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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter One: The Most Interesting Girl In the World, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter One: The Most Interesting Girl In the World, pt. 1
Okay, now that the foundation is laid, I think we can go back to James's rather well-lit world. The title isn't applicable in the first part of the chapter, but will be more obvious once we hit Diagon Alley.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




James Potter was in the attic of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place.

This had been a Christmas present last year--a writing studio of his own, separate from the rest of the house. Dad had confessed to having bought him a Muggle computer--"Dudley helped me; it was completely quiet for typing, and it saved everything!"--but also to having burned it out the first time he'd tried operating it inside the house, where there was just too much magic. Instead, he and Mum had found an antique typewriter, with no electric parts. It had glass keys, and brass scrollwork on the sides. Mum had charmed the ribbon to never go dry, so it would never have to be changed. Dad had (somewhat to James's disappointment) finally got rid of all of the cursed objects that had occupied the space for generations of the Black family. Maurice Burke had found them homes in museums.

Now, the old family items that no one intended to get rid of were stacked in trunks, with old portraits leaning against them. A few complained about the typing from time to time, but most just liked having regular company. James had struck up a friendship with a young-looking portrait named Talitha Black, painted on a hillside with a golden tree swing. She had black hair, curled into ringlets and tied back with pink ribbons, reminding James of the portrait of Teddy Lupin's mother, Nymphadora Tonks, who liked to decorate her hair whenever she could (Teddy had commissioned a painting of an overstuffed vanity just so she could have her pick). Talitha was wearing a long dress with lacy sleeves that fluttered in the breeze when she moved.

He affixed her to the wall, so she was able to run about the house, and she'd befriended Granddad and Sirius and Lupin as well, so he hadn't been at all surprised to find all four of them in her frame when he'd come up today. James wasn't getting any writing done, but he didn't think his time was wasted, as he was getting any number of interesting bits from them.

"I was a champion, you know," Talitha said.

"We know!" Sirius said, lying down on the painted grass beside her swing. "You've been telling us for... how long has it been since the conference, James?"

"I don't know," Granddad said. "I don't keep track any better than you do."

"I mean the James who's not painted," Sirius said.

James grinned. "Six months. It was last February."

"It was 1767," Talitha said, ignoring them. "We were at Durmstrang. Of course, they cheated." She sniffed. "Still, I won the second task." She looked at the Marauders expectantly.

Lupin rolled his eyes. "And how did you accomplish it, oh, Champion?"

"Well, the second task is always a test of deduction skills. I was cleverest. That can't be faked or cheated."

"It can be cheated," Sirius said.

She frowned. "Well, it wasn't, or the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang champions were too stupid to figure out how to cheat it." She shook this off. "At any rate, we had to find a way to the top of a very high mountain that had impassable crevasses on the way."

"Broomsticks?" Granddad asked.

"Explicitly forbidden in the riddle," Talitha said. "I had to Conjure steps and bridges from the ice, and when I finally got to my greatest treasure, I had to get around a giant to get to him."

"Oh, and who was your greatest treasure?" Sirius asked.

"That's not your business."

"Not your dear cousin Procyon, then?"

"That was long before we married," Talitha said delicately.

"Aha! An old boyfriend, then. Let me guess--a Hufflepuff."

"He was certainly not a Hufflepuff."

"A half-blood?" Granddad asked, then, on noticing her affected expression of disdain, "A Muggle-born? It was, wasn't it?"

Talitha sniffed. "Well, my parents certainly wouldn't have permitted that, now would they?"

Sirius laughed. "I knew I liked you."

"How old were you?" James asked her.

"I was fourteen," Talitha said.

"Like me. And Dad, when he did it."

Lupin sat up, shaking his head. "James, I wouldn't try it. You know what your dad thinks about the age line."

"I wasn't going to try anything."

"Sure you weren't," Granddad said dryly.

James sat down by his typewriter and looked at the blank sheets of paper beside it, then at the magazine he'd brought up with him. The latter showed a picture of a black-haired girl with dark brown eyes, holding up the Quintamage Cup, which gleamed in the Caribbean sun. "Daniela Villanueva is only fifteen. They didn't have an age line."

"They didn't ask me about it."

James looked up.

Dad was standing near the top of the stairs, rolling his eyes. "Really, James, I'm not trying to ruin your life. But a younger student--and trust me, I know--doesn't have the skills."

From the portrait, Talitha sniffed indignantly.

"Shouldn't the Goblet be able to decide that?" James asked. "It's supposed to be impartial. Wouldn't it know if its champions could handle it?"

"It picked me."

"And you won," Sirius pointed out from the portrait.

"Besides," Lupin said, "it picked you because Crouch tricked it into believing there were four schools, and you were the only one to pick from the fourth."

"Not that he wouldn't have won anyway," Granddad said. "Clearly, he was the best choice."

"The lot of you aren't helping," Dad said, smiling at them.

"Yes, we are," Talitha said. "It just so happens that we're helping James instead of you."

Dad rolled his eyes and came the rest of the way up. He pulled a trunk over to James's desk and sat down, glancing briefly at the magazine. "We're going into Diagon Alley this afternoon to pick up Lily's wand. Do you want to come?"

"'Course I do."

"Good." He sighed, and looked at the slanted wall above the desk, where James had put up the covers of three books by an author called "Jim Wolf." Two were picture books, featuring cats, called Martian's Mistake and A Chance for Checkmate. The third and most recently added was a novel, featuring three boys who looked suspiciously like the men lounging in the portrait. It was called Mischief Managed, and it was the best selling book this summer that wasn't about Daniela Villanueva or the Quintamage Competition. Dad shook his head. "Isn't it enough, at fourteen, to have published three books?"

"No one knows I'm half of Jim Wolf."

"They don't know that Teddy's the other half, either," Dad said. "He said you both liked it that way."

James shrugged. It was fun to have a bona fide Secret Identity. On the other hand, he'd kept track of the Quintamage Competition, along with the rest of the world, for the whole month it had been held in February, and every time he saw another book or article about Dani--everyone was on a nickname basis with her these days--he imagined himself in her place.

Though possibly not in her most famous poster, which hung on the back of his bedroom door. He didn't think he'd look nearly as good coming onto a Yucatan beach in a small Muggle bathing suit, with what seemed like half the Caribbean rolling off of him in photogenic sundrops.

Dad stood up and ruffled James's hair. "Finish up what you need to. We were going to head out in fifteen minutes or so." He went back to the stairs, looked at the portrait for a minute, then shook his head and went down.

James stared at the blank paper again. He had promised Teddy a draft of the first chapter of their next book. It would be another Fake Marauder adventure (the series was really called Purveyors, but neither of them ever called it that in private). Teddy still had to re-write a lot to get the chapters ready for their editor, Frankie Apcarne, who gently pointed out that James's prose wasn't quite where it needed to be yet, even though the story was mostly his. But the book wasn't expected at Charmpress until spring. The first chapter could be put off for a day or two.

He put the paper in the desk drawer. "Could you tell Teddy it'll be tomorrow at least?" he asked the portrait.

Lupin nodded and left the frame. A moment later, he re-appeared and said, "Teddy said it's quite all right. And that Mira has apparently been trying to say 'Dada'--he's quite sure of it, though Victoire believes it's just a burping noise--and that she's already grown an inch, and that you really must come see her, because she's almost ready to sit up. Dora says that it's about three months early for that, but Teddy's quite convinced."

"In other words, he completely forgot I was writing it."

"More or less," Lupin said, smiling.

"I'd never do such a thing," Granddad said loftily. "Why, when I had a new baby, I never announced every new tooth."

"Or invited the lot of us over to teach him to say 'Mama,'" Sirius said.

"Or declared him the future's best Quidditch player when he managed not to break anything on his first run on a toy broomstick," Lupin added.

Talitha looked at James. "Men and babies," she said, sighing. "Really. They all think they single-handedly invented them."

James grinned at her. "Well, at least you and I are still sane."

"Cheers," she said, and started swinging higher. Sirius got up to push her.

James went downstairs to join his family.
22 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: severely_lupine Date: August 12th, 2011 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Nice. I love the banter. Even painted Marauders are entertaining. Certainly better than no Marauders, at least.

James refers to Remus as 'Lupin'? That seems odd.

Not to be morbid, but how would Dora know at what age an infant can sit up? She was an only child, and I don't know what babies she could have possibly been around in her life. Except for Frankie, I suppose.

Edited at 2011-08-12 07:47 am (UTC)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2011 07:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I imagine she read all sorts of books on the subject while she was pregnant, and she did have Frankie to observe.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2011 10:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Amazing. Thank you so much for rekindling this story, Fern!
Xine
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always meant to, but I was having hard time getting it going.
daksian From: daksian Date: August 12th, 2011 11:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely loved the banter between James, the Marauder portraits, and the addition of Talitha (nice touch having a former champion as part of the Black family).

I like the structure of this chapterlet, how it establishes James' view on the Triwizard Tournament debate, along with the continuing work of Jim Wolf and the fact that Lily Potter II is about to start school. It's a lot of information to pass along, yet it flows seamlessly (as your work usually does).

A bit of concrit:

I agree with severly_lupine...it does seem odd for James II to refer to Remus Lupin as "Lupin". If you don't mind a suggestion, considering you've established James' love of Marauder names, perhaps his internal voice would use their Marauder names (except Granddad, though I like the idea of "Granddad Prongs").

Also, something sneaked past the spellchecker: "This had been a Christmas present last yaer"

Both of those concrit things are mere quibbles though...the overall chapterlet is lovely. :)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think James probably picked up the names from what his father tends to call them (though Harry had slipped into "Remus" by the end, and probably would have continued it; hmm). I'll think about it. I tried "Moony," and it didn't feel right.

Glad the infodump wasn't distracting so early!
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 12th, 2011 11:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the Marauder names...

On the other hand, though, schoolboys, even in the US, often call each other by last names, like in the Army.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't spent enough time with the portraits--Sirius might generally call Remus "Lupin" (given that he's a perpetual schoolboy), which might explain where James would have picked it up. Sirius seems to refer to his friends as "James," "Wormtail," and "Lupin." I doubt Sirius would have let anyone call him "Black" (though Regulus probably delighted in it).
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2011 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just a few tiny nits to pick:

Lupin rolled his eyes. "And how did you accomplish it, oh, Champion?" You probably want the capital "O" here rather than "oh" to make it a proper vocative, and to look more archaic.

James shrugged. It was fun to have a bone fide Secret Identity. Should be "bona fide".
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
:facepalm: Spellcheck fail.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2011 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought the story was good before, but this is clearly better. I wouldn't have thought there was that much room to improve! I agree that calling him Lupin seems awkward for a boy who calls Teddy his god-brother, even if that is how his parents refer to him. I suppose if he'd lived, he would have been Uncle Remus, but that has an unfortunate American folk connotation. Perhaps Remus, since he calls Sirius Sirius and Teddy calls James James. But marauder names is probably better. Appropriate for a boy who has given all his friends such nicknames. But I like grandad better than grandad prongs. Grandad Prongs sounds like he's not real kin, like Grannydromeda.

Why am I telling you how to write? You're the author!
~ Karen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! (And yes, I can't get around the unfortunate connotation of "Uncle Remus." I tried with Harry once, but all I could think about was Br'er Rabbit.)

starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: August 12th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

i'm really, really getting into the new narrative....

I love how you're now telling new details mixed with the old.... specially love the new tidbit of one of sirius relatives. she seems kind of nice.


also YES for the oldfashion typewriter love!
I actually got one from my uncle for my past birthday- and it's wonderful to use, specially when lights goes out for a week

(pity mine doesn't have that very practical never dry ribbon spell- as i'm sure it being an old typwriter- there aren't many places that sell replacements....*

love the banter between the marauders....

one thing i'm confused about- is Dora also in the room or not?

looking forward for more
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2011 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: i'm really, really getting into the new narrative....

Old fashioned typewriters are hard on the fingers and terribly loud, but they're so pretty! (If you like them, check out this most awesome Victorian computer desk!)

Dora can't get there, since she's only in Teddy's portrait. Remus and Sirius are free to move back and forth, but James is stuck in Harry's portrait (and whichever other ones it's in the house with) and Dora's stuck in Teddy's.
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: August 12th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

I kind of agree with Harry...

on the "14 is young and should be a age line"

i know james jr, sirius and james Sr. might disagree with me by the repeated harry was in at 14 and he was perfectly fine...

Harry Is the boy who lived who had to deal with that kind of danger, every year since he was 11. So he is kind of a exception to the rule...

and if tabitha brings her age up- well back at the time She was alive people were considered adults and put into marriage much younger...

so her circumstances were different than the at the time harry was 14/present 14 year old....

speaking of which.... I'm surprised the American allow 14 year olds into the tournament...

considering the whole- you can't vote till you're 18- you can't drink till you're 21....

as opposed to europe who lets you drink at 18 and in some places you're considered an adult at 16.

then again in the US you can get your driving license at 16. (i dont know if this is the case for every state though...)

so who knows...

also, is it just me who spies it with my little eye- or James Jr. has a Crush on Dany Villanueva? ;p

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2011 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I kind of agree with Harry...

Out here, you can get your permit at 15 and a half.

I think, in terms of sports, that we're all into the wunderkinds here. Look at Olympic gymnasts, or tennis phenoms. So I wouldn't be surprised if the American champion were also young. GoF makes it clear that the Triwizard had never had an age line before, so that was really the aberration in this sort of game, apparently.
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: August 15th, 2011 11:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: I kind of agree with Harry...

oh. see it as sport-related.

makes sense.

malinbe From: malinbe Date: August 12th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I don't think the Lupin business is odd at all. There are canon bits of Sirius calling Remus "Lupin", so I think it's fine.

Nice touch with Talitha, I loved it. I also loved the bit with the computer! Old-fashioned typewriters sound just fine for the Wizarding World, I bet there are some that take dictation, have incorporated thesaurus and some write swearwords at the most innapropiate moments and are sold at Weasley's.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2011 06:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha! Yeah, I bet George has been working up some fun magic with it ever since James acquired it.
sueatducksfoot From: sueatducksfoot Date: August 12th, 2011 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was so happy to see this last night.

I loved the banter, it's one of my favorite things to read.
I thought the idea of setting him up a writing room was great and that the computer went all wonky was fun too. He would need an old fashion typewriter to write on.
I like that he refers to Remus as "Lupin" it works for me.
I'm excited to read this story.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Harry really should have known better than to even try a computer at 12GP, but, re-reading PS/SS, he did like to play on Dudley's computer, and I bet he just wanted to try it.
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: August 15th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC) (Link)

that was a really nice reference....

very in-character for Harry too.

that was a nice book-cannon nugget in this chapter.

22 comments or Leave a comment