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Stray, Chapter Twelve: Mixed Messages, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Twelve: Mixed Messages, pt. 3
Oh, screw it. I've been having trouble with NaPoWriMo toward the end of the month, and for two days, I've been saying, "If you write your poem, you can write some Stray. That's ended up with neither getting written, so I'll just write the Stray, then see what I can come up with poem-wise. A heroic couplet is sounding good right now.

Anyway, Dumbledore came to visit, and offered Sirius the cave in Hogsmeade, starting after Christmas. He mentions them not having a headquarters. Sirius, at last mention "dreamed of home."

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

He was standing in the kitchen at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. A part of his dreaming mind took note of the decorations, and his apparent size, and guessed that this was his first Christmas home from school.

It had been a rather cold Christmas. Mum had spent the autumn writing letters to Durmstrang, Beauxbatons, Snowleaf (in Canada), and even the Royal Magical Academy of Calcutta (a particularly obnoxious colonial holdover, which had grudgingly, after nearly twenty years of Indian independence, agreed to admit natives in 1967--as long as they were of the Brahmin class). Sirius had asked if she'd written to any American schools, but apparently, that thought had been even more horrifying than Gryffindor. He was quite certain she'd have pulled him out of school entirely if that wouldn't have meant an increased amount of time with him at home.

"That's not at all true," Dad had said, in one of their rare conversations (which always ended up with him justifying Mum, so Sirius had, at some point, stopped trying). "Your mother wouldn't have you socially crippled by a failure to complete a course of study at a reputable school."

"She doesn't think Gryffindor is very reputable," Sirius grumbled.

"No, but Hogwarts retains its proper reputation, despite the machinations of the current headmaster"--the named "Dumbledore" was rarely used at Number Twelve--"and she won't resign you to an education of lower status."

"I'm not going to Durmstrang. She can't make me. I don't speak German, and I won't learn it." He was on shakier footing with Beauxbatons, as Mum and Dad knew perfectly well that he spoke French, but as it turned out, Beauxbatons had sent a letter back to Mum that apparently suggested, in perfectly polite terms, precisely what they thought she could do with her opinion of Albus Dumbledore, who was still very much a hero there after the Grindelwald War. Snowleaf turned out not to have the Continental reputation Mum had thought. Calcutta had offered Sirius a place for the next year, and Mum had spent that holiday practically packing his trunks for him, but, as fate would have it, in February, the new Indian magical government would finally take over the school and de-colonialize it, making it considerably less attractive to Mum. After that, she'd resigned herself to Sirius's place in Gryffindor. Regulus's Sorting into Slytherin the following year had mollified her further.

All of this, Sirius's dreaming mind knew and accepted, even though the self he was within the dream had just had his frustrating conversation with Dad, and was certain that he was going to be packed off to Calcutta in September. He'd thought about writing to James to tell him, but, for some reason, had never quite got around to it. It was a distant sort of dream, like he was re-reading a book he hadn't particularly cared for the first time, which could no longer even surprise him.

In the dream, he stalked down to the kitchen, grumbling to himself, slapping irritably at the pots and pans Kreacher had hanging from hooks. The house elf himself was standing over a cauldron, glaring at him. "Young master wishes something?" he asked, in a tone that very clearly told Sirius that young master best not wish anything.

Sirius gave another ill-tempered swat at the pans, then the door to Kreacher's cupboard opened and Regulus crawled out.

"Leave Kreacher's things alone, will you?" he asked. The question was a challenge, but Regulus was quaking as he asked it, so Sirius wasn't entirely threatened. "He doesn't bang on your things."

Sirius, who wouldn't put it past Kreacher to give his school trunk a good kick when no one was looking, didn't answer. "What are you doing in his cupboard?"

"Kreacher was showing Master Regulus pictures," Kreacher said. "Master Regulus cared to see them."

Sirius rolled his eyes and flopped down at the table. "Of course he did."

Regulus sat beside him. "They're quite interesting. Look."

In real life, the pictures had been a dull series of Black ancestors, and Sirius suspected that even Regulus had been more interested in the progression of magical photography than in the people the pictures were of, but now, when Regulus started flipping through them, they were pictures of the Order of the Phoenix, none of them taken when there was a camera handy. There was Remus, sneaking off to do whatever Dumbledore had him at, and there was Sirius himself, frowning in his flat as he tried to solve the problem of who was leaking information. There were Dumbledore and Mad-Eye, arguing. And James and Lily, Hallowe'en night...

He blinked, and in the dream, he was now a man, though Regulus was still a child. Regulus took no notice of this transformation. "You should look in Kreacher's cupboard," he said. "There's a lot in there. You wouldn't believe what--"

Something crashed, and Sirius opened his eyes to find himself in Remus's shack. The morning light was coming through the windows, and Remus looked at him apologetically over the makeshift partition between the living room and the kitchen. "Sorry," he said. "I was going to let you sleep."

"Better not to," Sirius muttered, rubbing his face.

"Bad dreams?"


"About Azkaban?"

"Worse." Sirius shuddered, though, in his fading memory of the dream, he couldn't recall feeling particularly bad. In fact, it had been almost good to sit there with Reg.

Which only went to show that he was going quite mad, as Reg had been a pill before he'd been a Death Eater, and--

He shook it off, and noticed the Remus had his cloak on. "Where are you off to?"

"Diagon Alley."

"Christmas shopping?"

Remus looked at him awkwardly, then said, "Er, no. I'm afraid I'm rather reduced to hand made gifts this year."

"Oh. Sorry." Sirius bit his lip. "I don't suppose, if I gave you some gold--"


"--that you could pick up something for Harry from me?" Sirius finished.

Remus looked down. "Sorry. Of course I will. What do you want me to get for him?"

Sirius thought about it. "I don't know. It's hard to shop without seeing anything."

Remus sighed, then looked around shiftily. "Hmm. Well... I can't see you going into shops, but... I suppose Snuffles could do with a walk."

This notion was so unexpected and wonderful that Sirius forgot the dreary atmosphere of his dream immediately. He grinned, said, "I'll race you to the Apparition border," and transformed.

He made it to the border before Remus easily, then transformed back and waved his wand to Summon his gold.

Remus came over the rise, not really hurrying at all. "Do you want me to take you transformed by Side Along Apparition, or shall we take the boat to the Mainland and Floo?"

"Side Along. Let's not waste time. There's shopping to do."

Remus laughed. "All right. But dog behavior, all the way."

Sirius tossed Remus his wallet, transformed, then sat up on his haunches, begged, then rolled over and played dead.

"Very good," Remus said, then hooked an arm around his neck, and pulled them off of the island.

They Apparated into Diagon Alley near Gringotts, and Sirius looked around avidly. The lamp-posts were draped with holly and pine boughs, with large red ribbons tied around them. A wooden creche stood in front of an empty shop (one of the shepherds turned to give the newcomers a vaguely interested look before turning his attention back to the baby), and carolers were standing at the side of the street, singing "The Three Wizards and the Star." Their collection box indicated that spare gold would be donated to St. Mungo's. Sirius looked up at Remus and whined, pointing his nose at the carolers.

Remus took Sirius's wallet out, and dropped a Sickle into the box. Sirius barked. Remus rolled his eyes and dropped in a Galleon.

"Thank you!" a young girl said, breaking away long enough to do so. "That's very kind of--" She tilted her head. "Professor Lupin?"

Remus smiled, and entered into an involved conversation with the girl, whose name seemed to be Beatrice. She had apparently done well on her Defense N.E.W.T., missed having tea with Remus in his office, and was now working for Madam Malkin and making quite a good living, designing robes. It was horrible, she said, how werewolves were treated, and if it had been up to her... Before she got around to a proposal of marriage, Sirius barked sharply.

Remus nodded and said, "Well, Bea, it was good to see you again. I'm glad you're doing so well, but my dog has been looking forward to a good walk."

"Oh, isn't he adorable!" Beatrice fawned, scratching Sirius's ruff. By then, the other carolers had finished the song, and someone, thankfully, pulled her back into the group.

Remus set a quick pace down the street, heading for Flourish and Blotts. Sirius followed, saving up commentary to share later.
26 comments or Leave a comment
From: severely_lupine Date: April 26th, 2009 09:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Calcutta offered had offered -- Looks like you've got an extra word there.

whatever Dumbledore had him it -- Is that worded right?

"You should look in Kreacher's cupboard," he said. "There's a lot in there. You wouldn't believe what--" -- Is that a reference to the locket? How interesting. Not that Sirius would have known about it, of course... though one wonders if he'd ever glanced it at some point without realizing what it was.

Oh, this is so sad. So sad that Sirius never knew what Regulus had done, that he'd changed sides before the end. Yet another thing that wasn't fair in his life.

So cute how Remus has to remind him to act like a dog. I wonder how long it took Sirius to learn to do that.

Sirius tossed Sirius his wallet -- Taken to juggling, has he?

The lamp-posts were covered draped with holly -- Um, another extra word?

He tilted his head. -- Shouldn't that be "she tilted her head"? Assuming that the head tilt is a moment of recognition.

Before she got around to a proposal of marriage -- LOL! Yes, Remus does have that effect one some girls. So adorable how he doesn't seem to realize it. I imagine he just thinks people are being friendly.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: April 26th, 2009 09:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I guess it's the "must...save...man" syndrome that so many of us struggle with. At 18, she wouldn't be savvy to it yet.
From: severely_lupine Date: April 26th, 2009 10:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Nah, I think it's more than that. After all, Snape could use some saving, too, but I don't see recent Hogwarts grads (or, you know, anyone) lining up to marry him.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: April 26th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, in that regard, Snape has quite a few disadvantages: he's not a werewolf, just a jerk, which makes him rather uninteresting, and he's also canonically ugly.
From: severely_lupine Date: April 27th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
True, but he does have kind of a tragic past and a bad childhood. But I think you've kind of hit it on the head with that second point. If Remus were as ugly as Snape, I doubt he'd be quite as popular with girls, no matter how kind he is. But then, Snape's popularity in fandom as a romantic/sexy figure shows how willing people are to simply disregard things like being canonically ugly.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: April 27th, 2009 08:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Of course, but a recent Hogwarts graduate wouldn't know about Snape's tragic past. It's not like he ever mentions it, and in my experience, people rarely see past the fact that someone is a jerk. Of course, if the Hogwarts girls knew about his tragic love for Lily, they would all think he's very romantic, and quite a few would want to cheer him up, but he has too much dignity for that.
From: severely_lupine Date: April 27th, 2009 08:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Hm, good points. Too bad he died before everyone found out about his tragic love. Then again, I doubt he would have responded well to people trying to fix him. I kind of get the feeling that there would have been a short period where people would attempt such a thing, then they'd all realize that he's still a jerk and would be just as put off as ever. If, perhaps, a bit more sympathetic.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: April 27th, 2009 10:38 am (UTC) (Link)
It's a pity he died, because it would have been hilarious.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 26th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Shouldn't that be "she tilted her head"?

Heh. Beatrice started out to be Percy, but I just couldn't see Percy out caroling on a work day!

Thanks for all the catches. I was sleep-drunk--long nap, then I woke up and said, "Oh, Stray!"
From: severely_lupine Date: April 26th, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, it's perfectly understandable.

Percy would have been amusing, but I think you're certainly right about being out on a work day.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: April 26th, 2009 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)
New chapter!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 26th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
*joins celebration*

I'd rather be writing than not writing.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: April 26th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Always good to see a new installment up and your dream segments are always engrossing. And what we've learned about Reg since DH makes this one all the more intriguing. Glad that Sirius does get to go on an outing as Snuffles.

Re poetry: have you tried a rictameter yet?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 26th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm. Nope, that sounds intriguing. And relatively short.

I want Sirius to have some good times during his last free year.
From: spitc1899 Date: April 26th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the way you write the relationship between Sirius and Regulus. :o) And Beauxbatons reply to Walburga was wonderful!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 26th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I imagine she annoyed a lot of people, and wouldn't quite realize exactly how far out of date her opinions were.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: April 26th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, look, Commonwealth schools! (I always get stuck on the smallest details)

So nice, the new chapter. The dream was interesting, I can't imagine what Regulus is pointing to. Oh, the intrigues of the House of Black.

Thank you!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 26th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
The grand thing about the Commonwealth. Options! Of course, I imagine her idea of sending Sirius to Australia would have been about the same as her reaction to him asking about America. She probably got around to New Zealand, though, and might have given serious thought to Kenya.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: April 26th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
*happy dance* !!!!

Love where the dream is pointing. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 26th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good to be writing.

Something or someone is definitely telling Sirius to get his butt home.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: April 26th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why not have prankster Sirius get hit with a charm that makes him rhyme? Voila! Poetry!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 26th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha! Given that it's NaPo, that might not be far off the mark!
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: April 26th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it would work - they go into Zonko's for possible presents for Harry (and/or Ron) and Snuffles gets into something he shouldn't...

It's a natural. Think of it as a Christmas gift to Remus.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 27th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Nice work. Yay for a change in scenery! I always liked the Diagon Alley scenes in the books and yours is no exception. It was a bit strange to have the religious aspect of Christmas emphasized rather than the secular as in canon. Not a bad strange at all (I'm definitely all for keeping Christ in Christmas as they say), just surprising. Well I'm not sure if you go to deviantArt ever but this was a Daily Deviation there today, and I was totally happy to see it right after reading this chapter section: http://kdodge.deviantart.com/art/Marauder-Shoes-COMPLETE-74880082. Be sure to check out her other work too. There's not a lot of fan stuff, but her renditions of the characters are some of the better ones I've seen.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 27th, 2009 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, neat shoes. I want shoes like that. :)

I'd used the impatient wooden creche in the first Teddy story, and I thought I'd like to have it back. I think most of the stuff is secular, but popping in a religious element now and then seems appropriate!
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: April 27th, 2009 06:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay, new Stray! Sirius' dreams are so interesting--he's really feeling the call to go home; even if it's Grimmauld Place. And wow, did Walburga hate Gryffindor or what? She really looked for a way to get Sirius out of her hair.
Aw, Remus and his students. I love that Sirius is saving up the ribbing for later, like a good friend.
26 comments or Leave a comment