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Stray, Chapter Twenty: News from Inside, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Twenty: News from Inside, pt. 1
The plan to trap a Death Eater failed, and both Sirius and Tonks were taking it hard. She returned to headquarters to cook up an explanation with Kingsley; he ended up back at Grimmauld Place, where Fiona comforted him. The next morning, he realized that a bookmark that the girls had made--which had their pictures--was missing from a book he'd brought along.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

"Does he always look this bad the day after?" Fiona whispered, looking uneasily over her shoulder at Remus, who had dragged himself into Number Twelve fifteen minutes ago, and had needed Dora's help to do it. "I feel like he ought to see a Healer."

Sirius smiled faintly and squeezed her arm (her hands were wrapped around the large spoon she was using to stir a cauldron of soup). "He'll be all right. I've seen him look worse, and he gets himself out of it."

"You're sure?"

"I'm sure." He leaned in to kiss her cheek, but she drew away.

Sirius went to the table, where Dora had set Remus down and threatened him with a binding spell if he tried to get up. Remus didn't look in the mood to try her patience. He was nearly collapsed, his head on one extended arm. There was a gash on the other arm, and he was favoring it.

"Did you do that to yourself?"

"Only if you count forgetting to bow to a hippogriff as 'doing it to myself.'"

Sirius winced. "Sorry. I thought he'd keep you better company."

"Oh, he did. Actually ended up coming right over and keeping me warm once I curled up to go to sleep. It was just when I woke him transforming that he got a little snippy."

"You really should have it looked at. I told Fiona not to worry about it, but it doesn't look good, mate. That could scar."

Remus glanced at it. "Yes, well, as much as it pains me to lose my good looks and my chances of being Witch Weekly's eligible bachelor of the year, I think I'll skip Andromeda's tutting at me, or anyone asking me just how I ended up with a hippogriff scratch."

"Don't be ridiculous," Dora said curtly, coming to sit down beside him. She gestured for him to give her his arm, and he did so. "Mum may not have got me to learn any household-y spells, but she wouldn't let me out of the house for my apprenticeship without learning basic first aid." She tapped his arm with her wand and said, "Halian." The gash closed. She swatted him fondly on the back of his head. "Really, Remus, you can tell me when you have a cut to heal before you're ready to do it." She looked at Sirius. "I thought he might be hiding one."

Sirius shook his head--it was a purely Lupin matter. He hid his wounds from girls he wanted to impress. No amount of cajoling from James that wounds could be used as sympathy props had ever managed to get through his skull.

Fiona came to the table. "Sirius told me what the lot of you did last night," she said. "You're all mad, you know that? Gryffindors are mad."

"I'm a Hufflepuff," Dora said cheerfully.

"He got away with pictures of Fiona's girls," Sirius said, and explained about the bookmark.

Dora ground her teeth. "We should've got him."

"They know who we are anyway," Fiona said. "That's why they burned my house."

"But now they know for a fact you're associated with Remus somehow. And me. They got a good look at me."

"Which means that they'll think you were more involved in the war than you were," Remus said.

Fiona sighed. "I should have been. The bastards did manage to kill my parents." She shook her head. "How much trouble do you think this bought?" she asked Sirius.

"I don't know. The fact that he has pictures of the girls... I don't know if that would mean much. But zeroing in on it like that--I don't like it."

"Right," Dora said. "Even if they don't decide you're deeply involved in any secret resistance, they may think that the old resistance has a soft spot for you. That's not the safest place to be."

"Well, they can't get in here." Remus pushed himself up and propped his chin in his elbows. "I think you're safe if you stay inside."

Fiona started to say something, then glanced at Sirius and looked guiltily away. "And my husband?" she asked quietly. "What of Dougie?"

"It's not that hard to secure people in St. Mungo's," Dora said. "And we've had a watch on him since your house burned. I'll ask Mum to go by him a few more times."

"Thank you." Fiona looked at her hands on the table, then abruptly got up. "I should check on the girls." She left the kitchen.

Remus's gaze followed her, then snapped back to Sirius. "What's that about?"

Sirius tried to answer glibly--that Remus probably had a pretty damned good idea or he wouldn't have asked--but the glibness wouldn't come. He just shook his head. "I'll take care of it."

Remus nodded. "I think she's right--they knew about the Brodies before."

"But just taking the pictures," Dora said. "I don't like it any better than Sirius does."

Sirius Summoned a bottle of mead and a tankard. "I don't like any of this," he said. "I want to know what it's got to do with Harry and that bloody tournament, too."

"There are concerns other than Harry Potter," Dora said, her voice sharper and colder than he was accustomed to from her. "He has Dumbledore and Moody to look after him."

"Dora, if you think this isn't related to what's going on at Hogwarts--" Remus started.

She cut him off. "I just think that we can do more good working on the outside. When did all of this business with the Brodies start? It was that button. I showed it around the Ministry. Someone there knows it, and neglected to tell me."

Remus glanced at Sirius, looking as puzzled as Sirius felt, then said, "Well, which people, exactly, did you show it to?"

"Robards, Scrimgeour..."

"You trust them?"

"In their ways. Robards is has more hands than are good for him, but he's a good Auror. Scrimgeour's by the book as far as Ministry rules are concerned, and he doesn't care much for Dumbledore, but if push came to shove, he's on the right side of things."

"Did anyone you're not sure of see it?"

She thought about it, and shook her head. "No. I talked to everyone personally. I didn't even make it down the whole list of people I do trust. I never even made it to Arthur Weasley--I don't know him, but he knows everyone, and he's supposed to be a good egg. But I sent it off to Moody. He said he'd look into it."

"You don't suppose old Mad-Eye showed it to the wrong person?"

"Of course," Dora said. "Mad-Eye's known for being careless about who he talks to."

"There's Hagrid," Remus offered. "He's been known to let things slip."

"Or someone could have seen it in his office or whatnot."

"Well, your friend Harry's been there a lot."

Remus sat up, looking shocked. "Dora!"

"Are you off your gourd?" Sirius asked. "What's going on?"

"Nothing. I just... I wonder if you see him clearly."

"Apparently, we see him better than you do, which isn't surprising, since we actually know him."

Her lips tightened. "Fine. Probably not, anyway. I can't imagine a Death Eater taking cues from Harry Potter even if he tried to give them." She looked at her watch. "I have to go."

"Yeah," Sirius said. "I'll walk you to the door."

He led her up the kitchen stairs, and stopped her as soon as they reached the door. She shook her head. "I'm sorry, Sirius. I'm just not particularly enthralled with your godson at the moment."

"And what exactly has he done?"

She looked over his shoulder at the kitchen door, then cast a mild Muffling Charm on it. "I wrote to Moody last night," she said. "We talked about it, remember. I said I'd suggest that Harry could ask Remus for advice, and it wouldn't be outside the bounds of the tournament."


"Fastest answer ever." She reached into the old school satchel she carried and drew out a letter, addressed to her in Alastor Moody's handwriting. "Go ahead," she said. "Have a look. But for God's sake, don't tell Remus what it says."

Slowly, Sirius opened the envelope.

Tonks, Moody had written, I was glad to hear from you. Hear you've become quite an Auror lately. Tracking any Death Eaters since the Quidditch World Cup? Catching any?

As to your question about young Mr. Potter, I'm sure Lupin's told you that he goes his own way with things. Getting ideas through to him isn't always easy. But I'm afraid I did already talk to him about some of the resources he could use, including old Lupin. He didn't exactly jump on it.

If you want my opinion, Potter doesn't want much more to do with Lupin. After being lied to for a year about who he was (not to mention what, though that doesn't seem to weigh much on Potter's mind, to his credit), I think he's just had his fill. After all, he's got enough to deal with without wondering what Lupin's not telling him now. When I brought it up over tea, I think the temperature in the room went down about ten degrees. I'm sure he'd deny it right and left if I asked him straight out, but I could see the boy's eyes. He's angry.

In other words, I'm not going to press it again, and it looks like Lupin's got the good sense not to press it himself. I'd tell him to trust that instinct, or he's likely to push Potter into giving him quite an earful.

Sorry to say it, of course. Don't think he's a bad sort. But Lupin really threw him off, and I don't think he'll ever trust him again. If Lupin has something he thinks would be helpful to Harry, tell him to write to me, and I'll find a way to pass it along.

Hope to see you soon,
22 comments or Leave a comment
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: August 12th, 2009 06:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Grrr! Even knowing full well that's not actually Moody, oh, I am angry on Lupin's behalf. *snarls*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2009 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, but I was trying to think how to get around her writing such a letter, and realized that, well... Barty would just tell a lie.
looking4shadows From: looking4shadows Date: August 12th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow, this chapter struck me as being so incredibly well-constructed. I know I don't comment that much, but you're probably on my list of top authors or at the very least top fanfic authors. I wasn't so big on Stray at the beginning, but I'm hooked now.

Also, editor-y nitpick - happened to notice there are two 'others' in a row toward the beginning. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2009 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Got the other "other," thanks. ;p

Glad the story got you!
From: severely_lupine Date: August 12th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I do wonder how this thing with Sirius and Fiona will play out. Obviously it can't end well, or there would have been some mention of her later on (though maybe you can find a way to work her/them in if you ever get around to writing Safe). Which seems to mean like it has to end with Sirius getting his feelings hurt badly enough that Lupin doesn't even bring it up casually when Sirius teases him about Dora or anything. Hmm...

Oh, Buckbeak... You know, I really like that you don't let us forget things like how hippogriffs must be bowed to and other such details. It's so easy for fanfic authors to leave those kind of things out, even if they establish it once at the beginning. Still, unfortunate that Buckbeak isn't the most caring and compassionate of creatures, doing that to poor Remus when he was already in such bad shape.

No amount of cajoling from James that wounds could be used as sympathy props had ever managed to get through his skull. -- Not surprising. I don't think sympathy is really what Lupin's going for.

Whoa, did Dora just imply Harry had something to do with the bad guys? Of course, this is before she met him, and it's her job to be suspicious of people, but man, what a way to get a reaction from Remus and Sirius.

Oh. Oh... Well, now I want to throttle Barty Jr. You know, I hope once everything comes out in the end, he gets some kind of extreme talking-to between his capture and getting Kissed. The little bastard.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh, well done...

That letter is a bit of a masterstroke in my opinion: it preserves Barty's cover, makes sure that no letters will be sent by Remus to Harry (and thus, keeps everything nice and canon), and angers Dora enough that she is no longer predisposed to want to like Harry (and therefore less likely to be looking out for him).

That prejudice against werewolves is a Hot Button Issue with all of this Trio means that none of them will look at this logically to consider that Harry, being Muggle raised, is unlikely to hold the prejudices of the Wizarding World.

Just... very well done. I wasn't expecting something like this - a 'prejudiced' Harry - and it was executed realistically.

I'm upset on Lupin's behalf, of course, in spite knowing that it's a Death Eater writing. But, it's also rather sad... None of them - Remus, Sirius, Dora - really know Harry very well.

I like the rest of this story as well. You're tops at writing parallel to canon, and you're still one of my favorites.

From: severely_lupine Date: August 12th, 2009 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh, well done...

Harry, being Muggle raised, is unlikely to hold the prejudices of the Wizarding World.

I don't know that this is really something they would think of, even if they were thinking of it logically. I don't think it's uncommon for Muggleborns to be prejudiced against werewolves, even without being raised in a wizarding home. After all, even Hermione, when she though Lupin was working with Sirius, reacted in an "I should have known!" kind of way, even though she'd not outed him after she'd figured out his secret. And Muggle knowledge of werewolves is, generally speaking, far from complimentary or likely to produce much sympathy. Of course, I agree that Harry wouldn't have such prejudices, but I think that's more a result of just who Harry is rather than being raised in a Muggle environment.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2009 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh, well done...

No, you're right. I agree with you. But...

I don't think that the prejudice would be as set, would it? After all, whatever horror stories are told, Muggles don't really believe in werewolves, and how much of Hermione's reaction is based on what she likely read about werewolves in the course of her research? She was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt all year, until the scene in the Shack... where I gaurentee the biased words of the Dark Creatures text were running through her head. Hermione, bless her, is ultimately very dependent on what she reads.

Anyway. Accepting that: the fact that they don't really know Harry at all stymies any logical dissection of the letter... Not that I think they should be able to read between the lines any figure out that Mad-Eye is being impersonated by a Death Eater, but I'd like to think that there would be something that would raise some flags for them, without the benefit of hind sight at the end of the year.

gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: August 12th, 2009 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Awesome chapter. I can't wait to see what Sirius does with this information!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2009 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)
That letter made my stomach hurt. Poor Remus. Barty Crouch Jr. deserves to be bitch slapped. That letter is MUCH worse than helping Voldemort rise again! (Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but still...) And the worst part is that Sirius doesn't know Harry's character so well yet, so he can't really know that Harry would never think that way.
lollapulizer From: lollapulizer Date: August 12th, 2009 07:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, that letter made me SO angry. I wonder how Sirius will react though...I can't imagine he'll think Harry really thinks that. Or I hope not, anyway.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: August 12th, 2009 08:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with everybody that the letter is really horrible. I hope that Sirius doesn't really believe that of Harry - after all, Barty Crouch Jr. wasn't there at the end of PoA and didn't witness Harry *not* wanting Lupin to resign.
LOL about Remus not wanting Tonks to see his gash. Ah, male pride...
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Argh now i'm angry at both Tonks and Sirius

first sirius- WHY WHY does he keep mentioning Hagrid as if he would screw up everything??!!. sure, it is a fact Hagrid lets things slip. but didn't he did that twice ONLY on first year? and he sure regretted it later. He is not dumb to do the mistake again if he can help it.

because if it still is because of the "Dumbledore letted Hagrid Stay and not Lupin" issue. I hope SOMETIME before the year is over he gets his act together and forgives both dumbledore and hagrid.

and argh argh argh Tonks! I know you love Lupin, it's wonderful. but don't make your love for him make you go blind at the mere suggestion harry doesn't trust him. because you know Sirius, Lupin and Moody for more or less the same about of time and like Sirius said both lupin and Sirius KNOW Harry far longer than moody does. (and for the record Harry is not one to hold grudges very long, Sirius should told Tonks how Harry went from "I want to kill you!" to "are you mad? of course I want to move in with you? when can I?" last year.

and second, Come on! Harry is the LEAST probable person to go to the Death Eaters. FOR OBVIOUS REASONS. Or did you forgot that little but important fact- Death eaters helped killed Harry parents.

I hope Sirius does talk to Lupin about it, Lupin reacts more rationally than Tonks, and talks some sense into her (for the second during the duration of this story).
one thing that I did like about Tonks reaction is in the context of things, that at this point she still has streaks of "imaturity" (i don't mean the defending my friends" I mean "jump to conclusion based on little evidence from someone who doesn't know who he is talking about at all (meaning fakeMoody aobut Harry)" and how she has to get over that in the course of two future books to be closer to a better partner for Lupin.

*Sigh* I sure hope both of them see Sense and forgive the people they are vilifing right now (Hagrid, and Harry).
shiiki From: shiiki Date: August 12th, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
*winces at that letter*

And yet ... it fits. It all fits.

I'm so devastated for all of them now - Remus, Sirius, and Harry.
miss_polyhymnia From: miss_polyhymnia Date: August 12th, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can I just state for the record that I hate Barty Crouch Jr? Evil, evil, man.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: August 12th, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, boy--interesting twist, having fake Moody lie about Harry's response to hearing about Lupin. And doubly ironic that this supposedly infallible source is also lying about who he really is.
Naturally, Dora wouldn't question a report that she thought came from her mentor.

On another subject, the guilty awkwardness between Fiona and Sirius is believable, if rather sad to see. Looking forward to the next.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: August 12th, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, that's quite an awful letter. Bloody Barty Crouch Jr.

It's fun to see Sirius already rolling his eyes at the obvious crush Remus has on Dora. Silly, silly man.

That Morning After was very realistic, for people in such situation. At the very least, I'm glad Sirius had someone even if for a little while.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

I just realized something....

first Boo on Barty Crouch JR.

second Tonks response kinds of ties in with what she said in a previous chapter doesn´t it?

the whole others don´t trust the ministry but I do on some people

so she is trusting Moody because he is an old friend nad college not because he is actually right

I find it ironic that she was readily to do things without Kingsley´s approval (looking for evidence on Sirius evidence, or something like that)
but then trusting the judgement of someone who doesn´t know Harry that much over what the opinion of the people that actually Know harry
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)


argh that cliff hanger is wrecking my nerves! i don´t like seeing the order trio mad at each other!

when do you usually post chapters? in specific days or as soon as you finish them?

cause I can´t wait for this to solve itself so there are no more fights and distrust.

" Becky
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 14th, 2009 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
If I were in Tonks' shoes and believed this was really from Mad-Eye, I'm trying to think how I'd judge what he said.

On the one hand, he's her mentor and taught her a great deal - including about how to analyze what witnesses and suspects AREN'T saying, along with what they do say, so score him credibility points there.

On the other hand, he's got some paranoia, tends to overreact on issues of defense, and may not have that much experience around kids.

So, could real Moody, if he were assigned guard duty on a kid, get that kid's back up on all the "Constant vigilance!" stuff that even a fourteen year old boy without any unusually strong tendencies to act on his own without informing adults might be looking ready to blow? And that listing other adults said kid could turn to might not be the best follow up?

And, more to the point, would this be the sort of thing real Moody would misread? And that Tonks would believe he might misread?

Probably not, since that would mean our characters would bypass Moody and write to Harry, which didn't happen. Too bad, really.

From: spitc1899 Date: August 14th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that letter was evil. Well done, but very sad.
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: August 19th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Evil!Moody is EVIL! Poor Remus . . .
22 comments or Leave a comment