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For Keeps by tydemans
Chapter 4: The Fine Art of Reciprocity is Dead
The man knew more about wands than anyone else living – how was it that performing simple cleaning charms were completely beyond him? Victoire examined the tiny storefront on her first day back and shook her head. Ollivander was brilliant, talented and entirely oblivious to dust. He also had a knack for leaving things where they landed when he finished with them. Good for him, his memory seldom failed him. For those who worked around him, the habit posed a challenge.
Victoire wished she had a knut for every time she needed to poke her head into his workroom to ask where the measuring tape or sales slips ended up; she wouldn’t have to work. Of course, she wouldn’t be making those knuts if she weren’t working...
“Good Morning, Victoire.” Ollivander poked his head out from the back room. “It’s good to see you, dear. How were your exams and graduation?”
“Stressful and typical in that order.” He didn’t have to know everything.
She followed his nodding white head into the backroom, stashing her bag on the peg of the coat rack as she passed. He handed her some tea straight away. Darjeeling. That meant he expected to complete a wand. Victoire always guessed Ollivander’s daily agenda by his tea choice.
“So, what are you finishing today?” She snuck a peak at his workbench. “Holly, ‘bout twelve and a quarter?”
“Good eye! The core shall be one of the unicorn hairs you collected for me last summer.” Ollivander reached into a drawer on the bench and retrieved the hair as he spoke.
Victoire remembered finding the fine white hair the first time she returned to the forest after her hospitalization. Grant insisted she wouldn’t be fully recovered until she ventured back and proved to herself she had control. He could be quite the nag sometimes. The trip wracked her nerves, but she endured and was rewarded with a rare glimpse of the unicorns in the forbidden forest. With sharpened senses and an exceptional view from above, she picked up on the stray hairs left by the magnificent animals. She took them as a good sign and proudly presented them to Ollivander upon her return.
“I suppose I should keep an eye out for more, then.” Victoire smiled over her tea. “So, tell me, what happened to your last apprentice? Everything seemed to be going well Easter break.”
Ollivander scowled into his cup. “He suggested experimenting with thestral hair for a core as they would be easier to obtain.”
“Well, that’d do it.”
“I tell you, young lady, I may have used the occasional griffin feather after the war when supplies ran sparse. Honourable animals they are, produced some excellent wands for protection,” he affirmed with a definitive nod.
“But, thestrals?” Ollivander shook his head at such blatant absurdity. “We deal in quality here, not volume. I cannot fathom what gave him the idea I’d even consider altering my core standards for a harbinger of death simply because they’re plentiful.” Ollivander punctuated his speech with the thud of his cup on the workbench.
Victoire held her cup in front of her mouth to hide the smile she couldn’t quite stop. “He liked exotic cores. I remember him being quite inquisitive about my French wand.”
Ollivander huffed. Opinionated didn’t begin to describe his reaction to Victoire’s second wand.
Of all the compromises Bill and Fleur Weasley made in their marriage, wand choice for their children remained the most epic. In the end, Fleur held strong to the belief a school wand served more as a trainer and a mature, fully educated wizard attracted a more powerful wand. Victoire and her siblings received their first wand from Ollivander before starting Hogwarts and their second from the Delacour’s wand maker after their seventeenth birthday.
Victoire’s second contained a rare fairy dust core. To be honest, she found the fairy wand the most fun to use. It emitted a multicolour glow for charms and something akin to small fireworks for hexes. She avoided letting Ollivander know, however. She carried a ‘fine British wand with a unicorn hair from a lovely little filly’ for work which proved quite effective, only not so flashy.
“You cannot put any magical creature into a core and expect the wand to act reliably. I will not tolerate that kind of recklessness in my shop.” Ollivander swept his hand over the workbench, nearly sending the unicorn hair to the ground with the motion. Such a dramatic gesture tended to signal the end of the rant was near.
Sure enough, Ollivander offered Victoire a warm up on her tea, and they began their day.
Outside the pre-Hogwarts rush, shop hours in the wand business weren’t always teeming with activity. The morning passed before Victoire encountered her first customer. She was finishing the dusting when a tall man sauntered in. “G’day,” he greeted before she managed to say a word. “I was hoping you could tell me about this wand.” He pulled out a long wand, handing it to her with a flirty grin.
“Good morning.” Victoire accepted the wand for a quick inspection. “This is a fourteen inch yew with a dragon heartstring at its core.”
“How can you tell dragon heartstring?” the man asked, gaping at his wand in her hand as if the contents would be written on the wood somewhere.
“The feel of the wand, actually.” She dismissed his amazement with a shrug. “You work here long enough; you learn to differentiate a wand’s makeup by feel.”
“Felt a lot of wands, have you?” he teased with a suggestive glint in his gray eyes.
Victoire mentally kicked herself. You’d think by now she’d see those things coming, but no, she blindly set herself up. “I don’t keep track of the ones I’ve felt. Only the ones I’ve snapped in half.”
That number: six. And much to her dismay, Ollivander wouldn’t hear of Victoire paying for them or the other miscellaneous damage she caused to his shop during that first uncontrolled transformation. For that reason, she was certain she’d spend the rest of her life flying the woods in search of unicorn hair for the man.
“Good to know.” The dark haired flirt nodded before leaning in and lowering his voice. “What’s the possibility of finding the previous owner?”
“I don’t know. Was it purchased here?” Victoire replied in the same stage whisper. You’d think they weren’t the only ones in the store.
“Wish I could say yes, but I make a point never to lie to a beautiful woman.”
She met his comment with a raised eyebrow. He changed tactics without missing a beat. “Truth is, I don’t know. I hope it was.” He finished with a hopeful puppy dog face.
Victoire tapped the end of his wand with hers. A symbol appeared in the wood before disappearing again. “It’s an Ollivander wand for sure. Our emblem is placed on all wands from this shop and can't be duplicated elsewhere.”
“Excellent! Do you have any idea how many wand makers there are on this continent alone?” He seemed immensely relieved. “I knew this was my lucky day the minute I laid eyes you!”
“Your luck may have just run out. I can’t tell you any more myself.” As she spoke, his face fell. This time he wasn’t trying. He looked like she’d snatched his chew toy away.
Victoire could never handle seeing disappointment in someone’s face.
“Ollivander would tell you right off who made the purchase.” She rushed to assure him. “But he stepped out for a while.” She thought for a moment before turning to the shelves behind the counter. “All sales are automatically catalogued in this book.”
She levitated a massive volume toward a small table behind the store shelves only to find the man rounding the counter behind her. The close proximity with the stranger unnerved her, and the book wavered over the table as if responding to her unease.
The man steadied the book by hand and guided the thick volume the remainder of the way to the table’s surface. When Victoire glanced up to thank him, she found him staring as if trying to place her. She decided to put some distance between them when he spoke.
“Yes…” Had they met? She didn’t want to ask, embarrassed someone would recognize her when she had no recollection of meeting them.
“I’m Owen. I travelled with Teddy for a year.” He offered his hand as if they were already friends.
“Good, we have never met! Oh…I mean… I couldn’t place you …” She took his hand, at last, allowing him to grasp hers in a firm shake as he laughed at her. “Still, how on earth did you place me?”
“Teddy didn’t carry much, but he had a picture of you. Didn’t recognize you straight away, though. You’ve grown up a bit.” He pointed to Victoire’s eyes. “Teddy’s turned the same colour when he read your letters. I pegged him on it one night. Changed staring at the fire, too. Made him admit he’d been holding back about you and his abilities.”
“Ah, everyone at school knew. By the time he graduated, he was tired of people asking for tricks. I guess he stopped telling.” Knowing whom this man was made Victoire much more at ease. He seemed more natural as well, easing up on the flirty attitude.
Victoire turned back to the book. She’d indexed the archive last summer in a fit of boredom and curiosity. The indexing was a trick Sara had taught her for homework, but she found its real world application much more entertaining as the trick allowed nosey her to find specifics on anyone’s wand for kicks. She thought today they might be able to use the index to get a list of potential owners by wand type.
“I bet we can even find out before Ollivander gets back,” Victoire assured Owen. “I mean, how many fourteen inch yews with dragon string core could’ve been sold here?”
Apparently, going back to 382 BC provided a significant chance for overlap.
“Ok, so this is going to be a little more involved than I thought.” Victoire spell copied the list of results to a piece of parchment. “Do you know about when the wand was purchased?”
“Over twenty-one years ago.” He scanned the list. “Doesn’t eliminate even one."
“Sadly, no. Why don’t you tell me what you do know and what exactly you hope to learn?” She pulled the list from him and waited.
He sized her up before answering “I think it’s my Dad’s. Mum never told anyone about him. I found the wand in her things after she died. My family’s muggle, so must be his.”
Victoire wanted to say she was sorry, but he continued in a rush looking around as he said, “Thing is, I don’t want anyone to know I’m looking. Teddy’s the only person I’ve told.” Owen’s expression became serious for the first time since he strode through the door.
“Is this the wand you use?”
He shook his head. “Tried to use the thing while back when my original got stolen. This one doesn’t suit me. Had to buy another.”
“Why don’t you leave the wand with me so I can ask Ollivander? If he remembers, which he always does, the list is irrelevant.” She watched his face completely turn around at her words.
“You’re the best!” Sounding like an enthusiastic five year old, he threw his arms around her. They returned the book and walked around the counter just as the door opened.
Teddy. Victoire smiled automatically at the sight of him. Her mind flew back to countless times he strolled through that very door to take her out or take her home. They had snogged quite a few times in the little alcove she and Owen just used for their research.
“Hey, mate! Guess who I met today?” Owen pulled Victoire out of her reverie before she embarrassed herself with a full on blush. He swung an arm around her shoulders like they were lifelong pals.
Teddy blinked for a moment. “Great. That’s…that’s great.”
“I wouldn’t say great.” Owen glanced at Victoire then back to Teddy, continuing with the same loud whisper he’d used earlier. “She seems immune to my considerable charms. That’s never good, definitely not great.”
“That’s what you call charm?” Victoire scoffed. “Our spello-tape supplier has more game and he’s ancient!”
“I got you to help me, didn’t I? Course the help wasn’t even that great - 253 names - not what I call a short list.” Owen barely managed to complete his statement before having to dodge the rolled up list she used to bat him over the head.
Teddy gave them an odd stare and a tight smile, but made no comment. Victoire's stomach took a dip as he wandered around and into the back, surveying the stock and Ollivander’s latest wand. She wondered if he was remembering as well. She tried to read him - what he was thinking, feeling - to determine if it was remotely similar to what was happening in her head. Her smile faltered. Maybe all he felt was regret, or worse - nothing.
Owen kept up a running commentary, doing most of the talking and looking over the workshop in back with intense curiosity. He was the only one who seemed comfortable. Victoire barely believed it. This was so stupid. Why should this be awkward? She and Teddy had never been awkward with each other.
Teddy finally spoke, “He cleared out quite a bit.”
“There was an incident a while back that prompted a reorganization of the inventory,” Victoire stated, using the same terminology Ollivander himself had since the day she first transformed.
“Someone not able to handle the wand they selected?” Owen smirked, amused by the prospect.
“Not exactly,” Victoire answered, more like an animal control issue.
The front door opened again. "Don't touch anything." Victoire pointed at Owen before she left them both to attend to the customer. Walking out from behind the shelves, she approached the side of the counter to find a rather posh young woman crossing the threshold. A cloud of perfume preceded the pretty brunette into the shop.
“Good morning, may I help you?” Victoire employed her best please-let-me-be-of-service voice.
The woman gave her an appraising glance while offering an efficient smile before scanning the interior of the small shop. “I’m looking for someone. Theo?”
“I’m sorry. There’s no Theo here –”
“There you are!” The woman breezed past Victoire, throwing her arms around Teddy.
All trace of apprehension in Teddy's features disappeared at the sight of her. “Iska, I’d like you to meet Victoire.” He turned the woman to face Victoire. “Victoire, this is my Iska,” he continued with a proud smile.
Victoire took a deep breath and gave the now beaming woman her best smile. “Hi, Iska. Nice to meet you.” She glanced at Teddy. “And you too, Theo.”
Teddy laughed. “I can’t believe you two are finally meeting.”
He seemed so happy to have them both in the same room. Victoire wished she had even a fraction of his enthusiasm. She hoped that didn’t show.
While Victoire felt herself unravelling, Iska appeared perfectly composed as she returned the greeting with a bright smile. “A pleasure. We,” she said, lacing her arm with Teddy’s, “are so happy to be here in London. We simply must catch up some time. I hate to be rude, but, right now, I’m afraid I have to steal Theo away.” She gave Teddy a little pout. “We really need to get going. I do so hate to keep people waiting.” Then she smiled back at Victoire. “I hope you understand. We really must catch up later.” She turned Teddy toward the door.
Teddy hesitated in the doorway causing Iska to stutter to a stop as well. “Bye, Vic. We’re still on for the Leaky, right O?”
Owen nodded, and they were gone.
“How long has he been Theo?” Victoire asked as she peered out to the street.
“Since he met Iska.” Owen cocked his head, examining her.
“How long has that been?”
Apparently, restating the direct question wasn’t going to get her a concrete answer. For someone who arrived soliciting her help, Owen was being rather unhelpful himself. Shouldn’t there be some sort of reciprocity here? One good deed and all that. She was getting nothing of value from this bloke.
“Feeling very succinct all a sudden?” she challenged.
“Need to be,” he asserted.
Despite her aggravation over Owen’s lack of sharing, Victoire followed through on her promise. To that end, she found herself detouring to the Leaky Cauldron after her shift. She didn’t really have the time. She’d also promised her siblings and the Potter kids she’d take them to the boat after work, but Owen would be waiting for Teddy at the pub, and she wanted to get his wand back to him.
Owen was easy to spot in the pub, but his companion caused her to hesitate before approaching the table. She hadn’t expected Teddy to be at the pub already. They were by the window, talking and laughing. Her inner coward contemplated leaving.
She had to man up, however, as Owen caught sight of her and waved her over.
“Oy, beautiful. I knew you couldn’t stand to be apart from me for long.” He pulled a chair out for her.
“You’re the one leaving your possessions scattered about," she said, handing him his wand. “Pretty loose with your wand, I’d say. No wonder you lost the previous one.”
He scowled. “Didn’t loose it. It was stolen. But, that’s a story for another time.” He waved for the waitress, turning back with a smile and a wink. “No shame in placing your wand in the hands of a beautiful woman. Loose would’ve been leaving it with the hag from the apothecary.”
“I thought you went for the mature type.” Teddy laughed.
“That’s cougar, mate, not jackal,” Owen shot back as the waitress approached. “Looks like my shout. Another round, love, and whatever the lady would like.”
“Oh, thanks, but I can’t stay.” Victoire smiled at the girl who nodded and returned to the bar. She felt like a jerk, knowing she might be about to kill their good time. “I just came to let you know what I found.” They both focussed on her and her resolve wavered.
She opted to go fast, like removing a plaster. “Ollivander didn’t sell the wand but, he recognized it as one made by his father. Narrowing the list to any wand sold between the time his father started making wands and the time Ollivander took over the shop, we’re down to a dozen wands. Two sold to women.” She stopped for breath, pointing to the names starred on the list. “So, we can leave those alone for now.”
She handed Owen a copy of the revised list. Victoire couldn’t imagine what he was experiencing as he scanned the names for some kind of clue. He had yet to speak. She turned to Teddy for some signal, only to find him studying Owen as well.
With no one else speaking, Victoire panicked at the silence and rushed on, “I can help you look into the names. We can ask Professor McGonnegal. I’ll introduce you. She is retired now. She was likely at Hogwarts when many of these wizards went to school-”
Teddy's deep voice interrupted her rambling. “She’s right. We can do this. Start by eliminating anyone who still has their wand and focusing on those remaining." He took the list of names from Owen and placed the marked up parchment on the table. "Come on, stay put for once, work here and make your way through the list.”
Owen nodded his head. “Yeah, I can. Uncle Joe’d let me base out of London.”
“Be brilliant having you around.” Teddy placed his hand on Owen’s shoulder. “With all of us helping, a dozen possibilities are nothing.”
“Yeah?” Owen returned. “You gonna be getting off the leash any time, mate?”
“Bugger off! Not my fault you can’t find a girl who’ll stand you for more than a day.”
“Don’t see the issue, Captain Monogamy. Long as every day brings a girl, life’s good.” Owen winked at Victoire.
“So, you’re staying. Umm, ahh, what do you do for Uncle Joe?” Victoire’s words stumbled awkwardly over her need not to hear any more of their current conversation.
“My family owns a string of hotels,” Owen explained. “Muggle establishments, but we cater to wizards. I am a liaison of sorts for wizard clients.”
“Creative way to stay in the family business.”
“Mum started the trend during Voldemort’s second rise. She kept suites in the hotels open for wizards. They served as portals - magical depots for muggle relatives and muggle-borns to escape.”
“Wow,” Victoire said, impressed, “she must’ve been quite a woman to pull off that kind of operation.”
“She was,” Owen said and picked up his drink. “A toast to moving to London.” He raised his glass to Teddy, and then turned to Victoire. “Seriously, love, we need to get you a middy, at least.”
“Thanks, but it’s getting late. I should post Professor McGonnegal straight away.” Victoire continued almost to herself, “Should let Ginny know I’m running off schedule.” Maybe Mrs. Longbottom would let her borrow their owl. She surveyed the pub before scrambling in her bag for some parchment.
“Still late for everything.” Teddy teased. “Ginny’s known you long enough; sure she needs to be told?”
Victoire shot him a glare as she dug for a quill, realizing this would be her first note with the new one. Very fitting Teddy be involved, even if he insisted on taking the Mickey. “Life outside the clock can be liberating.”
Teddy scoffed, but she continued before he could retort. “On the bright side, you may’ve found a way to cure another of my bad habits.” Retrieving the brilliant quill from her bag, she flourished it with a smile. “I’m not likely to be leaving my quill around to get lost anymore.”
“Hey, I know that quill,” Owen piped up. “I’ve been trying to get it away from him forever. Every game we played – chess, cards, darts, gobstones - every Quidditch match we ever watched I tried to bet him out of it. The wanker never wagered the quill.”
Teddy looked somewhat uncomfortable. “Here, why don’t you use this one and put the other away so he quits whining,” Teddy hastily pulled out a spare quill from Victoire’s bag.
Owen started to shoot back a reply when he caught sight of something behind Victoire and bit back his retort. He looked at Ted who was hastily placing the blue quill he had snatched from Victoire’s hand back into her bag.
Ok, that was odd. “Did you two steal the quill?” Victoire looked between them somewhat amused.
“Quill stealing. Now, boys, can’t I leave you for one hour on your own? Whatever am I going to do with you two?” Iska cooed as she approached from behind Victoire. She glided around to Teddy who dutifully stood to take her bags and pull out her chair for which he was rewarded with a fluttering of eyelashes and a kiss lasting a few beats too long for mixed company.
“Don’t leave us next time,” Teddy replied smoothly.
Victoire peered at Owen. For the first time in their short acquaintance, his usually animated face appeared unreadable. Teddy quickly ordered Iska a drink and started on about how hungry everyone must be. Since Victoire already mentioned she wasn’t able to stay, she took that as a sign her time there was done.
“I should get going,” Victoire said unnecessarily over Iska sweetly correcting the server on some detail of her drink order. Teddy, looking uncomfortable again, stood as Victoire did.
She turned first to Owen and took the hand he offered. “I’ll get in touch with you when I hear back from Professor McGonagall - or maybe Hagrid – he’d be another good person to ask.”
“You sure you have to go?” Owen asked.
Poor boy, Victoire had delivered bad news, and now she was leaving him alone with a front row seat to ‘Smitten Cinema’. He looked slightly pained. She leaned in and whispered, “If you need a break, you might want to get your own refill. There’s a lovely brunette sitting at the bar stealing glances at you.”
He brightened up considerably. “I like the way you think.”
Victoire turned to Teddy who had grabbed her plain quill and still blank parchment from the table. “Thanks, I wouldn’t want to forget a quill in this company,” she said with no real humour as she grabbed the items, careful not to touch him. “Good to see you again, Iska,” Victoire ventured, although Iska gave little indication she did see Victoire since wafting to the table.
Iska looked up. “Yes, certainly. Theo talks so little of his former friends.” With that, she grabbed his hand and gazed into his eyes. Victoire waited a few beats for one of them to complete the thought, but apparently, they had.
Victoire went directly home from the pub. She never owled Professor McGonagall. Or Hagrid. Or Ginny. She used the bit of parchment she retrieved from the table to write another note instead.
Here Theo -
As much as she hated using that name, she was unable to bring herself to call him Teddy. Teddy was never afraid to admit he had a relationship with her. When Victoire started Hogwarts two years after him, a first year girl wasn’t a cool friend to have in the eyes of his dorm mates, but he remained loyal – even turning them around. When she used to wait for him outside Gringotts and some bloke lingered to chat her up, Teddy walked up confidently and told them directly – she’s my girl. Now, she was only good enough to be a friend when nobody else was looking.
You keep it. I have absolutely no interest in a gift someone is ashamed to have given me.
Leaving the note unsigned, Victoire attached the parchment to the box he’d originally wrapped the quill in and sent everything off. She may not be cool, she no longer had a beautiful quill, but she had her dignity.
With the kids entertained on the swim platform off the end of the boat, Victoire was free to take stock of the progress made in the repairs while she was at school. The boat had been her find. To this day, she wasn’t exactly sure what had made her fight to have it. The purchase cost all the money she had saved for Australia.
She wasn’t exactly sure what made her father agree either, but once he had, he rallied the family around the project, which become sort of a mecca for Wesley's in need of a cause. Grandma Molly emerged as the biggest supporter of the idea. The debate raged as to whether she was more inspired by her need for people to work up an appetite so she could feed them or by her need to get a recently retired Grandpa Arthur out of the Burrow. Whatever the reason, almost everyone contributed some level of effort to restore the big old boat to its former glory.
Without a doubt, far more than her father’s weekly poker games with old curse breaking buddies had been taking place at the boat during the school year. Victoire couldn’t believe all the family had accomplished since her last visit. The interior cabins were almost finished.
The outside was still rough. Big jobs remained, not the least of which involved refinishing the outer decks. The hull required work so the boat could be considered seaworthy, and the engine needed an overhaul before the boat would move even with magic.
The need to get into the engine area brought Victoire to a halt at the door in front of her. She’d purchased the boat, but she was not in complete control over the vessel. The ship came inhabited by a troop of fairies.
Fairies who enchanted doors to lead to a different room every time you walked through them. Fairies who turned an interior cabin into an aquarium for the resident ramora. Fairies who had barricaded themselves into the engine room two days ago and refused to open up until talking to Victoire.
“Can’t we work this out?” she pleaded through the thick teak door, careful not to touch the knob. Her father had been shocked and teleported to an old stump three miles away in the neighbouring woods the instant he tried to turn it two days ago. Louis, not knowing what happened, tried the knob himself and landed on top of his father.
“I thought we had come to a good compromise. Can’t you see what this boat could be with a little care given? If we could simply spent a little more time on her –“
“Time is what you have squandered,” a tight little voice replied from inside. “Squandered your energy as well on the past you cannot change. Change what you can in the present. The present serves you much better.”
“I haven’t squandered my time.” Victoire rested her forehead against the wood. “I was at school.”
“School past eight rises ago without your attention. Your attention has been on yourself alone. Alone you shall stay,” a second voice accused. That voice Victoire recognized immediately – Faun – easily the most maniacal of the troop.
Great. Victoire wished she could just talk to Matera alone. Matera was the mother hen of the troop and the least likely to impale her on a stump. Where's all my dignity now, she wondered as she slid down to the floor and rested against the door.
“I can’t leave the boat alone,” Victoire admitted. A vision of the boat as she had found it – abandoned and sad, a mere ghost of the grand ship she had been - haunted her thoughts.
“Look, I’m not likely going to uni so I’ll have time to spend from here on out.” No immediate answer came from inside. She rushed on. “I promise to be here every weekend until she’s sailing, ok?”
Victoire heard a latch turn from inside and jerked away from the door, which creaked open to reveal five fairies. Matera emerged first, a proud smile on her face. Victoire stood and moved back to let them pass. Terra and Flora emerged next, but hung back; their faces reserved. Viva zipped past and executed quick excited circles around Victoire’s head. Only Faun remained deep in the interior of the room. Her arms crossed, and her gaze was still heated.
Best give Faun a wide berth for a while Victoire decided. She was glad to have made progress with something today even if it required grovelling and concession. Wearily, she allowed herself to be led around the ship as the fairies gave their thoughts on what should be done next.
Today was getting to be a very long first day of the rest of her life.
Victoire herded her reluctant siblings and cousins toward the shore, promising longer days to come when she wasn’t so knackered. From a distance, she noticed someone moving lithely down the docks, loaded with fishing gear and accompanied by a black lab. The docks primarily served the needs of muggle tourists interested in the area's offshore fishing. For the most part, Victoire’s group stayed to their protected slip, and as far as their muggle neighbours were concerned, they were just a gang of regular kids spending the day on the water.
The angler turned toward the wind using the gusts to blow the hair out of their eyes. The reprieve didn’t last long, though, as another gust attacked from the opposite direction. On the docks, it paid to have hair either too short to blow in your eyes or long enough to secure in a ponytail. This fisherman had the kind of longish short hair that proved a bit unmanageable. They put the tackle down to pull a cap out from their back pocket, raked back the curly brown hair with one hand and pulled the cap on with the other, effectively securing their vision. Victoire supposed that was a decent compromise.
The fisherman turned with a smile at their approach and told the dog to sit. Victoire realized it wasn’t a bloke, as she assumed from a distance, but a woman about her age. The dog obeyed the request, wagging his tail at an amicable pace.
"What's his name?" Al held his hand out for the dog to sniff. The sniff led to a marked increase in the velocity of the tail wagging. He seemed to be a friendly dog, which was good because he sure was a large dog.
"Diogy," the woman drawled.
"Is that French for 'dog'?" Lily asked, approaching the dog for a pet with hesitant caution.
The woman laughed. "No, that actually is 'dog'. D-O-G. Diogy."
"The French word for dog is actually 'chien'," Louis commented to no one in particular.
"You're not very original with the names, then?" Al looked at the woman.
She shrugged. "He was a stray when he found me. I didn't know if he’d stick so I just called him 'dog'. After a few months and it lookin’ like he was content as we were, I kind of felt bad not having a real name to call him so I sort of morphed 'dog' into Diogy. He answers to it so it all worked out. What's your name?"
"Albus Severus," Lily supplied in a singsong voice knowing good and well she’d provoke her brother. Sure enough, he shot her an irritated glance.
"Just Al," he reiterated.
"Nice to meet you, Al, sounds like your folks were very original."
"Nah, we're all named for dead people. I wouldn't call that original," Al stated, rather matter of fact.
"Hey, I'm not all dead," Lily interjected.
"Ok." The woman on the dock seemed as if she were trying to decide if she could laugh or not.
Lily continued helpfully, "I'm Lily. Lily Luna. This is my other brother James Sirius and our cousins - Louis, Dominique, and Victoire. They're not named for anybody, just French."
"I'm Micah. And that is original." She leaned down toward Lily and continued in a conspiratorial whisper, "I made it up right now."
"You did not," Lily exclaimed. "You can't just make up your own name."
"Are you sure?" Micah baited. "What's a name if not just what everybody calls you?"
"Is that what everyone calls you?"
"It’s what I find myself answerin’ to so might as well stick with it, don’t you think?" Micah nodded and then winked at Lily before straightening up and addressing everyone else. "Nice to meet y'all. Here for fishing?"
"No, we're hanging out at the boat." Louis nodded to the slip where the boat rested. Victoire tensed. They had a charms on the boat for the muggles around the pier, and she didn’t want to have to explain why there appeared to be no boat where the boy indicated.
"Ah, big blue?" Micah said, turning to face the slip where the boat rested. "Bit of a fixer upper- “
“Should have seen it when they hauled it in here,” James snorted to Louis.
“- but real nice bones on that one." Micah nodded and turned back. “She’s going to be a stunner when you’re through with her. I can tell.”
"You're a witch?" Victoire asked, somewhat surprised.
"That I am."
“Do you have a boat here?” Lily asked.
“No, I help out on some of the fishin’ charters. They book ‘em and I use their boats to take ‘em out,” Micah replied in a smooth accent Victoire couldn’t quite place. “Money for school.” She scratched behind Diogy’s ear. “And kibbles.”
“What school?” Al asked.
“Folks call it Bimas.” She cocked her head and innocently surveyed the group. “Y’all ever heard of it?”
Victoire had the sudden urge to impale herself on a stump.
A/N - Continued thanks to Steffeny from LJ and to Margravine for their interest and encouragement. It means a lot.
Edited: Jan 2011