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Stray, Chapter Fourteen: Security, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Fourteen: Security, pt. 3
I don't know what's with me and this story. I like it, but it's going SO SLOWLY!

Anyway, Sirius is out of sorts when Remus goes off to transform, and is glad when Dumbledore calls him to see the cave in Hogsmeade where he'll be staying. After chatting with Dumbledore, he is still restless, and, in the Padfoot form, starts wandering around his old haunts, ending up in the Shrieking Shack, then following the tunnel into Hogwarts. He overhears Cho talking about having turned Harry down for a date, but doesn't run across Harry himself (Harry is busy listening to Hermione turn Ron down in the "Well-spotted!" scene, though Sirius doesn't know this). He smells something familiar that he associates with Regulus, but can't place it. Frustrated, he curls up under Gryffindor Tower, and goes to sleep.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

The Hogwarts his mind traveled to was dark and rainy. He thought consciously that he might have fallen into a childhood prank--he was following Snape somewhere, maybe to the Whomping Willow, and he had time to hope that it wasn't that prank (the idea that he could have ended up sending Remus to Azkaban made the memory troubling) when he realized that it was some time after it, some time when he'd changed, when the pranks were angrier and more serious. It wouldn't be long before they would morph into wartime tactics, but now, they were still personal.

Padfoot's strong, sturdy legs were carrying him through soaking grass, down to the lake. Snape was somewhere ahead, and he had... had...

But the exact misdeed didn't come to Sirius's mind, except in a vague image of the Great Hall, sitting with Regulus.

(Regulus was going to talk to you, he was thinking of it, of breaking Mum's rule, ready to move, and Snape swept in with a nasty sort of smile and led him away, and...)

Sirius supposed it might have been something like that. Snape had rather delighted in having Reg's ear, for whatever reason, and flaunted it in front of Sirius whenever he could after Mum's edict had come down, forcing Reg into silence. Not that Reg would have had much to say after that, other than trying to convince Sirius of the error in his ways. It wasn't as though Sirius had any interest in that sort of talk, so why should it have bothered him, seeing Snape lead Regulus away?

Still, that seemed to be the only thing in his mind as the dream led him inexorably toward the lake. Snape was walking ahead of him, a darker shadow than the ones the moon was casting, moving smoothly through the night. Ahead, Sirius could hear soft voices.

"What do we need with a boat?"

"My mother takes me out on them. It's fun."

"It's kind of... Muggle."

There was a quiet splash, then high, boyish laughter. "It is not. Lots of wizards sail. There was a wizard called Maren Iskman who went around the world on a Charmed log."

"But why?"

"For the fun of it!"

Snape had stopped at the edge of a shadow. Sirius moved to one side to avoid detection, and got closer. A few feet out on the lake, Regulus was standing on an old wooden door that was floating flat on the water. Barty Crouch, their younger cousin (of some degree that Sirius had lost count of), was kneeling on the edge, pushing away with a piece of wood. Barty was laughing. Regulus didn't look at all sure about things.

Barty used his makeshift oar and pushed them further out. "They made us stop, you know. The Statute of Secrecy. Too much chance of Muggles seeing strange boats. We could have had the best boats of all! We had pirates and fleets and--"

The door tipped, and Regulus shouted as he was splashed with cold water. "Barty!"

Barty just laughed again. "Mother was a Shipman. Where do you think they came by that name?"

"The same nowhere that we came by Black and the Malfoys came by Malfoy?"

"Yes--you have black hair, and they have bad faith!"

Snape had apparently tired of listening to this. He raised his wand and Conjured a ring of green fire. Both younger boys looked up in surprise. Snape grimaced and pointed his wand at the makeshift raft. "Accio!" He ground his teeth loudly enough for Sirius to hear it, and then said, "Get inside, now. I won't have Slytherin losing points for this foolishness."

They came ashore. Regulus straightened up. "I'm a prefect--"

"You Blacks. You always think you can get away with things. I ought to turn you in and we'll see how long you stay a prefect, since you think you're immune."

Sirius growled low in his throat. None of them heard.

Regulus went on up the hill, glancing at Sirius's dog form without much interest as he went by. Barty started to follow, but Snape grabbed him. "And you will never slander a good family like that again in my hearing."

"What, they're really blond?" Barty grinned wildly and ran up the hill to catch up with Regulus. Snape--who was breaking the rules every bit as much as they were in order to follow them--waited still by the lake. He turned, finally, and headed back. He spotted Sirius--apparently none too clearly--and throw a stick at him. "Get out of here, you filth-

"-y beast."

Sirius blinked himself awake.

It was as dark as his dream, but it wasn't raining. Snape was standing nearby, his wand raised. Sirius supposed he'd been magically awakened. He growled.

A lead and collar were Conjured, and Sirius found them around his neck. He resisted the urge to transform and knock old Snivelly a good one. None too gently, he was dragged away from the castle, past the Whomping Willow, and to the groundskeeper's cabin. Snape pounded on the door.

It opened, and the light inside was blocked by the huge shape of Rubeus Hagrid. "Ah, perfessor Snape!" he said. "Just havin' a drink here--yer welcome to join us!"

Snape looked around him, wrinkled his nose, and said, "I think not. Does this dog belong to you? I believe the Headmaster has limited your canine ownership to... that." He pointed to the large boarhound that was peeking around Hagrid's leg.

Hagrid bent down, a jovial smile on his face. "Don't know this one," he said, "but 'e looks harmless enough. You oughtter let 'im be."

Another shadow moved forward, and the largest woman Sirius had ever seen came into view. "Oh, but 'e is 'ungry. 'agrid, we must feed him."

"It has perhaps escaped your notice," Snape said, "but if this dog was not smuggled onto the grounds, then it has certain found a weak spot in our magical defenses."

"I reckon a student--" Hagrid started, but was interrupted by the voice of Albus Dumbledore.

"It was I who invited the dog onto the grounds, I'm afraid, Severus. There is no concern for our security. I merely thought he seemed hungry, and meant to obtain food for him. I seem to have lost track of where I left him."

Snape looked decidedly annoyed at this turn of events, but handed the lead to Dumbledore. "Very well."

"Good night, Severus."

Snape bristled, then stalked back to the castle.

"Fine dog, Headmaster," Hagrid said. "Yeh should keep him. Reckon Fawkes is a fine pet, but there's nothin' like a dog--"

"I don't imagine this particular dog would care to be kept," Dumbledore said.

"Oh. Well, yer welcome to join us..."

Dumbledore smiled. "Oh, I think not. I shall just escort my new friend off the grounds, so he doesn't trouble our Potions master any further, then take a cup of tea and go to bed."

Hagrid nodded. They said their farewells, and Dumbledore beckoned Sirius to follow him. They went to the Whomping Willow, and Dumbledore checked the area quickly before stopping the branches. Sirius jumped down into the tunnel. Dumbledore followed.

"What," he asked, his gentle smile gone, "is your purpose in entering Hogwarts today?"

Sirius transformed. "Just a whim. I wanted to... er..."

"Harry is inside the castle, with most of the students. His mind would not be eased by the sight of you gallivanting around the grounds, under the noses of Ministry officials." He sighed. "Sirius, I know you mean well, and I know you want to protect Harry. But I will call you to the grounds when you are needed, and you won't be able to help if you're caught."

Sirius nodded. "I know. I'm sorry."

Dumbledore Conjured a chair and sat down, the roots of the tree pressing down into his hair. "You're not at all sorry. I can't say I blame you--I imagine your current situation to be somewhat frustrating. But until your name is clear, something we cannot possibly accomplish without Peter Pettigrew, there are limitations."

"Dora tried talking to Amelia Bones--or she was going to, and Kingsley stopped her..."

"Amelia isn't free to act without new evidence. Crouch is not without influence, and he won't relinquish one of his captures without a fight."

"Crouch," Sirius hissed. "Bloody Crouch. I guess if he's willing to let his own son die in Azkaban, I can't very well expect better treatment."

"It's not just Crouch. Fudge is determined that you are more dangerous than was even imagined at the time of your arrest."


"It rather neatly explains events since your escape."

"I know I behaved badly in the school--"

"It's not just that. Surely, you don't think the former Death Eaters were without guidance at the World Cup?"

"He thinks I..."

"It's a perfectly sensible theory, Sirius, if you were guilty. You escape, and a year later, the Death Eaters march again. It's less troubling to Cornelius, I think, than believing that they might have been in hiding under his nose all these years."

Sirius could think of nothing to say to this, and wished for the hundredth time that he'd thought to just go to Dumbledore as soon as he made it to Hogwarts last year. He shook his head. "All right. I won't sneak onto the grounds without your say-so."

Dumbledore didn't offer an argument or suggest that he trusted Sirius's judgment on the matter. He just nodded and said, "In that case, I suggest you return to Lupin's. No need to live in the cave just yet." He stood--well, hunched--and the chair disappeared with a pop. He gave Sirius a sympathetic sort of smile. "It is my hope that this will be resolved soon, Sirius, but it's certain to become more dangerous before it becomes less so. You've always been a true Gryffindor--use that inner courage to do what you need to do."

He climbed up among the roots and was gone.

Sirius started the long walk back.
17 comments or Leave a comment
From: severely_lupine Date: May 22nd, 2009 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I do sort of wonder what it means that Malfoy means bad faith. Does it mean they believe in bad things, like the Death Eater stuff? Does this mean that they always have, or at least for many generations? Seems odd that a family would be able to keep more or less the same radical values for so long.

Oh, weird! His dream blended so well with reality. Wow, being led on a leash by Snape. I'm sure Sirius loved that.

Good of Dumbledore to chew him out, though. Sirius oughtn't be so impetuous.

*hands your muse some mint chocolates* Those are actually from my muse, Philip. They're his favorite. He must like your muse a lot if he's willing to share.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 22nd, 2009 04:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I once made up a story about how they came over with the Norman invasion and were part of a group called (by enemies who ended up in power) the Order of the Bad Faith. I'm sure just how badly they behaved was attuned to what the world was like at the time. It might not have been terribly radical at some points to be anti-Muggle-born, and they might not have acted on it all that much in some generations, but the family tended to have a general belief in its own superiority. (Or, as Miss Manners puts it when talking about European royalty and nobility, "They may have disagreed about several things, but all generally insisted on the Divine Right of You-Know-Who.") Despite Draco's oddly nouveau riche behavior of bragging about his possessions and money (how gauche and embarrassing for his parents), I think the Malfoys are meant to be old money and an old family, so that would fit.

The other thing that I find interesting about the name is that "bad faith" has a dual meaning. On the one hand, it literally implies their evil beliefs. On the other, doing something "in bad faith" implies disloyalty and sneakiness. Barty, later on, would certainly consider Lucius to have demonstrated horrendously bad faith to Voldemort, and in the end, their only loyalty--thank heaven--was to each other.
From: severely_lupine Date: May 22nd, 2009 04:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, that's an interesting theory. Seems pretty reasonable, too. And the Malfoys certainly do seem to be an unpleasant bunch from way back.

I hadn't thought about that duel meaning, but you're right. And yes, I was quite glad to see that the only ones the Malfoys really cared about was themselves (which is to say each other). I actually thought it was kind of sweet (for a Death Eater, anyway), though I've gotten some odd looks for saying so.
alkari From: alkari Date: May 22nd, 2009 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Must be the lawyer in me, but I had always thought of the 'bad faith' translation of the Malfoy name as meaning the dishonesty/lack of ethics one!

Nice addition to the chapter, BTW Fern :) And of course, the Black family tree shows that Barty Crouch Jnr and Regulus would have been almost the same age, and were distantly related.

Liked Dumbledore's line - "I don't imagine this particular dog would care to be kept,"
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: May 26th, 2009 09:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, me too. It strikes me as one of those names that started off as a disparaging nickname, and they ended up bradishing proudly to show how little they cared about the opinion of anyone who's not a Malfoy...
malinbe From: malinbe Date: May 22nd, 2009 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I panicked for a moment. "Oh, no, Snape caught him!" Phew, he doesn't know about the animagus thing yet.

The dream was interesting. It's all about the Crouches, isn't it? Brillant. And Regulus tied in, that's a good hook.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 22nd, 2009 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
And Regulus, of course, diverts Sirius's attention from what the dream was really about.
From: severely_lupine Date: May 22nd, 2009 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Is his subconscious trying to tell him something he should have already noticed/remembered, or is it just trying to make sense of things? I guess what I really mean by that is, is the dream a real memory?
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 22nd, 2009 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)
whew! Close call for Sirius, getting caught by Snape--glad to see he kept his head this time, common sense not being a Gryffindor trait.

Intriguing dream sequence, as always. Makes me wonder what Sirius would experience with a Daedelus Maze.
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: May 22nd, 2009 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear, being led on a leash by Snape is not a favor to Sirius' ego at all, though it conjures a very funny image.
Regulus is being quite the distraction, isn't he?

Take it a day at a time, Fern. The story will come when it does, no worries.
From: glynngriffiths Date: May 22nd, 2009 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I loved the dream sequence, and you transitioned it perfectly into waking. Oh dear, poor Sirius - led on a leash by Snape. Isn't life difficult enough? Still, this is an indignity of his own making.

And back to the dream, for a moment there you actually really made me like Barty Crouch Jr. Amazing! He's one of the few cannon characters I never dredged up much sympathy for, but I liked him here, playing at sailing with Regulus and making cheeky jokes.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 22nd, 2009 11:51 am (UTC) (Link)


I just saw your fanfics, and I would like your permission to translate your fanfic "I Hear Him Laughing" into Hebrew and publish it in Israeli forums: http://www.tapuz.co.il/forums2008/forumPage.aspx?forumId=414

I will cite you as the author, of course.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 22nd, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: hi

Cool. I won't be able to read it, of course. ;p But be my guest.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 22nd, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: hi

so learn Hebrew! ^^
haha... thamk you very much:P
BTW, Your writing is fantastic!!! <<<<3

demonoflight From: demonoflight Date: May 22nd, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: hi

בחירה מצויינת, באמת תהיתי מתי מישהו ינסה לתרגם פיקים של פרן, הם מצויינים!

~מישהי מתפוז
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: May 22nd, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't mind getting these chapterlets infrequently, I'm just happy to be getting them! Once again you've crafted a really wonderful dream, full of the tangled wisdom that tantalizes but ultimately makes dreams so frustrating. I especially liked how this one faded into real life.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 2nd, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
"but if this dog was not smuggled onto the grounds, then it has certain found a weak spot in our magical defenses."

Missing -ly on the end of certain?
I've been out of the loop for the summer, and am enjoying injesting my fern-fix!

Thanks again,

17 comments or Leave a comment