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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Fourteen: Yule Tidings, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Fourteen: Yule Tidings, pt. 2
James's life is looking up a little bit. He's able to get over the awkwardness of Celia's rejection, largely because Lily sends him the Keys to the Castle--the Marauders' control spells for the Map--and his friend Michael was able to get a tourist map of the Whispering Caves to apply the spells to. This puts him back in the frame of mind to help Celia win. At the same time, Elodie decides that she was a bit curt with him (she's a little clueless about how she comes off) and says that she'll go to the Yule Ball with him if he reads Carrie and still wants to be her date. He does. Knowing James, he probably thinks it would be exciting if she suddenly started throwing things around telepathically. ;p

When the Beauxbatons decorations go up, Gabrielle finds him and says that she'd like to have him over for supper, and invites him (along with Scops, who happened to be there). She has just met them at the gate in a hippogriff-drawn sleigh. It's not snowy enough for a sleigh, but she's not actually planning to go overland, so it doesn't matter.

Table of Contents So Far

The hippogriff pulling the sleigh wasn't the old Delacour family hippogriff, Mirabelle--a beautiful white mare who James had met on several occasions. This one was a roan, and seemed more than a little excitable, as younger hippogriffs tended to.

"Is this one of Buckbeak's foals?" he asked as Aunt Gabrielle steered the sleigh through the air, following the path of the Sentinelle.

"Yes," she said. "We call her Knifeclaw."

It took James a moment to notice the oddness of the sentence. He'd got so used to swithcing back and forth between French and English that he almost didn't recognize that, though Aunt Gabrielle was speaking French, 'Knifeclaw' was said in perfectly decent English. "You gave her an English name?"

"Her papa is English, isn't he?" Aunt Gabrielle smiled. "If an English family in Cornwell can have a daughter called Victoire because she has a French mother, why can't a family of French hippogriffs have a daughter called Knifeclaw because she has an English father, eh?"

"That's fair," Scops said. "And I'd reckon that the silent 'k' gives the French as much trouble as Victoire's name gives us."

Aunt Gabrielle raised an eyebrow. "I didn't know you had trouble with 'Victoire.' Isn't 'repertoire' used as a word in English? It's the same."

"Yes," James said, "but nobody knows how to spell it."

Knifeclaw interrupted the conversation by taking a sudden swerve, forcing Aunt Gabrielle to take a tighter rein on her--"She's just learning"--and leaving Scops and James to enjoy the flight over the villages of Alpes Fantômes, early evening tourchlight flickering in the darkening sky. The Sentinelle snaked between the mountains, its villages spread out on its flood plain like scattered embers from the hearths that were Ste. Marthe in the south and Beauxbatons in the north. The tarasque statue he'd seen from the train had been bedecked with glimmering garlands and a jaunty hat. As they flew over a farm, an Abraxan came up and flew beside them for a few miles before turning back to its barn.

Scops sighed. "I always like it in the air. Everything's smaller in the air."

James wasn't sure what to say that, so he just pointed out an amusing display of fairies among the grapevines below.

Just north of Ste. Marthe, Aunt Gabrielle veered to the east, toward the mountains, and started to bring the sleigh down to the ground. A little stone cottage with a rose garden (blooming magically despite the season) glowed in the foothills, and a man came out of it, one little girl sitting on his hip and another running happily ahead of them. Aunt Gabrielle guided the sleigh down onto a small, flat area, and had barely stopped it when the bigger of the two girls came bounding in.

"Maman! We have dinner almost ready. I've made the bread, and Papa cooked the meat."

"Did anyone remember our vegetables?" Aunt Gabrielle asked.

"Clara made them."

"Well, that's good." Aunt Gabrielle kissed the little girl's cheek, then turned her around. "Manon, I want you to meet James Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, from Hogwarts. James is Aunt Fleur's nephew. James, this is my daughter, Manon. She led the way out of the sleigh, to the others. The man kissed her cheek, the offered his hand to shake James's.

"I am Nicolas DuLac," he said. "My sister-in-law speaks of you often." He boosted the girl on his hip, who promptly hid her face. "The little one is Clara. She's shy."

"She's only five," Manon explained with an air of hard-earned wisdom. "We must be patient with her." She preened. "I am six."

"I have a little sister, too," James said. "I'm afraid I've never been very patient."

"You should do better."

"I'll keep that in mind." James pointed to Scops and said, "Mr. DuLac, Clara, this is my friend Scorpius Malfoy, from Hogwarts."

"Scops," Scops muttered. "Everyone calls me that."

"Your name seems familiar," Nicolas said. "Have we met?"

The light was reddish from the torches, but James thought Scops's face got considerably more red. "Er..."

James broke in, manufacturing a long-suffering sigh. "Yeah, Scops Malfoy... everyone always knows him. I'll tell you, it's hard standing in his shadow."

"Thanks, James," Scops said, then looked at Nicolas. "You probably know my name from my father. He, er... was quite active in the war. On the wrong side."

Nicolas nodded, interested. "Well, then we have something in common. My father was sieging the Sanctuary village when I met Gabrielle. She was trying to sneak food in." He smiled at her. "We didn't get along quite as well then. In fact, she tried to kill me. Why don't we go inside? Supper is waiting."

He led the way into the house, which was small, but warm and cozy. Vines grew up around wooden support posts. Aunt Gabrielle noticed James looking at them. "They're a gift from Victoire. I like having green things in the house. It reminds me of being at Grandmère's."

Everyone gathered around the table, where a roast of beef sat in a ring of potatoes and vegetables. Manon proudly presented a loaf of bread, and Nicolas broke it ceremonially and passed it around. Manon promptly started building a fort with hers.

"Er," Scops started, pushing around some olive oil with his bread, "I didn't know there was a siege going on here." He looked up. "Oh, I'm sorry, bad dinner conversation. I do know better."

"Don't be silly," Nicolas said. "I opened the door. Voldemort didn't care to have allies suddenly appearing for Dumbledore's people during the last year of the war. He sent his loyal followers, and a few Inferi, to make sure that support didn't arrive."

James frowned. "But everyone talks about it like it's just our war!"

"We were not organized. There was no official position from the government. As we didn't officially take sides, many people feel quite comfortable claiming that it was not 'our war.' The same is true in Germany and Russia. And other places. He had followers. In the States, they shut down the entire Floo network and interfered with Apparition, as I understand it. And there was a great threat here to the tunnel that runs beneath the sea. Gabrielle's parents took part in defending that. That is why Britain seemed so isolated in the fight, despite her many allies."

"I always just reckoned everyone just thought it was our problem," James said.

"There was a bit of that as well," Aunt Gabrielle said. "Shall we pass the meat around?"

The rest of the meal began to make its way around the table. Nicolas served the little girls, who were too small to handle the platter. He talked as he served. "My father believed completely, you know. In Voldemort's vision"

"Mine, too," Scops said. "At first. He didn't like it as much when it started to happen."

"He's talked about it with you?"

"Yes. Quite a lot."

"That's good. Some lie, you know. I think my father would have lied to me, if I hadn't been old enough to remember the truth. He's ashamed. And there's a long tradition of it. I believe in England, several claimed Imperius?"

"After both wars," Scops said. "Do you have any trouble here, with people who remember your father?"

Nicolas snorted. "They are too busy trying to pretend that it was never their war. Would you like more carrots? Clara cut many more carrots. She'll be a great Potion brewer, like her mother, someday."

This was a clear cue to change the direction of the conversation, and James and Scops both obeyed it. Manon wanted to know about London, and Clara finally warmed up enough to ask about the animals that were kept at Hogwarts (she was especially impressed that a herd of free centaurs had taken up residence in the Forbidden Forest). They also wanted to hear English, which they thought sounded funny. James taught them to say the old tongue-twister about happy hoppy hippogriffs.

Aunt Gabrielle told that that James liked telling stories, and cajoled him into telling one after dinner, as they sat around the hearth and stared at the fairies that decorated the Christmas garlands. James made one up on the spot that involved a centaur, a Veela, and a treasure hidden in the woods. The girls liked it. He helped put them to bed, then Aunt Gabrielle called for Knifeclaw.

Nicolas waited with them while Aunt Gabrielle got the sleigh hitched to the hippogriff. Scops said, "I'm sorry if I spoiled dinner, bringing all of that up."

"Not at all," Nicolas said. "We speak of it freely, so the girls will never be shocked by it."

Scops nodded, as if he understood this quite well, which James supposed he did.

When the sleigh was ready, they got on board, and took to the skies again. "I should have arranged for an overnight visit," Aunt Gabrielle said as they headed north. "Perhaps next time. Did you enjoy the evening?"

Scops and James both assured her that they had, and James thought it was true enough--he couldn't think of any one thing that had made him happy to be there, but sometimes, it just felt nice to eat around a table with people who weren't just exactly his own age.

She let them off at the gate and waited for them to be invited in, then took off back to her home. As James and Scops walked between the Gardens of the Feet, James said, "I didn't know that Aunt Gabrielle's husband was like, er... well, that is to say..."

"Like me?" Scops shrugged. "It's fine. Do you really reckon his dad would have lied? I mean, wouldn't that be a bit hard to keep up?"

"Well, between the wars, your, er... your grandfather..."

Scops sighed. "True enough. Stupid, though. Race you back to the train?"

He didn't wait for an answer, and took off like he was on a Firebolt. James caught up with him part way, and they were neck and neck by the time Robards opened the door for them.
13 comments or Leave a comment
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: May 20th, 2012 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I really like your Scorpius. It make sense to have him be a bit self-effacing.

Oh, and James Sirius FTW, always!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 20th, 2012 05:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I do like them, and one of the things about James being well-adjusted is that he can kind of absorb other people's angst.
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: May 20th, 2012 03:13 pm (UTC) (Link)


The story of Gabrielle's husband is quite fascinating *they way they met I found highly amusing for some odd reason- it seems the stuff of shakespearean plays*

interesting fleshing out on how the Voldemort War affected the other countries.

(confused thought- when it said- He had followers. In the States, they shut down the entire Floo network and interfered with Apparition, as I understand it.

how can voldemort followers shut down the floo/apparition of an entire country?

but this is really getting fascinating
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 22nd, 2012 05:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wow

They probably shut down the major egress points and made it difficult to Apparate. (Trying to think of any good reason that there wouldn't have been a whole lot of magical help pouring in!)

starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: May 20th, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

one other thing....

i got a bit confused on something else-

Nicolas father was the one supporting voldemort and nicolas was just tagging along? or what?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 22nd, 2012 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: one other thing....

He was younger than the others--probably Gabrielle's age or even younger than she was--and has the problem that Draco had early on. And yeah, he came up around the siege line with food and supplies. Which Gabrielle tried stealing from him.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 21st, 2012 07:55 am (UTC) (Link)
"happy hoppy hippogriffs"
3 Hs in a row? James sure has ambition if he's trying to get French people to pronounce this right! :D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 22nd, 2012 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, that is a little sadistic, isn't it? On the other hand, if they master it, they'll feel very, very accomplished!
sidealong From: sidealong Date: May 24th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
THANKS for all this wonderful writing. What a treat to be out of library books, and come over here and catch up with James and company. Loving the story.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2012 05:58 am (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome! James writes much slower than Teddy (he's less like me), but I do like his less introspective nature.
qslow From: qslow Date: May 28th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely chapter! Like James, I enjoyed seeing people out of school, and Scops is always a treat.

Two 'catches' for this chapter:
1) "evening tourchlight flickering in the darkening sky" should be torchlight (without the u)
2) the mention of the tunnel between England and France is anachronistic as the Voldemort War ended in 1981, while the Chunnel wasn't built till 1988 (and opened in 1994). I suppose people could have been defending the Channel ferries, though.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 28th, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was talking about the Voldemort war that ended in 1998. :P
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 18th, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
fantastic worldbuilding.

Alex Wells
13 comments or Leave a comment