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Stray, Chapter Eleven: The Silver Button, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Eleven: The Silver Button, pt. 1
Sirius was forced to show his face when the two little girls on the next island nearly got capsized during a storm, and he had to get them back. Their mother recognized him, but because of her own experience with the Dementors has no desire to turn him over to them. She also questions the logic of a cold-blooded mass-murderer risking his freedom to save a couple of strangers.

All of this was caused by her blowing up her Floo when she was trying to fix it, breaking both her leg and her wand in the process. Sirius offers to help, but doesn't know anything about Floos. After hearing about it, Remus realizes that it's probably a good idea to help--he has learned a little about them--before she takes the family boat over to the mainland to send a post owl for a Floo repairman, since the girls are likely to gossip about their exciting adventure.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

The winds died down overnight, though a dreary sleet was still drenching the island, covering the windows and distorting the world beyond them in long, languid smears. The hogboon's mound looked like it belonged in a Monet painting that Sirius happened to be looking at a bit too closely.

"I'd best go over this morning," Remus said. "Before Fiona takes it in her head to go to the mainland. I don't think you should come. It's--"

"It's not a great thing for someone to have a wanted fugitive in her home?" Sirius asked.

"Well, she doesn't have any particular reason to risk it."

"Neither do you," Sirius said, then shook his head. "No, you're right. I'll stay."

Remus narrowed his eyes. "That was too easy."

"I'm tired."

"Are you all right?"

Sirius shrugged. He hadn't slept much, listening to the storm play itself out, and his mind had been turning over yesterday's events. "I need to think," he said.

Remus gave him an uncertain nod and pulled on his heaviest cloak, which looked sturdy enough to fully protect him against a mild breeze on a sunny day in May (Sirius hoped it was charmed to be warmer than it looked), then went out into the miserable morning. Sirius watched him until he disappeared behind a curtain of rain.

From the other side of the shack, Sirius could hear Buckbeak scratching at his bedding restlessly. He went to the back door and opened it onto the little enclosure where the Disillusioned hippogriff was tossing wet hay disconsolately into a pile. The rain pattered off of him, making him perfectly visible as a water sculpture.

"Need that dried?" Sirius asked, pointing at the hay.

The water sculpture looked up eagerly and flapped its wings in assent.

Sirius slipped out into the shadows and Conjured a little shelter. He hoped that it would look to any visitors like something Remus might have built to keep his new dog in. Quickly, he dried out Buckbeak's bedding, then Buckbeak himself, who came over and nuzzled him fondly.

"We need to get you out of here, too," Sirius said. "I don't know where you can go, but this is no good."

Buckbeak raised his wing in a sheltering motion, and Sirius scratched him vigorously behind the joint.

"There has to be a safe place." Buckbeak finished nuzzling, and began to spread his bedding joyfully around. Sirius could only see slight waver where he was now that he was dry, but the bedding was visible enough. Sirius sat down on a crate. "I'm starting to sound like my father. 'It's not SAFE enough yet. Lock that down, one more hex, then a charm. I'll ask Auntie Lycoris, I'm sure she had the world's strongest Button-Up Bewitchment on her old lace knickers.'" He sighed and reached into the pail of fish Remus had got for Buckbeak, and tossed one over. The blurred shape rose up happily to catch it, and it snapped in two, one half disappearing entirely and the other falling to the ground. Sirius sat back. The image of Dad puttering around the house at Grimmauld Place came into his mind, as clear as Buckbeak's leap had been.

Mum's body had rotted in that dank old manse for God only knew how long before anyone had happened on it. Dad's spells were good enough to drive even curious, gold-digging family away.

He made a fist and slammed it into the wall. "Not there," he said.

Buckbeak stopped picking at the second half of the fish. A bit of blood dripped out of nowhere and onto the hay.

"Sorry," Sirius muttered.

Out of nowhere, a bright white light swirled above, and Remus's Patronus dropped down in front of him. "Madam Brodie would like you to return the boat, which you told the girls you would do. It apparently has protective Charms to keep you from simply sending it magically, so you will have to sail it. The girls have made quite a large lunch and are looking forward to a visit from Mr. Foote, though their mother is somewhat less eager."

The Patronus disappeared.

Sirius couldn't very well send his own Patronus back, as the Brodies had seen him in dog form, and his Patronus was a nearly exact match.

He stood up and felt for Buckbeak's neck, which he patted. "Looks like I have to go."

Buckbeak pulled away, then tossed the remainder of his fish into a corner. With a thump, he lowered himself to the ground and began to sulk.

Sirius went back inside and searched through the wardrobe Dora had bought him. There was a heavy jacket with a wide hood and scarf, which would do the double duty of keeping him warm and hiding him from any Aurors who happened to be flying overhead on their way to Azkaban. He put this on and went down to the boat, which was bobbing in a little cove. He went to the wheel, though he had no intention of trying to pilot the boat in this manner--it just seemed the right place to stand as he used his wand to get it turned around and headed out to sea. He set the heading, and let it go on its own.

For a few minutes, he held onto the wheel, wondering what it had been like for Dougie Brodie to do this every day, to pull his living from the cold and unforgiving North Sea. The charm of this exercise didn't last, and he fell to exploring the small deck. It was obvious that the girls had made the boat into a playhouse--a little tea table was secured to the floor, and a sopping doll lay on the timbers, jammed up against the wall of the small cabin, where it had probably been thrown during yesterday's mad fight with the storm. Sirius picked it up, meaning to dry it out for the girls.

"Well," he said, "I used to be good with dolls, if I remember Dora's house right, and--"

He stopped.

Under the doll, the wood of the floor was chipped and uneven, and at the place where it went under the cabin wall, something was glinting faintly in the rain-muted light. Sirius got to his knees and prodded it, but it was well and truly stuck.


The thing stuck in the wood flew out, and landed in Sirius's open hand.

It was a button--silver, wrought with tiny vines that wound around a large capital "C."

Sirius frowned. He wasn't troubled by the initial itself--the Brodies certainly would have relatives with other names, one or another perhaps spelled with a "C." For all he knew, Fiona could have been born a Caldwell or a Carrow or a Cadogan. But there was something about this fussy little artifact that didn't seem right. Her folk had been farmers, she'd said, and her husband's had been fishermen.

Sirius had grown up in the upper strata of wizarding society. His winter Hogwarts cloak had been fastened with silver clasps--"S" on one side, "B" on the other. Regulus had owned a similar cloak with own initials. James had dress robes with cuff-links in an intricate design in gold. Lucius Malfoy had worn a pin with his family crest on it until Dumbledore had made a rule against such things. Before Andromeda had been cast out of the family, she'd owned a snood for her hair that was fine braided copper.

Dora would own nothing of the sort, unless Andromeda had taken it with her. Remus's winter cloak had been no finer when he was a boy than it was now.

Old silverware, they might have--most old families had no need to buy new silverware, as it was simply passed down from mother to daughter--but buttons? Buttons were sewn onto clothes, and a fisherman wouldn't be wearing fine, heirloom clothes for a day at work on his boat, even in the unlikely event that the family had wasted gold on such a foolish thing.

He looked at the button thoughtfully, then put it into the deep pocket of his jacket.

A wave crashed, loud and insistent, and he looked up to find himself in the shadow of the Brodies' island, ready to crash. Quickly, he turned the boat, and guided it up the coast, looking for the cove he and Remus had docked in. When he got there, Kirsty and Elspeth were standing with Remus under an Umbrella Charm. Kirsty clapped and ran out to him.

"You did it, Mr. Foote!" she said. "Now you must come in. I've made a stew. Someday, I'm going to be a very famous chef!"

"I thought you were going to be a famous actress," Remus said.

"I shall be a famous chef who's a very famous actress," Kirsty said, unfazed.

"Well, as long as your priorities are right." Remus looked at Sirius. "How was your boat ride?"

Sirius waited until the girls got ahead of them, then pulled the button from his jacket and showed it surreptitiously to Remus. "Enlightening," he said.

"Where was this?"

"On board."


"That's what I'm wondering."
31 comments or Leave a comment
From: severely_lupine Date: March 27th, 2009 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus gave him an uncertain nod and pulled on his heaviest cloak, which looked sturdy enough to fully protect him against a mild breeze on a sunny day in May -- Oh, poor Remus. Great way of wording that, though. Once I got to the end of the sentence, I had to go back and read it again.

Ah, the plot thickens. Very interesting.

It's always so cute to see how excited little kids can get about people when they don't know their bad reputations and only judge them on what they've seen.

I wonder, what do you think Remus's Patronus is? I came up with a theory of my own, but it doesn't jive with the extra past and family that you've established for him. I'm curious what your view is on it, and if you'll ever include it in one of your stories. (Or have you and I missed it?)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 27th, 2009 07:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I have a feeling that if JK is asked, she'll say it's a wolf, but I don't think that makes sense. For me, it's Teddy's hawk, which after all came from one of Remus's happy memories. I expect every Remus writer who's given him a happy memory would choose something different (and very few of us would choose what I think would inevitably have been canon), so I'm most likely going to leave the question alone. ;p
shiiki From: shiiki Date: March 27th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, fascinating. You've got me running through all possible characters beginning with the letter 'C' in my head ... but I'm fairly sure whatever it is, I'll never guess. It's all right - I enjoy being surprised.

Wonderful job again! :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I get the fun of being surprised with this one, too. I really hope it works! (I know who it belongs to, but I still haven't figured out how it got there, or why.)
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willowbough From: willowbough Date: March 27th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, a hint of mystery! I'll be interested in seeing whether this ties into the Triwizard Tournament in any way or whether it's a puzzle in its own right.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
We'll see...
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: March 27th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
And the plot thickens.... I like Sirius realizing he's starting to sound like his father. I hope you keep adding bits like this of Sirius realizing that some of his characterisitics are from his parents. As much as he seems to hate them he has to start realizing that he has parts of them in him and he's going to have to make peace with that.

You can tell I love Sirius! Which is why I'm really glad you chose to continue Stray. =D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you can't really grow up until you acknowledge that you're made up of people who came before you, so I think that it will turn out to be a motif--after all, the one thing he has to do at some point this year is get back to 12GP.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: March 27th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, good, the mystery!

C... Who was there that has name starting with a C?

(Funny how Sirius completely forgot the Crouches...)

Nice chapter. It was interesting, and the girls are cute.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
(Funny how Sirius completely forgot the Crouches...)

If I were Sirius, I might block out Crouch as well...
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: March 27th, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
A silver C... I'm looking forward to learn more.
I'm so glad that you've picked up Stray again!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
It's going slowly, but it's definitely good to have it moving again.
flyingfish33 From: flyingfish33 Date: March 27th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I told myself I was going to review this fic, and I haven't been. I have been reading, though, and I like it a lot so far--I'm glad you decided to complete it.
I like what you've been writing about Sirius's background, and how it--and his reaction against it--shape him so much. I've always liked stories that dig around in characters' histories.
And I liked the description of Buckbeak as a water sculpture. :)

One slight nitpick:
"A bit of blood dripped out of nowhere and onto the hay.

"Sorry," Sirius muttered.

Out of nowhere..."
You might want to change one of those "out of nowhere"s to something else.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
That's what comes of an hour between one line and the next!

I was thinking of Buckbeak as invisible under the charm, but then I realized that in the pouring rain, he'd have a perfectly recognizable shape.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking through that of something in Miss Manners books that she said used to be an insult by old families against the nouveau riche: "They're the sort of people who buy their own silver." Sirius would definitely have been raised in an environment like that (it's Draco who doesn't ring true, bragging about all of his spiffy new things instead of all the old family things he has).
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: March 28th, 2009 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
o0o0o0o, there's a bit of intrigue! I like!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I just hope it works!
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 28th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)

I am enjoying this sososo much!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Nice weather we're having, eh?

Glad you're enjoying it!
31 comments or Leave a comment