?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Shades, Chapter 22: French Leave, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 22: French Leave, pt. 3
Dumbledore has arranged for the "death" of Alderman's family, the Crowlers, and staged an accident destroying their home. Fleur takes them, along with Tonks, to the remote mountains of France, where her grandmother, Valeska, has a sanctuary for magical creatures. Valeska gets the Crowlers settled in, then invites Tonks to come to dinner, along with Fleur and Gabrielle.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Tonks supposed she should have learned long ago not to make assumptions about the inside of a house from the outside--she knew the theory and practice of magical decoration and spatial alterations--but so few witches and wizards bothered with the complex charms that she still tended to expect that the inside of a house would at least be hinted at from the outside. So when she opened the wooden door to Valeska Delacour's neat little house, she anticipated entering a house much like the one she'd just left the Crowlers in--plank floors, a stone hearth, neat, rustic furniture.

She stopped just inside the door and just blinked.

Gabrielle ran in around her, and Fleur floated in, looking dreamily at the place. Tonks felt Valeska stop just behind her.

"You are surprised?"

"It's lovely," Tonks said.

The inside of Valeska's home wasn't a house at all. From this side, the door opened onto a mountain meadow. A rough wooden table had been set among what appeared to be trees. The ceiling, like the ceiling in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, was charmed to show the sky outside, and Tonks could see the snowflakes swirling lazily in the dark. A round firepit had been set up in the center of meadow, and over it, a cauldron was simmering. Small rooms appeared as caves around what would have been the walls of the house, and Tonks could see three normal human beds, but her gaze drifted up to the far wall, where she could see over the precipitous drop, and there was a platform set high above the room, as narrow as the branch of a tree. A white robe was tossed casually over it, and a pillow had been affixed to it.

Gabrielle ran back from one of the cave rooms with an armful of torches, and handed them to Fleur, who lit them with a touch of her wand and set them into stands around the interior, bringing a cheerful firelight. The three Delacours took each other's hands, then Fleur reached back and took Tonks's. "Come," she said. "We dance before dinner."

"Oh!" Tonks said, trying to pull away. "I can't dance like a Veela. I'd trip over my own feet!"

"No, you will not," Valeska said. "Not if you hold tightly to Fleur's hand and mine." She took Tonks's other hand, and they were a circle of four now.

Gabrielle began to sway excitedly, her blonde hair drifting back and forth with her movement. She dipped in a little circle, and then Fleur was moving, and Valeska was moving, and Tonks suddenly felt the muscles in her body become fluid and smooth. Valeska began to sing wordlessly, a haunting, eastern tune. Fleur picked it up. Gabrielle hummed. Tonks listened to the tune once, twice, then let herself join in--a soft rise, a gentle drop, and her body moved with her voice, and the torchlight flickered.

It might have gone on for five minutes, or it might have been hours. Tonks didn't know. She felt she could have gone on dancing for days. Her body had never moved so cleanly before, and it filled her with a sense of lightness.

Someone gasped, and the dancing stopped.

"How astounding," Valeska said, staring at Tonks with a look of frank amazement.

"You see?" Fleur said, grinning at Tonks.

Gabrielle let go of Fleur and Valeska, breaking the circle, and clapped. "Like Grand-mère!" she said. "Like Grand-mère!"

Something silvery-white floated beside Tonks's face, and she moved her hand up to catch it, feeling the tug on her skull before she realized it was attached to her. Surprised, she drew her wand and said, "Speculum." A mirror materialized in her hand.

Her hair had become long and silvery blond, her lips a deep pink, her eyes soft blue.

"I, er... usually have to plan to do this. And... well, even with planning lately..." She smiled at her unfamiliar appearance. "Thank you for the dance."

Valeska nodded. "I have never met a fully human shapeshifter before. Animagi and werewolves, but never a human who can become a different human. I thought the tales were exaggerated."

"Well, there aren't many of us," Tonks said, a bit self-conscious. "And believe me, I'm still me." She glanced at the mirror again. "Though much prettier than usual, I have to say."

"You should see Lupin like this," Fleur said, winking. "'E would not be able to stay away."

Tonks shook her head and set the mirror down. "Remus likes me with gray hair. Or pink hair. Or..." She raised her eyebrows. "You didn't believe it for a moment when I said you were mistaken about Remus and me, did you?"

"Not even a second." Fleur grinned. "'E needs a reminder about you. 'E needs--"

"Oh, Fleur please..."

She looked up at the enchanted ceiling innocently.

Valeska set out dinner, and Gabrielle ran to Tonks with handfuls of pretty silk ribbons to tie her hair back with while she ate. By the time the meal was over, her own looks had settled back in, and the ribbons had fallen out, one by one, as the end of her hair migrated back up to its normal length just below her shoulders. She didn't mind--she was glad to know that her ability hadn't left her permanently, but the pretty blonde Veela she'd appeared to be hadn't felt at all like herself. Gabrielle made a point of decorating and fussing with her short, plain brown hair for a bit, making exaggerated noises about how it was "steel preetee." The sarmales were delicious, and Tonks was content to eat them and listen to Valeska and the girls tell her stories of the Veela... which were often quite different from stories humans told about the Veela. Being here with them, it was easy to forget that the very dance she'd so enjoyed was used to snare human men, who were then kept with extreme jealousy and malice toward intruders. In the Veela version of this, in the stories, the men were chosen specially and freed from their humdrum lives, and then protected from being forced back into them.

After dinner, Fleur headed off to help Gabrielle get ready for bed before they left, and Valeska motioned for Tonks to remain at the table. "This man," she said quietly, when the girls were out of earshot. "This werewolf you love... He has caused this?" She pointed at Tonks's hair, then made a fluttering motion with her hands, as if to indicate morphing. "He has taken your strength?"

"What? No." Tonks shrugged. "I just don't feel very pretty. Or playful. And that's all I've ever really used it for."

She nodded dubiously. "I wonder if he truly knows what he has cost you."

"I..." Tonks bit her lip. "Remus has problems of his own."

Valeska didn't answer this directly. "Men," she said, "often need to be shocked." She stood and started clearing the table.

Tonks got up and wandered around her home, noting both the human influencs she had picked up from her years in the human world--a rack of spices, a stove, running water, a shower--and the alien Veela sense that dominated the whole place. Aside from the Carpathian meadow theme, the decorations were non-visual in nature--simple wind chimes, a clever device made from violin strings that caught the wind and made a haunting sound, an odd scent-collage that kept Tonks busy for ten minutes, trying to identify the smells that filled her mind.

"Gabrielle wishes to say goodnight," Fleur said beside her.

Tonks jumped. "Oh. To me?"

"Yes. She likes you."

"Really?"

Fleur nodded and led her to the little cave-room where Gabrielle had set herself up like a princess in a canopied bed with ruffles and bows, which looked quite incongrous against a stone wall. She had three dolls in bed with her. "Good night, Tonks," she said carefully, and held out her arms.

Fleur gestured Tonks ahead, and Tonks curiously leaned down and hugged the little girl, then kissed her cheek. "Good night, Gabrielle," she said. "I've enjoyed meeting you."

She looked confused, and Fleur translated. Gabrielle said something else and Fleur smiled. "Gabrielle says you dance prettily and must come back."

"Oh, I'm sure I'll be back. Could you thank her for being nice to Electa? I know Electa's younger than she is and doesn't speak French and..."

Fleur nodded and translated, and Gabrielle smiled broadly and said something cheerfully. Fleur put her hand over her mouth and smiled, and her eyes filled with tears. She sat down on Gabrielle's bed and smoothed her hair back, and hummed a lullaby. Gabrielle drifted off to sleep.

"You must leave, then?" Valeska asked.

"I'm expected at work in the morning," Tonks said.

"And I am 'elping Bill with 'is part of the guest list." Fleur kissed her grandmother. "I will come back soon, Grand-mère," she said, and held up her wand. "And you are always with me."

Valeska nodded gracefully and turned to Tonks. "You are welcome always," she said. "I look forward to receiving the young werewolves, and wish you well in their rescue." She looked back at Fleur and said something in French which Tonks was reasonably sure included the word "werewolf," but Fleur just nodded and didn't translate it.

They walked together to the Apparition point. Tonks thought about asking what Valeska had said, but as she'd been watching curiously, she assumed Fleur knew she wanted to know, and had already chosen not to tell her.

"What did your sister say?" she asked as they reached the bottom of the mountain. "I mean, you don't have to tell me. But when I said thank you for helping Electa..."

Fleur smiled. "She said she was 'appy to. Because..." The smile widened. "Because she 'as 'ad a big sister, and wants to be a big sister. Because I taught 'er." She looked up at the house and waved toward the wall, then turned on her heel and Apparated home.

Tonks followed her.
23 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: April 25th, 2006 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)
This was sweet. I really enjoyed it. (Sorry, no big comments.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 25th, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's okay, I don't have a word limit. ;) Glad you liked.
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: April 25th, 2006 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Because she 'as 'ad a big sister, and wants to be a big sister. Because I taught 'er.

This is a lovely thought, and I really like the delay in revealing the text to the reader
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 25th, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love Fleur as a sister--that moment in GoF, after the second task, was when the character really became human.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: April 25th, 2006 11:04 am (UTC) (Link)
As always, this is really good - I like the way you've imagined the (part)-Veelas at home.

Concrit: Tonks got up and wandered around her home, noting both the human influencs she had picked up from her years in the human world--a rack of spices, a stove, running water, a shower--and the alien Veela sense that dominated the whole place. Aside from the Carpathian meadow theme, the decorations were non-visual in nature--simple wind chimes, a clever device made from violin strings that caught the wind and made a haunting sound, an odd scent-collage that kept Tonks busy for ten minutes, trying to identify the smells that filled her mind.

Sounds like Tonks is the Veela (and there's a typo on influences)!

The non-visual decorations are a very interesting idea, though.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 25th, 2006 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, no... "influencs" is just a new style of writing it, of saying it. It's my personal choice, dammit! :p

I'll see what I can do about clarifying that passage; thanks for pointing it out.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: April 25th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think just substituting 'Valeska's home' for 'her home' would do.

Sorry for impugning the free-form spelling. I imagine all the cool kids are doing it!
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 1st, 2006 01:22 am (UTC) (Link)
That passage tripped me up. too. I thought I'd missed something and Tonks was back at her own place somehow, so re-read the bit before and this one and realized I just don't know how to translate from Veela to English and that must have been the problem.

Possible easy fix - "Tonks got up and wandered around (the) home, noting both the human influencs (Fleur's grandmother) had picked up from her years in the human world--a rack of spices, a stove, running water, a shower--and the alien - etc.


Keep up the good work! This is fun!

McG's Cat
sreya From: sreya Date: April 25th, 2006 12:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh!!! As a big sister myself, Gabrielle's compliment to Fleur is bringing tears to my eyes!!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 25th, 2006 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, good! A real big sister likes it. :)
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: April 25th, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is lovely, Fern. I really like the glimpse of Veela culture you've given us, and the warm view of this particular Veela family. I especially liked the dance and Tonks's unexpected morphing.

I also really like this positive take on Fleur - she's so friendly to Tonks. But how will this tally with her comment at Christmas that Tonks has really let herself go? Is that her way of giving Remus a reminder about Tonks?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 25th, 2006 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah... Fleur was being impossible for me--she insisted on being friendly and eager. So what Valeska told her was, essentially, "The werewolf needs to be kicked in the teeth, as often as you can do it. Remind him what he's done to this girl."
miseri From: miseri Date: April 26th, 2006 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know ... I've always pictured Fleur as being simply tactless. You know, the sort of person who insults your furniture the moment she walks into your house, and then genuinely has no idea why you're upset at her -- after all, she didn't mean to be rude, therefore she must not actually have been rude, right? So yeah, I can easily see Fleur saying the most devastating things about someone she likes, and not realising how hurtful she's been.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 26th, 2006 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, good idea. I've always wanted to like Fleur, and the 'tactless' comments she made in canon made me want to sit her down and explain 'This is how we behave in public' to her. I like your idea better. :)

--DorisCrockford
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: April 25th, 2006 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wish my little sister admired me like that, but clearly Gabrielle's not a teenager. :p Very sweet scene, though, and I loved seeing a bit of the veela culture, especially the way you portrayed them more sympathetically without straying from canon.

You might want to reconsider the use of the word speculum, though--it was used the infamous Rose Potter series, actually, and though apparently the Latin is correct (I wouldn't know, as I don't know any Latin), the word also means something totally different. I didn't know until I Googled it, but there you go.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 25th, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I know what speculum is medically, but it's the only translation I could find for "mirror"! I looked at three different online translators.
matril From: matril Date: April 25th, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like Fleur here. I love how she sees right through Tonks, and Tonks starts talking about what hair colors Remus likes before she realizes her slip. Heh. It would be good for the both of them to have a friend in each other.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: April 25th, 2006 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, more Shades!! I'll just second (or eleventh, or whatever it is by now) the comments that have said what a sweet scene this is, and how enjoyable your Fleur is becoming. Also I will say - probably again, because probably I've said it already at some point - that I love the way you fill in so many of the details about things that aren't likely to come up in canon - like the Veela at home, like the pack behaviour of the werewolves, etc.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: April 25th, 2006 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
i think this is my favorite chapter..... it's so vivid and awesome.
other_girl87 From: other_girl87 Date: April 26th, 2006 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
*de-lurks* Hi, I've been following both Shifts and Shades, and they're both absolutely wonderful. I especially loved the family dynamics in this scene.

One nitpick, though, since nobody else picked it up:
A round firepit had been set up in the center of meadow, and over it, a cauldron was simmering.
I think you need a 'the' before meadow

-Other Girl
P.S. I hope you don't mind if I friend you.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 26th, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, thanks!

And no, I don't mind friends. :)
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: April 26th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi there! I hadn't read "Shades" in a long while (real life...), but I took the opportunity to catch up with it and it's still as good as ever. I'm very glad that you introduced us to Fleur's grandmother, and also that you gave Fleur a good evening of relaxing!
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: March 30th, 2008 03:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Fleur smiled. "She said she was 'appy to. Because..." The smile widened. "Because she 'as 'ad a big sister, and wants to be a big sister. Because I taught 'er."

That is honestly how I've always felt, being the youngest in my family. I've always wanted to be a big sister, which is why my younger cousins are practically being abused with my love and smothering. I keep attempting to make them behave, but they're all boys...hopeless... :facepalm:
23 comments or Leave a comment