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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Eighteen: Chemin de Crasson, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Eighteen: Chemin de Crasson, pt. 1
I think it was in On Writing that Stephen King advised writers who forgot a bit of trivia to fudge it. Something like, "If you can't remember the state capital of Delaware, just write Des Moines and fix it later." I should take this advice. I went on a crazy search for... longer than I will admit... trying to find the origins of names of Belgian villages, so I could make one up that would sound authentic. I couldn't find any pattern, and most of the names weren't explained. Long story short, I noticed one called Houx, which means "Holly," so I went with the botanical theme. Hopefully, Ellébore (Hellebore) is reasonable, but if not, let's just pretend I wrote "Des Moines" as a space filler and am just waiting to get the right one. ;p

Teddy has finished telling the tale of visiting with the dead, initially to speak to Cedric, but while he is there, the vision is taken over by a gloating, malicious spirit who he doesn't recognize.

As he finishes, James's questions are interrupted by an owl, whose message is addressed to him in Elodie's handwriting.

Table of Contents So Far

"Letter from your girlfriend?" Al asked.

"Not my girlfriend. I just took her to the ball." James detached the envelope, affecting a casual air though he could feel a blush rising in his face. He opened it--oh, so very casually--and took out the letter.

Dear James, she had written in English. She'd crossed out a few English pleasantries, like "Happy Christmas" and "How are you?" then switched to French.

This is embarrassing, she wrote. My father is terribly impressed that I went on a date. He's wandered around all day like he invented the whole idea of having been on dates, and I think he believes he was the one who danced with you last night or some such thing.

At any rate, he has been loudly bemoaning the fact that he does not have a photograph of the momentous occasion in my life during which I appeared something like other Beauxbatons girls, and did not make a fool of myself. Heaven knows, such things have to be properly preserved, and I apparently can't be trusted to take the picture myself at school. Apparently, he searched the
Voyant this morning to see if there was a picture in the newspaper, but you and I were apparently successful at evading the cameras. At least until now.

I'm afraid that my father is quite insistent that I invite you to come visit us in Ellébore tomorrow afternoon. I know he would like your family to come as well, but is somewhat intimidated at the thought of inviting Harry Potter to our little house. I am not easily intimidated, and I know you were looking forward to your family's visit, so I happily invite them to come along, should you be masochistic enough to subject yourself to this sort of thing.

So it isn't an issue--I know you and they may be uncomfortable with our religious strictures--I won't leave you guessing about the "rules." We expect no one other than ourselves to follow rules banning magic use, but it is typically not done in the home. There is no prohibition on people outside the faith carrying wands, and we have many visitors who don't disarm themselves. We do not prohibit talk about magic, and live in a magical village. My parents won't try to convert anyone, and neither will my brother, though I may have to bind and gag him (he's going through a phase).

As you can see, we use owls. If you're mad enough to come--and I will admit, I would not personally object--please send this one back with an answer. If you come, we live on Chemin de Crasson. You won't be able to miss it.

Your friend,
Elodie Lejeune

By the time he'd finished translating this for Dad and Al (Teddy would have understood the French, sort of), Mum, Lily, and Victoire had come back from Valeska's. They looked like they'd been having quite a good time. Teddy and Victoire unfortunately could not come; she had a meeting with a wizard looking for a crop of Singing Snapdragons and he had to write a report on the properties of a grain of sand (no explanation was offered for this). Mum, Dad, Al, and Lily, on the other hand, were all keen to go, so James dashed off a letter accepting the invitation, hoping that she was right about her father wanting everyone there.

They spent the night with Vivian and Celia (the latter of whom rolled her eyes soundly at their choice of destinations), and set out the next morning with Gabrielle in Knifeclaw's sleigh, which took them to Châteauvert-des-Fées, a little wizarding village a bit upriver from Beauxbatons. From there, after saying goodbye to Gabrielle, they took the Floo to Ellébore.

"I wonder why they can take the Floo," Lily asked while they waited their turn. "Or did your friend take a Muggle train?"

"Well, it's hard to get into Alpes-Fantômes without magic. I think they're allowed while they're at Beauxbatons, learning." He hoped this was right, and had a moment's panic that the day would consist of the Lejeunes being pestered for details about how they functioned without Summoning Charms.

He stepped into the fireplace first, and came out into a long stone hall, decorated for Christmas. A bored-looking witch sat at a table alone, and he approached her as the rest of the family came through. "I'm looking for Chemin de Crasson," he said.

She sighed wearily. "Outside, up the hill into the trees. You'll see the brewers' signs."


"You aren't going for their beers? They're famous for their beers. Everyone comes for their beers."

"I'm visiting a friend."

The witch seemed confused by this, but by now, Dad had spun out of the fireplace and managed to knock over a large candelabra, which annoyed the witch until she realized exactly who she was about to yell at. They didn't escape until Dad gave her an autograph.

Outside the building, which was made of a light colored stone and covered with ivy, they found a narrow path that led up through the woods. Signs were, indeed, posted along the way, as they passed a handful of houses. As they reached the top of the low rise, a pub had built directly across the path--more light stone and ivy--with the words "Chemin de Crasson" molded into an iron arch above the passage that led through the building. James could see into the pub, where many tourists with backpacks were drinking dark beer.

When they crossed through, the world seemed to change, not just because they entered what seemed to be a very small village square. At first, James didn't notice what it was, but everyone else stopped as well, looking puzzled.

"The signs don't move," Lily said. "It's like being in a Muggle village."

"Well, that makes sense," Dad said. "James, do you know where your friend lives?"

He was saved from admitting that he hadn't thought to ask this specifically when Elodie herself appeared from between two stone houses. Her look of narrow suspicion was back, and she kept glancing nervously at the pub as she approached them. James went up to meet her, and led her back to the family.

"Elodie, these are my parents, Harry and Ginny, and my brother and sister, Al and Lily. Everyone, this is Elodie."

"Bonjour, Elodie," Mum said. "Comment allez-vous?"

Elodie smiled and said, "It's all right, Mrs. Potter, I speak English. So do my parents."

"Oh, I'm very glad to hear that," Mum said. "I've more or less just exhausted my French."

She glanced at the pub again, then said, "Come, I'll take you to my house. They drink too much there. Cause trouble." She tilted her head toward a church on the left side of the square, where the windows had been blasted in and boarded over.

"How long has it been like that?" Dad asked as Elodie led them down the alley she'd come from.

"The gentils causing trouble? Since Grindelwald. Maybe since Crasson. We're strange. We attract attention."

"I meant the broken window."

"Oh. A year, I think. It was a very pretty stained glass window. We're still raising gold to have it replaced."

James bit his tongue on the obvious point--it could be repaired magically as easily as it had been broken, and even if they didn’t do it themselves, the person who broke it should have been made to fix it.

They turned a corner, and a man came out, grinning so broadly that at first, James didn't even notice his resemblance to Elodie. He came to Dad and said, "'arry Potter! I am honored! Elodie, why didn't you tell us that you'd see them coming?"

"I couldn’t find you. I thought I'd catch them before they got lost." She smiled. "This is my papa, Jean Lejeune. Papa, these are all of the Potters." She introduced Mum, then James, Lily, and Al.

Mr. Lejeune shook James's hand solemnly, then grinned again and said, "I am so 'appy you brought Elodie to the dance. She 'ad said she was not going. Ridiculous! Now, come inside, come inside. Meet Louise, she is hurrying to finish lunch..."

Still talking, he led them into the house. It was a comfortable country house that reminded James vaguely of the Burrow, and it seemed strange to think of the often sour and suspicious Elodie coming from such a place.

Whatever Mrs. Lejeune was cooking smelled delicious, and Mr. Lejeune got everyone settled comfortably in the living room. Dad offered to help with lunch, and got a laugh when, in response to a careful reminder that they didn't cook magically, he told them that he'd spent his childhood cooking Muggle style for the Dursleys. Mrs. Lejeune didn't take his help then, but said she would much enjoy it when it came to clean-up.

"I suppose it's too late to pretend I don't know how to do that," Dad said with exaggerated regret, which brought more laughter, this time from Mum and Al and Lily. (Dad tended to clean Muggle style at home whenever Kreacher would let him get away with it.)

In fact, everyone was getting along capitally, but James felt a little awkward, like he ought to be somehow directing things, as everyone was here because of his date. Elodie looked like she felt the same way, but everyone was soundly ignoring both of them.

He let his eyes wander around the room, noting the still photographs, the shelves of religious texts--apparently, the Abstentionistes were bears for studying--the piano against the wall, a harp, other things. But as he looked around, he noticed that things seemed to be missing. An empty shelf here, a glass box with nothing in it there. There was even a spot above the piano where it was obvious that something had hung for many years, but was now gone.

He looked at Elodie. She caught the glance, but didn't explain.
18 comments or Leave a comment
malinbe From: malinbe Date: August 11th, 2012 11:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Suspicious, isn't it?

Once again, I wake up on a Saturday morning with the dreaded prospect of having to go to uni... and find something fun to bright my morning. So thanks for that!

I'm loving the scenery, btw. I too am the sort to waste an entire evening set aside to writing searching the internet extensively for little details. It's usually worth it in the end!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's fun, anyway, but it did postpone the writing a lot!
mickawber_fics From: mickawber_fics Date: August 11th, 2012 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I spent a day once researching English marital law during the Middle Ages for a fic. I think "Des Moines" (or its canon law equivalent) would have worked fine.

But I love Ellébore, which manages to be both quaint and more than a bit disturbing! And I love Elodie acting like an awkward teen--her letter was wonderful.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
She's got her prickly side, anyway... I imagine being needled about her first date would put it in high form.
mickawber_fics From: mickawber_fics Date: August 12th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hee. I would imagine so, yes.

Perhaps it's only because I have two teenage daughters that I find it rather... endearing.
allie_meril From: allie_meril Date: August 11th, 2012 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a fascinating corner to the wizarding world! Or, er, rather a step outside of it? Hm, what are those blank spaces? Very curious...

I love catching up on this in big chunks. I lose track for awhile, and have to go back and reread a little to refresh my memory. Always so enjoyable to see the new things you've written for us. :)

(Aside: Hey Fern, have you ever considered putting your fics on AO3? I lost track during Needle's Eye, and I'd love to be able to have .pdf or ebook copies of your novel-length stuff.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2012 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I started writing fanfic, I was really a little crazy in how many places I put the stories. I like having them in the single place that I control, so that if I need to make changes, I only need to worry, really, about HB, which I have direct access to.
allie_meril From: allie_meril Date: August 12th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Totally understandable!

I was that way as well, at the start, and now AO3 happens to be my "toss everything up there" place.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: August 12th, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Elodie really does improve on acquaintance, though she may always be prickly. Interesting to see that her family has secrets too. Looking forward to finding out what they are and whether they have anything to do with the Tournament.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's in the next part. Plus, I have to remember to put in her "going through a phase" brother, since I forgot I'd left him in the letter!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2012 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi Fern,
It's nice to read you again! I've been away for a few weeks and came home to 4 new segments -- that's a nice surprise! And I can see I'm back just in time for some more French-proofing. ;p
- Ellébore is fine as a village name (can be spelt either with or without an H -- both spellings are correct).
- Chemin d'Crasson => the word "de" is only shortened with an apostrophe when the following word starts with a vowel, e.g. Chemin d'Ellébore, but Chemin de Crasson. (This is for a phonetic reason: it would be difficult to pronounce "de Ellébore", so we drop the E from the preposition.)
- Châteauvert-du-Fée => "fée" is a feminine noun, so the village would be called Châteauvert-de-la-Fée (or Châteauvert-des-Fées if several fairies are involved).
- And finally, not only did Ginny exhaust her French knowledge in a few words but she actually made a mistake: "bonjour" is written in one word when it means "hello". (Didn't she ever play against a French Quidditch team? One might assume she would have picked up a few pleasantries, as well as a few swear words, on such occasions. ;p)
Anyway, it's always a pleasure to read your stories and I hope your writer's block is way behind you.
- Sylvia
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 12th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I took it from a street in Belgium, Chemin d'Harnoy in Bauche, but of course, the H is silent, isn't it?

I think I knew that on "Bonjour." I just spaced, so to speak. She may have played a French team, but Ginny does not strike me as a language person. You're right that she probably picked up swear words, and might know a few others without thinking about it, but nothing that she feels comfortable with. She may well have mispronounced what she did say badly enough for Elodie to make the English switch.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 12th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I took it from a street in Belgium, Chemin d'Harnoy in Bauche, but of course, the H is silent, isn't it?

Yep, that's it!
ascot_gavotte From: ascot_gavotte Date: August 13th, 2012 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't remember if you've already addressed this, but why don't the Abstentionnistes just intermarry with Muggles?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 13th, 2012 03:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Mostly because they consider themselves part of the magical community and its traditions and history, and don't feel very connected to the Muggle world. They don't have anything against the wizarding culture; they just think magic itself is a moral hazard. It's sort of like the person who decides to abstain from alcohol (or sex or television or whatever) in modern American culture. He or she is a perfectly ordinary modern American in other respects and doesn't want to go off and find another culture; it's just the one thing that he or she abstains from.
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: August 13th, 2012 10:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

AWWWWW I might not be be totally warmth towards Elodie

but I like her parents. and the entire scene was lovely

(well except for when Elodie pointed out about the people breaking the Church's windows- that made my blood boil as i absolutely despise vandalism)

harry reminiscence about muggle living was funny too.

really looking forward to the rest of the chapter
(and despite the loveliness- and despite the fact i don't want to think badly of them-- i'm suspicious of the "missing" stuff and Really hope they're not doing anything truly bad.

From: amethystbeloved Date: August 15th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
When worlds collide! It's so interesting to see the Potters on Elodie's world since it's always been the other way around. I like Elodie's father! I would love to know more about the missing items. :-)
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 16th, 2012 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I just love these last couple installments! I have an idea what might be going on with the missing items (and I think Remus would too), but I'm intrigued by the creepy presence in Teddy's vision, and very concerned about Celia's upcoming task!
18 comments or Leave a comment