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Stray, Chapter Thirteen: Eating In, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Thirteen: Eating In, pt. 1
Wow, not trying to write a poem a day, even a short one, makes my evenings seem luxuriously long! It's only ten, and I'm starting work on Stray!

Anyway, Remus and Sirius (Sirius as Padfoot/Snuffles) have gone to Diagon Alley to do some Christmas shopping. Sirius is in good spirits after watching an old student of Remus's flirt with him, and is stocking up commentary for later. Meanwhile, Dora has the silver button, which Sirius forgot to tell Dumbledore about, they've gotten a report on Harry's preparation for the Yule Ball, and Dumbledore is fretting about not having headquarters to introduce to potential new Order members.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Sirius ran about in rough circles around Remus, letting his dog-self enjoy the mad profusion of scents that ran through Diagon Alley. He could smell people, of course (he might have been imagining it, but he thought he recognized his cousin Narcissa's scent at one point, and he was quite certain he picked up Kingsley's), and he could smell wonderful cooking coming out of all of the little restaurants. Quite a few had been added, he noticed, since he'd gone away. There were a curry shack and a steakhouse that he remembered, but there was also a fish place, and a wonderful-smelling bakery which, when they passed it, was displaying a fabulous moving wedding cake in the front window, with a bride and groom dancing from tier to tier along a spiral spun sugar staircase. Someone was having a go with a Middle Eastern place, complete with a magical oasis out front, where a wizard and a witch sat lounging in beach chairs on the sand, dipping flatbread into tabbouleh while they discussed matters that seemed to be of of great import from a distance.

As they got close, however, Sirius could hear them talking about the Triwizard Tournament, and not in a tone that suggested any suspicion of wrong-doing.

"You know you won't be getting in for the Ball, Rita," the wizard said, and held his glass of tea up toward the sun. "Dumbledore's been quite explicit on that. Your article about Potter didn't sit well with the other students."

"It sat well enough with the public," the woman--Rita--said. "A rather well-selling issue, if I recall. No one wanted to read about the others anyway, though I imagine there are a few wizards who wouldn't have minded a full, er, spread on the French girl."

"And the Diggory boy?"

"Who?... Oh, yes, the other champion, Sed... er... Sanford, is it?"

"Cedric." The man sighed. "Ah, well, you sell more papers than anyone else, Rita, I suppose you know best. Stick with the Potter angle."

Sirius chanced a glance up at Remus who had slowed and was watching.

The witch looked up and narrowed her eyes. "Yoo-hoo!" she called, her voice sugary. "My goodness, aren't you Remus Lupin?" she asked, getting up and coming to the edge of the warming spell. "The werewolf who was a friend of Harry Potter's father--and of Sirius Black! You must have something very interesting to say about all this. Do you think Potter's acceptance of you would signal an acceptance of werewolves if he wins? Do you think--?"

"Trust me," Remus said, "not a soul will care about the werewolf angle, one way or another."

"He's right," the man said. "Last time I tried a werewolf piece--the Alderman business?--all I got was a lot of annoyance at the waste of page space. Drop it, Rita."

She sighed dramatically. "Ah, well. Still, the human interest... or, well, quasi-human interest, of course..."

Remus shook his head and rolled his eyes. "A pleasure meeting you, Miss Skeeter."

He moved on. As soon as they were a bit away, he cast a muffling spell and said, "Here's hoping she doesn't change his mind. We quasi-humans can be misquoted."

Sirius couldn't very well answer, though the thought of going back and lifting his leg at the woman did more than cross his mind.

The day improved as they began to shop. Remus couldn't do much shopping on his own, but he seemed perfectly delighted to be able make purchases on Sirius's behalf, particularly when a berk of a stationer tried to turn him out, thinking he was indigent. He'd pulled out Sirius's wallet, looked wistfully (and pointedly) at the gold, then turned to walk up street to another shop to get Dumbledore's present.

Sirius was surprised how few shops turned them out on his own account. Shopkeepers had got a lot friendlier toward dogs, and he was able to wander along beside Remus, looking at the wares, occasionally making a determined sniff at one to indicate that he wanted it. He obviously couldn't shop for Remus today, but he made note of several things, and determined to ask Dora to pick something up. A halfway decent cloak was what he wanted to get, but that wasn't the sort of thing they'd ever given one another, so he focused his attention on a joke shop instead, thinking he might send her to get a misbehaving quill or some such thing. It occurred to him that he might try something more adult, something that Remus would actually use and enjoy as more than nostalgia, but, quite honestly, he thought Remus could do with a bit more amusing nostalgia in his life.

There weren't too many people he had to shop for--he couldn't very well start sending gifts to Andromeda or Mad-Eye--but he made the most of those who knew something. For McGonagall, he bought a small silver mirror. For Hermione Granger, he chose a book on cat care (and for Crookshanks, a box of mouse-shaped treats that would run for him). He was tempted to skip Ron Weasley, on the basis of his bad behavior with Harry, but his Christmas list wasn't really long enough to hold a grudge, so he chose some accouterments for the owl. For Dora, he had a marvelous time in what Remus said was her favorite shop in Diagon Alley--a used clothing shop that seemed to have hats and jewelry from every time since the place had been built. Remus muttered that she had a clothing collection, and Sirius used his snout to toss several garish scarves and necklaces into a pile for her.

On a whim, he got a wooden puzzle for the Brody girls, which would produce a new picture and new piece shapes each time they solved the old one. This would, of course, be from Mr. Foote. And, though he couldn't very well tell Remus quite yet what it was about, he bought a magnifying glass that kept a running commentary on whatever it happened to be "seeing." This, he planned to send to Kingsley Shacklebolt, possibly from somewhere in Scandinavia, if he could sneak Buckbeak up there for a few hours.

All the while, there was only one gift he wanted to get perfectly right--Harry's. At each shop, he nosed around, looking for something that would delight him, perhaps not as much as the Firebolt, but certainly, on a normal Christmas-from-my-godfather scale. He wanted it to be the sort of gift that he would have given all along, if he'd been there. Not a spectacular piece, but something that would make Harry think that he had a truly great godfather.

Unfortunately, all day, nothing turned up that simply screamed "Harry." It was nearly tea time when Remus stopped by the window of a outdoorsy sort of shop and looked at Sirius. Tired, Sirius shrugged, in a slightly less canine manner than he should have (earning him a sharp look), and they went inside.

"Do you mind if I bring my dog inside?" Remus asked for the eighth time that day.

The shopkeeper shrugged. "Long as 'e don't foul the place."

"He won't," Remus said.

"Are you lookin' fer somethin' special?"

"Just looking," Remus said. "Christmas shopping."

"Oh. Got a boy or a girl waitin' fer something?"

"Boy. Fourteen."

This seemed to enliven the man, who took them over to a section of equipment for camping and fishing, which seemed to interest Remus more than Sirius thought it would interest Harry. He was about to give up when he spotted the knife.

It was a beautiful sort of pocketknife, with all kinds of attachments, many of them able to pick locks and open any door. It would be useful, and Sirius could think of any number of places he could sneak into with it. James had wished once for a knife like this, and Sirius had meant to get it for him. He barked and pointed his nose at it. Remus made the purchase.


As Remus was taking the change, Dora's voice rang across the shop. She came out from an aisle full of gardening tools, then stopped at the sight of Sirius.

She shook her head in disbelief. "You brought your dog shopping?"

"Well, I couldn't very well leave him alone all day," Remus said.

"Catalogs," Dora suggested. "This marvelous new invention, really."

Remus grinned at her, and Sirius felt that, despite being the subject of the conversation, he might as well not be there at all. Remus put the wallet away. "I was about to have an early supper," he said. "Would you like to come along?"

Dora put her purchases down on the counter. "I have a better idea. Not all the restaurants take dogs, but"--she turned and listened to the price, and passed over some gold--"I happen to know of somewhere that adores them, if you don't mind a bit of a mess." She took her change and her parcels and led them out to the street. "It's two streets over," she said, and turned onto a narrow, twisting path between shops and restaurants. "I was just out getting something for Dad. He's always puttering about in the garden now, so it seemed like a good idea. You've got a good bit done, I see..." She went on chattering until they came to the front of a little shop that sold shoes and boots. She unlocked a door to the side, and pointed up the narrow staircase. "Well, I told you once I'd get you to visit my flat by hook or by crook." She cocked an eyebrow at Sirius. "And you'd best get along with my cat. She's old and set in her ways."

With that, they began the trek upstairs, to Dora Tonks's home.
16 comments or Leave a comment
From: severely_lupine Date: May 1st, 2009 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I know when Sirius arrived at Remus's house, he found out about who Tonks was fairly quickly, but I wonder why, if he could smell where people had been, he didn't pick up on anything about her scent as soon as he got there and transformed? After all, if he can remember Narcissa's scent after all this time, surely he'd be able to tell Dora's.

LOL. Oh, Rita. Why on earth would Harry winning affect people's perceptions of werewolves? It's not as if Harry's one. And "quasi-human"? That's both offensive and funny. (Liked the Alderman reference, though.)

Sirius couldn't very well answer, though the thought of going back and lifting his leg at the woman did more than cross his mind. -- Oh, I really wish he'd done that. Actually, I'd love to see him meet her while they're both transformed. As I recall, dogs have a funny habit of trying to eat annoying bugs that are flying around.

Oh, poor Remus. It's always so sad when people treat him like he's poor, especially because he is.

It's nice that the shops were so tolerant of dogs. I like to imagine what Remus might have said to those that did try to turn them away. "Well, you see, my dog can't wait outside because really, he's the one shopping, so he's got to see the merchandise and tell me what he wants." "Okay, so you're crazy, but at least you have money." "Oh, no, I'm very poor. This is my dog's money. Old family, you know." Actually, that would be funnier in a Muggle shop, where they wouldn't be likely to think of the Animagus angle.

Too bad he couldn't get gifts for everyone. Personally, I'd have loved to see Mad-Eye's face. That's so cute and thoughtful of him to get something for Crookshanks, though. Haha, it must have been pretty easy for him to make his Christmas list. It's the same as his list of "everyone I know who doesn't think I'm evil (and are not themselves evil)".

Oh, how hilarious for Kingsley to get a gift from the fugitive he's leading the hunt for.

I wonder, how big do you think Diagon Alley is? I always thought it was just the one street, but then of course Knockturn Alley is connected to it, so there might very well be others...
malinbe From: malinbe Date: May 1st, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
After all, if he can remember Narcissa's scent after all this time, surely he'd be able to tell Dora's.
But when he smelled Narcissa he was concentrating on people's scents- when Dora found them, he had been distracted for several hours.

"everyone I know who doesn't think I'm evil (and are not themselves evil)".
I don't know, I would have loved to see what he'd get for Narcissa. :D
From: severely_lupine Date: May 1st, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's true. And one could imagine all the sea smell and wind would make detecting scents harder, as well.

Oh, that would be hilarious. He could even toss in something for Draco. Only, like something he'd have bought him when he was like one year old, as if he'd forgotten Draco would have gotten older.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 1st, 2009 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I WANT that wedding cake.

And Sirius as a dog is always so sweet. :)
aeterna13 From: aeterna13 Date: May 1st, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops! That was me.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 1st, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe it's an idiosyncrasy of mine, but I derive a strange pleasure from reading about fictional people's Christmas shopping--even in May. Looks like Sirius and even Remus had a great time, and now here comes Dora to make it even better. Looking forward to the next!
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: May 1st, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was a cheerful little interlude, made even happier by Dora's appearance. I love the way that Remus and Sirius manage to accomplish what they want despite many obstacles -- like poverty and being known as a werewolf, or unfairly being wanted for murder. You have to respect their resilience.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: May 1st, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aww, it's nice to finish reading with a big grin in my face. This was both funny and sweet. That knife ought to have had more usefulness, bad JKR!
You didn't tell us what he got for Dumbledore. It would have been something funny. The magnifying glass for Kingsley was hilarious.

Thank you, I really enjoyed it!

From: (Anonymous) Date: May 1st, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Loved the shopping, and the run-in with Rita. The Alderman reference was a nice touch--but shouldn't it be Vivian, since she came later and had a larger file, so would have had more media coverage? Sirius pointing and barking at what he wanted to buy was amusing, too.
chrischewscud From: chrischewscud Date: May 1st, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha! A present for Kingsley Shacklebolt! No wonder Dumbledore didn't let him out for a year!
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: May 1st, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
A magnifying glass for Kingsley? Me-ow, Sirius! That's so hilariously catty (for those who don't know the truth, of course!) I'd really want to see Kingsley's reaction to a little box covered in postage from various places being delivered to his desk, lol!

Why did you stop Sirius from lifting his leg at Skeeter!? She deserves it...even if she's getting hers later on.

Too bad that knife didn't get more face time in DH, what with all that camping the trio did. It could have come in handy. It's nice to see how Sirius came to purchase the knife for Harry. When I read GOF, I always thought it was a random type of gift for a 14 year old boy who wasn't particularly into camping. But I like your reasoning behind it. It makes sense to Sirius, and so, makes sense to us.

Aw, Padfoot and Granny get to meet! How cute. Even if they don't get a long at least they can share fleas or something. =P
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: May 1st, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am loving all all all of this, but the gift for Kingsley might be my favourite part yet!
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 1st, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)


oh, the gift for kingsley is hilarious- and I want to eat at that middle eastern restaraunt.
who's the guy skeeter's talking to, the "quasi-human"? I feel like I'm missing something...
torturedbabycow From: torturedbabycow Date: May 1st, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am a total lurker, but I do really enjoy reading Stray (and all your stories ever, really) - all the little details are so fabulous!

Unfortunately, my main motivation for de-lurking was to crack a terrible joke.

..So will the next chapter be called "Eating Out," then? After all, Remus and Dora seem to be getting along pretty well these days... (juvenile humor is such a wonderful terrible vice.)
shiiki From: shiiki Date: May 3rd, 2009 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Christmas shopping with the two of them is so fun! It's nice to see them out doing something light-hearted before things start to get darker.

This, he planned to send to Kingsley Shacklebolt, possibly from somewhere in Scandinavia,

Well, now I know what I want to ask for if you start a challenge call again - Kingsley's reaction! :P

And yay for the reference to Alderman!

Thanks for another enjoyable segment!
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: August 18th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sirius and Remus going Christmas shopping is just priceless! I love that Sirius would sniff something so Remus knew what to buy. ;)

And LOL that Sirius bought a present for Kingsley! I would love to see Kingsley's reaction to that. :D
16 comments or Leave a comment