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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Eighteen: Chemin de Crasson, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Eighteen: Chemin de Crasson, pt. 2
James and the rest of the Potters are visiting Elodie and her family in Ellébore, a village where the Abstentionistes have a large community, and seem to make money by brewing beer for tourists, who occasionally smash windows in their church. James rather likes her house and her parents (her brother, mentioned in the letter, has not yet appeared), but as the families are getting to know each other, he notices that there are several places in the house where things are missing.

Table of Contents So Far




Elodie's brother, Noah, arrived just before lunch, dressed in old-fashioned Muggle clothes, and looked about thirteen, though James knew he was only ten. He was carrying a Bible and three Abstentioniste books, which he set ostentatiously down on the coffee table, then looked at Mum and Dad defiantly, as though they'd been trying to convert him. Elodie introduced him, looking whey-faced, then told him in French, "Sit down and stop looking like an Inquisitor. These are guests."

Noah deigned to take a seat, but said disdainfully, "I have been saved from my inner conflicts."

Elodie rolled her eyes. "You haven't had any inner conflicts, but you're going to have an outer one with me if you don't act like a human being."

The rest of James's family didn't speak French, but he was willing to bet that they'd got the gist of it, judging by Mum and Dad's carefully cultivated looks of disinterest, Lily's flash of hostility, and Al's consternation.

"Children," Mr. Lejeune said in English, "it is rude to speak a language our guests do not share. You know this. Noah, Elodie will translate for you if you miss anything."

Noah seemed supremely unconcerned about this.

As it turned out, there was little room left in the conversation for Noah's attempts to convert the Potters, though he did manage, as Dad was helping Madame Lejeune serve, how meritorious it was to use the strength of the hand over the strength of the wand, and, upon being asked by Mum if he was looking forward to his time at Beauxbatons--the Lejeunes had been explaining why the children needed to learn control--he announced that he would not be attending, and could control his "weakness" on his own. When they finished eating, they went back to the living room and Mr. Lejeune implied strongly that Noah would do well to find an activity outside the house.

When Noah disappeared with a final, superior sort of look, Madame Lejeune said, "We are so sorry. He 'as been... upset... since the church window was broken. Many of the younger people were."

James thought about Elodie at school--about her constant, defensive accusations--and guessed that Noah was most likely surprised that she hadn't joined in.

"Why did they break the window?" Lily asked, looking at the empty glass box with curiosity.

"To see if they can make us fight back," Elodie said. "It's what Grindelwald's gentils did, and..."

"No," Madame Lejeune said. "This is cruel foolishness. What those men did was evil."

Mum bit her lip, then said, "May I ask...? I don't mean to be rude, but I don't know this history."

The Lejeunes looked at one another, and at Elodie, who shrugged.

Mr. Lejeune indicated that everyone should sit down. He sighed and looked at the empty box. "It began," he said, "with the Great Theft. The gentils--they were Grindelwald's men in France and here in Wallonia--simply broke in magically, as they knew we had no defenses against it. They took everything of value for Grindelwald's cause. Or Hitler's. Some of it may have ended up with the Nazis. Our neighbors, the ones who don't share our faith, they came to help, and we did let them put protective charms on what was left, but they had their own problems with the gentils. Many of them were taken away. Many more went into the Resistance."

"Were you forbidden to fight?" Dad asked.

"No, of course not," Madame Lejeune said. "But we were forbidden to use magic, which, to the minds of the Resistance, was the same. Some joined the Muggle resistance. Some..." She looked down. "Some did not resist, of course."

"And some were captured," Mr. Lejeune finished. "I'm sure you know that part. Captured, and tortured into using magic, primarily against the Squibs in the camps."

"Why not just use it?" Lily asked. "It really doesn't hurt anything, and the children know how--"

"Lily!" Mum hissed.

"It is not an unknown question," Mr. Lejeune said kindly. "And we do not think others evil to use magic, or shut out our children if they leave our ways. But when an evil man is trying to force you to betray your faith, then that is the moment that you may not falter. That is the moment when it breaks you."

Casting it this way was successful for Lily, who respected stubbornness above nearly any other trait. She looked at the empty box again and said, "What was here?"

"My father told me," Madame Lejeune said, "that it once 'eld a golden model of the solar system, with planets and fine rings. It belonged to my grandmother. We keep the box to remind us what is no longer 'ere."

James thought of the treasure room that Teddy said he'd glimpsed in his trip behind the veil. "What happened to things they took? Do you know?"

"It's one of the great mysteries," Mr. Lejeune said. "I imagine most of it was melted down and sold to pay for the war. Georges Sargent--he was Madame Laurent's grandfather, the Resistance fighter?" He looked to the Potters to make sure they all knew who was talking about; everyone did. "After the war, he said we should go on, cast aside our empty boxes and go on. But we cannot do such a thing. But come, let's talk of more pleasant things... tell us about this Yule Ball. Elodie has said that you convinced her to dance!"

"A man named Potter initiating a dance," Mum said. "I just need to pause a moment to take that in." She grinned at James. "Good job."

"A man at all initiating such a thing," Madame Lejeune added, "is something of a marvel."

Dad and Mr. Lejeune made a great show of being offended by this, and the conversation turned light and meaningless. While the adults went to the kitchen to clean up from lunch, Elodie took James, Al, and Lily back to the square and gave them a tour, which took about ten minutes, then led them up a hill to a little treehouse in an old elm.

"Noah and I built this with Papa," she said, settling into the corner. "I come here still when I want quiet."

"No wonder you and James get along," Al said. "We always had to have a fort."

"Ours was in the courtyard," Lily said. "It was tent, and we changed it to be whatever we wanted it to be."

James sat down beside a box full of tracts in French, which he assumed were Noah's, since no one else in the family seemed inclined to spread the good word. He glanced at a few, which had black-and-white comics about Reverend Crasson breaking his wand The story appeared to be about a confrontation with a beast who said he didn't have the strength to go without it or some such thing. He took a few, not really knowing why (other than what he considered the unassailable logic that it seemed like an exciting story), but he supposed that Noah wouldn't mind; they were clearly meant to be passed around. Elodie rolled her eyes at him.

Lily sat down on a crate that had once held beer, and said, "So, do the pair of you have any suspects yet? We've been looking into dozens."

Al tapped the back of her head lightly and said, "We've been reading up on everyone at the tournament, not calling them suspects."

"I think it's James," Elodie said, leaning forward conspiratorially.

"It usually is," Lily agreed. "But Al's making us look at everyone before we go for the obvious. You can read my diary about it, too. James has it."

"It's with my things," James said. "I'll show it to you back at school."

"You send your brother a diary?" Elodie asked.

"More of a journal, really, but it does have detailed information about long snogging sessions."

"I don't want to know that about my sister! And you're a first year!"

"Well, they're mostly Al's sessions," Lily said. "I don't know where he finds time to do anything else."

"Lily won't mind her business," Al said.

"You're my brother, and therefore my business."

Al looked to James for a resolution; Lily waited as well. They'd accept whatever ruling he gave. This was nothing new, but James had never really noticed it before. He smiled.

"Lily, if someone's trying to kill Al, it's your business. Is Moth poisoning her lips?"

"Well, probably not."

"Then it's not your business."

Lily pouted, then made a show of petting Al. "But you know him. He's fragile. He needs looking after."

Al gave her a half-serious glare, then tugged one of her plaits and pulled away from her. "Really, though," he said to Elodie, "I promised our cousin Rosie that I'd put in whatever you have. So... what do you have? Other than the obvious," he added with a nod toward James.

James and Elodie looked at each other, then James said, "Well, first, there's a groundskeeper..."
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Comments
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: August 20th, 2012 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)

*winces*

And.. I just Knew the meal started out too pleasant to last.

Geez, compared to her brother, Elodie is Miss Sunshine and free hugs. I do not like him much.
(And I don't care that he's a kid/teen; that makes his antagonistic "shove down your throat how much I disagree with your lifestyle" attitude that muck more irksome)

I feel really bad for the Lejeune family and those like them though. Not only they got their homes smashed up and property stolen to be used by that monster of Grindewald and the Nazis, but forced to act against what they believed in. *shudders*

But I admired them a lot by sticking to their beliefs despite being tortured.

also *sigh* Why is lily luna So obsessed with Al's dating Moth? I mean is it So hard to Believe for her brother to have a girlfriend?!

Loved James retort though ("Is Moth poisoning her lips?" "No" "Then it's none of your business")

Edited at 2012-08-20 03:03 am (UTC)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 20th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: *winces*

Lily's just a nosy kid sister.

And yeah, Noah and Elodie were probably both a bit inflamed by the vandalism, but Noah is surrounded by like-minded people and is even worse.
mickawber_fics From: mickawber_fics Date: August 20th, 2012 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah! Well, personally, I think you've been reading Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Elodie's right.

I loved Noah (pompous little prat) and I also love that the Potter kids are including Elodie in their investigation.
mickawber_fics From: mickawber_fics Date: August 20th, 2012 06:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and I prophesy that Noah's comics will hold the key to the whole mystery.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 20th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no! Spoilers!
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 20th, 2012 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Line of the Day

"I think it's James," Elodie said, leaning forward conspiratorially.

"It usually is," Lily agreed.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 20th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Lily and Elodie are kindred spirits. ;p
From: amethystbeloved Date: August 20th, 2012 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the way that Al and Lily looked to James in terms of determining who's right and wrong. The way that you write about the Potter sibling dynamics is really on point. Do you have siblings? I love the way that they're stil in sync with each other despite being apart.

I'm loving any details relating to Al and Moth so thank you Lily for being a nosy sibling!

I never knew how much I could love General, thanks to your stories.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 20th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! The question of whether or not I have sibs is more complicated than it sounds, but I grew up only, so I'm always glad to hear that sibs are interacting well.

From: (Anonymous) Date: August 21st, 2012 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Know what you mean about complicated. I tend to think of my family as fairly non-soap opera until I start explaining some of the relations . . . .

I sort of feel for Noah. I remember when I was at the age when I thought, if you just EXPLAINED (which often seemed to translate into "argue"), people would have to see you were RIGHT.

I don't remember being anywhere near that obnoxious, but I have a feeling people who were that obnoxious never do . . . .

Ellen
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 21st, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Malo, Malo Noah!

you ruined the reunion

Antonia
willowbough From: willowbough Date: August 24th, 2012 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Noah seems to have it in him to grow into the Abstentioniste version of Geoffrey Phillips. That's scary. And yeah, Elodie certainly does show to advantage against him.

Looking forward to what the Potter sibs come up with now that they're reunited.
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