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Stray, Chapter Ten: On A Stormy Day, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Ten: On A Stormy Day, pt. 1
Dang, the owls are slow in GoF's year. Checking the timeline, Pig takes three weeks to get back to Hogwarts. I guess he gets off course.

Anyway, when I left off almost two years ago, Tonks had just come face to face with an untransformed Sirius, after a battle with the Hogboon. She tries to maintain a facade, using the fake name that Remus made up, Padraic Foote, but it doesn't last. She vows to get a new trial, but Amelia Bones tells her that she needs new evidence, and none is forthcoming without Peter. Sirius, meanwhile, has been having dreams of Regulus, all involving the house in one way or another, but he's studiously ignoring them.

Remus and Sirius had earlier, in contacting Harry, broken into the house of Fiona Brody and her daughters, Kirsty and Elspeth, on a neighboring island to use the Floo. Fiona's husband is at St. Mungo's because he was kissed by a Dementor a few years back while he was out on his fishing boat.

Sirius has received Harry's long letter, which delights him, and takes a couple of days to send Pig back, but there does seem to be a communication problem that doesn't exist when the Ministry sends owls to Little Whinging five minutes after the Dementor attack...

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

The weather, never especially cheerful at this latitude, took a decided turn for the worse over the next week, as cold, spiteful winds swept across the North Sea and filled the sky with an unpleasant gray sleet.

At first, Sirius didn't mind. Dora came by on a daily basis, and brought spicy takeaway food, and Remus expanded the meager fireplace and made a jolly blaze. They all sat together and avoided talking about the case and Dora's troubles at the Ministry. Sirius gave her the Gringotts key he'd liberated to get Harry's Firebolt, and she took enough gold to get him decent winter clothes at a favorite shop of hers, along with a small but functional wardrobe of everyday robes and Muggle clothes.

One day, she brought pictures of her years at Hogwarts, and another, Remus found a show on the Wizarding Wireless Network that played the songs they'd grown up listening to. Sirius tried to teach Dora to dance, with no great success, then shared stories of his own life at Hogwarts with her. That night, after a few drinks, the three of them broke out a deck of Tarot cards for a long game of poker.

But Dora's visits never lasted long enough, and the nature of her job hung over her like a cloud that was always ready to burst. Remus got short-tempered at being "back in the Gryffindor dormitory" when Sirius slept too late and didn't keep his clothes picked up, and Sirius remembered that it had never been particularly amusing to share space with his ill-tempered nagging. When Dora announced that she'd got Kingsley to let her go to Albania, Remus made one too many fatalistic comments and she flew into a high temper at him before storming off without a goodbye kiss. Sirius found himself on her side, and resented Remus's hospitality, as it made it impossible to voice such an opinion.

Two days after that blowout, Remus and Sirius had spent the morning snapping at one another over ridiculous things, and Remus had finally stopped and said, "I think I'll go to the mainland for a bit."

Sirius nodded.

Remus sighed. "I'll bring back some decent food. I think there's a program on the wireless we could listen to later."

"What kind?"

"Mystery. Adventure. One or the other. Maybe both."

Sirius took the olive branch. "I'll clean up around here while you're gone."

Remus nodded and left.

Sirius got the shack as clean as it was likely to get, shrinking his growing pile of Prophets and stashing them in a trunk Remus had scrounged for him, along with the clothes. It was still early afternoon when he finished, and Remus wasn't back yet. There was nothing on the wireless except a news program that was rehashing the career of the fearsome criminal, Sirius Black. He couldn't think of anything else to do that wouldn't make a mess of the shack again, so he transformed to go outside and get some air, however unpleasant it might be.

The ground squelched under his paws, and cold water seeped between his pads, chilling him through, but the smell of the world was oddly wonderful--the sea salt, the loosed earth, the indescribable scent of the icy rain itself. He worked up to a run and pelted down along the edge of the sea cliff. In the distance, he could see the gray humped shadow of the Brodies' island, and he barked at it, then turned his face up into the sleet. It hit his fur and, when the fur was soaked through, the skin beneath it. Each drop seemed to carry a short burst of pain, followed by a an oddly pleasant sensation as his body adjusted to the change. He let his tongue hang out to catch drops. It was tangy with salt.

He ran down the slope to the rocky beach and looked out over the choppy sea. Waves crashed against rocky shoals and reached angry fists up into the sky. He'd seen this from his window at Azkaban sometimes, while the water pounded angrily against the towers, and he'd always longed to be out in it. Now he was, and there was a queer power in it, a--

"...down, El..."

Sirius straightened up. If he'd been human, he'd never have caught the thin sound rising above the ocean's roar. Even as a dog, it was faint. He pricked up his ears.

"... batten down... you're going over...

Between the waves, he saw a blurry shape rushing down a mountain of water. It was obscured again by another wave rising between them.

Many of Sirius's senses were enhanced in dog form, but vision wasn't one of them. Praying that no Auror was anywhere nearby, he transformed back into human form and narrowed his eyes against the sleet and sea spray. A wave crashed down, and he saw it again--a bright colored boat, struggling against the waves, perhaps the length of three Quidditch pitches from the island. A small figure was clinging to the mast, and another one was running back and forth, dumping water from the boat with a bucket.

The Brody girls.

For a moment--too long a moment, he thought later--Sirius stood frozen on the shore. He wanted to send a Patronus to Remus to come help, but didn't dare; for all he knew, Remus was in the middle of a Muggle market, or talking to someone who would recognize his "dog" speaking to him. Sirius supposed he could transform again and swim out as Padfoot, and carry the girls on his back, kicking through the waves, but that was too risky. And if he went now, as himself...

"Dammit," he hissed, then turned on his heel and Disapparated, pulling himself to the boat just as a wave crashed against it and knocked the littler girl, Elspeth, down from the mast. He caught her and put her on a seat, binding her to it.

Kirsty ran back with her bucket, her eyes wide with panic, and continued her operation until he caught her.

"I've got you," he said. "Sit down!" He steadied the boat magically, Levitating it briefly out of the raging water.

She looked at him with no recognition, of course, but seemed not to register any danger from him, and he realized she was already to frightened to be shocked. She was breathing quickly and heavily, and her eyes were darting from one wave to another.

"What are you doing out in weather like this?" Sirius asked.

Kirsty wailed and sat down. "My mither!" she cried. "Oh, I'm Kirsty Brody and we live on the next island, and she was fixing the Floo, and it collapsed, and it broke her leg and her wand, and I'm trying to get to Mr. Lupin, who lives here and he said he would help us, and Mither said not to take the boat, but I don't have another way and--" She stopped abruptly in the middle of her sentence and began to cry in earnest. Elspeth joined her.

Sirius used the spell Remus had used last month and steered the boat rapidly toward the cove. "It's all right," he said. "As it happens, I'm here, and I'll..." He started to say, "Help you," but if Fiona recognized him and let slip that he was here, near Lupin's place, if... "I'll--" He ground his teeth. "I'll help you," he said.

The girls continued to cry as he pulled the boat into the cove. He jumped out, then picked up Elspeth and put her down on dry land. Kirsty got out on her own. She was starting to gather herself.

"Who... who are..."

Unable to think of another name, Sirius said, "Padraic Foote. I'm a friend of Mr. Lupin's." He regretted this immediately--why drag Remus into it if Fiona were to recognize him? Then again, if she recognized him, then the fact that he was Remus's friend would be common knowledge. He supposed he could always say that Remus had no idea he was on the island, but--

He shook himself off. There were two little girls, soaked and frightened. That took precedence over his own worries, and he'd find some way to exonerate Remus.

"Come inside," he said. "We'll get you dried off and warmed up, and then we'll get back to your mother."

He led them quickly back over the rise to Remus's shack. By the time they got in, all three of them were shaking badly, and Sirius was glad that magic could significantly speed up the brewing of three cups of tea. He dried them with a flick of his wand while it was steeping, and handed each of them a mug before he lit the fire.

Kirsty sat carefully on the tartan armchair, then jumped as a broken spring poked her. Elspeth took the sofa. Sirius pulled the chair over from the desk.

"You should never take a boat out like that. You and your mother need to have a different way to communicate if the Floo is down."

Kirsty nodded. "She didn't say to take the boat. She said to wait for the end of the storm, at least, but she was hurting so much that she fainted, and Elspeth and I--"

Elspeth leaned forward. "It was my idea. It's Papa's boat."

"I guessed as much," Sirius said. "I'll send it back magically, and take you home by Side-Along Apparition."

"Can we go now?" Kirsty asked. "Mither was hurting awfully!"

"Finish your tea," Sirius said. "I don't want you catching pneumonia, too."

Kirsty nodded and obediently drained her cup. Sirius looked out the window, and still saw no sign of Remus and rescue.

Elspeth finished her own tea, then stood up. "I'm ready to go," she said.

Sirius's chest was tight. He wished he hadn't gone out, and hated himself for wishing it. He offered his arm to Elspeth, and looked over his shoulder at Kirsty. "I'll be back in just a moment," he said. He quickly pulled Elspeth to the island, instructed her to wait under an umbrella he Conjured, then went back for Kirsty (dousing the fire before he left). He brought Kirsty over, took a deep breath, and led both girls toward their house. Once they were in the dooryard, Elspeth ran ahead and opened the door, screaming, "MITHER!"

A groan came from the house.

Kirsty hurried her pace, and Sirius ran to keep up with her.

He entered the Brody home for the third time. The fireplace where he'd talked to Harry was a shamble of broken stones, and in the midst of them was Fiona Brody, one leg twisted at an awkward angle. Her wand was snapped beside her. She looked up drowsily, then her eyes sharpened in suspicion.

"He's going to help us!" Kirsty said. "This is Mr. Foote, Mither."

Fiona pushed herself up until she was sitting. The pain left her face white and wan, but her eyes were completely alert, and Sirius knew she'd seen a certain poster. Of course she had--this close to Azkaban, they'd have made sure everyone was on the lookout.

He swallowed hard, and waited to see what she would do.
38 comments or Leave a comment
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From: severely_lupine Date: March 21st, 2009 07:49 am (UTC) (Link)
The reminders of being in the dorm was both funny and kinda sad. I haven't really thought about it before, but it does seem as if, without James there to keep Sirius's attention, things could get a bit more prickly between them. If I recall correctly, they seem to mostly get along when they're living in GP, so at least they find some way to make it work.

Oh, poor kids! I bet Sirius likes to be useful, though, or at least part of him does, despite the danger. After all, he kind of resented the implication later that he just wanted to stay still and keep safe. I bet his wishing he hadn't gone out was just his bad mood thinking. It's nice that Fiona thought of Lupin, but it's not as if she had much choice. Or was Lupin the girls' idea completely?

Did Sirius Disapparate from inside the house?

Oh, dear, what a cliffhanger. I do hope that Fiona will realize Sirius is only trying to help and won't cause trouble for him.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did Sirius Disapparate from inside the house?


Yup. That needs fixing.

I think things probably get prickly with any two people cooped up too long. Whatever there is to say about 12GP, it has more room to avoid each other than the shack does. ;p
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: March 21st, 2009 08:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh no! (It's a tribute to your skills, really, that I feel on pins and needles here, when I know for certain Sirius doesn't get captured.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I'm not entirely sure where this is going, but Sirius definitely needed something else to do.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: March 21st, 2009 09:12 am (UTC) (Link)
*keeps fingers crossed that everything goes OK*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
*fingers also crossed*
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 21st, 2009 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)
noo....i can't go a whole day without knowing what happens next..! i wonder where you're taking this story now. love your writing as always..

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I hope it's going somewhere good!
i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: March 21st, 2009 01:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that's a new twist: well done.

Perhaps the owls are slow because of security for the Triwizard tournament? You've established that the news about the dragons hasn't leaked ot the Prophet, so they're clearly keeping a tight lid on speculation. Pre-Umbridge, I don't know that Harry would have noticed that post was being interfered with... and she has to have gotten the idea (and the infrastructure) for that somewhere.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
On the other hand, if post were being monitored, Sirius and Harry would have both been in fairly extreme trouble. Hmm.
lollapulizer From: lollapulizer Date: March 21st, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a cliffhanger! I know he has to get out, but how is what I'm wondering.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
So am I. :)
willowbough From: willowbough Date: March 21st, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad to see you've resumed this, and the new material is already involving. No surprise if the weather and close quarters are getting to both Remus and Sirius. And what a pickle Sirius has landed himself in, and what will Mrs. Brody do?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll find out about two hours earlier than everyone else, probably... ;p
chrischewscud From: chrischewscud Date: March 21st, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
AHHHH!!! What a place to leave it! I'll have no internet for a week! (You're now like T.V., but much more interesting).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, thanks!
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 21st, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
...and the cliffhangers begin again. You know, I've just remembered that I don't actually like suspense while I'm reading... :p

Continuity-nitpick: Brodie/Brody. I think you used Brodie in the first few chapters, and then in this chapter it was Brody except for the one place near the beginning where you said Brodies'... that's the only thing I noticed, though. I think I'm going to end up really liking the Brodys. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're right, I like "Brodie" better, so I'll switch to that. Though I think in "Brodies" I was just pluralizing the Y. Which kind of doesn't makes sense with a name, now that I think about it.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: March 21st, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow. I know it all turns out right and yet I'm all nervous and fidgety for Sirius.

It's lovely to see this continued. I've enjoyed the rereads of the existing chapters but it's great to get a brand new snippet of this story.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
It took a little while to get the sand out of the mental gears, but I'm glad to be writing again.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: March 21st, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow, this was awesome. New stuff! I'm on the edge of my sit, I hope Fiona... welcomes a mass murderer on her house? *gulp* This is baaaaaad...

It's realistic that there will be a certain strain on their everyday lives- it's been a long time, I guess, since Remus had somebody living with him, and the shack is bloody small. Hey, my sister and I aren't able to share a small space for too long without getting into each others nerves, why wouldn't it be the same for them?

God, how can anyone live so far from civilization? Especially alone with two young girls? It's terrible.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that's what I'm running into. I can think of a justification for her not turning him in, but not so much for "Hi, welcome to my home, want to hang around?"
tencups_i_swear From: tencups_i_swear Date: March 21st, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
What is going to happen?!?!
You're so good at ciff hangers it's kiling me!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 22nd, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do enjoy my little games. ;p
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 21st, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I see you're keeping up JKR's lead of Sirius never quite getting a break and managing to stay out of trouble for a bit. Poor sod. :) An actual Confundus Charm might be the best he can do here? Although if he'd just Transfigured his appearance first ...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 22nd, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
It occurred to me to have him do it, but that would have cost a little extra time, so he didn't.

I'm thinking of having the Brodies form the base of a subplot, so I don't want to confund them.
tdu000 From: tdu000 Date: March 21st, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you are continuing with this story after all. I probably won't review much but I wanted you to know I'm reading.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 22nd, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good to know! :)
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: March 22nd, 2009 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh yay for new material!!! That means the agonizing cliffhangers start from here on out but I'm really glad for them seeing that none of us would have seen 'Stray: Ch 10' on our flists a while ago.
Sirius has gotten himself into a right pickle, hasn't he? I really hope mither Fiona (hee! I have to say that I love the accent!)accepts what help he can give and let him go on his way. I'm sad that means no more irriatateddormitory!Remus and Sirius interaction but that's the life of a fugitive, isn't it?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 22nd, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I re-read it, and I liked it, so I didn't want to leave it unfinished.

It truly is. And Sirius needs to start thinking of another hiding space, though I'm going to keep him involved with Remus and the Orkneys and so on, since he needs something to do other than twiddling his thumbs in the cave between communiques from Harry.
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