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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Twelve: What A Hero Would Do, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Twelve: What A Hero Would Do, pt. 3
James and Celia, trying to explore Ville-Sauvage, come upon Madame Maxime training Elodie Lejeune to fight a tarasque without magic. Wondering why, James learns that Elodie is a member of a sect that doesn't believe in using magic, despite being fully capable witches and wizards (all of their children receive a magical education, so they can better control accidental magical outbursts). He also finds out that, during the war, Grindelwald tried to break them and force them to use magic, which has given them something of a complex, to the point where they sheltered Greyback (much to Celia's fury). The question of Grindelwald's war, and how deeply it scarred the continent, is much on James's mind, and he decides to seek out Madame Laurent, who teaches the history of Beauxbatons course, and whose grandfather was a war hero.

Table of Contents So Far

He found her in her office, going through papers. She smiled up at him mildly when he knocked. "Ah, Mr. Potter," she said in English. "Please come in."

"We can speak French," James said in French. "You don't need to make special arrangements for me."

She switched languages. "That's very polite of you, Mr. Potter, though I hope you'll tell me if I'm speaking too fast. Was there something you needed?"

James bit his lip and sat down in her visitor chair. "I, er..." He frowned, not knowing where to start. Finally, he just shrugged said, "I learned about the Abstentionistes yesterday--about what happened to them in the war, and them sheltering Greyback, and... I suppose I want to know more about what happened."

She looked at him shrewdly. "I'm not inclined to pass on gory tales for schoolboys to pass around..."

"That's not what I mean."

"What, then?"

James considered it, then said, "My friend Scops, from the Hogwarts contingent--his father was on the other side of our war, the one my dad was in."

"I thought the name sounded familiar."

"He has to be really careful, every time something goes wrong. They actually thought he was the one who put Cedric's picture in the Goblet at Hogwarts."

"I remembered that. I didn't know why."

"And we have some nutters out there"--James wasn't sure of exactly which word would catch the meaning of "nutters," so he went with gens fous, though he thought that might be more formal--"who want to purge pure-bloods because of the wars. Stupid."


"Anyway, that's the sort of mark it left. We try to make the mark not so bad--that's one reason that my cousins and brother and sister and I are friends with Scops. I mean, we like him, too, but it's also to say, Stop it. Just let it be. And mostly, people do, nutters aside."

"I'm glad to hear that."

"I guess what I'm saying is, it feels like there's a lot more left over from Grindelwald's war here. And it was so long ago. I wanted to understand. Does that make sense?"

She nodded. "We passed through a time when we wanted to forget," she said. "When everything was about moving forward. It's important. But eventually, you must reach a time when you come to terms with what happened. What was done to you--and what you did. Perhaps some"--she used a phrase that James didn't catch entirely--"is needed."

"Er... Madame Laurent? I didn't understand."

She searched for English, and managed, "Between-time. Between-time was needed." She switched back to French. "The bleeding wounds need to heal. But sometimes, they're infected. We have needed to air out that infection."

"What happened?"

"The collaborators in Vichy. They turned in their own people. The Abstentionistes, as you heard. Half-bloods like Madam Maxime. But also the ones the Muggles wanted--Jews, gypsies, wizards who preferred the company of other wizards to that of witches, many others. And"--she ground her teeth--"of course, the Muggle camps could not have held our members of such groups. The collaborators happily carried out their work for them. The Resistance rescued as many as they could, but not, alas, as many as would have been... decent. And after the war, it was hard to sort out who was on which side."


"Sometimes. Sometimes fear. Sometimes... well, other things. Now and then, someone would be caught trying to spend part of the treasure stolen from the victims, but even most of that never surfaced. It was hard for people to know if the person they were talking to had been a Resistance fighter or a... you know the word 'gentil'?" James nodded. She went on. "My grandmother finally went mad from it, and my grandfather raised my mother alone. Then he raised me. I was lucky. He was a hero, and everyone knew it." She smiled fondly at James. "I suppose you understand something of that?"

"Just a bit."

"And it makes you very proud."

"Well, I don't run around waving banners..."

"Why not?"

"Because Dad would kill me. And I don't want to embarrass him."

"Ah, I see. He is as modest as is rumored." She shook her head and grinned. "Modesty was not something Grandpère was overly burdened with, God bless him. I heard his stories many, many times while we walked through the woods. He was a grand storyteller."

"What did he do, exactly?"

"He led the Resistance cell here at Beauxbatons. He was originally a teacher. When they came to take the students, he hid them all in Ville-Sauvage, and got them to safety as he could. He and my grandmother also spent a good deal of time sabotaging supplies and destroying Potions. They knew the palace well. I'm afraid they made a bit of a mess of the headmaster's office." She winked, then grew serious. "I say he was immodest, but that sounds wrong. He saw that the people needed a hero, someone to believe in. Your father, he has continued on as an Auror, and I suspect people still see him as someone who protects them. Is that why he chose that path?"

James didn't feel it his business to say exactly why Dad had become an Auror--other than the obvious chance to catch Dark wizards--so he just said, "I'm not sure."

"Well, whether it was conscious or not, he remains a hero for the people, and it probably helps them heal. That was why my grandfather accepted the position as headmaster here, and shared his stories whenever he was asked."

"But now that everything is healed, I still hear quite a bit. Elodie Lejeune accused me of being a gentil."

Madame Laurent rolled her eyes. "That girl sees gentils in her bouillabaisse. Don't judge the Abstentionistes by Elodie. We have had many distinguished graduates from that sect, though obviously, not in fields of magical innovation." She shook her head. "Is your question answered, Mr. Potter?"

"I think so. I guess... I just never thought about it."

"Why would you have? Your own war is a good deal closer to you."

James nodded. "Well, all right then. I, er... I'll let you get back to your work."

"Thank you. But please feel free to come in. You and I have much in common, Mr. Potter."

"I guess we do." James stood up, said goodbye, and left the office. He wasn't entirely sure where to put this bit of information, so he let it settle in his mind wherever it would. He felt, for the length of the corridor, like he was slightly out of his body. Going into the great rotunda, where Mother Emelot and Sister Theophania looked down kindly from their bright ceiling, he blinked like he was waking up to the sunrise. He decided to write some of this down later, not as one of the usual stories, just as something to help him sort it out.

Thinking of writing brought Teddy to mind, and he decided that practicing his Patronus was as good a way to break out of the solemnity as any. He went outside and sat in the Garden of the Mind, Conjuring the wisp of white smoke over and over, thinking about broom rides with dad, stories with Teddy, Lily's baby talk, Al's credulous face as he spun stories late at night. He felt homesick and low--not sad, per se, just low--but oddly, he was starting to see more of a shape despite that. He almost recognized it.

"Come on," he said to it. "What are you going to be?"

It came again, a thin head arching from a thick neck, but too indistinct to recognize before it faded. It made him think, weirdly, of Bear, back at Hogwarts, though Bear's head was perfectly normal-sized for his neck. Then he thought about Mum, laughing at his birthday party at the Roost, and then about Madam Maxime, fighting the sirens.

He frowned and thought about that shape. Something about those three things.

He couldn't qutie bring it together in his head, but his mind seemed to be clearing a little.

"There you are!"

He looked up. Scops Malfoy dropped down on the bench beside him. "You disappeared after breakfast."

"I went to talk to Madame Laurent."

"Oh." James expected to be asked why, but Scops didn't seem inclined to ask. Instead, he said, "Is that a Patronus?"

"It's trying to be."

"Dad says Patronuses are trendy."

"They are. But they're also dead useful."

"Can you teach me?"

"I can't do it properly myself." He thought about this. "Maybe teaching you would help me learn, though. I could give it a try. Do you want to start?"

"Yeah, but not right now. Celia's looking for you."

"Celia... why?"

"She has an idea about the skull. She wants you in on it."
31 comments or Leave a comment
From: severely_lupine Date: February 29th, 2012 07:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Now you've got me all curious what his Patronus is. Interesting to see more history of the war, too.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, despite actually bringing Grindelwald into the plot, we still didn't hear much about the war itself, so it's just there, waiting...
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: February 29th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

and ooh surprises!

very curious to know what James Jr. patronus is, since for the weirdest reason i'm imagining giraffe.

also excited to see what Celia discovered about the skull!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: and ooh surprises!

So's James. :D On both counts.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: February 29th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really enjoying the history aspect of this story. And Mme. Laurent is right about the transitional period needed between the acrimony of war and the tranquility of peace. Transitions aren't easy and they can be bitter, but they're a necessary part of the healing process.

Looking forward to Celia's discovery about the skull.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I've always had an interest in the aftermath era of wars, and how things like that just keep reverberating. I'm tempted to get a little Durmstrang input there, too.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 29th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh Celia solved it!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:38 am (UTC) (Link)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 29th, 2012 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
i{m liking mrs- Lauren better now.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:38 am (UTC) (Link)
So is James.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 29th, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
and young laurent is nowhere to be found.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah... where is he, anyway?
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 29th, 2012 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
the suspense is killing me!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 1st, 2012 01:03 am (UTC) (Link)
i like how you give both sides a viewpoint.

even when in cases like elodie, she's wrong

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:40 am (UTC) (Link)
In the case of the Abstentionistes, I don't know that it's a question of right and wrong so much as it's a question of beliefs and priorities. In the case of particularly Elodie, that's more a personality thing than an ideals thing. If she were a Death Eater, she'd probably be seeing evil Muggle-borns in ever corner. If she were an Auror, she'd be... Mad-Eye Moody.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 1st, 2012 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)
well at least not a lot of people like Elodie.

madam maxime helps her which is nice, but elodie still really snotty.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:41 am (UTC) (Link)
"Snotty" is about right, at least insofar as the face she shows other students goes.

Edited at 2012-03-05 01:41 am (UTC)
malinbe From: malinbe Date: March 1st, 2012 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
The history lesson is more than appreciated ;) I loved it.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. I do like stories that deal with how history impacts the present. We all like to pretend we live in a present-tense culture, but we don't.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 1st, 2012 01:46 am (UTC) (Link)
i loved the little anecdote about mme. laurent grandfather.

and how there was sort of common ground there with james, even if james dad doesn't like the fame part.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
James definitely understands what it feels like.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 1st, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
so what did celia found out?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
We'll find out in the next chapter!
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 1st, 2012 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
madame maxime has a lot of patience.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, she does.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 1st, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh Scorpius is going to learn the patronus! yay!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 5th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Hopefully! Though his dad will think it horribly trendy.
oliversgal07 From: oliversgal07 Date: March 6th, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Knit Pick

Oh an interesting story and great back story into WW2 and the Grindewald time.

James first line says "We can speak French" but he is alone, shouldn't it be "I can speak French".
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 7th, 2012 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Knit Pick

He meant, "We can speak French with each other; you don't have to speak English, and Fern doesn't have to worry about ze Frensh aggzent." ;p I guess Mme. Laurent is aware that she can speak French... that does sound odd when you think about it.
31 comments or Leave a comment