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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Seventeen: The Ghosts of Christmas Present, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Seventeen: The Ghosts of Christmas Present, pt. 1
It's Boxing Day and James is in France with the werewolves in the sanctuary and, oh yeah, his family. He's just greeted his brother, sister, and parents, who've missed him somewhat.

Sheesh, Christmas has been going on for two months!

I realized that the problem I was having here was transition--I was trying to maneuver within one chapter, when it's pretty clear that arriving at the Sanctuary was the end of a chapter, and everything I was messing around with was just wasting time and toodling away until I could get to the main theme. So, we'll just go on to the next chapter, 'kay? ;P

Table of Contents So Far

Family Christmases, James felt, were the same no matter what the situation. Mum and Dad brought a pile of presents, Al and Lily picked fights with him about several things, and Teddy (who showed up with Victoire and Mira just before lunch) told stories by the fire. That the fire was a campfire in a clearing high in the French Alps didn't seem particularly important. They were all gathered in the village square, kept magically warm under a tent, and most of the inhabitants of the town--an odd collection of werewolves, free elves, veela, vampires, and other creatures--came and went during the day.

Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione weren't there--Uncle Ron had to watch things at the office, and Aunt Hermione was taking the cousins to visit her parents in Australia--but Celia and Neil and their werewolf families were there, and Aunt Fleur's Veela grandmother (Victoire's great-grandmother, of course) was floating about and worrying about food just like Nana. (Nana and Granddad Weasley, along with Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur's family, were visiting Uncle Charlie--"Nana's convinced," Victoire said, "that she can find him a local girl if she learns enough Romanian to woo one for him.")

Much of the day was not the sort of thing that made for gripping stories. It was nonsense that, as someone or other had put it, all happy families were happy in the same way. James knew many happy families, all of them quite different from one another, and from his own. But they did have one thing in common--simple, repetitive rituals that comforted all of them and interested no one else. So--barring dark wizards, kidnapped friends, loose werewolves, and other interferences from the outside world--time in the Potter family was rarely exciting. When James had been very small, this had annoyed him, but the older he got, the more he appreciated the lengths to which Mum and Dad went to make sure that they had this small, safe oasis, about which epic poems would never be written, because it didn't have the conflict to sustain them. He could create enough excitement inside his head, and in the outside world, without coming home to it as well.

All of which was to say that the afternoon was taken up with marshmallow fights, board games, family gossip, and laughter. Lily gave him a large package which she said contained all of their adventures back at Hogwarts, but that was for later. Al talked a great deal about Moth. Mum and Dad debated the merits of the various Quidditch teams, and Teddy complained about Ministry dress codes. James and Celia told of their time at Beauxbatons. The werewolves were a little leery of James's association with an Abstentioniste, though Père Alderman had studied them in seminary (the paper had been read only by his professor, who was also his confessor, and therefore knew everything, apparently) and was interested in them academically. Everyone took the mickey out of Vivian Waters, Celia's foster mum, for pretending that she was only friends with a werewolf called Enrique Beco, with whom she'd apparently spent the last month in Mexico, learning to weave. She'd made a red poncho for Celia, and blushed to nearly match it when Celia asked her what else Enrique had been teaching her.

"All of this talk about Mexico reminds me," Alderman said. "How is Daniela adjusting to life as a judge? We met her in San Cipriano. She seemed a bit high strung."

"She fired her bodyguard," James said. "I don't know what for."

"Nothing to do with judging," Celia said. "I didn't catch all the Spanish, but it was something about following her around like she was a little girl."

"Which is something of bodyguard's job," Mum said, but without much conviction. The conversation drifted away from the tournament.

It didn't come back until after supper. The girls and women in the sanctuary went to Valeska Delacour's home for some kind of dance that men weren't invited for (James thought this unfair; Dad said it was probably safer that way), and everyone else drifted off. James stretched out on a stone bench and looked up at the stars. Teddy and Al were tending the fire, and Dad was feeding Mira a bottle.

"Has Celia been working on the second task?" Dad asked. He grinned when James looked up. "I, of course, had it completely under control by such a late date. Planned to the last contingency."

Al snorted. "Dad, that'd be a lot more believable if you hadn't been crediting Dobby with that win for the last twenty years."

"She's working on it," James said. He smiled. "The Marauders are helping from the portrait."

"They are?" Teddy asked. "How?"

"Oh, I don't know... do you solemnly swear you won't tell?"

This got a laugh, and James wished he'd thought to bring the portrait up... though he supposed that the others might be a little annoyed with him if they couldn't get into the dormitory.

"I've asked the French Ministry if they want more security," Dad said. "The second task is always running about somewhere, and I can't say I like it when there've been so many suspicious accidents."

"That's what the broadcast mirrors are for," Teddy reminded him.

"I know. But I'd rather have caught our saboteur."

"Has there been any more news since the sirens got out?" James asked. "The sort that you possibly haven't shared with Rita Skeeter?"

"Not at the British Ministry, and if the French have heard anything, they haven't shared it with us." He smiled. "Apparently, I'm paranoid and over-cautious. Mad-Eye would be so proud. What about you, James? Do you have anything? And don't try to tell me you haven't been looking."

"I've ruled out Elodie Lejeune."

"Was she a suspect?"

"Celia thought so."


"She hasn't ruled me out, though. I have been at every scene, except for the Bludger to the face at Durmstrang. And I have motive. Obviously, I don't want anyone to take your title."

"On such a strong case, I should arrest you right now."

"On the bright side," Al said, "nothing's happened. Maybe it's over. We've been talking about that. Though Lily says I shouldn’t tell you anything we've been doing, because it will spoil her journal."

"It's not over," Teddy said.

"Divination?" Dad asked.

Teddy shook his head. "Intuition. And experience."

James sat up. "Have they stopped talking about Cedric and Mr. Diggory?"

"Cedric is still being discussed," Dad said, a hint of bitterness under the words.

"The question was brought to us," Teddy said. "We had to look into it. That doesn't mean anyone actually suspects."

James looked back and forth between them, surprised. "Teddy! You didn't!"

Teddy sighed. "They don't have anyone permanently assigned to the Death Division. I'm the closest they have to an expert on revenants. It's my job to investigate if there's a reasonable suspicion. And it's not unreasonable, just... not actually true."

"But Cedric wouldn't leave a revenant!"

"Sometimes revenants are accidental. Often, when it's a murder. You don't have to be a bad person to fight against Death so hard that you end up leaving a nasty trace behind. They can influence people to do strange things. Strange things have happened. I investigated."

"How?" Al asked. "It's not like you can drop a potion on something and find out if it has a revenant."

Teddy looked at Dad. "Uncle Harry... do you mind?"

Dad shook his head, resigned. "They'll keep at you until you answer, anyway."

"I had to find Cedric," Teddy said. "Through the veil. It's a bit difficult."

"You went through the veil?" Al asked. "The one that... you know... with Sirius?"

"No, I didn't go through it. We wouldn't be chatting if I had. But there are spells, and a few other things that I can do--I quite literally can't say--that allow me to establish some kind of communication. Not always with words. And not always at all. I can't just say, 'I think I'll ring up Phineas Nigellus and Dumbledore today.' It's not anything exact."

"What is it?" Al asked.

"Have you read the Odyssey? Odysseus goes to the underworld--"

"And feeds the dead blood," James remembered.

"Right, well. I didn't do that. But it's something like that. They all crowd around, and you have to find the one you're looking for."

"How do you get to the underworld?"

"It's not literal, Al," Dad said.

Teddy didn't look like he entirely agreed with this, but didn't argue, either. "I didn't take a ship across the wine dark sea, if that's what you're asking. I was inside the Department of Mysteries the whole time, and I promise, it looked very dull from the outside."

This did not diminish James's interest, or Al's. Even Dad, who James knew was uncomfortable with how closely Teddy dealt with death at work, was showing guarded curiosity.

"So, go on," James said. "Tell us the ghost story."
13 comments or Leave a comment
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: July 29th, 2012 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

This put a smile on my face

I really missed the story. (and how are you Fern?)

the reflection about drama-less family life was nice, and it makes me happy Harry was lucky to have that for himself and his kids after the harship that was his younger life.

also love how everyone sort of seem to not-so-subtly want to help with the 2nd task.

but now I'm Dying of curiosity to see how Teddy managed to interact with those beyond the veil.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 30th, 2012 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: This put a smile on my face

Ditto, ditto, ditto!

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 31st, 2012 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: This put a smile on my face

I'm okay. And yes, the Triwizard tradition of "helping" the champion is alive and well. ;p
vytresna From: vytresna Date: July 30th, 2012 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Have I mentioned how much I love your Unspeakables? Actually I don't think I have, but yeah - the indefinite mysticism in a relatively clear-cut magical world is wonderfully executed.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 31st, 2012 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I just really liked the DoM in OotP (not the show trials, but the actual department that Harry and co trashed). It looked so interesting.
mrs_norris_mous From: mrs_norris_mous Date: July 30th, 2012 08:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 31st, 2012 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 31st, 2012 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)
talking with those beyond the veil? i'm hooked.

and judging by comments, you have more of this flesh-out unspeakables material, where can I read it?

~Alex Wells
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 31st, 2012 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I haven't written that much. I think the comments are just about the sort of general way Teddy is, and the things he and Maddie have done (in DM, etc).
From: Preya Jagat Date: August 1st, 2012 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's wonderful to have you back, Fern (hugs).

It's the little things that make me *squee*, such as mentioning Hermione's parents in Australia and Molly's ongoing quest to find Charlie a wife. It's great to see Teddy, Al and Lily again. I'm happy that you're back on a roll!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 11th, 2012 04:32 am (UTC) (Link)
You write so well. Do you have any original fiction published?

OK, compliments aside, I almost never read next generation fiction. I usually HATE it. I've enjoyed the Teddy stories and now I'm enjoying reading James Potter. Your descriptions of family life are believable. I can see & hear these people. They are coherent with what we saw in canon, not melodramatic, just wonderful!

I hope you will be continuing this story soon!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 25th, 2013 08:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hello. I discovered your work a couple of weeks ago and have since worked my way through almost all of your Harry Potter fics. I just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed them. The world you've created is wonderful. I'm not usually a fan of next gen fic but yours is the exception. I don't know what the hope is of your ever continuing this fic, but I hope you haven't given up on the Harry Potter fandom entirely because you write it so well.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 26th, 2013 09:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I do need some time off. I was starting to repeat myself. I'll always love the Potterverse, though, and I really do love this story. It just collapsed on me. At the moment, I'm just enjoying having a fresh voice and style to play with, but it's not a rejection of HP fandom!
13 comments or Leave a comment