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Stray, Chapter Twenty-One: The Restricted Section, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Twenty-One: The Restricted Section, pt. 3
Okay, so a little over a month ago, Remus and Sirius broke into the archives to burn up time in the calendar find information for Harry. Remus gave Sirius a nutty article his mother had written that came very close to defending him. They decided not to really look at the DE revelation about Barty Crouch, Jr, since he's dead, so he couldn't really have anything to do with it, and besides, Sirius knows that story...

Anyway, Remus again assures Sirius--when he brings up Snape--that Dumbledore would never let a Death Eater become a teacher, so Sirius reluctantly lets go of that angle, though he does think that if he ever learns differently, Snape is going to be in a whole heap of trouble.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

They looked through several more articles. Most of them covered incidents Sirius had heard about in Azkaban--the prisoners involved had been sent there, and there'd always been a great deal of wailing at night. Some were entirely new to him, but he couldn't imagine that someone whose grand idea of Muggle-baiting was exploding toilets would have the brain power to fool the Goblet of Fire.

A bit after noon, Remus rubbed his eyes, then checked the clock and said, "We'd best clean up and get out. They're scheduled to open at two o'clock. I'd like to be long gone."

Sirius nodded. "I don't think we really accomplished much. I had high hopes."

"I didn't," Remus said. "Though I did think it would be amusing to break in here. I haven't been in for a while." He smiled. "I'm satisfied."

Cleaning up didn't take as long as Sirius had anticipated. Remus knew the spells his parents had used to re-shelve at night, and it was really just a question of watching the articles flying back to their places for a minute or two. They went down to the cellar, which was piled with moldy newspapers.

"Are you sure you don't want to look around a bit more for old times' sake?" Sirius asked.

Remus shrugged. "What's to see? Everything of my parents' is gone." He sighed. "Dad tried to come back here after Mum died, but his lungs... in the attack, the one that killed Mum--"

"I remember."

"He was sickly after that. He couldn't work the hours. He finally had to go south, to a special retreat on the French Riviera. The new archivist sent him everything he had leftover. He insisted on selling it to pay for his living space, rather than going into his savings. He had to go into them in the end. All sorts of bills came up." Remus shook his head. "He fought as hard as he could, but in the end... They spent everything they had on me, and there wasn't enough to keep him afloat." He shook his head sharply. "Enough of that."

"Dammit, Remus, I'd have given you my Gringotts key if you'd told me you needed it."

"I thought you'd killed James. I wouldn't have taken a Knut from you."

"You won't take a Knut from me when you know damned well I didn't."

"I can manage." Remus turned away. "Come on. I'll pick up something to eat, and we can go to Grimmauld Place. I imagine Fiona's wondering where you've been."

"About Fiona..."

"Sirius, do you really think I don't know about you and Fiona?"

"I thought we were being quite discreet."

"I had it from Dumbledore, who had it from Nigellus. Kreacher is apparently quite scandalized."

"And Dumbledore?"

"Hopes you've found someone to make you happy. Let's go. I can lock up from outside without anyone knowing any better."

The situation forced Sirius to transform, which meant that the conversation was over.

Remus locked up without saying anything, then turned the collar up on his threadbare coat to guard against the cold rain that was beginning to fall. He stopped briefly at a curry booth and got enough food for everyone--Sirius made a mental note of how much to repay him--then headed out through the Leaky Cauldron. They took a city bus across town to Grimmauld Place. Sirius got a few odd looks, but not as many as he'd expected.

When they got inside Number Twelve, Sirius transformed and called, "Fiona? Girls?"

There was a thunder on the stairs as Elspeth and Kirsty chased one another down, laughing, and threw themselves on Sirius. He stumbled and let them tackle him to the stairs.

"I said you'd come today!" Elspeth told him.

"No, you didn't, I said it!" Kirsty argued.

"Well, whoever said it is apparently a Seer of the highest order," Sirius said, "as I'd no idea until a few minutes ago."

Elspeth noticed Remus and got up. "Mr. Lupin, you're here, too!" She ran to him and gave him a hug, which seemed to pull him out of any lingering melancholy.

"I certainly am," he said. "Did you finish your spelling lesson?"

"I did! I got one hundred percent, Mither says."

"Very good!" Remus said. "And speaking of your mother--where is she?"

"She went to visit Daddy," Kirsty said. "She goes a lot now that we're here in London."

Remus raised his eyebrows.

Sirius nodded--Fiona was in hiding here for a reason. Making frequent trips to St. Mungo's wasn't exactly on a list of recommended activities while trying to keep a low profile. "I'll talk to her," he said.

"Maybe I should," Remus suggested. "Less self-interest."

The girls looked mystified at this, but Kirsty shrugged it off. "We found a camera!" she said. "It was in a bureau in the pantry."

"The drawer tried to bite Kirsty," Elspeth said, "but she was very brave, and we got it out."

"We've been taking pictures all morning," Kirsty announced. "Mr. Lupin, can we have a picture with Sirius?"

Remus grinned. "Well, if there's film in the camera..."

"There is!" Kirsty said.

"We think," Elspeth added.

"If not, I think Reg always kept some in his room," Sirius told him. "That was his camera. You know, I think you can have it now."

"To keep?" Kirsty asked.

"To keep."

They raced each other back up to get the camera.

"I don't reckon Reg would mind," Sirius said, then shook his head. "And even if he did, the soft little git was a Death Eater, so what does it matter what he'd think?"

Remus didn't answer this.

"I'd better get the film. Chances are they've been snapping pictures on an empty box all morning."

Sirius Disapparated up the stairs--it seemed like too much energy to climb them--and went into Regulus's room. He half expected the security spells to kick him out, but Reg had barely been out of childhood when he'd disappeared, and he'd never really advanced the protection of his home domain.

The green hangings on his bed looked dusty and dispirited, and Sirius cringed at the display of Voldemortiana hanging on the wall. If he'd left the Death Eaters, it certainly didn't show here.

Nothing had changed here. He expected Reg to come in and start demanding to know just what he thought he was looking for. The feeling was so strong that he actually looked at the door, almost feeling a shadow falling over him.

He went to the desk and opened the top drawer. There was an old photo album--long since converted into another scrapbook of the glories of Voldemort--and a pile of pictures. Reg had gone mad for photography about a year before he'd gone mad entirely and lost interest in everything else, or pretended to lose interest in everything else. Sirius remembered him saying that he didn't want his new friends to think he was wasting his time. "If you have to apologize for who you are," Sirius had told him, "then they aren't your friends." He'd considered this quite profound, but Reg had snapped back, "You're one to talk--when have you ever done anything but apologize to your friends for who you are?"

Sirius pocketed the pictures without thinking about it, and closed the drawer.

He found the film in the bottom drawer of the desk, still in its little sealed containers, and brought it down to the girls, who had Remus posing ridiculously in the parlor.

"Did you find film?" Kirsty asked. "Mr. Lupin says the camera doesn't have any."

Sirius waved the film at them, then tossed it to Remus, who Summoned the camera away from Elspeth.

For the next twenty minutes, Sirius enjoyed striking various silly, familial poses with Fiona's girls, copying several portraits around the house. Finally, Remus snapped a picture of them all piled onto a chair together. Sirius thought he could get used to this.

"I believe," Remus said, "that we've used up this roll of film."

"More!" Elspeth said. "There are funny clothes upstairs, and--"


Sirius shook his head wearily. "She's as good a doorbell, isn't she?"

"Bloody--" A string of worse curses followed this in the front entrance, and got louder as Dora Tonks came in. Her color was high (even taking into account the reflection from her violently pink hair), and she was grinding her teeth. She forced a smile at the girls. "Hello, girls. Might I borrow Mr. Lupin and Mr. Black for a moment?"

"We were taking pictures!" Elspeth said. "Do you want to have a picture?"

"Not just now, darling. Could you and your sister go upstairs?"

"Sure," Kirsty said, and took Elspeth's hand. Dora watched until they were far up the stairs, then turned around and said, "Dougie Brodie is dead."

"What?" Remus asked. "What do you mean?"

"How many meanings of 'dead' are there?" Dora snapped. "He died."

"Well, he'd been hanging on for a long time after the attack..." Sirius started.

"He was killed by a potion that released when one of the flowers at his bedside bloomed."


"Yes, 'oh.' Fiona was there."


"And they think she brought the flower."

Sirius sat back. "They think she--"

"--killed him," Dora said. "She's in Kingsley's office right now, being interrogated."
20 comments or Leave a comment
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: October 13th, 2009 07:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Oooh dear...

Poor Remus and his parents too. :(

Nice to see Stray back though. :) One tiny thing:

The situation forced Remus to transform, which meant that the conversation was over.

Should that be Sirius? Only I think Remus transforming would draw a bit more attention. :)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2009 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Ha, oops. Yes, I think that's a good point. Fixing.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: October 13th, 2009 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)
"The situation forced Remus to transform, which meant that the conversation was over."

Remus? Or Sirius?

Whichever, I just happen to have been sitting up here at oh-dark-thirty in the morning waiting for some HP fic to appear!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2009 07:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Jess caught that, too; I fixed it. I just happen to be writing on the oh-dark-thirties, too, and that's just the sort of thing that happens. ;p
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: October 13th, 2009 08:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear... I hope it was an accident. I'm glad to see Stray is back, though.
One little thing:
Sirius shook his head wearily. "She's as good as a doorbell, isn't she?"
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: October 13th, 2009 12:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved Fiona's girls having fun with the camera. That was too cute!

Wow to the ending. Poor Fiona. I can't wait to see what happens next. . .
malinbe From: malinbe Date: October 13th, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Uhh. Well, I hope she didn't do it, since apparently it would get her into deep trouble. But if she did, I couldn't blame her. Then again, I am in favor of euthanasia in general- cases like this are simply not fair, and if I were Doug, I would want to be let go.

Oooh, ethics. Too complicated a subject to go on about it...

"I thought we were being quite discreet."
"I had it from Dumbledore, who had it from Nigellus. Kreacher is apparently quite scandalized."

LoLs. Poor Remus, though, had to have it from Dumbledore. Bad Sirius. I love that Kreacher is scandalized.

Just yesterday I was wondering about this story. I'm glad you updated and that we get some action on the Fiona front. Uh, I wonder, what will the Ministry do with the girls? Shouldn't they be wondering where they are and/or taking them into some sort of care?
willowbough From: willowbough Date: October 13th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, boy. What an ending--you may have taken a month off but it doesn't show, as far as the story's continuity goes. Liked the bittersweet reminiscences about Remus's parents and the continual presence of the thorny Lupin pride. And I'm a bit sorry that the brief haven Sirius found with Fiona and the girls is about to end, but ah well, such is canon.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: October 13th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's wonderful to see a new chapterlet. It's always a pleasure to see Remus and Sirius together, especially when they're on an adventure, even one that doesn't pan out. But it gave us a bit more background on Remus, which I always appreciate. You obviously haven't lost your touch for ending a section at the cliff-edge!
mathslut From: mathslut Date: October 13th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, Stray!

The ending is a very interesting twist. How did the Bad Guys (tm) get the flower in there?!

The Regulus bits are so bittersweet. There are just so many "if only"s in the Black family history. You capture them beautifully.
From: severely_lupine Date: October 14th, 2009 12:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow. Poor Fiona, accused of killing her own husband. It won't look good if they find out about her and Sirius ("they" being whoever's investigating this), even if they don't know who he is exactly.

Good to see a new part up. Incidentally, my dad just finished reading Shades and was quite disappointed to discover you hadn't written the one that comes after it yet. Of course, since he hasn't read the actual books, I couldn't very well tell him the reason you hadn't yet. But then, I'm still hoping that if/when you do write it, you'll see fit to give it a more proper ending than the one Rowling did.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I'd love to see your versions of the first three as well. PoA from Tonks's POV would be cool, and I imagine reading about her first year as an Auror (which happily coincides with Harry's first year at Hogwarts) would be very interesting as well, and I'm certain you can think of something interesting for Remus to do during CoS. Just a thought. In case you get stuck on Stray again and want to jog things.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2009 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)
The next fanfic I do would probably be finishing up the Teddy stories with year 7. (I don't know what it will be about, but I feel like I should finish his school years!) I might do some short stories based in the other years, but Stray will most likly be my last full-fledged HP alternate POV novel.

Unfortunately for Safe, no matter how many times I turn it over, there's just no way to fix what was so fundamentally broken. The Teddy stories are the only satisfactory ending I can put in for them.
From: severely_lupine Date: October 14th, 2009 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Really? Seems to me like Tonks and Lupin's deaths are among the easiest things to fix about DH, since they're at the very end and have pretty much no repercussions. I'll just continue to hold out hope that you'll change your mind one day and enjoy whatever else you write in the mean time. ;-)
grossest From: grossest Date: October 14th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Eeeek! I hope you don't wait another month to post the next bit. That's a cruel place to leave us!
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 14th, 2009 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I was going over Wodehouse's Honeysuckle Cottage the other day and it has me dying to take this and write the Fifi LaFolle version. The tearful widow (though still incredibly youthful looking) weeping in Kingsley's office . . . the main question is whether Kingsley transforms into a knight errant who only needs the sight of maiden in distress to shove aside any incriminating evidence and ride to her rescue or the beaurocratic villain she needs to be rescued from (or whether Kingsley realizes to his horror he's trapped in a Fifi novel).

Glad to see Sirius and Lupin again, adored the girls, and wish Regulus could come back from the dead long enough to talk to Sirius.

From: (Anonymous) Date: October 14th, 2009 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
P.S. I saw your comment about Tonks and Remus' death being easy to fix. A nine year old I know just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She said it should have been called "Harry Potter and the People Who All Die." I think she'd be very happy if you changed it (whistles innocently while pretending I don't feel just as strongly about it as a nine year old because it doesn't seem cool to admit it).

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 14th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, I'd do it, but the thing is, I can't believe it. It would be a cheap way out of it. But it's not what happened. Grr.

(And yes, very appropriate alternate title. Maybe expanded to "Harry Potter and all the People Who Die Gratuitously.")

Edited at 2009-10-14 06:19 am (UTC)
alkari From: alkari Date: October 15th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe expanded to "Harry Potter and all the People Who Die Gratuitously."

Oh yes indeed. When I re-read DH a while ago, I was struck by jsut how much JKR had totally cut Harry off from anything connected with the past generation, or with meaningful links to his past. Sirius dies in OotP, Dumbledore in HBP, then Remus, Tonks and even Snape and Moody in DH. Plus of course, Harry also loses the two-way mirror and the special knife (both from Sirius) in OotP, then in DH he Hedwig and Dobby are killed, and even the Firebolt given to him by Sirius is destroyed.

She really did sweep the floor clean, didn't she!

From: (Anonymous) Date: October 15th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)
She even managed to change his appearance enough that, at one point, people could no longer see the to James (the Malfoys and Bellatrix, who would have known James, need Draco to identify him. Harrys seems to have a few doubts himself when he finally gets near a mirror).

I wonder how close he came to getting hit by magic, eye color changing powder?

From: bookworm_91 Date: October 15th, 2009 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
dun, dun dun.. .

great chapter, can't wait to see what you come up with next
20 comments or Leave a comment