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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Sixteen: The Other Party , pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Sixteen: The Other Party , pt. 1
The Yule Ball is going on. James's date, Elodie, doesn't like to dance, so they went outside, where they discussed themselves as suspects and shared a not terribly spontaneous first kiss, which neither seems inclined to repeat. After it, they went for a walk in the gardens, where they came across Dani Villanueva arguing with her bodyguard, who seems ready to strike her, so naturally, James runs in. Dani fires the bodyguard and walks back to the school with James and Elodie, telling them that her school, San Cipriano, keeps a close on her, and that she doesn't much like the fame that's come with winning. She goes in ahead, as it would be a poor impression for her to walk in with students, implying that, as a judge, she's fraternizing. Elodie wonders what it was about, but James doesn't have any idea. Just a reminder, Donzo McCormack's brand new fiancee is the lead singer of the band, Donzo is playing guitar, and Maurice is floating around.

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James managed to coax Elodie out onto the dance floor for a slow song called "It's Weird," which was, according to Kelly, exactly eighteen hours old. Elodie definitely lacked the grace her fight agaisnt the tarasque had suggested, and she kept muttering that she felt silly, and looked positively grateful when Veronika Horvat asked if she could cut in.

This led to a brief round of partner-switching, during which James did manage one dance with Celia, as well as a handful of Beauxbatons girls and Abby Carrow. When he got tired, he went back to the table, where Elodie was having another conversation with Maurice Burke and his assistant. James had no idea who the assistant was; Maurice seemed to go through a lot of them. This one was a very thin American man with curly blond hair and a thick accent that he identified as Texan. Elodie, even though she spoke English quite well, seemed perplexed every time he spoke. He said his name was Mitch.

Maurice glanced at his pocketwatch. "The band plays until midnight," he said. "I don't suppose we'll make Teddy's place after all."

"Teddy's?" James asked.

Maurice rolled his eyes extravagantly. "The girls were determined to have a Yule Ball of their own--Victoire's sisters. And Victoire, for that matter, and probably Mira as well. They're having a Yule Ball at the Roost, in that ballroom he built for her. I'm sure you'll hear all about it tomorrow. I was up last week, and even your grandmother was going on about what sort of dress she meant to wear. It's quite the do, as I understand it."

"And you're missing it for this?"

He shrugged. "It's my job. It's a right pain, dealing with beautiful people and exciting events instead of putting on dress robes and re-hashing my Hogwarts career, but someone has to do it."

"You're in the dress robes, anyway," Mitch said. "And every third word out of your mouth is about Hogwarts."

"He's just jealous," Maurice said. "He had to go to a Muggle school and take magic lessons in the afternoon."

"I'd heard about that," Elodie said. "Is it the normal way?"

Mitch smiled and shook his head. "No, it's just the way some families do it. I could've gone down to New Orleans to the boarding school there, but my mama didn't want to send me away."

Elodie gave a blank look, so James translated. She raised her eyebrows comically at this exotic tradition.

Mitch seemed amused by this. "Miss Elodie," he said, "would you like to have a dance?"

"She doesn't really like to dance..." James said, but Elodie surprised him by standing up and letting Mitch lead her out onto the floor.

Maurice watched, then said, "He'll have her dancing like a professional in ten minutes. He's Kelly's choreographer."

"Oh. I thought he was your assistant."

"I'm between assistants."

James watched them dancing, and Elodie did seem to be doing a bit better with Mitch than she'd done with him. Something occurred to him. "If Kelly and Donzo are here, who does Teddy have playing at his party?"

"Oh, they'd have been guests rather than performers, at any rate," Maurice said. "I think he got Lee Jordan to bring his music collection. No band."

"We should call them."

"You're going to see them tomorrow!"

"Yes. But I want to see the party. I'll bet Victoire's got the place looking good."

"As opposed to its usual state of squalor and poverty?" Maurice grinned, and his eyes twinkled, and for a second, he looked exactly like the boy he'd been when Teddy had introduced him around during his first year at Hogwarts. "All right. Is there a teacher who'd let us use a Floo? I have a lot of meetings by Floo, and I can get us both through at the same time."

James looked around. "Madam Maxime probably wouldn't let us in the Headmistress's office, but Madam Laurent probably would let us use hers. That's her over there with her son. He's a Triwzard judge. Also a complete idiot, but she's all right."

There was a general agreement that they would ask her, but just as James stood up, Madam Laurent swept away from Denis and out of the dance. She didn't look upset, so James reckoned that she was just headed for some air, and signaled Maurice to follow him. It took a few minutes to get through the crowd (and signal Elodie that he was stepping out; he didn't think Mum would approve if he just left his date stranded with a choreographer she couldn't understand, at least not without at least telling her first), and by the time they got out into the rotunda--Mother Emelot and Sister Theophania, high above, were honoring the occasion by dancing around the edge--she was far up the stairs, and now she did look angry. Someone in a side room had attracted her ire; James guessed it was a pair of students who'd decided to get cozier than was strictly necessary. He and Maurice started up the stairs, and a flight or so below her, they could hear her yelling.

"What's she saying?" Maurice asked.

James listened. It sounded like he ought to understand it, but he didn't. He felt like Elodie trying to parse Mitch's form of English.

The door slammed and she turned away, grinding her teeth and looking very annoyed until she saw James and Maurice. She smiled. "Ah! James Potter! You 'ave not been to visit lately."

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"Oh, nothing you need to worry about. Too much wine made someone act ridiculously." She looked at them. "Did you need something?"

"We wondered if we could use your Floo," James said. "My... er... well, my brother, I suppose, is having a Christmas party, and he's Maurice's friend, and--"

"Ah, say no more. Come along." She led the way to her office and unlocked the door with a tap of her hand. "I'm afraid I can't leave you alone in here," she said. "Too many school records. But I will not listen."

She settled herself at her desk and made a great show of reading a gossip magazine. Maurice reached into one of his pockets and pulled out a glass jar full of sparkling Floo powder. He started the fire, then took a very large amount. Instead of just throwing it in, he sprinkled it in a line along the floor, then magically drew up three lines, one in the middle and one on each side. Green fire crept around these frames and closed them off at the top.

"Marauder's Roost Ballroom," he said. "Both connections." James started to hunker down to the floor, but Maurice shook his head. "This is one of Kirley Duke's little experiments. He's thoroughly enjoying retirement. There are a few kinks, but it mostly works well."

James could see the kink in Kirley Duke's process--rather large rising drops of flame kept interrupting the windows--but it was so much more comfortable to talk that he didn't care. For one thing, Teddy's ballroom appeared at eye level, instead of like he was looking up from the floor. The room was decked with holly and mistletoe, and full of people. At a single glance, the homesickness James had nearly forgotten about washed over him. There was Teddy, sitting on a table and talking to Uncle George and Lee Jordan and a whole circle of his school friends. And Victoire dancing with her sister, Marie, while Aimee twirled around with baby Mira. Professor Longbottom and Hannah and the children were playing a game with Freddie, Hagrid, and Professor McGonagall. Aunt Fleur and Uncle Bill were sitting at a tiny table, flirting with each other (Aunt Fleur, like everyone, was wearing fine dress robes, but she wore her Weasley jumper over them; she always wore it on Christmas). Granddad and Granny Weasley were dancing. Al was looking quite spiffy, dancing with Moth, who was wearing a diaphanous sort of gray gown that made her look even more like her nickname. Luna Scamander was dancing alone, to some different music than everyone else heard, and beyond her, Lily was dancing with Hugo. Rosie was off in a corner looking bored, and Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione and Dad and Mum and--

"Well, look who made it!" someone yelled. Ruth Scrimgeour came in from the other side of the room, smiling and carrying a glass of something James suspected was not butterbeer. "Oy! Harry! Maurice is calling, and he brought some kid with him!"

This brought everyone running. Lily wanted to show off her dress robes, which she'd apparently been allowed to choose out of Teddy's mum's wardrobes. Moth had got her gown the same way, and had indeed chosen it in order to look like her nickname, much to Al's chagrin. Rosie managed to get through and said, "I haven't really been thinking about my dress. It's one of Mum's. We've been working hard--"

"On schoolwork," Al said. "Very, very hard on schoolwork."

"I have the longest letter for you tomorrow," Lily said. "I've been writing it for months."

While this was going on, Maurice was carrying on an entirely separate conversation with Teddy's other friends, though Teddy and Ruthless both drifted back and forth between them. Teddy finally committed to James's side of things, and said, "Aren't you meant to be on a scandalous date with an Abstentioniste? It was in all the papers."

"God, I know. Elodie's dancing with a choreographer."

"How's that going?"

James didn't feel that a crowded room was the best place to address this, so he just said, "Oh, it's fine, I like her."

"Oh, you like her, do you?" Dad asked, grinning.

After that, the whole talk descended into teasing James about his first date, which was rich, given that Al was sitting right there with Moth, but it was fine. It felt like home.
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Comments
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: June 27th, 2012 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
James is so... normal. Occasionally angry, occasionally upset, but just so flippin' *grounded* in being utterly himself that he doesn't even see what a gift he has for accepting people as they are.

I like your James. Very, very much.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 28th, 2012 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)
That was something I wanted for Harry's sake--for his kids to be secure and happy and comfortable with themselves. And as for James himself--yeah, he just rolls with the punches. He doesn't have any trivial berserk buttons (though I don't think I'd like to be in a twenty mile radius if someone hurt his little brother or sister). It's kind of hard, character-wise, which is why this writes so slowly--nothing to really lean hard on--but it was definitely what I was aiming for.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: June 29th, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love that: "...for his kids to be secure and happy and comfortable with themselves"--now that I'm a parent it's all I want, and so far I've been blessed with an even-tempered little guy who seems to find his place in most situations. I'd be thrilled if he were a lot like James in 13 or 14 years!

(I love this story. I love all your stories but despite it not being one that's flying out of your fingertips, I'm particularly enjoying this one. Sorry I've been bad about commenting to say so; I usually read on my phone and I've had some issues commenting from there.)
willowbough From: willowbough Date: June 27th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
James seems to be enjoying his Yule Ball rather more than Harry enjoyed his. Even though the party at Teddy's sounds like fun too, and at least he gets to look in on it. Wonder if he'll get any useful advice from the older generation while he's "visiting."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 28th, 2012 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
On the subject of his date, only if he ignores Harry and Ron completely. ;p Come to think of it, Teddy doesn't know why things seem to work for him that department, either. Maybe he can ask Al.
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: June 28th, 2012 04:19 am (UTC) (Link)

d'AWWWWWWWWWWWW

This made me smile all and have warm fuzzies all over.

so happy to see lily luna got her wish for a yule ball of her own- which sounds absolutely splendid and hit me quite hard for "homesicksness" as well, meaning missing seeing the hogwart's bound group. (I giggled at the details on moth and Al. oh moth)

really fascinating about your taken on american wizard education (and with a texan wizard nonetheless)

glad to see Elodie is being more friendly and sociable, is a nice change on her.

and oh boy, madam laurent seems edging on the list of suspects.

wonderful, wonderful chaplet fern!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 28th, 2012 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: d'AWWWWWWWWWWWW

I think Elodie is fine once she's been convinced that someone isn't out to get her. I don't think her attitudes toward the rest of the school have changed much.

I figure magical Americans trying to live in the Potterverse strictures would be really, really difficult. We can't agree on curricula from town to town, let alone state to state, we have an aversion to boarding schools, and God knows the first words out of an American wizard's mouth upon hearing International Statute of Secrecy would be, "I'll see your Statute of Secrecy, and raise you the First Amendment, pal. Nobody's telling me what I can talk about!" So my guess is that there is too much trouble taken to keep things in line to try and come up with anything as comprehensive as the Hogwarts system. Little local or regional schools dealing with the local magic (the one Mitch talked about being sort of a Gulf Coast; another I mentioned in Shades being mostly the states of the Four Corners, Salem Institute being the Ivy League sort of Northeastern flavor), many of them with totally different goals, and some parents deciding to treat magic the way some immigrant groups treat culture (in this case, I was thinking of some of the girls who used to come to the library, who went to Chinese school in the afternoons). Complete chaos, some of which works really well, some of which... doesn't.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 28th, 2012 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: d'AWWWWWWWWWWWW

utterly fascinating. you really think things throughout.

would love for you to write something like this for when the christmas drabbles come around.

~Alex Wells
From: amethystbeloved Date: June 28th, 2012 04:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi Fernwithy! I've been coming back every couple of days for a new installment and I was so happy to find this! Visiting Teddy's crew was totally unexpected and even more wonderful than I could have possibly imagine it. I followed your Tedd-verse stories so it was a real pleasure. I loved the new Floo advancement as well, it brought be back to Hunter's Moon.

You're doing an excellent job with James. I can't compare since you're the only HP author that I'm following and I thank you so, so much for sharing all of this with us!
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