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Stray, Chapter Nineteen: Decoys, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Nineteen: Decoys, pt. 2
Sirius went back to the island to warn Remus about what he overheard about an attack during the full moon. Remus realizes that it's Greyback, and tells Sirius a little about him. Sirius tells Remus to go transform in the cave with Buckbeak for company, and he (Sirius) will be at the Ministry transformation site--as Padfoot--with Dora right there to help out. They hope to catch whoever it is.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

"All right," Remus said, "I think it's set up well enough that whoever comes won't be able to see inside clearly enough to know it's a dog and not a werewolf, but well enough to know there's someone here."

Sirius checked cursorily around the decrepit old barn, then nodded. "It'll do. The Ministry really thinks this miserable place is a great boon to werewolf-kind?"

Remus shrugged. "It is. It's safe, and there are enough to spread out, and no one comes knocking. I can shore up the holes in the ceiling before I transform."

"But..." Sirius wrinkled his nose and jabbed his finger at moldy hay, infested by mice, and at a rancid-smelling rain barrel, and at any number of other signs that this place was not meant for habitation by humans.

"Well, no one is likely to be here before I turn. At least not out here in the country. They tried doing this sort of thing in the city, but there, even a miserable-looking metal bin--it's Expanded on the inside--ended up being used by the indigent."

"Are you joking?"

Remus looked off in the distance. "No. I've been close to indigent myself. I've taken old tool sheds, and storage bins, and been kicked out of them."

Sirius shook his head. "That's absurd. I'm giving you my vault key, dammit, I won't let--"

"I wouldn't have taken it when I needed it, and I don't need it anymore," Remus said firmly. "Dumbledore was furious about some of the places he found out I'd got to, and now he's helping me find some sorts of posts again."

"Well, you shouldn't have bloody well let him stop before. And Andromeda allowed it?"

"Andromeda tried to give me gold as well. I gave her the same answer I would have given you. I'm not going to live off the largess of wealthy friends."

"You prefer this?"

"Quite a lot, actually," Remus said, crossing his arms over his thin chest. He sighed. "Before we get into another row here, let's stop."


"And I never told you yesterday--too busy being a grump, as Dora puts it--but... thank you for coming and warning me."

Sirius nodded. "Remus?"


"You know how you feel about living off the largess of wealthy friends?"

"I think I just covered that."

"It's about how I feel about being thanked for being your friend."

Remus looked over his shoulder and smiled. "All right, then."

"And I know as well as Dora does what a miserable old grump you are."

"I'm not that old."

"You were a miserable old grump at eleven."

Remus laughed, then said, "I'd best go if I'm going to get that cave secured."

"Check in on Harry if you get a chance. He should be in Hogsmeade."

"Yes, Sirius, that'll do well in keeping up the ruse." He rolled his eyes extravagantly. "I'll do a Disillusioning Charm. If anything dastardly is happening, I'll send a Patronus."

"Fine. But I think it would do Harry good to see you."

Remus didn't answer this, just shrugged and headed off into the gray early afternoon. Sirius hoped he'd change his mind. Despite the fact that he hadn't written to Remus (and Remus had taken this as a personal insult, though he wouldn't admit it), Sirius thought Harry would just about explode with happiness to see him at the moment, and that would be enough, by itself, to cure Remus of his grumpiness, if not his lycanthropy.

Well, maybe they'd get lucky, and Harry would take it in his head to have a walk in the foothills, and accidentally stumble across the cave. That this would be a severe breach of his security during a Hogsmeade weekend seemed somehow less important to Sirius than the good it would do him.

"Or," Dora said an hour later, when she arrived to help him settle in and he shared this particular thought with her, "you could suggest it. 'You know, Harry, you might ask Lupin some of these things, quite an expert, you know...'"

"And if someone intercepts my communication? You don't think they'd immediately descend on anyone I happen to have mentioned in a positive light?"

Dora hissed through her teeth. "That's true. Dammit. Maybe Dumbledore should mention it. Or Mad-Eye. I could write to Mad-Eye and suggest it! He can't very well help Harry himself--he's a teacher--but I'll bet he could slip in a suggestion that Remus would be a good resource. I'll do that tomorrow morning."

"Sounds like it could work."

"That's that, then." She put her hands on her hips and looked around. "Well, I think it'll be comfortable enough to wait in. I'll be up near the main house when the moon rises."

"Can't you stay for a bit first?"

"Sure." She looked for a place to sit down, then just shrugged and sat on the floor. "Can't stay too long, in case whoever's coming happens to see two people in here, but I never mind a little time with you."

"Cheers," Sirius said. "So, what was the Durmstrang champion up to in Hogsmeade today?"

"Following Hermione Granger, but never quite catching up to her."


"Yeah... oh, right, we got a bit distracted after the Yule Ball. That's who his mystery date was."

"Harry's Hermione? I don't like that much at all, she's too close to him for a Durmstrang student to be nosing around."

"I really don't think there's anything to worry about. He just seems besotted."

"Well, he'd have to for the ruse to work! I'll wager Karkaroff put him up to it."

"If he did, he didn't look too happy about it succeeding so well. I saw him try to pull Viktor away about six times. I don't speak Russian--or maybe it's Bulgarian--but whatever he was saying didn't sound like 'Well done, now get in closer.'"

"Hmph." Sirius pushed a pile of hay into a rough chair and sat in it, scaring out a squeaking mouse. "Did you see Harry?"

"Not for very long, or from very close. I got the impression that Viktor was trying to catch Hermione away from him."

"Of course."

"Yes, highly suspicious, that. Imagine, trying to see your date without her friends." She gave a sarcastic tsk, tsk. "He seemed healthy. A rumor was going around that he and Hermione had got in a tiff with Rita Skeeter, so I'd expect some trouble on that front."

"Can't you arrest her for something?"

"Not in the sort of country I want to live in, unfortunately."

"Maybe I could bite her sometime."

"Sounds like a plan," Dora said amiably, then leaned forward. "For what it's worth, I didn't see anything questionable about Krum."


"Geography." She shrugged. "If every student at Durmstrang were a Dark Wizard, we'd be overrun by now. I don't like their curriculum any better than you do, but there are perfectly decent students there, just like there are charming examples of British humanity like my aunt Bellatrix at Hogwarts."

"Well, if you're going to be logical about it," Sirius sniffed.

Dora got to her feet, came over, and kissed his forehead. "I'd best get into place, in case our sneaky little friend comes early. Calm down about Krum."

"Oh, all right."

"I swear, you're as grumpy as Remus sometimes, and as paranoid as Mad-Eye to boot. You're lucky I love you."

"I know that," Sirius said, and smiled. "Believe me, I know it."

She smiled, then Disapparated.

Sirius positioned himself where he could see the moon--it wouldn't do to have a wolf in here before then--and watched. The sky seemed to darken forever, but finally, in a sudden leap, became dark. A breeze blew, and a cloud wafted away from the moon.

Sirius raised his wand, and it let loose a series of unearthly screams that he remembered all too well from his childhood--the sounds of nearly unbearable pain that had come from Remus every month, no matter how he tried to fight them. Listening to them again, even magically re-produced, Sirius felt a white hot hate for the miserable voice he'd heard in Hogsmeade, the man who'd done this, and who now felt, in some sadistic manner, that he owned Remus.

He transformed, and as the magical screams faded, he howled at the top of his lungs.

Nothing happened after.

He paced back and forth along the uneven floor, waiting, waiting...

And then, a scratching at the door.

He crouched down and growled.

"Here, you mangy thing," someone hissed. "Get out here, and let's have some fun."

Sirius raised the volume of his growl.

"Angry, are we? No wonder, trapped here, all alone... Well, we can fix that." The door blew in with a crazy rain of splinters, revealing a masked man in the moonlight. Sirius couldn't get a fix on his smell--it was covered up, bizarrely, by the strong reek of cabbages. "Let's have us lesson, professor," he said, and leveled his wand.

Sirius leaned back onto his haunches and leapt at the man, knocking him onto his back.

The man laughed, and raised his wand at Sirius's head. "So someone's cheating, is he? Well, let's see how he'll feel when he comes back to find one dead doggie waiting."
14 comments or Leave a comment
From: severely_lupine Date: August 3rd, 2009 08:32 am (UTC) (Link)
How frustrating it must be for Sirius to see how hard his friend's had it and know he could help him so easily if Remus would just let him. Dang Remus and his pride. I suppose I just don't understand not letting your friends help you when you need it and they can afford it.

Oh, man, I wish this whole thing with how Remus thinks Harry sees him would be better. I wish Remus would stop being so pessimistic. Although I can certainly relate to how he's feeling. Still, it would do everyone better if he'd just realize Harry was a teenager who had a lot going on and that didn't mean he didn't care about him.

Blast. More talk of Mad-Eye. It's really quite unfortunate Barty Jr. is such a good actor.

but whatever he was saying didn't sound like 'Well done, now get in closer.'" -- LOL! For some reason, that line strikes me as very funny.

"Not in the sort of country I want to live in, unfortunately." -- Mm, indeed. Still, a pity Rita never got her comeuppance.

Oh, dear. Greyback really is the nastiest villain in the series. Well, second nastiest, next to Umbridge. How'd you think he turned out in the movie, BTW? Personally, I was disappointed that we didn't even get to hear who he is or Remus's explanation, or even that he's a freaking werewolf.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 4th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I really didn't like their treatment of Greyback. Sheesh--one of the scariest creepazoids to walk the Potterverse, and... that. Weird.

I doubt Remus frets all the time about Harry's attitude, but when it comes up, I think he sees it as confirmation that he himself isn't very important, after all. No news here, move along.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: August 3rd, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sigh. It's hard to say who's touchier about sensitive subjects, Remus or Sirius! Great cliffhanger ending--since it's not Greyback himself, I wonder who the masked man is.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 4th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC) (Link)
That's what's taking me so long--I'm wondering who it is, too!
From: itsjulia Date: August 3rd, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cliffhangers are fun.
Cabbages, huh? Is that a clue? Is it Barty? Why would Barty smell like cabbages? But Peter and Barty are the only ones who really know whats going on, right? Oh, the mystery...

I am sorry I never comment, mostly just read. But I am enjoying this very much.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 4th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Cabbages, huh? Is that a clue?

Could be, but one that they don't have the context to do anything with, because no one is sharing information.
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: August 3rd, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
ACK! The last bit with the magically-produced screaming, and the sounds of nearly unbearable pain that had come from Remus every month, no matter how he tried to fight them. made me really really sad! I think I tried writing a fic about one of his first transformations with the guys, actually...wonder what happened to that...

Excellent job!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 4th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Just thinking about what it must feel like to have your body forcibly reformed like that... ew.
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: August 4th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC) (Link)
My thoughts exactly!!!
katyscarlett76 From: katyscarlett76 Date: August 3rd, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Commenting just to say I've friended you because I've read your stuff before and a friend mentioned you'd re-started this so I wanted the updates to appear on my flist. Hope that's ok. (I don't like friending people without saying something, feels rude) *Goes back to start on chapter 1*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 4th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Hope you like it. :D
malinbe From: malinbe Date: August 3rd, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, cliffhanger. It's good we know nothing really bad happens to Sirius (not for a year, anyway), but I still am nervous. He'll be recognized!

I love the gossip, though.

"Well, if you're going to be logical about it," Sirius sniffed.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 4th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, gossip does help locate us in the story. ;p
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: August 9th, 2009 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I know there's no real point in bringing this up, since... you can't change canon, and canonically Harry didn't write to Remus, but, alas. Bringing it up anyway. Sirius could have used code names in the letter- called him Moony or 'Our moon-challenged friend', or, something, so he wouldn't have to worry about the letter being intercepted.

Which, again, is kinda pointless, but alas, still had to point it out.

And once again, I know this fic is not cooperating with you overly well, but I adore it so thank you for writing it and continuing it :).
14 comments or Leave a comment