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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Eleven: The First Task, pt. 1 (take two) - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Eleven: The First Task, pt. 1 (take two)
Part one was all wrong.

I've finally come to the conclusion that that's why I can't do part two. The characters were not behaving properly (not Celia, not James, not Dani, which makes all of them that I dealt with), the plot wasn't working right, and Ginny had no reason to be anywhere near it. I had nothing to do with her. Plus, how much foofaraw can I put in before getting to the first task, which is the point of the chapter?

So, for the second time in this story, I'm backtracking. Not to the beginning again, don't worry--just that last section. If I weren't writing live, I'd have quietly re-done it and no one would be the wiser ;p. So, it's Not There. (In fact, it will literally not be there once I finish replacing it.)

Table of Contents So Far

Al has a girlfriend, James thought, looking into the bathroom mirror on the morning of the First Task.

He supposed his mind should be more occupied with the upcoming task--no one had yet figured it out, though the high spectator towers had been rebuilt, so everyone guessed it would be something that could fly. Celia was quite nervous, though she was acting tougher than usual to cover it. He could be thinking about whether or not a very dangerous prankster planned another potentially deadly disturbance, or worried about the theory of Bear's that Lily had mentioned--that this whole business was related to the followers of a serial killer who wanted to tear down every traditional institution (Lily hadn't mentioned passing that bit of info to Dad, but James hoped Rosie had the common sense to do it). He could have been thinking about Veronika. Or Dani. Or Celia, a bit more. He could have sat down and worked on a chapter for Teddy (he owed one).

Instead, since he'd put down the pages of Lily's diary last night, the one bemused thought that had kept occurring to him was, Al has a girlfriend. He's been snogging her behind the Lionbloom.

It wasn't a surprise, exactly, as Al and Moth had liked one another since they'd met last year. But there was a proper order for these things to occur in, and James hadn't had a girlfriend yet, so Al had skipped the queue. He considered asking Celia, but had a feeling she'd say no before he finished the question. Sybil Horowitz was the only Hogwarts girl close to James's age (she was a fifth year), but he couldn't quite picture walking around the Fountain of the Heart with her, holding hands, maybe throwing a bit of gold into the water. Maybe snogging in the Garden of the Right Hand. All of those things sounded good, but Sybil, while she wasn't unpleasant, wasn't very interesting, and was at least a head taller than James. It would look wrong. There were Beauxbatons girls, of course. He decided to start paying better attention to them in class. He'd need a date for the Yule Ball, at any rate.

But still, Al had skipped the queue.

"Do you plan to get out of there any time?" Simon Frobisher bellowed from the other side of the door. "I still have to shave!"

James splashed water on his face and slicked his hair down, then pulled on his tee shirt as he went out. The Task--more sensibly than in Dad's year--was on a Saturday, so no one would be in school robes except the champions, and they'd be able to spend the last few hours practicing spells and hexes rather than sitting in classes.

He let himself out through the portrait hole, and found Celia sitting on the far side, being quizzed by Lupin on magical creatures. Granddad and Sirius chimed in from time to time, suggesting more outlandish possibilities.

"How are things going?" James asked.

"Well, we've narrowed it down," Celia said. "We reckon it has to be something that lives in the air, on the ground, or in the water."

"What about underground?" James asked.

Celia slapped her forehead.

"The seats aren't set up for underground creatures," Lupin said calmly and forcefully. "And there's not anything over there that could hold enough water for a really dangerous underwater creature. Remember?"

"Right. So, ground or air."

"The seats are high up," James reminded her.

"Could just be a vantage point," Celia said. "A high view is good for things on the ground, too."

"Land bound creatures tend to rely on physical strength," Lupin said. "Think of how it is under the moon. You're not strategizing. Today, if it's a land creature, you want to think of it like... like you might think of your other self, were you to encounter her as a human. How would you control that creature?"

"A good blasting curse, and I'd be rid of it," Celia muttered.

Lupin looked at her blandly from the canvas.

"Right. Actual thoughts. Which is the point. I don't have actual thoughts then. So as a human, I have that advantage over whatever it is."

"And as a werewolf," Lupin said, "you have an advantage over your competitors, because you'll know what a creature might be feeling."

Sirius applauded sarcastically. "Moony finally figured that out!"

Lupin smiled sheepishly and said, "Er, actually, I was visiting the other painting last night, and Teddy and Dora wanted to pass that on. Did it sound inspiring?"

"Sure," Celia said. "Tell them it sounded terribly wise."

"Thank you."

"And if it flies? They've closed the loophole Harry used when he brought in the Firebolt."

"They have?" James asked indignantly. "That's not fair!"

"No, it's fair," Sirius said. "Using it once was clever and creative. But everyone would be trying it now, and it would get very boring."

"Creatures that fly have an advantage," Lupin admitted. "Just try to neutralize it. You have your shield charms down, and your umbrella charm might confuse a flyer for a little while."

"Poison?" Celia asked.

"To be avoided," Lupin said.


"Duck," Sirius said.

Something white swirled above the table, and Robards' Patronus dropped down and said, "Celia, it's time for you to meet the other champions. You'll each speak to the press before the event and after. Meet me downstairs, and I'll go up to the palace with you."

Celia looked distinctly green for a moment, then swallowed hard and nodded. "Right, then. I guess I'll--"

James flicked his wand, and she looked at him in an irritated way, but then the dormitory doors burst open, and all of the other Hogwarts students came out. There was a great roaring sound, and James looked over at Scops, who had Professor Longbottom's roaring lion hat, the one that went to the captain of Gryffindor Quidditch team after its first win each year (James knew that the hat had been Luna Scamander's at some point, but wasn't sure how it had ended up where it was). He placed it on Celia's head.

She laughed. "I can't wear this to the task," she said. "And besides... I should put it on after I win."

"That's the spirit," Granddad said.

Together, they followed Celia downstairs to where Robards was waiting. Celia gave the hat to James, then went out the door with Robards. The other students watched as the pair of them met with Veronika and Shevchenko, who were coming up from the Durmstrang ship. The four of them went out through the garden gate, and disappeared into the morning.

James looked at Scops. "Where did a Hufflepuff come by the lion hat?"

"Hufflepuffs know how every House works," Scops said with an air of superiority. "We always find the right approach. We always--"

James raised an eyebrow.

Scops shrugged. "It was Rosie's idea. She asked Professor Longbottom for it, and sent it to me for Celia."

"She's a Ravenclaw."

"Whose entire family is in your House."

"I see your point. But why didn't she send it to me?"

"Because I'm the one she was writing to!"

James narrowed his eyes, wondering if Al wasn't the only one who'd skipped the queue. "And why is that, exactly?"

"Because she's my best friend."

"Oh, right."

"Hey!" Ivaylo Todorov called from the Durmstrang crowd, which had apparently escorted Veronika down the gangplank. "You can't use that hat to distract our champion! She vill crush you!" He made an explicit gesture with his fist, but he was smiling when he did it.

Electa Campbell smiled back. "Well, she'll have an awfully hard time of that after Celia finishes mopping the floor with her."

"Don't be rude, El," Darcy Lynch said. "They have a right believe anything they want... no matter how impossible."

Emilija Tomičić grinned. "Ve vere just saying the same thing."

The two groups of students fell in together and followed signs that had been put up overnight, directing them to the student seating. They were well-mixed by the time they reached the staging area, and James had fallen into a conversation with Matej Čupić about the Croatian national Quidditch team. Scops was speaking German with Lena Otteson (apparently not very well, as she kept correcting him). They filed into the padded wooden seats as a single group--Beauxbatons students were starting to arrive and gathering based on their social groups (Elodie Lejeune sat alone near the top, her nose in a dense looking book).

It was the first glance James had got of the inside of the staging area. He couldn't see any large creatures on the ground, but they'd probably be brought out for each champion. It was a circular patch of ground with clumps of grass scattered around it. These clumps were trembling a little, but they weren't big enough to hide anything really dangerous. In the center of the circle was a tall pole, and mounted at the top of it was a multi-sided ball made from mirrors.

"What's that?" he asked Matej.

Matej shook his head.

James looked around more carefully. Above the seats on the far side was a large panel, currently covered with a protective spell. He looked up. There was one above his seat as well. Each was visible from the opposite side.

A glittering spell flew through the air, and a program appeared in James's lap. He picked it up curiously.

The question of the mirrors was answered on the front, where gratitude had been expressed to the British Ministry, Department of Mysteries, for developing a system of two-way mirrors to transmit the action on the ground and project it, large size, onto the panels. They were apparently set up around the country--and around Britain and the countries of Durmstrang as well--as a way to view the tasks. There would be no secret plotting and Imperius curses and illegal Portkeys here.

James opened the program, thinking it would have biographical information about the champions.

Instead, the first page told the story of Hercules and the Stymphalian Birds.
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From: tree_and_leaf Date: November 2nd, 2011 09:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, I didn't think of them!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought of them, then realized they'd been in Percy Jackson, then rethought, then rethought again, as they're just sitting htere to be used, and if Riordan can, so can I...
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 2nd, 2011 11:23 am (UTC) (Link)
How Exciting! My favourite bit, of course, was Remus drilling Celia, with help from Dora and Teddy. But I do love James too. Jumping the queue indeed. Can't wait to see how Celia handles the birds.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me, either...
malinbe From: malinbe Date: November 2nd, 2011 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cool! Let's hope our champions are up on their Greek mythology... or not!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Celia's in good stead because Lupin was working with her on the generalities--if this, then that. So even if she didn't study them in particular, she might have an advantage.
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: November 2nd, 2011 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am completely giggling at James' internal monologue. "Al had skipped the queue." LOL :D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's just embarrassing, isn't it? ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 2nd, 2011 01:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Delay,s can be GOOD,

I don,t leave review,s much. But the delay for this chapter gave me time to go back and read Shades and then Shifts, both are great fun thought I,d like to hit Lupin for doing that to Dora. I,d read Forest Guard so time ago, so I started to reread that and had tears in my eyes for the first 6 or 7 paragraphs I missed Remus and Dora so much. You do such a wonderful job righting this characters it is easy to hurt when you lose them. Your really really GOOD at this. Thank so much. Hoss
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Delay,s can be GOOD,

THanks! Glad the stories still work.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 2nd, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Speaking of Lupin, I just read quotes from Rowling explaining how Lupin "had" to die - the last books are about war, and wars create orphans, ergo.

Beg to differ.

Actually, wars create even more widows raising children alone, but we don't see many of those in the books.

That aside, I'm interested to see how your Stymphalian Birds compare to the originals (and if people will know how to fight them or be making it up as they go along [not knowing ahead of time, they've had no chance to study up. Some of them may be completely clueless about weaknesses and so on]).

And, yes, Al did jump the queue. Most annoying when younger siblings do that.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the problem with her reasoning is that it's external: I, the author, believe X about Y, therefore... It's not internal to the character arc or the storyline she'd developed. It makes no sense. True, in life, things often don't make sense, but fiction isn't life. Fiction is planned and executed to make thematic use of the elements. There was no real thematic use to Lupin's death, unless she considered her theme "War is bad and meaningless".... in which case, Harry would have lost, it would have turned out that Voldemort wasn't so bad, and you'd get an ending line like A Separate Peace.

ETA: I'm not making an argument over whether such a theme would have been good or bad, only that it was not what the theme of the books in question was. Yes, people have to sacrifice, which was Harry's arc. Lupin's arc started with him caught in the deathtrap of his generation. He was contrasted with Sirius from book 5 on; both of them were fatally attracted to the past, unable to move forward and embrace life. Lupin, through his romance with Tonks, was finally able to escape the death-stalking, as a contrast to Sirius, who couldn't (notably, Sirius's death, while certainly on the battlefield, was staged in the context of his childish bickering with Bella). This was the major arc of his character--not "Can he sacrifice himself?" (Lupin was fatalistic to the point of suicidal previously), but "Can he learn to be alive and in the world, despite the things that have hurt him? Can he triumph over his wounds?" The thematic element of killing him off basically translated to "No, of course not. He was broken, couldn't possibly get past it, and had no reason to try in the end. Adults have no reason to go on--their lives are over anyway." Even in the context of that last book, when she knew what she planned to do, she STILL had his impulse to throw himself on his sword as his nemesis, not his strength--Harry himself called him on it, pointing out that he ought to go be alive rather than trying to die.

Edited at 2011-11-02 08:32 pm (UTC)
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starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: November 2nd, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Breaks and backtracking suit you- in a good way

the revised versions are always better than the original.
this one seem more lively and group support for celia than the other one. (love the details of Scops sneaking out the Gryffindor lion hat- nice touch)

*did missed the robot talk and the "lily wrote you a novel about al having a girlfriend?"

but i love this still

(also i'm ashamed of calling myself a greek mythology nerd- as i completely forgot about the Stymphalian Birds.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Breaks and backtracking suit you- in a good way

I missed the conversation, too (and the letter to Mira), but the whole night before thing was just not working at all.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is off to a ripping start! Love the movement through the whole section, and James's irritation about Al skipping the queue!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's quite annoying when they do that, isn't it? So now James has to get a girlfriend. He can't stay behind his baby brother.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nothing wrong with a retake, if it gets you where you need to go! Liked seeing Celia's fierceness and determination, and the grilling by the portraits, especially Lupin, was enjoyable. Werewolf to werewolf: shades of Shades!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wanted to give Lupin a little teaching room. And I think, had he lived, that having someone like Celia around would ahve been very helpful to his lycanthropic moodiness.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 3rd, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
ooooh I like this first glimpse of what it's like to see the tournament from the spectator view.

Betthanny anne
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 3rd, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
the stymphalia birds? this is going to be interesting

From: (Anonymous) Date: November 3rd, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never could have imagined it was the iron-talon birds. nice twist.

cant figure ouy why they thanking the department of mysteries for the two way screens, wouldn´t that be department of magical artifacts instead?

Alex Wells

From: (Anonymous) Date: November 4th, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
i'm so, so excited!

and it was so nice for everyone to give Celia a good luck party like that

From: (Anonymous) Date: November 4th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
seeing Lupin teaching made me happy.

stupid Rowling.

at least you cheer us all up with him still there in a way, instead of people still mourning him

From: (Anonymous) Date: November 4th, 2011 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
so ginny is out....

is any of the adults going to be there?

Sarah Lby
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