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Stray, Chapter Six: A Marauder Day Trip, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Six: A Marauder Day Trip, pt. 1
Sirius needs to talk to Harry about the tournament face to face, but Remus isn't hooked into the Floo system. Remus thinks this through and decides to find out if the family on the next island is magical and connected to the system. He and Sirius decide to go over in a boat, with Sirius transformed, to check out the situation.

I felt like writing something happy.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Sirius awoke the next morning on the living room sofa, his head not pounding at all, fully looking forward to the day for the first time he could remember in years. The weather was surprisingly jolly for this time of year at this latitude--the sun was weak, but untroubled by clouds for once, and the wind made a cheery whistling sound as it cut through the thick grass of the island. Remus had left a loaf of bread on the table along with two eggs and half of a melon. Outside, Sirius could hear the hogboon making a racket in its mound as Remus made whatever cursory effort he was making today toward its expulsion. It really wasn't like Remus to treat a job quite this dismissively; Sirius guessed that being sacked from Hogwarts last year--for which Dumbledore really had a lot to answer, in Sirius's opinion--was causing a lot more bitterness than he was admitting, but he'd have to work that out on his own. Meanwhile, Sirius considered it perfectly just, given the terms of engagement.

He made himself breakfast and enjoyed the sunshine coming through the window. Remus came back inside just as he was finishing up the melon. His face was cut and bruised, and he was covered with dirt.

"Sounds like you got him good and angry, at any rate," Sirius said, gesturing at the back of the house.

Remus shrugged. "I got into one of the catacombs. I thought I could get it to come out. Unfortunately, it was the one it was already in. Have you ever seen a hogboon?"

"I thought they just looked like little men."

"Sort of. Except that they're not little, they have eight inch iron claws and an extra set of limbs, and they scuttle around like great crabs. Oh, and they're shapeshifters, so you can't count on them not fitting somewhere."

"So you've had a good morning so far."

"Quite refreshing, yes." Remus grinned. "Are you ready to go?"

"Absolutely ready. But next time you go in that mound, I want a bite at that hogboon. It sounds like fun."

"All right," Remus said, amiably enough. "Outdoor rules apply."

Sirius pulled a face at him.

Remus pulled off his filthy T-shirt and headed into his bedroom, his voice muffled through the closed door. "I'll get cleaned up, and then we'll"--he cut this with a curse as Sirius guessed he was cleaning out a wound--"get started over. No need to look too alarming. The boat's in a cove on the far side of the.... bloody... what the... mound, and it should... AAARGH... be ready to go." He cursed a bit more, then came out, clean and unwounded, buttoning the cuffs of an ancient, frayed shirt. The Muggle trousers he was wearing with it were in only slightly better shape, and apparently needed the braces that he drew over his shoulders.

"Did you find those in the mound?" Sirius asked.

"Dad's," Remus said briefly, then shrugged. "I have a few sets of Muggle clothes I could wear to work in the city--if I could get a job--but this is the only thing that seems right for rowing."

"Can you really row in the sea?"

Remus grinned. "Well, I said no Apparition," he said. "It hadn't occurred to me to do it without magic. Transform."

Sirius laughed. "Don't you feel like we should have the map and the Invisibility Cloak?"

"Well, the map wouldn't help us and the Cloak is more useful to Harry. But yes." He held his hand up, palm out, still smiling. "I solemnly swear..."

"...I'm up to no good," Sirius finished, raising his own hand. "I'll race you to the cove." He transformed and bounded out the door.

He ran a quick circle around Buckbeak, just to play, and Buckbeak happily nipped at him, but didn't take flight, though they'd given him a long enough tether to do so in a limited way. Remus flashed by on the far side, climbing the mound easily while Sirius ran full tilt around its edge. The grass was brown and aromatic, and still smelled of last night's bonfire. A few dead wildflowers crumbled into clouds of pollen.

Sirius burst out of the mound's shadow into a cold blast of sea spray as a wave crashed against the sharp edge of the island. He could see Remus descending the mound , headed for a part of the coast that dropped down abruptly into a tiny cove.

He put on a burst of speed, and arrived at the small rowboat just as Remus crested the low rise of gritty sand.

"I could have Apparated out here," Remus said.

Sirius shrugged--an obviously human gesture that would have caused suspicion had anyone been there to see it, but no one was--then leaped onto the boat. It rocked alarmingly and took on water, but a wave of Lupin's wand got rid of it. Lupin Summoned it over and climbed in carefully, pulling the oars out from under the seats. He held them in a way that suggested he'd never rowed anywhere in his life, letting them skim the surface of the cove about two inches deep, waggling them back and forth pointlessly. The boat moved forward calmly, in a perfectly straight line, and took them out into open water.

"I should have left a note for the Aurors," Remus said, pulling the oars back in a way that was gaining at least some marginal believability. "Dear Dora, Kingsley, Williams, Dawlish, or whoever might be coincidentally about, I've taken the fugitive for a day trip. Help yourself to tea." He glanced at the sky, then tossed over an old tattered blanket. "If you put it over your head and keep down," he said, "you can transform until we're close to land again."

Sirius did so. "If they're a wizarding family over on the next island, do you supposed they'd let you have any back issues of the Prophet? I'd like to know what's going with this tournament before I talk to Harry."

"It can't hurt to ask."

"I wish I could be closer to Hogwarts."

"So do I." Remus sighed, and Sirius saw a shadow start to creep over today's sunny mood, then he shook it off. "But as neither of us would be entirely welcomed by anyone other than Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore--"

"Right," Sirius said. "I'd wager half the smart girls at Hogwarts would welcome dear Professor Lupin back with open arms."

"Well, maybe a few. Ginny Weasley says the students have taken a shine to Moody, though."

"Ginny Weasley?"

"Ron's sister. She writes to me now and again."

"Huh. I thought you made that up about the students writing, to cover for Harry's letter with Dora."

He smiled fondly. "Oh, some of them do. Ginny is particularly aggressive about it. She doesn't talk much about Harry, though, so I didn't think you'd be interested. She's quite proud of how very little she talks about Harry."

"Oh," Sirius said. "Someone has a crush on Harry, eh?"

"Oh, yes, a painful one for everyone who observes it. Even Harry's not thick enough about girls to miss it, and trust me, that's saying something."

"My godson takes after you about girls?" Sirius shook his head. "Remind me to have a long talk with him on the subject, once we get him through this damned tournament. What else have your students told you? Anything unusual at the school?"

Remus shrugged. "Well, er... not really. It's been Ginny, plus one letter from Pansy Parkinson scolding me for being a werewolf the whole time she confided in me, then proceeding to tell me about the dress robes her mother bought for her, then scolding me again, possibly for being a half-blood, though I wasn't entirely clear on that. Pansy has her own unique viewpoints on the world."

"Sounds charming."

"Pansy is what she is," Remus said complacently. "There was also one from Ernie Macmillan this summer, assuring me that my condition appears to him to be an external curse, for which it is unfair to persecute sufferers. And that's almost exactly how he worded it. It was co-signed by four more Hufflepuffs, and he apparently sent a copy to the Board of Governors."

"Which ones?"

"Which governors?"

"Which students?"

"Justin Finch-Fletchley--he's Muggle-born, you wouldn't know him--and Susan Bones from his year. She's Amelia Bones's great niece." Sirius nodded; Remus went on. "He also got one of my O.W.L. students, Jamie Stebbins, to sign, and a boy the year below him as well. Stephen Summerby. I was surprised not to see Hannah Abbott; we got along well enough, and she was in Ernie's little group. But I suppose she was always the nervous sort about that kind of thing. Either that, or he didn't happen to see her over the summer holidays."

"That was damned decent of them," Sirius said. "And I'm willing to wager that if he'd waited until the school year to send it, there'd've been more signatures."

"Anyway," Remus said, "in terms of what you're interested in, none of the students who've contacted me have mentioned anything particularly disturbing, or anything about Harry. Luna Lovegood--yes, those Lovegoods; you'd like her, I'm sure you remember her mother at school--wrote last week and said that she understood that Moody had shown the fourth years unforgivable curses, but that's just Moody for you--rules be damned. I always mean to ask him whether he was a Gryffindor or a Slytherin, but the conversation never seems to get around to it. Land. You need to transform."

The conversation was cut off that easily, but Sirius didn't mind. He saw the new island rising up from the sea, smelled new dead grass, and heard the laughter of children he hadn't yet met and had no reason to seek out. They would be the first completely new people he'd met since Azkaban (not counting business transactions)--people who had no connection to his past--and the notion delighted him utterly.
22 comments or Leave a comment
From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 23rd, 2007 10:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I really like the idea of Macmillan sending a letter of protest - it seems just like him; he's a bit of a pompous idiot, but thoroughly decent with it.

Moody really was a great cover for Crouch, in more than one way.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like Ernie, in the weirdest, nerdiest way. He'll probably end up with a perfectly stuffy career on the Wizengamot, talking about his days as one "the old D.A. lags." ;p
lorelei_lynn From: lorelei_lynn Date: June 23rd, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been enjoying this whole story very much. Even better, it's coinciding with my re-read of GoF. Looking forward to the next installment.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed GoF until I re-read it for this. At the moment, I'm really missing Hogwarts, though! I want to be checking out those dragons, but the hogboon will have to do for now.
aebhel From: aebhel Date: June 23rd, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Another great installment, as usual. I love that you're writing regularly now; it's always a treat to find one of these chapters up when I check my flist.

I really like Remus' cheerfully bitter attitude about the hogboon - I like that you don't write him as this utterly placid, unflappable character. And, of course, Ernie Macmillan's letter is just perfect.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's tempting to write Remus as placid, because he cultivates it, but you know he's the sort of person who would write a resignation letter and really, really hope that Dumbledore--who has, after all, been championing a bad teacher all year, for crying out loud--would make Herculean efforts to change his mind about leaving. It must have been very disappointing when he didn't.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: June 23rd, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aww, this was fun! And heh, so Ernie.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought Sirius was due for a little adventure, even if it's of a tamer variety than the ones Harry is having.
golden_d From: golden_d Date: June 23rd, 2007 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heee. I really like your descriptions of Pansy - it makes me wish you'd write her in a larger role than just snippets of letters to Lupin. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm quite sure Pansy will never admit to Draco that she has written to Professor Lupin. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 23rd, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
But, now, I can't keep from thinking, they're going to an island with a wizard family - with children - living on it.

Anyone Remus taught?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 24th, 2007 02:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, most of the ones he actually taught would be at Hogwarts, but the Hogwarts thing will come into play.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: June 23rd, 2007 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Finally had the opportunity to catch up again.
I loved how Pansy and Ernie wrote to Lupin. For all his faults, he's a loveable dear.
I thought the interlude with Peter's POV was great, too. Yay for him being good at potions!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 24th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
For all his faults, he's a loveable dear.

Ernie or Lupin? ;p

As to Peter, he almost has to be good at Potions--that's what he got Voldie back to life on in GoF! And we know from Harry that just having someone who knows the recipe isn't always good enough.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: June 24th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Both of them, of course, but I was referring to Lupin.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 24th, 2007 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, good, I felt like reading something happy. :)

I loved this whole chapter, especially Pansy's letter, and "yes, those Lovegoods." Now I want to know what made them those Lovegoods to Sirius. And now I have my next idea for one of your drabble challenges. :D

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 24th, 2007 02:42 am (UTC) (Link)
He probably just means, "That crazy guy with the newspaper who spent the first war talking about Crouch's alliance with Voldemort, and how Dumbledore knew it all along." ;p Of course, why he'd remember Luna's mother as "Lovegood" is a different question.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 24th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure Sirius, of all people, wouldn't be surprised by that! You know those purebloods, got to keep it in the family, right? :-p
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: June 24th, 2007 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent as usual. I love light-hearted chapters like this; they particularly special knowing how dark things will turn at the end of this year. And your Remus and Sirius both feel so natural.

One little question: why did you switch from 'Remus' to 'Lupin' during the prose? I assume you have some reason because I remember noticing it in an earlier chapter, but it's not very clear to me.

- Victoria

P.S. You really should write more Pansy one day!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 24th, 2007 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)
One little question: why did you switch from 'Remus' to 'Lupin' during the prose?

Complete careless mistake; no greater meaning. I know which instance you mean, too; it's when Sirius is thinking that he's surprised Remus has friends, and I called him "Lupin" twice in a paragraph. :eyeroll at self:

P.S. You really should write more Pansy one day!

Mayhap I will.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: June 24th, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
yay for a happy chapter!

My favourite line was the one about "I'd wager half the smart girls at Hogwarts would welcome dear Professor Lupin back with open arms."

I bet they would!
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: July 6th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
:: loves Ernie MacMillan ::
22 comments or Leave a comment