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Stray, Chapter Twenty-Two: Déjà Vu, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Twenty-Two: Déjà Vu, pt. 3
Before the summary, all you Lupin fans--severely_lupine is conducting the Lupin Big Bang! Check it out!

Okay. Sirius, in one of his fits of mad brilliance, has decided to break into Azkaban, to find out what's going on with Fiona. He's left Dumbledore babysitting. Dumbledore didn't bother trying to talk him out of it. He was just preparing (as Padfoot) to jump up onto a balcony in the lower security holding area.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

He barely made the jump.

The air was thinner up here, and his legs weren't as strong as he'd anticipated, and he ended up scrabbling on the railing long enough to think that it would be somewhat ironic if, after everything, he was caught breaking into Azkaban, exonerated for Peter's murder somehow, then locked up for being an illegal Animagus. Finally, he found purchase with his claws, and pulled himself over the railing onto a drab sort of platform which looked over the sea. It would, in the daytime, provide a fine view of Dementor-induced fog. At night, he could see a dim flicker from the auroras, but it had to pass through layers of the miserable fog, and was left nothing more than an unimpressive green smear in the sky.

He shook his head, and pawed open the door to the interior of the prison.

As he'd never awaited trial or had a visitor, he'd never been in this part of the fortress. It was comparatively luxurious--fewer Dementors, clean floors, and moonlight in the corridors. The torches on the walls seemed to be permanently burning, rather than allowed to go out as soon as the guards finished their rounds.

It really wasn't that much worse than Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, when it came down to it, except for the looming threat of being sent to another wing.

He put his nose to the floor and started sniffing for Fiona's cell. He could pick up a faint whiff of her here, but he thought she was far off. Other smells were stronger. One was a human guard who'd been by Sirius's cell a few times; her name, he thought was Angharad. Kingsley Shacklebolt had been through recently, and Dora's unmistakable scent was here as well. Perhaps they'd stood here by the balcony door, arguing about whether or not to leave Fiona here.

Fiona's scent trail led down a narrow wing of cells that dog-legged north after about forty feet. There was one other person there, but Sirius didn't recognize the scent. Fiona was in the last cell. He loped down to it, sniffed for guards (they didn't generally patrol at night, but he didn't want to take a chance), then transformed and cast a distraction spell.

"Fiona?" he whispered.

She was on her hard cot, but he knew she wasn't sleeping. She turned over, hollow-eyed and oddly unsurprised. "Sirius," she said.

"I can't stay long."

She looked at him narrowly, then got up and came to the bars. "Where are the girls?"

"Back at home. Dumbledore's watching them."

This did seem to surprise her, at least enough to blink a few times, then she shook her head. "Dougie's dead," she said. "I imagine you know that."

"Dora told us what happened. She and Remus cooked up a story for you, about staying in a hotel..."

"I know, she managed to get me into an interrogation room to tell me what to say. Sirius, did you kill my husband?"

He stood back. "No."

She considered this, then nodded, accepting. "I didn't think you did, not really, but I had to ask."

"I understand. Did you?"

She shook her head. "I'm fond of you, but I wouldn't kill a cat for you, let alone my husband."

"I'm glad to hear that. But if you want to, you can tell them that you got involved with someone you just found out was a mass murderer. I'm wanted anyway, and they won't have any more evidence for this than for the other."

She smiled wearily. "Sirius, I've no interest at all in pinning Dougie's murder on you. I want to find out who really did it."

"I want to get you somewhere safer. Someone's got it in for you, and I'm afraid it might be our fault--mine and Remus's, and Dora's. You were doing fine until we came around."

She didn't argue. "But who's doing it? Why?"

"I don't know," Sirius said. "Maybe... I think it's that bloody button. Someone saw it who shouldn't have. And whoever it is might think we know more than we really do."

"I don't even understand that." She sighed. "What could we know?"

"I'd like to figure that out," Sirius muttered. "I don't think Dougie's accident was an accident. I think someone was on that boat with him and called the Dementors. And dropped a button. But we're no closer to tracking it than we were before. Someone's panicking. And panicky people are dangerous, which is why I want to get you out of here."

"I'm not free to go. If they do convict me, make sure the girls get somewhere safe."

"I will, but they won't convict you, and if they do, I'll get you out. I do have some experience with that. I could get you out now, if you want. I don't have a plan, but I'm sure I could figure out a way."

She shook her head. "Mr. Shacklebolt says the evidence is pretty flimsy, and he doesn't think it will hold up. He'd have liked to finish today, but the Wizengamot's law enforcement panel wouldn't see me."


"So hopefully, I'll be out soon. And then... I think you're right. There's nothing to stay here for. Let's leave."

Sirius almost missed the invitation, but it sank in before he spoke. He reached through the bars and took her hand. "I'll get you out of here, Fiona, but I can't leave for good. I have a godson, and he needs me around. Your girls have you. Harry's got me, for whatever I'm worth."

"Harry's fortunate in his guardian." She squeezed his hand. "But maybe someday, when he's all grown up..."

"We'll see." He reached his other hand through the bars and stroked her cheek. "I'll get you to where I was hiding this summer."

"Brazil? We don't speak the language..."

"You'll learn." He smiled. "And I'll be happy thinking of you sitting on a beach somewhere, in half a swimsuit, soaking up the sun or dancing the frevo."

This got a laugh from her, a shocking sound in Azkaban. Sirius glanced at the bars on her window, and wasn't surprised to see the shadow of a Dementor approaching. "Don't start laughing in here," he said. "The Dementors will pay more attention, the more you happen to feel."

She nodded. "I don't feel like laughing anymore, anyway. It was just the thought of me in half a swimsuit. I don't think anyone wants to see that."

"Fine, I'll imagine the other half away." Sirius forced a wink.

"Sirius," she scolded half-heartedly, then closed her eyes and slowly opened them. "What are you doing here?"

"I needed to know what you wanted to do."

"And if I did it?"

"Yes. And you wanted to know if I did."

"We don't know each other very well, do we?"

Sirius gave her hand a final squeeze, then backed away from the bars. "We're getting better," he said. "If Kingsley's wrong and they convict you, I'm breaking you out, no matter what you say. Be prepared."

She nodded.

He transformed back into Padfoot. On a whim, he went back to the bars and let her pet him, then he turned and made his way back to the balcony. He glanced up at the guard tower, where the single light was still burning, and looked about for Dementors. None were in sight.

He leapt.

The landing was jarring on his paws, but he kept his balance. He kept to the shadows on the way back to the narrow beach. There would be no boat Conjuring this time. He braced himself, jumped into the North Sea, and began to swim.

The waves tossed him viciously about, and he remembered his first swim from this place--utterly without a compass, he'd hoped against hope that he wouldn't be swept to Finland in some unknown current. This time, he kept his eyes on the stars, and kept himself pointed south, fighting against the frigid water. Sooner or later, he'd hit land. He just hoped he wouldn't freeze first. It had been bloody cold enough in June. January was torture.


The voice came faintly across the water. He barked as loudly as he could.


He barked twice in the direction of the sound. There was a faint speck in the water, turning toward him, getting bigger as it approached. It was a canoe, obviously propelled by magic, and Remus was sitting in the center of it. He drew up beside Sirius and said, "Get in."

Sirius scrambled into the canoe, taking care not to tip it, and fell, splay-legged, on its floor.

Remus dried him with a flick of his wand. "You're crazy," he said.

Sirius gave him a dog-grin.

Remus rolled his eyes. "Come on. Let's get back to my place before you catch your death out here."
13 comments or Leave a comment
beceh From: beceh Date: October 23rd, 2009 10:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Ohhhh very good chapterlet!
willowbough From: willowbough Date: October 23rd, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Relieved that Sirius got in and out without too much trouble. Remus is right, of course: he is crazy. It's a bit melancholy to consider all the might-have-been futures for Sirius--he could have been quite content with the Brodies, I think.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 23rd, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't even think about how difficult it must be for Sirius to get back to land (or how difficult it must have been when he escaped in the first place, given that he probably wasn't in a very good condition then).
Neither did it occur to me that Fiona would think he'd killed her husband. Clearly, I don't think very much lately.

~Hermione Stranger~
From: severely_lupine Date: October 23rd, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's so sad to watch this, knowing it can't work out between them. And not even just because he dies later; there's still a whole year where she's not even mentioned. I do wonder what you'll do to explain that.

Thanks for the mention about the big bang. :-)
malinbe From: malinbe Date: October 23rd, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, that was very very enjoyable, especially Remus to the Rescue right at the end.

I saw the update this morning before going out, but luckily I saved it for later. I had a really bad exam, this made me smile!

alkari From: alkari Date: October 23rd, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I needed to know what you wanted to do."
"And if I did it?"
"Yes. And you wanted to know if I did."
"We don't know each other very well, do we?"

Excellent and poignant meeting and discussion. So much they could have offered and given to each other in a happier future - with or without half a swimsuit *sigh*.

Though I spluttered at the idea of Remus rescuing Padfoot in a canoe. I have hilarious memories of attempting to stay on a surf-ski (in calm water) when our worried German Shepherd insisted that she was going to swim out, climb aboard and 'rescue' me. A canoe at sea ... Remus would have needed all his stability charms to keep from ending up in the drink himself, LOL!
wotcher_wombat From: wotcher_wombat Date: October 24th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow! I always expect your writing to be fantastic, but I was surprised by how tender the interaction was between Sirius and Fiona. You've done such a good job with their relationship.
chrischewscud From: chrischewscud Date: October 24th, 2009 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, wasn't that a pleasant trip to Azkaban? Sirius could actually still remember his obsession with tiny Muggle (half)bikinis!
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 24th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, just one thing. I felt like it needed a reason why Sirius couldn't apparate once he'd gotten a certain distance from Azkaban.

Logically, I can think of several good ones for the first time. Given the time and effort it took for seventeen or almost seventeen year old wizards to learn, it takes a lot of things that Sirius couldn't pull off when he'd just broken out the first time (energy, concentration, maybe even thinking of a place to apparate to clearly enough that he knew he could do it [actually, given his sanity level after thirteen years in Azkaban, maybe even thinking of apparating]).

The second time, I'm betting that being in dog form while swimming in icy water is enough to distract anyone. There may also be animagi reasons why he can't apparate without changing (have you ever had him apparate in dog form? I can't remember) since part of apparating involves a focus on your own, physical form (and not leaving bits of it behind). The magic field (or whatever) may get confused if the form it's centered in is also under a transformation.

Transforming into human form in frigid waters with only a few seconds to apparate out before you freeze? Swimming as a dog might be a lot smarter.

Although I'm also wondering if Sirius' dog form has some Newfoundland tendencies, despite his look. They're designed to last in cold water.

alkari From: alkari Date: October 24th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm also wondering if Sirius' dog form has some Newfoundland tendencies, despite his look.

Don't quite know what you mean by 'despite his look'. JKR describes him as a gigantic shaggy black dog - she even refers to him as 'bear sized' in POA - and he's mistaken for a Grim, so I've always imagined Padfoot as being at least Newfie / St Bernard size and build (despite the pathetic attempt at his form in Movie POA). I certainly think he's meant to be larger than a labrador / German shepherd type, and if he was like one of those 'cold weather' dogs, it would certainly explain how he could swim away from Azkaban.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 25th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I first read the British copy of Prisoner of Azkaban, which has a picture that may have been meant for Remus as a werewolf but that I always thought of as Sirius. I've always imagined him as a lean, wolf-like dog that might be the size of a horse (if his leg and neck were longer) and maybe bigger than a lion (depending which stories [or movies] you go by, a dog that can control a werewolf could easily be that tough).

But, you're right, that's not the way Rowling describes him.

In my defense, I just can't imagine anyone looking at a Newfie and thinking it looks like a harbinger of the underworld, which the Grim more or less is.

etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: October 24th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sirius is a good man, despite his odd wild swings. Fiona obviously appreciates his qualities, even if she isn't in love with him. And Yeah! Remus to the rescue!
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: November 28th, 2009 12:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Loved it! Especially that Remus came to get him. ;)
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