Chapter 43 : Puppy Lost
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Remus emerged from the bathroom with Teddy in tow and stared in shock at the sight that met his eyes. There was Ron, lying on a stretcher, a huge knot on the side of his head, obviously unconscious. Neville stood on one side, hugging Rosie and Frankie, who were both crying. Draco and Harry were looking down at Ron with concerned expressions. Cory clung to Draco's leg, looking as if he wanted to start bawling too. Severus and Lily were standing beside each other, hugging each other. Remus saw Jamie next to a booth with Quidditch memorabilia.
"Harry, what in hell happened?" he cried.
"A rogue Bludger nailed Ron in the head. He's been out since it happened, about three minutes ago. Nev's going to take him to St. Mungos with Rose and Frankie. I was going to go along, Draco's already called Hermione, she said she'll meet us at the hospital."
"Of all the horrible things!" Remus shook his head sadly. Then he looked about for his children. "Teddy, go and tell Jamie to come here. Where's Sirius?"
"I saw him with Jamie, over there," Harry answered, pointing towards Jamie.
"Uncle Remmy, Sirius is gone," Lily spoke up. "He turned into a black puppy and ran off."
"He what?" Remus gasped, feeling his stomach start to cramp with fear. He knew Sirius was an Animagus, of course, but he didn't know Sirius still had his Animagus ability at this age.
"He turned into a dog and ran away," Severus added. "Lily and I saw it."
Remus groaned. This was all he needed!
Just then Jamie came up and tugged on Remus' sleeve. "Daddy, Sirius was helpin' me. He didn't run away, he was chasing a robber. A kid stole my wallet. Sirius was trying to get it back."
Remus gazed into his youngest's eyes. He saw immediately that Jamie wasn't trying to cover up anything. "Merlin's beard! What was he thinking?"
"Sirius used to be an Auror, right?" Harry asked softly.
"Yes, what of it?"
"Well, he still remembers that time, and an Auror tracks down criminals. He probably figured he could get Jamie's wallet back easy." Harry suspected.
"But he's just a kid, Harry! Seven years old!" Remus exclaimed.
"I know that and you know that, but Sirius has forgotten that." Harry remarked. "Severus does it all the time. It's because he still has his adult memories. And he reacts like the adult he used to be, not a child. Like I said, Severus does it all the time, especially when we're brewing potions."
"What am I going to do?" Remus asked, frustrated. "This is a big city, he could be anywhere."
Harry thought quickly. "Okay. Neville and Draco, could you take Ron to the hospital? Along with Rosie, Frankie, and the two Lupin boys? Remus and I have to find Sirius. Oh, and would you please watch out for Sev, Albus, and Lily too? We'll meet you at the hospital, all right?"
"Sure, Harry," said Neville. "Good luck, Remus. Hope you find him soon." He levitated the stretcher and began to search for a fireplace.
Remus drew his wand and began to chant a Four Points spell. "Point me Sirius Black."
His wand spun about on his palm and wouldn't settle. Remus stared at it in dismay. "Why isn't it working, damn it all?" he practically screamed. His son was lost somewhere and now his locator spell was malfunctioning.
Lily came up and tugged on his sleeve. "Uncle Remmy . . . I think I know why you can't find him."
"B'cause you're trying to find Sirius, only Sirius is a puppy now. You have to look for a puppy."
"I . . . do?"
Remus thought about it. "Of course." He repeated the spell. "Point me Padfoot."
This time the wand pointed the way up the street. "Thank you, Lily. Merlin, but I'm totally losing it. Harry, he's this way."
Harry turned and called to his boys, "Behave, you two. I'll be back soon."
"Boy is he gonna get it," Alby told Sev and Lily.
"I wager he won't be sitting down for a week once Remus gets hold of him," Severus stated. He always wondered how Black could be so dumb sometimes.
They followed Draco to where a portkey was and then they vanished.
Harry cast a locator spell as well, and felt it grab hold of Sirius, and drag him forward. He quickly started to run. Even though Sirius was still a puppy, that didn't mean he couldn't get in trouble.
Padfoot turned in a slow circle, his nose working overtime to separate out the smell of the boy that had snatched Jamie's wallet from the surrounding odors of dirt, rubbish, old food, and other unsavory scents. When he had been an Auror in his old life, he had prided himself on always getting his quarry, by virtue of his superior nose. Now, as a puppy, he still had his sense of smell, though it was not honed so keenly as it had been from years of tracking down criminals. Still, the area his quarry had gone into was not so large, and he began smelling eagerly.
He sneezed, some acrid odor tickled his nose, and he shook his head in disgust. He had to get the wallet back for Jamie, he couldn't fail his little brother this way. The thief would be brought to justice, or his name wasn't Sirius Orion Black. But it wasn't his nose that aided him then, but his keen hearing.
Somewhere a door slammed, and Padfoot perked up an ear, listening hard. Then he heard voices, and one voice he recognized from following the thief down the street. The boy tended to talk to himself, and Padfoot remembered his voice. He quivered all over, then followed the boy's voice down the alley and to a side door. Rearing up, he scratched at the door and whined.
"What's that?" asked a slightly deeper voice, but one that was still childish.
"I dunno, Matt. Let me go see."
"No, stay here. Could be one of the Purple Crushers."
Padfoot whimpered louder, no one could resist an adorably cute starving puppy. He sat down and swished his tail back and forth, trying to look pitiful.
The door was yanked open and a lanky teenager of about fifteen peered out. "What the hell . . .?"
Padfoot whined and looked up at the boy, his brown eyes pleading.
The boy frowned. "What are you doing here, boy? Scat! I ain't got nothin' for you."
Padfoot panted and jumped up and licked the boy's hand. His wistful expression caused the boy to open the door wider, giving Padfoot the opening he'd been looking for. He wriggled inbetween the boy's legs and into the flat.
"Hey, get back here!" called the older teen.
Padfoot ignored him, crossing the bare floor and frisking up to the younger boy, wagging his tail.
"Wow, Matt! It's a dog!" exclaimed the thief, kneeling down to pet the puppy. Padfoot rolled over for a belly rub, whimpering happily. The boy scratched his belly and his tail thumped the ground ectstatically.
"Roger, don't start making friends with the mutt. We're not keeping it."
"Aww, but why?"
"'Cause we can't afford to, that's why."
"Yeah but with the money I nicked . . ."
"Still won't be enough." Matt shook his head.
"You're gonna kick him out on the street? Look at him, he'll starve! He's just a little puppy." Roger gave Matt a pleading look. "I ain't never had a dog before."
"And you're not now. He can take care of himself, everyone likes cute puppies."
Padfoot wriggled on the floor, enjoying the attention. He was waiting for the right moment to look for the wallet. His stomach growled.
"Hungry, aren't you, boy?" murmured the thief. "Me too. Here, let me give you half my burger."
"Don't you dare, Roger!"
The younger boy stiffened. "It's my burger, reckon I can do what I like with it." He stood up and went over to a cracked counter and began cutting the burger in half.
Padfoot sat up and sniffed, then he saw the wallet hanging partially out of the boy's pocket. He trotted over to the boy and sniffed at it.
"Okay, keep your fur on," Roger muttered, grinning. "Here."
The half a burger was tossed in the air.
Padfoot caught it easily and gulped the greasy cold burger down. It was delicious. Then he jumped up and snatched the wallet out of Roger's back pocket. Once he had the leather square clenched inbetween his teeth, Padfoot backed away and turned to run.
Roger turned to go pet him, and only when he leaned down did he see what the black puppy was holding. "Oh, bloody hell! Give that back, boy!" He lunged at the puppy.
Padfoot backed away and ran, straight for the half open door.
"Matt, get him! He's got the wallet!"
But the older teen wasn't fast enough.
Padfoot eluded his hands and shot out the door quicker than a greased pig.
"No! Damn dog, get over here!" screamed Matt, running after the fleeing mongrel.
But Padfoot was too quick, and started galloping down the alley, making a right down the stree and running for all he was worth.
Both Matt and Roger chased him, calling, "Here, puppy puppy! Bring that to me."
Padfoot ignored them. He had gotten the wallet back, now all he had to do was find his way back to the stadium. He ran faster, his paws eating up the ground.
He paused for a minute, setting the wallet down, because with it in his mouth he couldn't pant, which was how a dog cooled down. When he heard the boys' voices getting closer, he picked up the wallet and ran like crazy down the street. He had just turned the corner when he saw two men dressed in Auror uniforms up ahead. A whiff of them told him they were Dawlish and Hart, two of his old pals on the force. He paused to catch his breath and Matt and Roger appeared in the distance.
Padfoot glanced back, then began deliberately walking over to the Aurors. Considering the boys were thieves, he doubted they would follow. Wagging his tail hard, he frisked up to Dawlish and nuzzled him.
Dawlish, who liked dogs, knelt and petted his ears. "Hey, pup. Whatcha got there, huh?" Dawlish gently tugged the wallet from Padfoot's mouth and opened it. "Let's see who this belongs to." His eyebrows rose. "Why, it's little Jamie Lupin's wallet, Hart!"
"Hey, mister!" called Roger hopefully. "That dog took my wallet."
Dawlish looked up and frowned. "Really? That's clever kid, but you aren't the owner of this. Nice try."
"How would you know?"
"Because I happen to know whom this belongs to, and you aren't him." Dawlish said sternly. "Now get, before I arrest you."
Roger paled, then slowly backed away, turning and running as soon as he was a short distance away.
"That's what I thought," Hart said. "I'll bet that little sneak stole this wallet and the dog went and got it back."
"Probably. This is one smart dog. Ought to be on the force."
Padfoot barked and ran in a circle. I was on the force, Dawlish. Don't you recognize me?
He let the burly Auror pet him and jumped up and washed his face. Dawlish grinned and gave him a dog biscuit as a reward. The Auror always carried them to give to the Auror K9 Corp.
Padfoot gulped it down. Then he jumped up and snatched the wallet from Dawlish's hand. Much as he liked the Auror, he couldn't have Dawlish keep the wallet. He had to give it to Jamie himself.
"Hey, boy! Bring that back to me. That's got to be returned to Jamie Lupin."
Padfoot danced away as the Auror tried to grab the wallet. The dog wagged his tail in apology, then turned and ran past them down the street.
"Shoot! Where's that mutt going?" asked Hart.
"I'd say he's going back to his master."
"Should we chase him?"
"We'll never catch up to him. But we can follow him."
They began to walk after the black puppy.
Padfoot wasn't sure of where he was, so he just kept trotting down the street. This area was more populated and several people pointed and laughed upon seeing the puppy carrying a wallet.
"Looky there, Harve! A puppy with a wallet! Gonna buy a pint, dog?"
"Maybe he wants a burger with chips!"
Padfoot ignored them, even though he was starving. He tried not to drool on the wallet.
Some ten minutes later, Harry and Remus followed the tracking spell to the two Aurors.
"Hey, Dawlish and Hart!" Remus called, waving at them. "Have you two seen a scrawny black puppy around?"
"Sure did, Remus! One ran up to us with Jamie's wallet in his mouth. Some little rascals were chasing him." Dawlish called.
"That your dog, Lupin?" Hart asked. "Thought you couldn't have pets on account of your . . . err . . . condition."
"Normally I couldn't, but this one's special. He's not bothered by it," Remus said quickly. The werewolf nature, even when dormant, tended to make animal fear him. "Where is he?"
"He ran down thataway," Dawlish pointed down the street.
They all started walking in the same direction, figuring eventually they'd catch up to the runaway puppy.
"So, how's the missus and your boys?" asked Hart.
"Good, except for Jamoe's wallet getting lifted. We were at the Quidditch match when that happened." Remus replied, relieved as hell that Padfoot was all right.
"Mmm . . . gotta watch for those pickpockets," Dawlish muttered. He then looked up and saw Harry. "Hiya, Harry! Come along to help Lupin?"
"Yes, and once we find his dog, we're headed to St. Mungos. Ron got himself knocked out by a rogue Bludger."
"Merlin! Hope he's all right, he's one of the best sports casters on the WWN." Dawlish groaned.
Harry nodded, he hoped that as well.
Meanwhile, Padfoot was thirsty and his paws ached from running so far and fast. He trotted into a large yard with a fountain in the middle, drawn there by the scent of cool water flowing. He heaved himself up and put his front paws in the fountain. The water soothed his sore pawpads and then he began to drink thirstily. He drank for about five minutes, and considered jumping all the way into the fountain, when he heard a menacing growl behind him.
Uh . . . oh.
Padfoot jumped down and turned.
He was almost nose to nose with a big black and white bulldog. The bulldog was quite large, with rippling muscles in his chest and shoulders, and rows of sharp fangs.
The bulldog barked sharply. What are you doing here, pup? This is private property, now keep off!
Sorry, sir! I . . . I just wanted a drink . . . Uh . . . I'll be going now! Padfoot whimpered. Then he darted in to pick up the wallet.
But the bulldog put a paw on it. Not so fast! You trespass on Butch's property, you pay a fee.
No! That's my boy's! He needs it back!
Too bad, pup! It's mine now!
Padfoot let out a growl of dismay. He knew he shouldn't challenge the older dog, he was bound to get his tail chewed off. But what could he do? He needed to get the wallet. Give it back, you big bully!
Make me! Butch chortled.
Padfoot knew his only chance was to surprise the bulldog. So he pretended to back away, then whirled about and snapped at Butch's paws.
The bulldog instinctively backed away, lifting his paw.
The puppy snatched the precious wallet and bolted.
Butch barked angrily, a deep threatening sound. Why you little rat! Just wait till I catch you! I'm going to make hamburger outta you, you sneaky little brat!
Butch rumbled angrily and tried to chase the fleeing puppy, but he couldn't reach him. The bulldog came to the edge of his property, which he had been trained not to leave, and barked and barked.
Padfoot ran until he couldn't hear the bulldog any more, then he collapsed in a patch of shade beneath a tree. He was very tired now and just wanted to go to sleep. He wished he knew where he was. He also wished he had his brothers and father with him. Even though he knew his father would be furious with him, he still wanted Remus. He put his head on his paws and dozed.
"There he is, Remus!" Harry cried, spotting the black puppy before his friend did.
"Where?" The spell was tingling like mad.
"Under that tree," Harry indicated where the black dog was sleeping, curled in a ball with the wallet right next to him.
"Oh, thank Merlin!" he heaved a sigh of relief, then went over to pick up both wallet and puppy.
Padfoot woke up the minute he felt Remus' arms go around him. At first he was frightened and barked and growled, but as soon as he smelled Remus, he began licking the werewolf under the chin ecstatically. Moony! Moony, you found me! I'm not lost anymore!
Remus was laughing and rumpling the puppy's fur. "Padfoot, you crazy mutt! Where have you been? Harry and I have been looking all over for you." He tried to avoid the puppy's tongue.
Don't be mad, Moony. I got Jamie's wallet back, Padfoot wriggled happily and barked. He knew Remus could somewhat understand dog language.
"You're a good dog," Remus praised him. "But next time you should wait before running off like that." he pulled a length of nylon rope from a pocket and slipped it around Padfoot's head for a makeshift collar and lead. "C'mon, let's go home. Thanks, Dawlish and Hart. Tell Dora I'll see her later. Oh, and do me a favor? Don't mention the dog got loose. Otherwise I'll be in the doghouse, know what I mean?"
The Aurors laughed and promised to say nothing.
Then Remus, Harry, and Padfoot Apparated to the hospital.
As soon as they reached the abandoned department store, Remus set Padfoot down and whispered, "All right, change back, Sirius. Quickly, before someone comes."
Padfoot blurred into Sirius.
Remus picked up the wayward scamp and hugged him tightly. "Sirius Orion Black, what were you thinking, running off like that? Do you know I almost had a heart attack when I found out you were missing?"
"I . . . I didn't mean to scare you, Moony. But I had to run after the thief. He almost got away."
Remus sighed and went over to a convenient bench next to the store. He sat down with Sirius on his lap and said, "Sirius, it's not your job any more to hunt down criminals. You're only a kid now, and that's a job for adults."
"But Moony, nobody else saw. If I hadn't followed him, he would have gotten away with Jamie's wallet."
"Sirius, losing the wallet was nothing compared to you being lost. I'd rather lose a dozen wallets then find you missing. You could have been lost for months or hurt . . . anything could have happened! Next time you tell an adult, and don't go playing Auror and chasing after criminals, understand?"
Sirius nodded, hanging his head. "Yes, Moony. I'm sorry." He bit his lip. "Am I in big trouble?" He felt tears come to his eyes. He had only tried to help his brother. He hoped Moony didn't spank him.
Remus cleared his throat. "I ought to give you the spanking of your life for scaring me half to death . . . but I won't. Because you acted to help someone, and didn't just run off on a lark. Your intentions were good, just not your methods. I'm proud of you, Siri." He hugged the little boy again.
Sirius grinned up at him. Those words meant so much to him. He had never really had anyone say they were proud of him before. "Thanks . . . Dad," he told the werewolf. He didn't know why he was calling Remus "dad" right then, only that it seemed right to do so at that moment. "Why are we at the hospital?"
"We're here to see Uncle Ron," said Remus.
"What happened to Uncle Ron?" asked Sirius, alarmed.
"A rogue Bludger hit him in the head and knocked him out."
"That's horrible! Is he going to be okay?"
"Well, Siri, that's why we're here. Let's go find out." Remus rose, still holding Sirius, and together they entered the hospital, along with Harry.
After getting directions from the greeting witch, they made their way up to Ron's room. To their surprise and delight, they found Ron propped up by pillows, a white bandage about his temple, chatting with Hermione, Neville, and Draco. Rosie was sitting right next to him on the bed, and the other children were sitting around the small table, drawing with crayons, and eating some snacks the hospital had provided.
Harry walked in first, and Alby and Severus came and hugged him. "Did you find Sirius, Dad?" asked Alby.
"Yes, we did. All's well that ends well," Harry laughed, picking up his youngest.
"Where was he?" Severus wanted to know.
"We found him under a tree napping. And he had Jamie's wallet," Harry told him, ruffling his hair, and hugging him.
Severus leaned against Harry, glad to have his guardian back again. "Ron's feeling better."
"I can see that. Hey, mate, how's the head?"
Ron grinned. "I still have all my brains, Harry. So I think I fared better than you that time when you got knocked off your broom at school. At least I still have all the bones in my arm."
"Idiot Lockhart!" Harry growled. "I should have sued his ass for incompetence."
"You should have," put in Severus. "He was too stupid to exist."
Harry and Ron burst out laughing.
"You're too much, kid," Ron chuckled. "But I can't argue with you." He rubbed the side of his head gingerly. "The Healers tell me I have to stay here overnight, just to make sure my concussion is healing. I was lucky, or so they tell me."
"Well, I'm glad you're going to be all right. You had us worried, Ron."
"You can say that again!" Remus agreed. "I didn't know who to worry more about, you or Sirius."
"Never a dull moment with all of you," Hermione remarked. "Even now that you're grown, you still manage to get into trouble."
"Hey, it wasn't my fault!" Ron objected. "I didn't ask for some little kid to hit me in the head."
"I know, it's just . . . things always seem to happen around all of you."
"But we keep life interesting, don't we, Hermione?" Harry smirked.
"Do you ever!" Hermione groaned. "I'm going to be gray by the time this baby's born!"
They all laughed at that, and Hermione leaned over and kissed her husband's brow. It had been a memorable Quidditch game.
Sirius went over to where Jamie and Teddy were playing cards and said, "Jamie, here's your wallet back."
Jamie's eyes lit up. "You got it back! You're the best, Siri! Thanks!" He took his wallet and tucked it back in his pocket. "How'd you do it?"
"It's a long story," Sirius said.
"So? Tell us! We got nothing else to do anyway."
The children gathered around to listen to Sirius' adventure, while the adults shared stories of the worst injuries they'd ever had. By far, Harry had the worst of any of them, though Draco was a close second, given he had played Quidditch and served under Voldemort. But as they talked, the tension over Ron's accident lessened, until they were all laughing, confident that Ron would recover.
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