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Stray, Chapter Thirteen: Eating In, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Thirteen: Eating In, pt. 2
Remus and Sirius have gone Christmas shopping in Diagon Alley (the shopkeepers are improbably sanguine about a dog in their shops, but oh well). In the last store, after Sirius gets Remus to buy Harry's pocketknife, they run into Tonks, who's buying garden supplies. She tells them she knows of a place that's very friendly to dogs, and takes them up to her flat above a store.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

The door at the top of the stairs stuck, and Dora smiled sheepishly. "Just a second," she said, and slipped inside.

Remus grinned fondly, shaking his head. From the other side of the door, Sirius could hear various things flying around and softly hitting their places.

The door opened again, and Dora gestured them inside. "I'm afraid I'm not all that good at householdy spells," she said. "Mum keeps trying with me, but I'm hopeless."

Sirius looked around with some interest. The items she'd sent flying around had landed in places at lopsided angles, and the dust she'd apparently banished was still settling in a pail. There was a solid weave of cat hair in the carpet, the source of which appeared to be a skinny, light-colored tabby who was presently hiding under an end table, looking at Sirius with deep suspicion.

"That's Granny," Remus said, and crouched down, holding out his hand to her.

"This'll help," Dora said, tossing him a bag of cat treats as she started digging through a drawer in the tiny kitchen, which was separated from the tiny living room by a half-height partition. In an elevated loft partly concealed by a purple curtain with sparkly butterflies on it, Sirius could see the corner of a four-poster bed, from under which a pile of bright-colored robes was spilling. Dora apparently noticed him looking, because the curtain abruptly shut all the way.

"Come on, Gran," Remus said, holding out a treat. "It's just old Remus, we're friends."

Granny stuck her nose out, found the treat an acceptable offering, and wrapped herself around Remus's arm before eating it out of his hand. He picked her up and brought her over to Sirius. She showed none of the fear that would be expected in the presence of a real dog, and Sirius guessed, that like a good number of other animals, she wasn't particularly fooled by his Animagus form.

"Can we shade the windows?" Remus asked, pointed at Sirius.

"After I've been seen coming up here with a handsome man? Are you trying to ruin my reputation?" Dora leaned over the partition, drawing her magical shades with a wink while Remus blushed deeply. She grinned. "And imagine, if anyone knew it was two handsome men. I'd be the envy of my entire year. Speaking of which, Mr. Foote...?"

Sirius transformed and went to the partition to give her a kiss. "Thank you for the invitation."

She looked around the flat. "It's no grand house, but it's mine. Not that I don't spend more time at Mum and Dad's anyway, but I've my own place. I'm proud of that."

"I remember my first flat," Sirius said, taking the place in. "I felt the same way. Had to get things for it all the time. I was very excited when I got pots and pans."

Dora laughed. "I think I own a pan somewhere."

Sirius took a seat on an old love seat that he thought he remembered from Andromeda's house, and had a good look around. The flat was far from a disaster, despite Dora's insecurities about her housekeeping. It was comfortably lived in. There were two sets of bookshelves, one with heavy Defense books and Potions compendiums, and, he'd guessed, random texts in other areas. The other was filled with tattered paperbacks, with a few old hardcovers stuck in among them like sentries. A paperback was lying open on the end table, the place about halfway through. On the cover was a buxom witch in the grip of a shirtless wizard whose hair was caught in what seemed a rather rough breeze. On the wall above the sofa was a poster for a band called the Weird Sisters, who were several burly men dressed in women's Muggle clothes, all torn up in a deliberate manner. There were several cartoons taped around the walls, all hand-drawn. The one closest to Sirius showed Cornelius Fudge, an oversized bowler hat falling over his eyes, protesting to a witch he'd apparently knocked down in the street, "I can see EXACTLY where I'm going." It was signed, in large, spiked letters, "Sanj."

"So, what's for lunch?" he asked.

Dora flicked her wand, and a pile of menus flew over. "You choose. My treat."

"Dora, you don't have to buy lunch for us," Remus said testily.

"It's what I was going to have anyway, and I don't even want to think about what Mum would say if I made a guest pay for lunch."

Sirius started browsing the menus. "You don't get along with Andromeda?" he asked.

"Oh, we get along spectacularly for two people with entirely different life priorities. Really. I like Mum." She shook her head. "But really, I don't think she quite understands that I'm never going to be a debutante, or be anywhere that anyone cares which fork I use. Though that, I have quite well memorized, come to think of it."

"Well, she was drilled on that sort of thing as a girl."

"Were you?" Dora asked.

"I'm quite well-versed in when to make use of a fish knife, and know which fork to use for strawberries," Sirius said. "I can also order a meal in flawless French, and waltz you around so you feel that you're dancing on air."

She leaned over the counter laughing. "Oh, I somehow doubt that."

"Do you?"

"Not to impugn your dancing skills, but believe me, people have tried to teach me to waltz. It always ends in tears. Have you decided what you want yet? I'm afraid there's nothing in French."

"How's this Italian one?"

"Molto buono."

They spent the next ten minutes choosing from the rather extensive menu. Sirius chose a fuocopesce scampi, where the firefish was supposed to still be burning on arrival. Dora went with the same fish, but chose a fra diavolo. Remus fretted his way through the menu, and ended up choosing the cheapest thing he could find, which was a lasagna plate. Dora rolled her eyes at him, and he said, "Well, you wouldn't want to deal with my mother if she caught you ordering anything expensive on someone else's Galleon."

Dora went to her fireplace and placed the order. A moment later three plates swirled up through the ashes, covered with silver tops to keep them clean. Dora uncovered them and passed them out, then pulled a bottle of wine from a rack on her wall.

"That's a nice new take-away spell," Sirius said.

"Very convenient, and no nosy delivery people. It doesn't work far outside of Diagon Alley, but it's handy here. Plus, we just send back the dishes, so no rubbish."

"When I was living here, we had to go to the restaurants."

"Trudging uphill, both ways?" Dora asked, and winked.

Sirius made a rude gesture at her, then blew out the flames on one of his fish and tucked in. It was very tasty.

"So, have you got anywhere with that button?" Remus asked.

Dora sighed. "Nowhere at all. I took a chance and showed it to Kingsley. He thought it looked familiar, but he couldn't place it. Said all he could think of was Crouch, but I can't imagine old Barty being careless enough to drop a button on a fishing boat. I can't actually imagine old Barty deigning to get on a fishing boat."

Sirius felt his nose wrinkle at the mention of Crouch. "Well, he did go back and forth to Azkaban a few times, up until his son died. Maybe it fell somewhere. Dumbledore could have a look at it."

"He probably will," Dora said. "I sent it to Mad-Eye. I can't seem to get in to see him this year, but he remembers everything he's ever seen, and maybe his eye can spot something. He'll most likely show it to Dumbledore."

"What did you tell him?" Remus asked.

"Just that the button had turned up near Azkaban. I imagine he'll think it's part of my tireless search for that dastardly fugitive." She smiled at Sirius.

"Right. Clearly, I stole one of Crouch's cloaks and got away on a fishing boat belonging to a man who'd been in St. Mungo's for three years after a Dementor kiss."

"Well, you're clever that way."

They ate quietly for a while, then Sirius said, "Speaking of Crouch, he doesn't seem to have gone far after the business with his son. Not as popular as he used to be?"

"He went too far with Barty," Remus said. "Then his wife wasted away, and everyone thought he was responsible."

Sirius snorted. "I'm surprised they didn't promote him just for being willing to sacrifice his own family. If he hadn't been on the other side, I'm sure Mum would have named him Father of the Year for such thorough pruning."

"Ironically enough," Remus said, "it was your father who started denouncing Crouch over that. Everyone else picked it up fast enough..."

"So that no one noticed he wasn't exactly a champion of holding the family together?"

"More or less, though he brought Regulus into the conversation well enough--how his son had made a horrible mistake, and tried to rectify it too late, but he'd have taken him back..."

"Just Reg?" Sirius asked, poking at his lunch and not really wanting it. "It figures."

"Mum thinks a lot of people heard him talking about you even though he didn't say your name," Dora said. "She thinks that's why he lost his seat on the Wizengamot."


Sorry to just end in the middle, without a real cliffhanger, but I'll finish soon.
20 comments or Leave a comment
From: severely_lupine Date: May 5th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)
"Can we shade the windows?" Remus asked, pointed at Sirius.

"After I've been seen coming up here with a handsome man? Are you trying to ruin my reputation?"

LOL! She's kidding, but it's true. Well, part of it's true, anyway. Totally worth it to make Remus blush, though.

She sent the button to Mad-Eye? That... doesn't sound good.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Dora's reputation is just shot. At least if anyone Christmas shopping was bothered to notice her. ;p
From: severely_lupine Date: May 5th, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Noticed her, knew her, cared... ;-)
From: tree_and_leaf Date: May 5th, 2009 07:55 am (UTC) (Link)
That's an interesting perspective on Sirius' dad; and I'm slightly apprehensive about that button....
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
You do have to wonder if, after losing both of his sons, Orion might not have questioned Walburga's fanaticism.
wotcher_wombat From: wotcher_wombat Date: May 6th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
But didn't Orion Black die in 1979--same year as Regulus?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 6th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oops, disregard.
aeterna13 From: aeterna13 Date: May 5th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dora leaned over the partition and winked, drawing her magical shades with a wink while Remus blushed deeply.

There's one wink to many here.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Either that, or she's got a serious tic problem.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 5th, 2009 02:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dora 's flat with its profusion of books and papers brings back fond memories of my own apartment in grad school days. Come to think of it, my current living accommodations have plenty of those too. It's often enlightening to hear what the adult characters might have thought about situations in HP.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's just one of those things I wonder about. The tight-focus Harry-cam is great for fanfic writers!

My apartments have traditionally been sort of like this as well.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: May 5th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no, don't send it to Mad-Eye!

The bit about Orion is quite interesting. 1982 must have been a fairly interesting year, with the Ministry reorganizing itself, and all the trials and political fights.

Ahh, wouldn't it be nice if we had take-aways like that?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought we needed some magical device for take-out, used by apprentices throughout the wizarding world...
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: May 5th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
As you write her, Dora is a very comfortable person to be around. Who could blame Remus for loving her?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I certainly can't. :)
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: May 5th, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aw, Sirius is skinny enough without topics of conversation that'll zap his appetite! I really like your take on Andromeda and Sirius' childhood; I can see them having a very formal education in useless cutlery. Sirius has daddy issues as well? His parents did a good job in screwing him up! I always had the impression that Walburga wore the pants in the Black household but it's very nice to see that Orion had his opinions as well.

I thought Orion died the same year as Regulus? I might be mistaken!
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: May 5th, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
That button is really turning up my curiosity. I do hope it doesn't end up to belong to a random person who just happened to come by ;-)
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: May 6th, 2009 12:27 am (UTC) (Link)
"When I was living here, we had to go to the restaurants."

"Trudging uphill, both ways?" Dora asked, and winked.

AND in five feet of snow!! ;)
From: spitc1899 Date: May 8th, 2009 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
And I suppose that's the last we'll see of that button . . .
prelud From: prelud Date: May 11th, 2009 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Speaking of Mad-Eye... I read about Colonel Robin “Tin Eye” Stephens the other day at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/ben_macintyre/article729216.ece and wondered if there was any resemblance (other than superficial, or the "Eye" thing) or possible inspiration... What do you think?
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