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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Fifteen: On the Ball, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Fifteen: On the Ball, pt. 1
It's time for the Yule Ball!

James's date, Elodie, is acting friendlier now that her defenses are (somewhat) down. At a winter picnic, they talked about who might be sabotaging things. Elodie introduced James to the old groundskeeper, Casier, who is really old--he in fact worked for Grindelwald, and is only there as one of Madam Maxime's "second chances."

Madam Maxime has booked the band Enchantress (Teddy readers... that's the one that Kelly Sweet, Donzo's girlfriend, is lead singer of) for the Ball.

Table of Contents So Far

Celia timed her return to coincide with Dani Villanueva's arrival, which deflected the press asking questions about her date, or anything else. The circus surrounding Dani had got even more active. James didn't know why, as he hadn't been reading the foreign press, but apparently, a Russian newspaper had produced an exposé that implied she'd cheated in the tasks at San Cipriano in order to become their champion at the Quintamage. When she arrived at Beauxbatons with her beau--a burly young man who looked suspiciously like he was actually her bodyguard--the throng of reporters nearly climbed the front gate trying to follow her. The next morning, Christmas Eve, Madam Maxime announced that she was increasing protections against the press, and asked students not to cooperate with reporters who had entered the school grounds illegally. At the head table, Dani looked embarrassed.

"Of course she's embarrassed," Celia said that afternoon, while she, James, and Scops were crouched outside the Cave of Whispers, trying to charm the tourist map that Snout had found. "They don't need to make such a fuss over the other judges. James, try that presentation charm from Lupin's list--Marcam Videtur. I'll do Potter's identity spell, and Malfoy, try that finding spell, Reperio." On the last, they all had an unspoken agreement not to mention that they were using Wormtail's spells. Unfortunately, he'd done the ones that found items, and--according the Granddad--worked with the identity spells to locate people, so it was rather necessary. To James's disappointment, they woulnd't need most of Sirius's protective work.

They each did the spells, but nothing on the map changed. Celia bit her lip. "I'm going in. Tell me if I show up."

"You can't go in alone," Scops reminded her.

"Just the very first few steps. I should appear"--she pointed to a spot on the map--"right about here."

She made the experiment, but no comforting dot appeared.

"We've only done three of the interlocked spells," James told her when she got back. "The portrait said they'd done eight by the time they got it to really work."

"Right. I suppose I just reckoned that the important ones your Granddad told me would be enough--I thought maybe they hadn't really needed everything they did before it woke up."

"Some things just need quite a lot of magic applied," Scops said.

"I know. I was just hoping to finish up early. I have to call Neil and remind him that we're doing an opening dance."

"Neil!" James shook his head. "Celia, you're a champion! You could have gone with anyone at all."

"Your point being?"

"Well, isn't Neil... something of a stand-by?"

"Yes, the Head Boy of Hogwarts is a space filler. And I certainly wouldn't want to be seen with one of his sort." Celia rolled her eyes. "Honestly, James, whether you've ever believed it or not, I rather like Neil. And we can't all go with hostile Abstentionistes."

"She's not being hostile anymore. At least not to me."

"I'm going with Emilie Blanc," Scops offered helpfully. "If anyone's interested in critiquing."

"Oh, she's totally unacceptable," Celia said. "As I have no idea who she is, and I must approve. Bring her to the train to meet Mother before the dance, won't you dear?" She pinched his cheek. He grinned.

They put in one more set of spells, which didn't seem to be enough, then headed back to the palace for dinner. The wood nymphs were sounding a bit bored with the whole ordeal of Christmas now.

Dani was sitting at the high table. Robards and Madam Maxime hadn't arrived yet. Laurent was studiously ignoring her, and Shevchenko kept casting troubled glances in her direction. Celia started to get up, then sat back down and said, "I suppose I can't very well ask her to sit with us, can I? That would look terrible."

"How long have you known her?" James asked. "Because you never mentioned it until after the competition."

"I didn't know her very well," Celia said. "Why would I mention an odd girl I met with Père Alderman and Mum Viv? I meet quite a lot of odd girls--and other odd people--when we travel. Do you want to hear about the boy in Honduras who was allergic to hippogriff feathers?"

Scops frowned. "She was already in school before the competition, then. The rumors can't be right. The ones about how she only got there for the tournament."

"I doubt her getting there had a single thing to do with the tournament," Celia said. "She comes from up-country somewhere. It's not as organized as Hogwarts, and they weren't sure how she was going to attend, if I recall. Please pass the salt."

"Even if she did just go for the tournament," James said, "she still won it fair and square. I don't see why anyone cares when she got to school." He broke his bread and buttered a piece of it. "Er... speaking of people who have suspicions cast on them, Elodie introduced me to someone this weekened..."

He told them about Casier, the gentil who was Beauxbatons' groundskeeper.

"He could have reformed," Scops said tentatively.

Celia shook her head. "Even if he didn't, I can't think what the gentils would have had against the Triwizard. I mean, at least before I ended up in the mix--they wouldn't think much of a werewolf champion--and it all started before I was involved."

"Not if we're only counting what's happened since we got here, which is why you suspected--" James caught himself. It wouldn't do to use the words "suspected" and "Elodie" in a sentence together, even if they were speaking English. She didn't need the attention that would draw.

"Right. But let's say he was terribly upset--he's still a Squib. Though why a Squib would be a gentil is beyond me."

"Grindelwald said that everyone had a proper place," Scops said quietly. "And a proper place that happens to be crawling on the ground to serve wizards might have felt better than having no place at all, which was what the rest of the world offered." He looked up defensively. "At least that's what my dad said when I asked him something like that about Voldemort's people."

James couldn't entirely process this, so he changed the subject and did a Muffliato Charm. "I still don't like Laurent," he said, pointing subtly at the table.

"I don't either, but it was his father's dream," Celia said. "I can't see him doing anything to destroy it."

"Maybe he didn't like his father," James suggested.

"Personally," Scops said, "I think it was the wood nymphs. They've finally had it."

"What?" James asked.

Scops sighed. "Don't the pair of you imagine that actual law enforcement sorts are looking into this? We've had dealings with them, and they seem quite on the ball enough not to need a pack of teenagers to solve their cases for them. And speaking of balls, everyone's saying that Enchantress is already in the country. They've been playing at little cafés--surprise concerts."

James took the hint and broke the Muffliato charm, and switched tracks entirely, wondering how well he was expected to know how to dance. After supper, the torches in the dining chamber were extinguished, and Madam Maxime led the school in candle-lit carol singing. When they left the palace, James imagined for a moment that it was snowing, but it was just a cool rain, reflecting the garden lights.

In Talitha's portrait, the Marauders and Talitha had donned Christmas hats, which had apparently been found in a painting at Teddy's and brought over by Sirius and Lupin. Talitha was singing the Carol of the Bells in a very pretty soprano voice while she swang, her white dress billowing in the endless summer breeze. The Hogwarts contingent joined their party for an hour or two, then everyone went to bed.

James woke up just after dawn. Outside, either the weather had got genuinely odd or someone had Conjured real snow on the Beauxbatons grounds. The light coming through the window had the soft, fragile light of snow reflections, and the usual sounds that bounced around were pleasantly muted.

A pile of packages was sitting at the end of his bed, and he opened them. Teddy had got him a collection of novels by the man who'd written Elodie's book (James had liked it enough to tell Teddy about it). Victoire had sent him a boutonnière for the evening made from a bud of the Lionbloom, with an admonition to throw it out immediately if Elodie had thought to buy him one. Uncle George said he meant to send Wheezes, but they were apparently against the rules at Beauxbatons--"How are you surviving, mate?"--so he had instead sent along a board game that, when opened, would be life sized, which he reckoned would be an amusing way to pass the time with friends. Nana Weasley had made him a jumper in Beauxbatons blue, which he actually rather liked. This was also from Marie, who had helped her with all of the knitting this year. There were small presents from aunts and uncles, and a photo album from his dormitory-mates, showing everything they'd been doing this year. They'd taken a board and stuck a picture of James's head on it, taking him to Quidditch games and Hogsmeade weekends and even a few detentions. From Mum and Dad, there was only a letter, reminding him that they planned to meet him in the Sanctuary village on Boxing Day, when presents could be duly exchanged.

The others woke up shortly, and there were many comparisons among presents. The photo album was a great hit, though it seemed to make everyone a bit homesick.

The day passed in a kind of dream-time, neither slow nor fast. James settled in to read for a long while beside the window, in the pleasant, snowy white light. The other boys had gone outside. He could hear the girls fretting over their robes and hair, but it was distant, behind the closed door. By the time the light was fading, he felt satisfyingly calm, and he got out his dress robes and put them on without nervousness. His hair was behaving itself reasonably well when he checked it in the mirror. He thought, It's my first date, and it didn't really bring any sense of panic. He thought he was doing quite well.

Until he got to the palace and found Elodie waiting for him, resplendent in white.
15 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 31st, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)


I get first crack at commenting?

Loving the story, as always.

I wonder, though, how James can find an afternoon of reading Stephen King relaxing.

Speaking of which, no wonder Elodie is kind of nervous about her school mates messing up her dress.

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2012 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Gosh!

I find an afternoon of reading relaxing no matter what! ;p In fact, I just finished a relaxing afternoon of Stephen King reading (The Wind in the Keyhole... brand new; the man sucks at retiring).
nevrafire From: nevrafire Date: May 31st, 2012 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
omg so excited!!!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2012 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 31st, 2012 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
For a moment, I blanked on Neil--and then I realized he must be staying with Evie and Nate in France during the holidays. It's nice that Celia gets to go to the Yule Ball with someone she's always kind of fancied, even if she decides they're better off as friends. And looking forward to James's first date--I trust he'll be more attentive to Elodie than Harry and Ron were to the Patil twins!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2012 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)
They transformed together over the weekend. I think that what James sees is that Celia flits away from Neil all the time, gets frustrated with his less than adventurous side, and always seems more engaged with her life. What Celia probably feels is more like Neil is her anchor, and she can go anywhere and be anything... and know that whatever it is, Neil is still there, holding her steady. I don't know if they end up together or not--I don't know if they think of each other romantically--but James is very unobservant about Celia's other relationships.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 1st, 2012 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)
seeing them try to replicate the marauders map ought to be interesting

~Alex Wells
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2012 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
It probably won't be able to do all the same nifty stuff, but hopefully, they'll get the hang of it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 1st, 2012 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
mark my words, it was the ground keeper.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2012 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
We'll see...
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 1st, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
can you believe I'm looking forward to how you write a yule ball?

better than half of the people who do it, i bet!

The Bookkeeper (from pottersues)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2012 05:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't believe I'm looking forward to writing it. There'll be magical roses and everyone will find their forever soul-mate and Madam Maxime will declare her love for Hagrid and there'll be a chorus of fairies to declaim it all! And it turns out that Snape wasn't dead. He's totally hiding out at Beauxbatons, where Lily, who's also not dead, cured him of Nagini's venom, and they will dance on air!!!1!!!!1!

Or, you know, not.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 2nd, 2012 01:25 pm (UTC) (Link)


I enjoyed Celia and Scops' exchange about their dates for the ball. He's a really nice kid, I like what you've done with him.

I love Elodie's dress- great way to end the segment!
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: June 3rd, 2012 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)


i have a feeling i'm going to really like this chapter.

feel sorry about Dani and I have my fingers crossed that she isn't involved in the sabotage thing- or guilty of any of those accusations.

*facepalm* James you're great but taking a leaf out of your uncle Ron's anecdotes from fouth year on how to reach about your best friend who is a girl- getting a date is not a good idea.

i'm nostalgic for hogwarts, but i Cant wait till next section
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 18th, 2012 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
so you're exploring the idea that all wizard school caretakers are squibs, or just coincidence?

Alex Wells
15 comments or Leave a comment