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Stray, Chapter Sixteen: By the Light of the Dark Mark, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Sixteen: By the Light of the Dark Mark, pt. 2
Christmas was going swimmingly until the Dark Mark appeared over the Brodies' island. Sirius Side-Alongs Fiona back there (she can't Disapparate), and Dora follows closely. She has to notify the department, so Sirius risks letting Fiona in on his Animagus secret so that he can stay. Kingsley, covering for Robards, arrives, and he and Tonks get the fire under control, except for two spots of Fiendfyre, which they can only contain. Remus takes Fiona back to his island. Dora suggests that she Side-Along the dog, causing Kingsley to narrow his eyes.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Sirius hadn't noticed how hot he'd been on Fiona's island until he and Dora got back to Remus's, and he remembered that it was late December. The wind coming off the sea, almost comfortable earlier, chilled him to the bone, and he ran for the shack without waiting for Dora.

Fiona and the girls, still in party clothes, were gathered by the fire, crying. Elspeth seemed particularly concerned about the ram, demanding justice for him. Kirsty was older, and understood more--she wasn't saying anything at all. She looked at him with vague interest, and he remembered that he'd left as Padraic Foote, and she believed that "Snuffles" was in London having Christmas dinner with Dora's cat. But she didn't seem able to say anything.

Kingsley and Remus were in the kitchen, and Sirius padded in, trying to look like he was innocently seeking a water bowl. Remus Conjured him one without looking. As he settled in to drink and listen, Dora caught up.

She leaned against the counter, her face thoughtful. "We need to find them a place to stay," she said. "There's not room here."

"For tonight, they can stay in the bedroom, and I'll sleep out here."

"Never mind that, we can Conjure tents for a single night," Kingsley said. "And if worse came to worse, I think I have one at home. I used to camp with my father in Jamaica. A warming charm would do."

"Let's do that," Remus said. "Mary McManus doesn't come here to check, I'm sure she'd never notice..."

"No, but you have daily Auror visits. Tonks and I try to handle them, but there might be days still where that isn't possible."

"So what?" Dora asked.

Kingsley frowned. "I don't like it. These people were off the radar, then something's brought to the Ministry and they're attacked. We could have a mole."

"It wouldn't be the first time," Remus said.

Dora grimaced and said, "Bugger. Where, then?"

The thought that came to Sirius came not in words, but in a series of images so strong that drew back from the water bowl--Regulus and Dad, weaving spells on doors; Dad with his endless books of Charms; Regulus and himself working out ways around the security. And Mum, dead in her parlor, dessicated in a drift of flowers Kreacher had brought over the years no one had found her.

He barked sharply in negation of the idea--the girls didn't need exposure to Grimmauld Place--but Remus must have taken it as a symbol of an idea, because he said, "Well, we can wait until tomorrow. We'll talk it out. Dora and I can take care of the Brodies, Kingsley, if you want to go back to the office."

"I need their statements."

Dora looked over the divider toward the Brodie family, then turned back. "They're in no shape to give statements, Kingsley, and you know it. I'll get it in the morning."

Kingsley thought about it, then nodded in resignation. "True. Maybe the Fiendfyre will have burned out by tomorrow morning and we can see if anything is left. I don't have much hope of it."

"Nor do I."

They all turned. Fiona was standing near the barrier. She stepped forward. "I've no idea why they came for us, but these people... they don't stop. Sir...?" She looked at Kingsley questioningly.

"Oh, Kingsley Shaklebolt," he said. "I'm sorry to meet you under such circumstances."

Fiona nodded awkwardly. "Mr. Shacklebolt--would you be so kind as to go to St. Mungo's, and see to it that my husband is, and remains, unharmed?"

Silence spun for a moment. Obviously, none of the others had given any more thought than Sirius had to Douglas Brodie's vulnerable position.

Kingsley tightened his jaw, nodded, and went out into the night without another word.

Remus set about making tea while Dora went outside to shore up the Conjured tents (and, Sirius guessed, take off some of the cheerful and silly decorations). Sirius himself padded up to the Brodies.

Kirsty blinked at him, then reached out and hugged him tightly. "Snuffles is back," she said, unnecessarily. "But all of the toys are burnt up!"

"Snuffles can do without toys," Fiona said.

Elspeth became aware of her surroundings, at least a little. "Where is Mr. Foote? Is he still at the fire? Is he helping the Aurors?"

"He's helping," Fiona said quietly, looking at Sirius.

Sirius nodded faintly, and let the girls hug him and cry in his fur. Remus came in with tea for everyone, and Dora sat beside Fiona, comforting her, for the next half hour. They girls had finally fallen asleep, curled up between Sirius and the fire, when Kingsley came back. He entered after a perfunctory knock, and Fiona stood up, looking frightened.

"He's all right," Kingsley said immediately.

Fiona put a hand over her heart and sank down into a chair in relief. "Thank God in heaven."

Kingsley looked at Dora. "I spoke to your parents, and told them that I was worried about the story getting out, but wanted an eye kept on Brodie nonetheless. They've agreed to do it themselves."

Dora nodded. "That's good." She rubbed her head. "I wish I'd never brought that damnable button into work!"

"I'm glad you did," Fiona said firmly.


"I wondered why they were so quick to pay us off. Getting gold tends to make you stop asking questions, doesn't it? But someone was interested. And sooner or later, they'd have got tired of waiting to see if I planned to say something after all."

Kingsley squeezed her shoulder. "I'm so sorry about all of this, Mrs. Brodie. You should get some sleep. We'll talk in the morning. I especially will want to know who arranged the payment."

Fiona nodded.

"Let's get you settled in those tents," Remus suggested. "We can Levitate the girls out without waking them."

"And I'll pop back to my flat and get clothes for you," Dora offered. "I don't have a lot in the girls' sizes, but there are a few things here and there."

"Thank you," Fiona said.

They all went outside, the girls Levitated gently, with Sirius padding along underneath them. Dora went on past the Apparition barrier and disappeared. Kingsley tucked Elspeth into a comfortable looking bed Dora had Conjured, and Remus tucked Kirsty into a matching one. Kirsty reached out and frantically patted her pillow. Remus Conjured her an anonymous looking stuffed dolly, which she grabbed onto and fell back into her deep sleep. Fiona sat down beside them, putting a hand on each of them. Remus and Kingsley tiptoed out. Fiona looked at Sirius for a moment, then he turned and left as well.

He followed Remus and Kingsley down to the Apparition barrier, where they were standing, looking out at the dwindling fire on Fiona's island, looking no more serious than a pair of fireflies from here.

"You know they could have got the wrong island," Kingsley said. "You do have a former friend at loose out there who might have got confused."

"We both know bloody well it's not Sirius," Remus said testily.

"Nor was I talking about Sirius." Kingsley smiled. "Who, by the way, should you happen to see him, needs to be thanked for the lovely magnifying glass he sent me for Christmas. Just what I always wanted."

"He sent you..." Remus rolled his eyes and tried for levity. "I may have to kill him after all."

Kingsley gave him a tired laugh, and Disapparated for the last time.

Sirius transformed.

Remus just shook his head, smiling. "I'd tell you to grow up, but it's pointless."

Dora got back a few minutes later, carrying two pillowcases full of clothes. She gave these to Fiona, who accepted them gratefully, then insisted on paying her as soon as she could. Dora started to protest, but Remus put a hand on her arm.

"I'm sure Fiona is capable of paying you," he said.


Remus gave her a stern look. She seemed baffled, but didn't push the subject.

"Sirius," Remus said, "in the kitchen--you barked when we said we needed a safe place. Do you know of one?"

"Of course not," Dora said. "If he did, I'm sure he wouldn't be here putting a target on you."

"I invited him," Remus said levelly. "And Dumbledore initially wanted him to stay here. Sirius... did you have an idea?"

Sirius ground his teeth. "Nothing usable."

"I'd be willing to try something far-fetched," Fiona said. "I can't have my girls sleeping in a tent all year."

"Better the tent than the place I thought of," Sirius told her. "It's not a place anyone ought to be. Let it rot."

Fiona balled her fists up on her hips. "I don't mind if it's hell with Satan as the doorkeeper, if it'll keep my girls safe."

"That's a closer guess than you think," Sirius said.

"What did you think of, Sirius?" Remus asked, though by his face, Sirius guessed he'd figured it out.

"Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place," Sirius confirmed, then shuddered. "Home sweet home."
21 comments or Leave a comment
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: June 14th, 2009 07:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I guess it pays off to be an insomniac once in a while, eh?
Good introduction of the fiendfyer, looks like Barty's cleaning up shop all these years later.
I feel for Sirius when he remembers 12 Grimauld Pl. I don't have any similar experiences myself but you do such a great job illustrating his visceral reaction to the house (I don't think Azkaban even got that reaction) that I feel it too.
Ha, I wondered how Kingsley would react to his little xmas gift. I wonder if he and Sirius shared a laugh about that much, much later.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
At the rate Kingsley's going, I don't know how "much, much" later it's going to be! :p
From: severely_lupine Date: June 14th, 2009 07:45 am (UTC) (Link)
so strong that drew back from the water bowl - Should that be "he drew back"?

For some reason, your descriptions of how people react around Padfoot when they know who he is makes me kind of wish I knew someone who could turn into a dog. ...Or something. It's just very amusing.

Oh, interesting. Will we be seeing 12GP earlier than anticipated?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, yes, missed a word.

We will, in fact, be seeing 12GP. I can't stay away!
From: severely_lupine Date: June 15th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Looking forward to it!
tencups_i_swear From: tencups_i_swear Date: June 14th, 2009 08:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Kingsleys present!:D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Kingsley did, too.
tencups_i_swear From: tencups_i_swear Date: June 15th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure he did. :)
willowbough From: willowbough Date: June 14th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, boy--how Sirius must hate making that suggestion! But as a plot development, this certainly works to give 12 GP a test run as the stronghold it will become in HP & OoP. Nice bit of characterization that Remus instinctively understands why Fiona feels she must pay Dora back for the clothes: poor people have their pride too.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
People with money tend not to understand the need to pay things back.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: June 14th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
*Kingsley love continues*

Those poor little girls, hopefully meeting creepy!Kreacher soon.

Fiona is much sharper than we gave her credit for, it seems. She seems rather composed, even in the light that she's been playing with the big boys. Interesting.

Good chapter, can't wait to see what happens next.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
She's not overly burdened with educational achievement, but she's not stupid. And she's been dealing with life after an inexplicable attack on her husband for quite a while, so she's developed a little grit, I think.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: June 14th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's great to see more of this. I feel for Fiona, but she seems to be reacting well, all things considered. She's a strong woman. Sirius is wonderful: caring, impulsive, and ready to help at his own risk.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never particularly liked Sirius until I started writing him, and somehow, the whole essence of who he is woke up.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome!
From: glynngriffiths Date: June 15th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus just shook his head, smiling. "I'd tell you to grow up, but it's pointless."

Ah well, at least he realises it. :) And the idea of hiding the Brodies at Grimmauld Place is simultaneously inspired, and kind of awful. But as Fiona says, anything to keep the girls safe.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah well, at least he realises it. :)

Yep, sooner or later, you just have to accept certain things.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 15th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sirius sent Kingsley a Christmas present? That's too funny!

I'd say more, but there are exams to be taken, and my brain is so fried. *sigh*

~Hermione Stranger~
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
And Kingsley makes the decision not to track where it came from. Yeah... he's totally devoted to the search for that notorious criminal. ;p
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: August 19th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)
"He's helping," Fiona said quietly, looking at Sirius.

Sirius nodded faintly, and let the girls hug him and cry in his fur."

*sobs and hugs Sirius*
21 comments or Leave a comment