Days of a Dog Summer (A Sirius Tail of Adventure and Romance)

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Disclaimer - If you've ever read HP fanfiction, you know the drill. If you haven't, where on earth have you been? Anyway, it's not for money, it's all just for fun.

Summary - After considering the character of Sirius Black at length while writing him in other stories, I found him to be a more intriguing persona than I originally gave him credit for. I've wanted to write an adventure/romance for him for some time now, and decided that it should start at the end of PoA, when he and Buckbeak escape. Where does Sirius go? Why does he send Harry tropical birds in GoF? What does he do between writing the occasional letter to his godson? I set forth my quill once again in an effort to explain all.

As usual, I hope you have fun with this.

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Of Frogs and Princes ~*~

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It was hot in the taxi, an early '80's model Plymouth with A/C that obviously was not working today. 'Temperamental', the driver had said, with an apologetic smile.

And so the windows were down, but the slow speed at which the car was winding it's way through the little tropical island town did little to generate much in the way of a cooling breeze.

Matilda Dyer sat staring out the window to her left, resting her chin on her shoulder, and praying that the ride would end soon as she felt the trickle of sweat on her back cause her blouse to stick to the vinyl seat behind her.

Damn, but it was hot in Tortola for June! Thank goodness for the scrunchy in her bag that she'd pulled her thick hair back with so it didn't stick to her neck. As it was, she periodically would still roll her eyes up disapprovingly to look at her limp bangs drooping from the humidity, roll her lower lip over her top one, and huff them out of her face.

She took another look in the bag she carried with her. Her suitcase was in the trunk behind her that no longer latched properly, but was kept closed with twine. (The trunk, not the suitcase.) Everything she'd need to go straight to the beach after checking in was at hand - latest Michael Crichton novel, bottle of water, chapstick, sunglasses, sunscreen SPF 35, which would keep a few more of the tawny freckles across her nose from showing up in the sun. Hopefully the same sun would be so kind as to lighten her hair while she was on vacation - more blonde and less strawberry would be just fine, thank you very much.

Matilda looked out the window again, noting as they passed the few buildings in the little seaside town that little had changed since she'd been here three years ago. It had been a similar taxi ride, although not as hot, and she'd had the same bag, with the same contents, (the book had been Jurassic Park, hadn't it?) and the need at the time had been the same as now.

The need to escape.

What was she escaping? Most people would call it a breakup, a split, another failed relationship. Matilda called it escaping The Frog Pond.

Yes, Frog Pond - with a capital 'F'.

"Sebastians."

The driver's brief announcement interrupted Matilda's thoughts, and her eyes slid back into focus revealing the lovely little hotel nestled in the palms on the beach in front of her.

'About time!'

Matilda peeled herself off the seat, extricated herself from the sticky red vinyl chamber of the Plymouth's back seat, and stood patiently next to the car while the driver flashed her another apologetic smile and untied the twine.

When the suitcase was brought forth at last, Matilda exchanged a 'thanks very much' with the expected tip for it, and quickly walked toward the hotel entrance, anxious to check in and hit the sand.

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Room Four was airy and light, with high ceilings and walls painted the palest of cheerful yellows. Curtains with a large, tropical, floral print splashed across them hung on either side of the windows, and the slider that opened out onto the walkway and then onto the sand. The same bright pattern washed across the king-sized bedspread and matching armchairs across the room.

Matilda set her suitcase down, and sat on a large red hibiscus on the edge of the bed as she looked around the room. The same room as before - her sanctuary then, as now.

"Sanctuary," she mused aloud.

From The Frog Pond.

Matilda sighed. That's all it was out there, really - one giant pond full of Frogs -capital 'F'. And none of them ever, EVER turned into The Prince - capital 'P'.

Oh, there were handsome ones, alright. Especially this last one - blonde, blue-eyed, buff. A real looker, and a sweet talker. But it hadn't mattered how much she kissed him, or did things for him, or compromised, or catered to him - in the end he was still a Frog. An unappreciative, unsharing, ungiving Frog that made her feel empty and cheated when the three years were up.

Three years.

Three more years gone and no Prince.

Matilda had the unpleasant nagging feeling again that midnight was rapidly approaching for this little Cinderella.

Not that she was old - thirty-five, (er.. six, she realized as she made a mental note that her birthday was only a week away) was NOT too old to be a Princess.

"It's not," she said to the empty room. Tears came to her eyes, and she became angry at herself. She was done crying over him, done thinking about him. Getting rid of the last Frog was probably the best thing she'd done for herself in years.

Time to regroup.

Time to sit on the sand, and read her book, and take care of herself.

Matilda wiped the tears away with the back of her hand, and cleared her throat. What she needed now was one of those tropical drinks, or maybe two, and a long nap under SPF 35 and the Tortolan sun.

She reached for her bag and went to the slider, threw it open and stared out over the white sand disappearing into teal-blue water. She smiled, knowing that this was what she needed. A rest.

A good rest, and then she knew she'd go back to the water's edge. Not the waves ahead of her, but the murky, unclear water of The Pond. She'd walk the edges, getting her toes wet here and there, looking for one that held a spark, a sparkle, a promise of Something More.

And then she'd close her eyes and kiss him...and hope once again for a Prince.

"One lousy Prince, dammit!" she cried out across the beach. A few beach goers looked around curiously for the source of the noise as she stepped out onto the sand and closed the slider behind her.

"I don't even care if he has a castle," she muttered, laughing to herself as she walked across the white, sparkling-hot sand. "Or money, or a kingdom, or anything..."

She settled herself in one of the lounge chairs on the sand in front of the hotel. 'Just a regular guy that loves me for who I am...for always. Is that really so hard?' Her eyes rolled skyward, wondering if anyone was getting the message. She sighed and opened her book.

She looked out over the waves after a few minutes, too sleepy to read after the trip, and she decided that now was a good time for that nap. Time for a good rest.

Matilda closed her eyes, and was asleep in the blink of an eye.

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Michael Smithers had been driving the same route for many years now, and he had the same routine on Monday nights. Complete all of the run but the last two stops, have a bite of dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, and then finish up with the factory over by the airport.

Driving the garbage truck wasn't glamorous work, but it kept food on his table, a roof over his head and gave him a little extra now and again for the pubs on Friday night and the occasional odd pair of soccer tickets for him and his son.

As a matter of fact, there was a match next week that he was taking the boy to, and he looked forward to the visit with the twelve year old, as he always did.

Michael sat back in his chair, finally pushing the plate in front of him a bit further away.

"Alright there, Mike?"

Michael nodded and smiled at the waitress and patted his belly. "Won'erful as usual, Maggie."

"Will ya' be needin' anything else?" Maggie asked pleasantly, clearing the dishes in front of Mike away. "A bit of pie packed up for the road, maybe?"

"Ah, yer spoilin' me, Maggie," Mike returned with a smile.

"Well, someone needs to." Maggie winked and walked off with the dishes, returning a moment later with a small styrofoam box.

"Here." Maggie handed the box over and walked to the door as Mike shrugged on his jacket. "Seein' young Mike this week?" she asked.

Mike nodded and smiled. "Match at the end of the week I'm takin' 'im to."

"Good." Maggie planted a kiss on Mike's cheek.

"Bye, sis," Mike said, turning to the door.

"Say 'ello to young Mike for me," Maggie said as he opened the door and stepped outside.

"Yeah, okay. Thanks, Maggie."

Michael headed for the truck where he'd parked it in the alley earlier, already in perfect alignment for the pick up, and started it up, turned on the lights, and put it in reverse. One more stop after this, and then he could head home for a good night's rest after a very long day.