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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Two: Venez, Mes Enfants, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Two: Venez, Mes Enfants, pt. 1
James has a story to get revved up, and it can't be revved until the elements are in place.

One of those elements just arrived at Platform 9 and 3/4--Daniela Villanueva, the celebrity girl who won the Quintamage Competition. As James and his siblings are getting ready to go, they hear someone scream, "It's HER!"

ETA: French corrected by Sylvia. Thanks! (I will be leaning heavily on French speakers, as Google-French may be comprehensible, but is certainly not, er... French.)

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

James craned his neck to see above the sea of cameras that had suddenly appeared, and there she was: Dani. The champion.

She was smaller than she seemed in pictures. The photographers had her standing on a pyramid of artfully stacked trunks, but this had the effect of making her seem smaller still. She was wearing blue jeans and a flowered tunic, and two flags--a Mexican flag and the Union Jack--were stuck into the base of her black ponytail. She grinned and waved at the cameras.

"Dani!" a reporter yelled. "Are you going to Hogwarts this year?"

She laughed, and responded in the light, accented English that had become so familiar over the last few months, English that sounded like it was about to break into a dance. "Oh, not for school!" she said. "But there are other things to be there for today!"

"Are the rumors true, then?" a second reporter asked. "Are you involved in the Triwizard Tournament?"

She grinned again and said, "Oh, but you have spoiled the surprise!"

This was met with a veritable roar from the press. Beside James, Celia said, "What is she going on about?"

James shrugged.

Daniela stood as tall as she could (James suspected she was on tiptoes by now) and said, "I shall tell you now: This morning, I was invited to be a judge for the Triwizard Tournament! I have accepted, and tonight, I shall observe when the goblet of fire chooses the group who will come from Hogwarts."

The students on the platform clapped loudly for this, but the press seemed momentarily flummoxed until a wiry man with thinning hair--Dennis Creevey--said, "Miss Villanueva, which judge stepped down?"

She frowned, and a tall man whispered in her ear; James guessed he was translating the question.

"Oh, yes," she said. "The place of Monsieur Didier Laurent, who did so very much to bring the tournament back before he died, would have been taken by his wife, Madame Sandrine Laurent, but yesterday, she said no. She is a teacher at Beauxbatons, and she thought it would not be fair, especially because her son is judging from the French Ministry already."

There was a great deal of scribbling about this, then the questions about the tournament itself began--had they decided about the age line, what would the challenges be, things like that. James felt a little sorry for Daniela--she looked completely lost, and obviously didn't know. Beside him, he could tell that Dad was wincing, and he looked like he meant to step in at any moment, but he didn't have to. The same tall man who had translated for Daniela put his arms up and said, "Miss Villanueva doesn't have the answers to those questions yet. She must join the other judges momentarily."

She smiled gratefully and muttered something to him in Spanish (James only caught "Gracias"), then said, "I am so happy to be here, and to be a part of this great tradition!" She blew a kiss at the gathered students. "Good luck! Buena suerte a todos!"

With that, she scrambled down from the top of the stack of trunks, and was hustled away into the crowd.

"That was quite a performance," Aunt Hermione said.

"Don't judge her too harshly," Vivian said. "She's very young, and very nervous."

"And probably trying not to fall off that pile of trunks," Celia said, rolling her eyes.

"Isn't it time to go onto the train?" Lily asked, obviously annoyed that her first day of school had been so rudely interrupted (Hugo, who was looking after Daniela with a dreamy expression on his face, didn't seem to be so bothered).

The family took the hint, and made a great fuss over both first years. Rosie deeply frightened Hugo by suggesting that he might join her in Ravenclaw rather than going to Gryffindor, given that he could remember nearly anything he read on sight, which was apparently a highly prized skill in Ravenclaw Tower. Hugo threatened to steal her Sleek-Easy Potion and pour it down a drain if she dared to share that information with anyone at school. James teased Lily that she'd end up living with her brothers again, and they would have to approve anyone she made friends with.

"Right," Al said. "There are rituals they'll have to do. They're horrible. They involve death defying stunts--"

"--and humiliation," Celia added for good measure. "And danger. You should have seen what we put Al's new friend through last year. Jane was fat when she started, but now... well, you saw her. Thin as a rail."

Al nodded. "But once they're through, we'll think about letting you keep them."

"I'll put you through rituals," Mum said, exasperated. "Starting with kitchen chores over Christmas."

The train whistle blew, and there was one more round of quick goodbyes, promises to write, and last minute straightening of hair--with Hugo, this was given up as a bad job--then together, the younger generation went to the train.

Michael Prince, who always arrived early, had secured a good compartment toward the front of the train. Silas, Ahmed, and Robert Highgold were there, along with Jane Virgil, a second year girl who Al had befriended last year. Contrary to Celia's statement, she'd always been crazily thin; even her skin was thin, which reminded James of moth wings, and, much to Al's chagrin, had inspired her nickname, Moth. At the moment, her light brown hair was up in two pigtails, which fanned out around her head as she leaned against a seat, amplifying the wing effect.

Whether Al liked it or not, Moth seemed perfectly comfortable with it, and gave James a hearty wave when he said, "Hello, Moth!"

"You don't have to let him call you that," Al said, coming in and sitting behind her on the seat.

"I never had a nickname," Moth said. "I like it. Did you have a good summer?"

Before they could get settled into discussing the intricacies of Prophet crossword puzzles--Moth was also a regular puzzler, as James understood it--James cleared his throat and said, "Does everyone remember Lily and Hugo?"

They all remembered Lily, of course, as she'd been in games with them for three years over the summers, but Hugo hadn't spent much time with James and Al, so introductions had to be made. By the time they were finished, the older Weasley girls and their Slytherin brother Artie had arrived, as had Rosie's Hufflepuff friend, Scorpius Malfoy, generally called Scops. The compartment was now quite crowded, but no one seemed to mind.

As the train pulled away from the station, Lily and Hugo were given spots by the window, so they could see the parents waving. Dad would be running alongside the train by now, as he always did, though James suspected that this year, with all three of them on board, he might actually make an attempt to catch it.

Once the train was clear and moving through London, Lily stepped back and said, "Why does he do that?"

"Because he loves you," Rosie said. "It's sweet."

"So, what are we going to do all the way to Scotland?" Robert asked, pulling out a deck of cards, in which no one showed any interest--he'd won all of their gold before they got to Birmingham last year.

"I have puzzles," Moth suggested, to even less enthusiasm.

"Let's all learn French," Silas suggested. "I think we'll have a better chance of being chosen to go to France if we speak the language."

"You can't learn a whole language on a train ride," Aimee Weasley said.

Celia, who, for some reason, didn't care for Aimee, rolled her eyes and said, "They could listen. James, are you still reading Martin's book?"

James twisted around and pulled the paperback out of his back pocket. She signaled for it, and he tossed it to her.

"I'll read," she said. "You translate."

"James is going to translate?" Artie asked dubiously.

"I could," Rosie said.

"My French is fine," James said. "Have a little faith."

Ahmed looked at the cover. "Oh, is that the one we're not supposed to read? Let's have at it, then."

Celia cleared her throat dramatically and said, "It begins with a poem: Viens, mon enfant, si nous avions l'intention de te nuire, penses-tu que nous nous tiendrions tapis ici au bord du chemin dans le coin le plus sombre de la forêt" She looked at James.

"It's actually an English poem," he said. "By a man called Patchen. 'Come now, my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest?'"

"That's not a poem," Lily said. "It's a sentence."

"A sentence can be a poem," Moth said.

"Do you want to hear the story?" Celia asked. When everyone nodded, she said, "'L'agonie survint avec la lune, le déchirement et la rupture des os, le feu liquide des entrailles'..." She wrinkled her nose. "On second thought, it's bad enough I have to put up with that tomorrow after the first day of classes. I'd rather not read about it now."

This caused a great clamor; Celia's lycanthropy was not treated with any deference among her friends. She retreated. Artie grabbed the book and started reading the French. James translated for a bit, then let Aimee take over.

Everyone drifted into their own interests, once the translating game lost its charm. Al and Moth recruited Hugo to their crosswords, his top secret memory apparently quite useful to them. Robert and Ahmed were trying to build a magical mousetrap to feed their cats, and Michael, Silas, and Scops were occupied with one of Michael's experimental Potions plants. James was about to go sit with Celia when a bright Patronus dropped from the ceiling.

It was Dad's stag, and it seemed to be standing in the middle of Moth's leg. It opened its mouth and said,

"The vote's been taken. There'll be no age line. I'll trust you to do what's right."
24 comments or Leave a comment
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: May 1st, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Trust James to "do what's right"? Well, I trust he won't!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 1st, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, Harry did share just how much fun he had on the dragon task, so surely, he means for James to repeat the feat. Right? ;p
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 1st, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Always nice to wake up to a new installment! I think I'm a little sorry for Dani, who seems not wholly comfortable with her celebrity--shades of Donzo in his earliest years. And Celia doesn't like Aimee--is there a story there, or is it just chemistry, the same ways Hogwarts girls didn't take much to Fleur? And poor Harry--he must have sprung a crop of grey hairs when he learned there wouldn't be an age line! And I'm sure he knows at least one son is going to be adamant about submitting his name to the Goblet of Fire.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 1st, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
No story with Celia and Aimee--just two people who don't have the same priorities in the world and don't get along.

I feel a little sorry for Dani, too.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: May 1st, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, poor Dani, let's hope the Rita Skeeters of the world don't mess too much with her head.

Well, I'll predict a bit of healthy adolescent rebellion! It's so odd to not be taking Harry's side...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 1st, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dani's definitely got some problems in her life. I'm not entirely sure who the tall man is (he's not in my outline), but I think he's helping to protect her.
From: maxzook Date: May 1st, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, Harry seems to have made little or no attempt to explain his opposition to the Tournament to his children. So how in all fairness can he expect them to "do the right thing" (whatever that means)?
From: severely_lupine Date: May 1st, 2011 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
They were going to have a father and son be two of the judges? That's a bit weird.

Loved the bit where they teased Lily about making friends. It just shows they care, really.

I think Moth's a perfectly cute nickname.

Haha, oh, Harry. I do enjoy daddy!Harry. Smart that he knows enough to try to dissuade James, but knowing who James's mother and grandfather are, he should know it's useless if James decides he wants to do it. (Not that Harry ever showed any of that quality himself, of course.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 1st, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure they would have found a way around it--the son is the head of the sports and games division in France, and the father would have been named for his involvement. My guess is that the son would have stepped down if the father were alive, and let someone else from the department judge. Since the widow was also a teacher at Beauxbatons, that tipped the scale of which family member stepped down from the judging panel.
From: severely_lupine Date: May 1st, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, well, that's good to know.

Also, I think it's neat that you refrain from using American characters. It's so easy for Americans to use American characters when writing foreign OCs in HP fic, but using people from other countries instead makes it seem more global and diverse. Maybe it's because Americans are so dominant in so many other fandoms, it's almost annoying to see it in HP sometimes, especially since most people don't know how to do it well. (*glares at G. Norman Lippert*)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 3rd, 2011 12:44 am (UTC) (Link)
It also feels a little fake not to, as we have a huge population and it's not likely we'd stay so meticulously out, but at the same time, I know what you mean. Besides, I've done the American wizarding community. I haven't really messed with Mexico yet. ;p
From: severely_lupine Date: May 3rd, 2011 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, that's the thing about your writing. You could totally add an American character or two and, since you've got so many other foreign characters, it would blend in and make sense. Most people use only Americans as foreigners in HP fic, and that's what seems so weird.

Actually, it would be interesting to see the interactions of a Triwizard-type situation with Mexico, America, and Canada. (Wait, what countries were in the Quintamage [or whatever that was called]? That sounds like more than three.}

Where did you do the American wizarding community? I can't remember seeing that (still haven't read the last three Teddy stories, though).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 3rd, 2011 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I did a short story in Boston, and a section of Shades was in New Mexico.

The Quintamage is a full Americas thing. Canada and the U.S. each fielded a champion, because they have huge populations and each support at least one major, old school. Mexico and Central America cooperate and have a school in the Yucatan (Dani's school). The other two are in South America--a Spanish speaking school in Argentina (for the Spanish speaking countries), and a Portuguese speaking school in Brazil (which also takes the Dutch, English, and French speakers up that border). I'm not entirely sure where the Caribbean countries are--I probably should have made it Hexamage and given them a school, but... oh, well. Oops. We'll say for now that they go to the schools in the countries where they have the best diplomatic relations.

Edited at 2011-05-03 04:27 am (UTC)
From: severely_lupine Date: May 3rd, 2011 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Aw, I need to reread Shades. It's been too long.

That's cool. It always seems to me that America is big enough that they've probably got a school on each coast (at least). I can't imagine all the wizards from all the states going to the same school. The thing would have to be absolutely enormous, based on the population ratio in Britain.
sidealong From: sidealong Date: May 2nd, 2011 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

train compartments

I always laugh when fanfics have a dozen people crammed into a train compartment. Because I always imagine the compartments that I saw in Europe, which are designed to seat 6. How many people can you really fit on 2 couches, Fern? : )

Harry's Patronus doesn't make much sense to me. Is he telling his kids that it's not right to enter? What's your intent with Harry's patronus?

Can't wait to see the response in the next installment!
Thanks for writing, always love to read your work!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 3rd, 2011 12:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: train compartments

Oh, they're definitely crammed in there like sardines, and probably climbing over each other. (Though, with magic in the mix, they might well be able to play with the dimensions to make it less uncomfortable, or the train might do it for them.)

My intent with Harry's Patronus was to pass on the news that the age line has been reinstated without having James conveniently find a car full of judges which was unlikely to be on the train and overhear them talking. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 2nd, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
OK, if I may, here goes my first bit of French-proofing! ;)

Viens, mon enfant, si nous avions l'intention de vous nuire, pensez-vous que nous serions menace ici au bord du chemin dans la partie la plus sombre de la forêt?
Suggestion: Viens, mon enfant, si nous avions l'intention de te nuire, penses-tu que nous nous tiendrions tapis ici au bord du chemin dans le coin le plus sombre de la forêt ?
Explanations: The sentence starts by "viens", which is the second-person singular, but continues with the second-person plural "vous nuire", "pensez-vous", which is a more formal way to address someone. You have to choose either the singular or the plural and stick to it in all your sentence. Usually when an adult talks to a child, they use "tu", so I'd stick with the second-person singular "te nuire", "penses-tu".
"Nous serions menace ici" is not grammatically correct. "Menace" is a noun whereas you need an adjective or a past participle after "serions". There isn't really a good word that translates "lurking" exactly; I'd suggest the verb "tapir" which means to hide behind something and is often used to describe someone hiding in the bushes; since we're in a forest here it works in context.
I'd change "la partie la plus sombre de la forêt" to "le coin le plus sombre…". "Partie" is correct and understandable, but not really how we'd phrase it.

L'agonie est venu avec la lune, le déchirement et la rupture des os, du feu liquide d'entrailles
Suggestion: L'agonie survint avec la lune, le déchirement et la rupture des os, le feu liquide des entrailles
There's an "e" missing in "venue" because "agonie" is a feminine noun. But I'd use another past tense, the passé simple, which is often used in books to relate actions in the past. And instead of the verb "venir", I'd use "survenir". "Venir" is the direct translation of "to come" (as in 'going to here') whereas "survenir" is closer to "to happen/to occur"; the former is understandable but the latter is better.

And some English nit-picking too: he could that Dad was wincing
A word missing here? "He could tell" maybe?

Finally, since I meant to review on the last segment but then forgot, I'll do it here:
I love how you find those little character moments: James and Al over the crossword puzzle, James seeing his daddy in a new light with the letter to Sirius, Harry getting all emotional at King's Cross... but I think my favorite was Fleur teasing Harry -- "little boy", heh! It's amazing how these little tidbits can do lots to flesh out the relationships between characters.

See you soon for the next French lesson? ;p
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 3rd, 2011 12:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, thank you. The Google French was bound to be wrong. It wanted "Voyons" instead of "Viens," but of course the context isn't "See, my child" (though I could see where the similarity is, in this case, it literally means "Come here.") I'll get that fixed up when LJ stops being obnoxious (it's just freezing on me repeatedly. And randomly screened you; not sure why. I've had to report some anon spam lately; I hope it's not screening every anon now!

ETA: I take a native speaker over Google any day, but I thought you might be amused to know that Google thinks "we are here we would carpet the roadside." Maybe they haven't improved it as much as I thought!

Edited at 2011-05-03 12:40 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 3rd, 2011 07:30 am (UTC) (Link)
"we are here we would carpet the roadside."
*laughs* Somehow I feel much reassured in my chosen career as a translator! Although to be fair, the noun "tapis" does mean "carpet"; but it is also a form of the verb "se tapir", so there!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 3rd, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
That really does point out why you need human translators. Machines might be able to recognize a lot, but they have a sincere weak spot when it comes to things like context.

Thanks again! (Once we get to France, and everyone is speaking French, I will switch to representing it in English, obviously, but I do really appreciate the language help.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 3rd, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking about your spot of bother with Voyons/Viens, and actually the Google translation "Voyons" was right. The English "come now" doesn't literally mean "move", does it? Rather it's another way to say "Listen" or "Let's see" or "Be reasonable". There are several ways to render this meaning in French, but "Voyons" is a good translation. "Viens", however, just means "Come".
The thing is, if you use "Voyons", you're gonna lose the relevance of your chapter title Venez, mes enfants / Come, my children, which I'm guessing alludes to bringing some poor unsuspecting Hogwarts kids to the Tournament of Unspeakable Evil in France. So I think you should just use the mistranslation "Viens" and leave it at that.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 3rd, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think in the case of this particular poem, it does mean "move"--to come into the forest, onto the path, as well as the colloquial "See now" version... it's double, but I think the more ominous version is the one that uses "Come now" to mean "come into the forest."
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 3rd, 2011 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)

this is going to be cool....

sign me up!

oi, i forgot to mention. thanks loads for the ficlet of harry christening. it was awesome !

From: 3_sickles_short Date: May 3rd, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just letting you know that I'm reading and loving this story. I particularly like the ambiguity of Harry's message to James. Plausible deniability is a handy thing....

24 comments or Leave a comment