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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Fourteen: Yule Tidings, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Fourteen: Yule Tidings, pt. 1
Eh, screw the outline. Let's just see what happens. ;p (Outlines only ever worked for me in Forest Guard and Hunter's Moon, anyway.)

James is not having a good lead-up to the Yule Ball. First, the girl he wanted to ask, Celia, not only shoots him down, but tells him to go ask Elodie Lejeune so he can spy on her. Then Elodie sees right through him (possibly because he gives her a direct and true answer when she asks if he's looking for her alibi) and also shoots him down, citing her fear of having pig's blood dumped on her, given the way she's generally treated at Beauxbatons. (Though she does give the impression that she really does want to go.) Then, in a snit, he goes stalking off down the river, and when he sees something gold on the ground, it turns out to be one of Grindelwald's coins (I'd called the regular French coin he was expecting a solidus, but I'm changing it, on Sylvia's suggestion, to Magus; I think I'll keep it simple and say Grindelwald didn't change the name of the money during his reign).

I realized that, in an earlier section, I did some math badly for the age of Gabrielle's children. There's no way they'd already be at Beauxbatons. So we'll just pretend that she didn't imply that they were, right? ;p (And I'll go back and fix that.)

Table of Contents So Far




After throwing the coin away, James wandered a little further up the river, then turned back and walked to the bridge. He considered just leaving the grounds and heading for Ste. Marthe, but ultimate just sat down at the edge of the bridge and tossed pebbles into the water until it got too chilly to be outside.

When he got back to the train, Robards held up a small package. "That Lejeune girl was by a moment ago," he said. "She said you wanted to read this."

James took it. It was an old Muggle paperback, with a black cover adorned with red squiggly lines that suggested a face. Elodie had pinned a note to the front, written in careful English.

James,
I hope you were not offended by my comment about you being Harry Potter's son. I have given the matter some thought, and I suppose it may have been taken amiss. I meant only that you should not have trouble finding someone to accompany you to the Yule Ball.

This is the book we discussed. I'm afraid I have only the French translation, and it may miss something from its original English. If you make it to the end and still wish to be anywhere near me at a formal dance, I would be pleased. But finish first. I could be an ugly date, as you will see.

Thank you for asking me.

Elodie


James didn't read nearly as quickly in French as he did in English, but by the next morning, he was well into the story, and had reached the point where the unpopular religious girl stood up to her mother about attending the Spring Dance. It was quite a good scene, and he had his nose in the book when he arrived at the dining chamber for breakfast. He nearly ran into Scops Malfoy, who'd stopped dead in his tracks.

"Wow," Scops said.

James looked up.

The dining chamber was dominated by giant, glittering ice sculptures that shone in the sun from the windows. One showed Father Christmas, another showed Mother Emelot and Sister Theophania Conjuring a star, which hovered above them and threw off rays of light. Ice gargoyles graced the ceiling beams, and angels glittered along the walls. Behind the high table, the crest of Beauxbatons was flanked with the crests of Hogwarts and Durmstrang, all in colored ice. A choir of wood nymphs stood in an alcove singing "Nuit de Paix" while students gathered up morning pastries and coffee.

"Joyeux Noël," someone said. James turned to find Aunt Gabrielle, smiling. "Do you like it?" she asked in English.

"It's nice." He looked around. "Er... we have singing armor at Hogwarts," he offered.

"Fleur told me. She was 'omesick for ze nymphs. She is under ze impression zat she may 'ave offended someone."

"Aunt Fleur? Never." James grinned.

Aunt Gabrielle smiled back and switched to French. "You haven't come to visit outside of class. Would you like to visit my home next weekend, and have dinner with my husband and children?"

"Is it all right?"

"Yes, it's perfectly fine. Your mother sent permission."

"Then I'd love to."

"Wonderful." She looked across him, and noticed that Scops was still standing there, looking awkward. "Scorpius may come as well, if he'd like. I'll send to his parents for permission."

"Er..." Scops stumbled.

"He's up for it," James said.

"Lovely." Aunt Gabrielle nodded and walked away.

"Sorry," Scops said. "I didn't mean to look needy."

"She has two very little girls," James said. "I'm glad there'll be another bloke around."

Scops seemed to understand this. He looked around at the decorations. "Puts Hogwarts on the defensive a bit, doesn't it?"

"I miss Hagrid's Christmas trees," James said. "And I reckon the wood nymphs aren't allowed to do the versions of the carols that the suits of armor do."

Scops snorted. "No, I reckon not."

They went to a table and sat down just as the morning owls swooped in with the mail. James was delighted to see Al's black owl, Nyx, in the mix, carrying a package. He waved with a piece of bread, and Nyx came down to him.

"What's that?" Celia asked, wandering over and adopting a pose of exquisite normalcy.

James considered holding out on her, given her less than kind rejection yesterday, but if it was what he thought it was, it was mostly for her, anyway. He pulled out a chair. "If we can get a map of the caves," he whispered, "then it's useful."

She bit her lip. "Can I sit down?"

"Aren't you afraid I'll misinterpret it if you do?"

"James..."

He shrugged. "Have a seat, Celia."

The package Nyx had brought was wrapped simply in brown paper, and was addressed from Lily and, oddly, Michael Prince. There was a small scroll inside it--the Keys to the Castle. There was also a flat, thick envelope. He drew out a letter from Lily, and something else. Something hand-drawn and folded thick.

He opened the letter first.

Dear James, she wrote, I am working on another whole letter to tell you what we're doing here. We've been quite busy. But as the family will be coming to the Sanctuary on Boxing Day and Dad says we must invite you, I'll give it to you then.

For now, here are the Keys to the Castle. I suppose I don't know how to use them anyway. Will you teach me when you come home?

We never found anything in the library, including the Restricted Section, about the Whispering Caves at Beauxbatons, but Snout had a great idea. He asked Professor Trelawney! Believe it or not, she's actually been in them, with her grandmother, Cassandra. Apparently, they were quite the tourist attraction when she was a girl, if you can believe she ever was. After the war, they needed gold to rebuild, and they let people visit. She had a scrapbook, and in the scrapbook, there was a map they used to get around. It didn't show everything very well, so Snout copied it, bigger. Professor Trelawney added things she remembered to it. Does this help?


James raised his hands in cheer. "Yes! Lily, you're the best."

"What is it?"

James pushed the map over to her. "We owe Snout a major Christmas present." He held up the Keys. "Lily, too."

Celia opened the map and smiled widely. "We have it."

"Don't rush, we still have to charm it, and it'll take all three of us, at least."

She winced. "Will you still help me?"

"Never. You've broken my heart for all eternity." James rolled his eyes. "I'll get over it."

They noticed a handful of Beauxbatons students looking over curiously, so James bundled everything into his book bag. They could work on it all back at the train. The arrival of the map somehow made the business about the Yule Ball seem much less important, and they spent the rest of breakfast joking as usual, and James was in good spirits for his morning classes. He read a few more chapters of the book at lunch, caught Elodie looking over at him curiously, and gave her what he hoped was a non-threatening smile. She disappeared quickly.

That evening, he and Scops joined Celia near the Marauders' portrait, and they tried to work the simplest spells on the tourist map of the caves. Granddad, Sirius, and Lupin coached them, but seemed frustrated not to be able to help magically. It was hard to tell whether or not they were getting the hang of it, as no one was in the caves to check on. Celia suggested that they draw a map of the train to see if they could at least make dots appear on it, but by then it was quite late. They didn't get a lot of chances to work together, as the rest of the Hogwarts students didn't know about the Marauder's Map, and James wasn't keen for them to find out how he got around back at school, so they couldn't work when they weren't alone.

By Friday afternoon, James had finished Elodie's book and sent her a note to the effect that he was prepared to defend against buckets of pigs' blood and other sundry disasters she might imagine, if she'd join him. Celia declared herself perplexed, as they already had Elodie's alibi, but admitted that she had no say whatsoever in who James asked to the Ball, especially as she'd agreed to go with Matej Čupić from Durmstrang.

Instead of heading for the dining chamber after their last classes, he and Scops went back to the train and cleaned themselves up. As the sun set, they went through the Garden of the Mind, around the Fountain of the Heart, and between the Gardens of the Left and Right Feet. There, at the end of the garden path, was a softly lit golden gate, guarded by golden angels with wands crossed over the center. Aunt Gabrielle was waiting there with a hippogriff-drawn sleigh.

"It's not quite snowy enough for a sleigh," she said, "but we will not be traveling overland at any rate." She smiled. "Climb aboard. It will be a short trip."
11 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: amethystbeloved Date: May 14th, 2012 01:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
What an excellent way to start the day! This portion was a joy to read. It's nice to see James bounce back from Celia's Yule Ball rejection. Not the biggest fan of angst even if it is great material to work with. It's nice to see that James is taking Elodie to the ball after all despite reading Carrie. Hearing from Lily was really nice. I almost forgot that there was more action in London. I'm glad that the Potters are coming down after Christmas. In the mean time, I'll be looking forward to reading about Aunt Gabrielle and her family.

By the way, I really enjoyed your descriptions of the Christmas decorations!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 15th, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Elodie accidentally found the link directly to James's affections--she gave him a book. :D

The Christmas decorations came right out of Fleur's annoying commentary in GoF. ;p
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 14th, 2012 02:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Enjoyed seeing a Beauxbatons Christmas, and amused to see that Gabrielle is more tactful than her sister! And could Elodie be showing a less abrasive side? Glad James isn't as painfully smitten with Celia as Harry was with Cho, and they can get back to being friends again.

Looking forward to seeing James and Scops spend Christmas with Gabrielle's family.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 15th, 2012 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
James bounces back pretty well. He's never going to be the brooding type.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 14th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
If ever James is interested, please let him know that he can borrow my copy of 'Carrie' anytime--contrary to Elodie's, mine is in English! ;p

Looking forward to a Potter family reunion, and reading Lily's letter. Speaking of whom, I bet she would never have believed it, had she known James payed her such a compliment! Maybe that's just as well, or poor James would never hear the end of it...
-Sylvia
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 15th, 2012 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's true. She would exact payment for his admission that she's awesome.
mickawber_fics From: mickawber_fics Date: May 15th, 2012 12:26 am (UTC) (Link)
You know the Douglas Adams quote about deadlines? I've always thought of outlines the same way: I loving the whooshing sound they make as they go up in flames.

I'm ashamed that this is my first response to your wonderful fics. I've enjoyed them all, and am looking forward to where you bring us with this one--with or without the outline.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 15th, 2012 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Welcome aboard! Yeah, my outlines are so detailed--they make a very pretty sight, flying overhead.
mickawber_fics From: mickawber_fics Date: May 17th, 2012 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)
:-)

(If you don't make the outline... you can't toss it out the window!)
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: May 16th, 2012 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm late to the party--I've been traveling--but it is a pleasure to be immersed in this story and your version of HP again.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 18th, 2012 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
great to see the potter kin being as resourceful as their ol' man


Alex Wells
11 comments or Leave a comment