Sirius fully expected to be told it was impossible, that he needed to stay safely away. Instead, Remus said, "Let me think about how to do it."
9 comments or Leave a comment
insidethe_skies From: insidethe_skies Date: June 17th, 2007 09:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

I recently discovered both Shifts and Shades and read them in one weekend, then I stumble onto your journal to find this as well - I'm in fanfic heaven! Your writing is brilliant and your characters and settings all feel so natural to HP that I forget I'm even reading fanfic. You seem to be on a roll with this at the moment, and I do hope it continues as I'm loving it already. I especially love your Remus - he quite makes up for not seeing enough of him in canon.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 18th, 2007 01:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Welcome aboard. This one is writing quickly so far, but will inevitably start to hit snags one of these days. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 17th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
So, Dora seems to suspect the letter's from Sirius - and that Remus took the dog into another room as an excuse to "accidentally" leave the letter back there with him?

My guess is that Dora is going to start digging, the question is where.

Aunt Narcissa is still coming to visit Andromeda. Sirius has to be an emotional issue for her, too. I'm sure she'd be guarded in what she'd say, but she's let things slip before. Also, did she know about Peter?

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I've wondered if any of the Death Eaters didn't know it was their own side who killed Regulus. Sirius said he didn't know who did it, only that he doubted Voldemort had done it himself. Given that Dumbledore thought the Death Eaters would believe the Order would kill Narcissa, I've wondered if there were any deaths the Order figured/knew the Death Eaters had done but that some of Voldemort's side might have blamed on the Order.

Also, if Andromeda had a hand in Regulus' death, I think Narcissa never found out about it. It seems like it would have come up somewhere in the Spinners End chapter. Andromeda knocks off one male relative about the same age Draco is now. Seems like something you'd throw in her face or protest against or something when trying to save Draco.

So . . . could Narcissa have believed Sirius had a hand in Regulus' death?

I don't know if I but that theory or not, I'm just toying with it at present. It would make a mitigating circumstance for her part in Sirius' death. The Regulus/Draco similarities would probably make her a major supporter of "shoot Sirius Black on sight."

Come to think of it, it would have given her another reason for what she did to Dudley in Shifts. If Snape ever voiced some of his opinions of Harry to her, the image of Harry as a little James or Sirius wouldn't have helped.

Sorry. Just giving stray thoughts (no pun intended), and really enjoying this. Thanks!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 18th, 2007 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)
My guess is that Dora is going to start digging, the question is where.

Well, she hasn't quite made the dog connection yet, but she's definitely ready to start digging. Also known as "putting her job in grave jeopardy."

I doubt I'll play too much with Narcissa this time around, though she's hatching her Dudley plot at this point in time (they didn't know about it in Shifts, so they can't have much contact with her, or they'd suspect she was up to something). But it's an intriguing idea that the DEs would think that.
alkari From: alkari Date: June 18th, 2007 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
if Andromeda had a hand in Regulus' death, I think Narcissa never found out about it. It seems like it would have come up somewhere in the Spinners End chapter. Andromeda knocks off one male relative about the same age Draco is now. Seems like something you'd throw in her face or protest against or something when trying to save Draco. When did Andromeda do that? Don't you mean Narcissa's other sister, DE Bellatrix? We know nothing from canon about Andromeda's actions, just that she was struck off the family tree for marrying Muggle-born Ted Tonks. There's never been any suggestion that she was involved in any killings, or had anything to do with Regulus.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 18th, 2007 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, that was such a Bella theory that I actually read "Andromeda" as "Bellatrix"!
golden_d From: golden_d Date: June 17th, 2007 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eeeee. So. Good. And the last two lines just made me smile. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 18th, 2007 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Good! Hope you'll keep smiling. :)
springdove From: springdove Date: June 21st, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
As always, a fabulous chapter. :) I love the creativity with how Remus manoeuvres to allow Sirius to read Harry's letter. And I love how you slipped in the "Snuffles" nickname there. Very nice.

I'm not sure if you so much want a copy editor, but I tend to pick up little typos. I've found in the past that writers usually appreciate it. However, if it's really quite annoying, feel free to tell me to bug off. For the moment, I'll plunge recklessly ahead with a couple of possible typos:

She dropped to the ground on her hands and knees and made a rough barking sound then, grinned and hugged Sirius.
I think the comma might better suit the meaning if moved to after "sound." I keep wanting to read "She...made a rough barking sound then" and "grinned and hugged Sirius" as two separate thoughts with it as it is.

Of course, his father's an idiot. Always ways.
I'm guessing here that "ways" is actually meant to be "was."

The night Cedric showed up in Hufflepuff, he was very worried about his father would say about him not being in Gryffindor.
I think this sentence may be missing a "what"?
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