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Stray, Chapter Twenty: News from Inside, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Twenty: News from Inside, pt. 2
After the January full moon, Remus and Tonks meet Fiona and Sirius at 12GP to talk about what went wrong (including the theft of a bookmark with the girls' pictures on it). Tonks is uncharacteristically brusque when the subject of Harry comes up, and when Sirius goes to walk her outside, he finds out why, on the condition that he doesn't tell Remus--she'd written to Moody to suggest that Harry ask Remus for help, but Moody wrote back saying that Harry doesn't trust Lupin or want anything to do with with him. Meanwhile, Fiona is feeling guilty about having spent the night with Sirius.

And grrr, another month long lag between Harry sending a letter and Sirius answering it, this time while Sirius is IN HOGSMEADE! Oh, well, we shall just have to distract him again, eh?

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Sirius read the letter over again, shaking his head. "No, Dora," he said, "this isn't true."

"You think Mad-Eye's lying?"

"I think... I just... Have you considered that he's wrong? He didn't say that Harry said it, just that he guessed it. He could have guessed wrong."

She frowned. "I suppose... But... The bit about the temperature dropping in the room when he brought it up, and not even wanting to discuss it..."

Sirius floundered, then an idea dawned on him. "Of course," he said. "Moody has Lupin's job, as far as Harry's concerned. He may like Moody, but he won't want to talk to him about Lupin. That's probably exactly it."

Dora considered this carefully. "But if he worries so much about Remus, wouldn't he have written on his own?"

"No, it's not Harry." Sirius bit his lip, hoping he was right. "Harry thinks he's bothering people if he writes to them. I'm sure that's it."

"Are you sure?"

Sirius ground his teeth. "I've had three conversations with him, Dora, at least since he learned how to talk. Two at Hogwarts in one night, and one by Floo. Am I sure?" He sighed. "Yes. Yes, I'm sure, if it helps. Remus would know, too. He's talked with Harry more than I have." He looked at the letter. "And even if Moody's got it right, that doesn't mean Harry's going to throw in his lot with the people who killed James and Lily."

"I'm sorry about that," Dora said. "Really. I'm just not happy with him right now."

"Harry's fourteen," Sirius reminded her. "Moony's state of mind isn't his responsibility. I'll get back on Moony's case to write, and I'll wager that as soon as he does, Harry will write back saying how happy he is to hear from him. You'll see."

Dora looked dubiously at the kitchen stairs, then sighed and nodded. "Fine, all right." She turned back to Sirius. "I'll let it be. Mad-Eye's not going to be much help, I guess."

"Mad-Eye has his own job, and Lupin's not part of that, either."

"Part of what?"

They both turned.

Remus was standing at the top of the stairs, looking between them. He spotted the letter, which was still in Dora's hands. "What's that?"

"Er..." Dora tried to shove it back in her satchel, but her face told enough of the story that Remus took a few steps forward and put his hand on it.

"Let me see, Dora," he said.

"It's personal."

Remus looked at Sirius. Sirius looked at Dora and said, "It's your call, but he'll keep asking what's in it no matter what you decide."

She looked down, then capitulated and handed it to him.

He read it.

"I see," he said.

"You know Moody's wrong," Sirius said.

"I have no idea if Moody's wrong or not," Remus said. "But Dora, do you remember when you told me that you should decide about which conflicts of interest you could handle, rather than having me deciding them for you?"

She nodded.

"I'd appreciate the same courtesy," he said coolly. "Stay out of it. You had no business writing to Mad-Eye about this in the first place." He Summoned his Cloak and left.

Dora looked at her shoes. "Well, that went well. I was just trying to help."

"It should have occurred to me to tell you not to."

"I'd best go catch up with him and apologize."

Sirius nodded. He kissed her cheek. "It'll be all right. His snits blow over."

She patted his hand, smiled, and left.

Sirius sat down on the stairs, weary. The walls of Number Twelve pressed in on him.

From her portrait, Mum said, "Nasty little half-blood tramp, throwing herself at a dark creature." Sirius glanced over. The mad screaming she usually did had been replaced by a more familiar sly cruelty. "And you pout over it. Shame of my loins."

"I don't want to hear about your loins, Mum," Sirius said. "Shut up."


Sirius stood and pounded his fists on the frame. "SHUT UP YOU MISERABLE OLD HAG!"

"What's going on?"

He looked up the stairs. Elspeth and Kirsty were on the second floor landing, holding hands.

"It's nothing," he said. "Go on back to sleep."


Mum shut up when Sirius raised a knife at the portrait. "I'll do it," he said. "Ask the Fat Lady."

Mum looked at the knife petulantly, then settled back into her pose and turned her nose up.

On the landing, Fiona came out behind the girls, and shooed them quietly back to their room. She came down the stairs. "Can you?" she asked, glancing from the knife to the portrait.

He shook his head. "The murderous old harpy put a protective spell on it," he said. "But it'd be fun to have a go at it." He held out his hand. "Are you all right?"

She sighed and took it, leading him back down to the kitchen. "I'm all right," she said. "I just feel like I oughtn't be."

"Do you want me to leave tonight?"

She thought about it, then shook her head.

He stayed the night.

Over the next week, Remus and Dora quarreled, Sirius nosed fruitlessly around Hogsmeade, and Fiona found an uncursed set of curtains in bureau drawer. These last, Sirius was able to work a Silencing Charm into, and, over loud protests, put up over Mum's portrait. They tended to open quite frequently, but he could usually manhandle them shut, closing her out of the world. It was a small victory in a dreary week, but he was glad to take it. After the first two nights with Fiona, he found himself staying back at the cave. She hadn't evicted him, nor had he lost interest, but the shadow of Dougie Brodie was growing over Sirius, and he suspected it had never really retreated from Fiona. On Wednesday, she admitted to having got out of the house to go sit with him for a bit. Dora grumbled about security, but nothing had happened, and there were no further threats. Sirius sent some flowers--anonymously, of course--to brighten the place up, though of course, they didn't do much good for a Dementor victim. Fiona considered this a good idea, and sent some of her own on Thursday.

Remus came to the cave on Saturday evening, bearing supper and drinks. They decided on the latter first, and Remus put a warming charm on the food while Sirius poured.

"Cheers, mate," Sirius said, and downed several gulps of mulled mead. It hit his belly and the heat spread.

Remus raised his own glass and drank. "Dora and I thrashed it out yesterday," he said.


He nodded. "She knows why I was angry, and I suppose I know why she did it. I promised I'd write to Harry."

"Brava, Dora."


"So, did you do it?"

He nodded. "I had a few Knuts for Owl Post. It's really nothing, just mentioning that I'm worried about him in the tournament."

"You didn't mention that you know where I am? He doesn't need to worry about both of us."

"I thought of that." He wrinkled his nose. "Did you know that Dolores Umbridge has passed laws about werewolves sending letters to minor children? I had to send it care of an adult."


"Moody. He seems closer to Harry this year, it'll get to him faster."

"And maybe he'll notice that Harry's glad to get it?" Sirius guessed.

"I hope so, anyway."

Sirius took another few swigs of his mead. "Letters?" he asked. "Really?"

"Something about children not being able to properly recognize the danger we pose, et cetera, et cetera. I haven't tried to send a letter through the post office since the end of the summer. Surprise."

"What do they think you're going to do with a letter?"

Remus shrugged. "I imagine Greyback can think of some disturbing messages to share. I'm not sure he can write, but imagine if he sent someone's little sister or daughter or son some lovely little souvenir."

"Anyone could do that," Sirius said. "What if Peter did? Do they have rules against obsequious Death Eater gits sending letters?"

"Not even presumably dead ones," Remus said, then shrugged again. "Then again, obsequious gits don't have a reputation for attacking children."

"Neither do you."

"You can't expect them to judge it on an individual basis."

Sirius wasn't sure whether or not Remus was joking, but decided it was time to lighten things up. "Right," he said. "That would be mad. Next thing you know, they'd have to look at every situation as it came up--"

"--hire people based on their abilities--"

"--try cases on the evidence--"

They smiled at each other. Remus shook his head and started serving supper. They were just settling into a long talk about nothing much when Buckbeak sat up straight and threw his head back with a squawk.

"Owl!" Sirius said. "Maybe Harry's got back to you already."

"I doubt mine's even had time to get into Hogwarts."

The school owl swooped in importantly and sat down in front of Sirius, bearing a letter with his name in Harry's handwriting. He took it, fed some of his supper to the owl, and read it through.

"What is it?" Remus asked.

"Well," Sirius said, "Moody wrote to Dora about Harry. Now Harry's writing to me about Moody."
17 comments or Leave a comment
lollapulizer From: lollapulizer Date: August 19th, 2009 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, Harry never got that letter. Stupid fake Moody.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 19th, 2009 08:11 am (UTC) (Link)
From: severely_lupine Date: August 19th, 2009 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad Sirius knew at least that it wasn't true. Unfortunate that they didn't go so far as to suspect Moody of not being real. And the letter... how sad. Um, it seems to contradict later stuff, though. I know Remus writes letters to kids in Shifts, at least. I can think of one instance in particular (I actually read a large chunk of Shifts to my dad today while we were traveling) where Ginny wrote Remus a letter and later Sirius suggests they can write her back to get a message to Harry, but Remus says he already wrote her back. I can't imagine Umbridge or the werewolf laws getting more lenient between now and then.

I have to wonder, is it just late and I haven't been paying attention, or does Sirius usually call Lupin by his last name quite as much as he does in the beginning here.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 19th, 2009 08:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe he used Order-owned owls instead of the post owls. I can't see how they'd stop that.
From: severely_lupine Date: August 19th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, okay, so it's just the post owls. That's reasonable enough.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 19th, 2009 09:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor Remus - but I like this solution to the 'why doesn't Remus write him' problem.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: August 19th, 2009 09:32 am (UTC) (Link)
You make me hate fake Moody even more than before. I didn't know it was possible.
alkari From: alkari Date: August 19th, 2009 09:37 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, I've always wanted to ask JKR why they just couldn't grab a can of paint and paint right over the old hag's portrait! A couple of thick coats of white - or Gryffindor red - would be a very simple solution. Or is that too simple an idea for the Wizarding world?

mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: August 19th, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
My hatred for fake!Moody and for Umbridge just continues to grow. Poor Tonks, Sirius, and Remus! They must really all be kicking themselves when they eventually find out about Moody . . .

I've always wondered why they couldn't paint over the portrait of Sirius' mother, or burn it, etc. I guess the protective charm is that strong? You'd think they would try to figure out how to break it . . .
willowbough From: willowbough Date: August 19th, 2009 01:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I admire the ingenious ways you use canon to explain the silence between Harry and the adults on the outside who'd be willing to help him. And good for Sirius for finding a plausible explanation for Harry's behavior, even though we know the whole incident was fabricated by Fake!Moody.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 19th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
"--hire people based on their abilities--"

"--try cases on the evidence--"

I love Remus and Sirius together picking each other up! *sigh*

And also...StupidstupidjerkFAKEMoody! Grrr. I really hate that guy.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 19th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

glad that issue is resolved

Bravo Sirius!

although now i feel bad that Dora and Lupin had a row. but in the large scheme of things i think it is for the best.
I sympathize with Dora with her impulsiveness and wanting to defend her love one from getting hurt
but one thingi think most of impulsive people have to learn (and i include myself in that category) is how while there is nothing wrong on being a little impulsive to help people we do HAVE to think of how that person would take it and the conection between other people (in this case Sirius and lupin with harry)

but she apologized and that's what matters

on a better note clever of Sirius with those curtains! his mother is really a big nasty piece of work, that old coot hag

looking forward to see what Harry wrote back about moody! (that was in the actual book wasn't it? i don't remember)
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: August 19th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
BAH!! i HATE Moody!!! >O
From: spitc1899 Date: August 19th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
You really do find a great way to get around canon. And Barty-Crouch-as-Moody just gets worse and worse.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: August 19th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh ow! Poor Remus. This whole chapterlet is a bit depressing, but I guess that's life in war-time.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: August 20th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, it took me some time to remember what was going on back at Hogwarts. I hope Harry's letter will raise some suspicions on Crouch- even if it's just senior.

I'm glad Sirius was able to rationalize it a bit. Still, too bad for Remus.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 21st, 2009 03:30 am (UTC) (Link)

YAY new chapter!

I too join the "I hate Crouch Jr" Fan Club. Can I be the secretary?

I've been reading Shifts, so it's interesting to backpedal, so to speak. I'm enjoying the, what did someone call it? The comfortship? Between Fiona and Sirius. It's kind of nice to see a relationship dynamic that isn't happily ever after, while still being somewhat fulfilling. I don't know if that makes any sense, but there it is.

I may have to go back and read GoF again. Hmm.
17 comments or Leave a comment