Chapter 2 : And the Return
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Felt feet slam into ground. Handy thing about heels is they tend to stick. Unfortunately decided to stick in grate on street. Distinctly unimpressed. Wobbled before regaining balance and managing to extricate self. Thanked Merlin, Circe and similar that Charlie’s house in city rather than mountain-top or whatever. Really wouldn’t have put it past him. Was, however, standing outside a neat looking little terrace. Lovely architecture. Considered the possibility that he might have finally met someone worth living with, then remembered was Charlie. Maybe just starting to get on a bit, after a bit of comfort.
Shoved pen into pocket, strode up to the door, grabbed the brass knocker, and knocked. Thumping noises came pounding towards said door. Probably footsteps of gigantic bear. Door opened, instead of bear was Charlie. Although difference not immediately apparent. Fairly massive figure, complete with wild hair and a beard that just can’t have been hygienic. There’s rugged and then there’s rugged. Charlie unfortunately not the manicured and crafted sort.
Face, however, burst into a smile. “Victoire! What are you doing here? Come in!”
Peered in dubiously, not entirely sure what to expect. This was, after all, a man who spends most of his life with dragons.
Met with just about the most beautiful looking house have ever seen. Light streaming everywhere, white walls, open space, just the right amount of art.
“Just a bit I suppose, I mean - you work with dragons!”
“So I’m not allowed to have good taste?” He laughed. “Can I get you a drink or anything? You can tell me what you’re doing all the way out here.”
“Some water would be great if you’ve got it.”
“Sure? Don’t want a Butterbeer or anything?”
“Ooh tempted! Is that alright?”
“Yeah no worries,” he chuckled, “Ain’t no thing. Accio Butterbeer!”
Two Butterbeers zoomed down the long hallway, slapping into his waiting palms. He passed one to self. “Come into the kitchen.”
Followed him down, looking around curiously. Charlie always something of an enigmatic figure. Showed up every Christmas, remembered every birthday, apart form that really rather absent. Added to mystique am fairly sure he cultivated deliberately. Sat down at his kitchen table, lovely little thing. Looking around, started to notice things that didn’t quite add up. The slightly delicate furniture. The fresh lilies in a vase. The freshly laundered clothes folding themselves in a corner. Clothes wouldn’t have been odd, save there were rather too many dresses for them to belong to Charlie.
“This isn’t your place, is it?”
“Well… technically not so much.”
“What is it with this family? Whose is it then?”
Not entirely sure why he was being all hesitant and similar. Entirely family likely to be delighted. Especially Grandma. Although entirely possible she’d just die of the shock which obviously wouldn’t be ideal.
“As if you didn’t tell us! Who is she? What’s her name?”
“This is why! If you want to hang around for a bit you’ll meet her, she’s at work now. Didn’t you have something you wanted from me anyway?”
“Oh, right, true. I better meet her though!” Cast warning eye on him. Weasley males unreliable at the best of times. “Anyway, I need a tent.”
“How do you not have one? You’re a Curse Breaker. Oh Merlin, you got one of those useless ones from Bear in Diagon Alley didn’t you? He’s hopeless. What happened? Blew away?”
“Washed away, how did you even know?”
He merely looked at self with obnoxiously smug look plastered across face. “Not even going to tell you that. So when do you need this new one by?”
“Monday? Are you outside your mind? That’s going to cost extra.”
“Extra? I’m family! I shouldn’t be paying anything at all.”
“There is no way you’re getting this for free.”
This was possibly a reasonable point. Charlie rather exclusive in his dealings. Things tended to push up towards the hundreds of Galleons range. Partly due to the materials used, partly due to the really ridiculously impressive nature of the protective charms he cast on it. Suppose the furniture and stuff decent as well.
“Umm, oh! I know. How about I don’t pay you, but, you give it to me as an early wedding present.”
“Done. Anything in particular you need?”
“Not really. Just whack everything you can on it. Like, everything.”
“Can do matey. When’s the wedding?”
“July something, haven't quite worked out the details left.”
“Nice one, sounds like you're on top of things."
“Course. Anyway, I’ve probably taken up enough of your time, I’ll come back on Monday then?”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll come to London - probably overdue a visit anyway.”
“Well, it was lovely to see you again, I really do wish you’d visit us more often.”
“Ahh Victoire, you know I couldn’t do that, would take all the fun out of it. I’ll see you Monday.”
Hugged, then walked back down to the front doorway, stepped out and reached into pocket. The minute skin touched the pen, whipped through the air once more, back to Louis’ office it was. Slammed into carpeted ground in front of him once more. Heard a horrible crack. Felt balance slip off to one side, tumbled spectacularly.
Looked down and spotted heel, cracked clean through.
“Ooh, that can’t be good.”
“Thank you, Louis.” Voice came through distinctly gritted teeth. Then realised was magic, and could simply repair it. “Reparo!”
Stood up and scowled at him. “Pretty sure that’s entirely your fault, shocking Portkey.”
“Excuse me, that was an excellent Portkey. Your fault for wearing those stupid heels.”
This was quite a reasonable point. Not that I was going to let him have it.
“Maybe… but look how pretty they are.”
He looked and grudgingly nodded. Shoes: 1, Common Sense: 0
“Moving on from the heels, I’m still actually trying to work so if you could just skeddadle that would be fair awesome.”
“Oh fine then. I won’t disturb the top secret inner-workings of the Ministry. Leave you in peace to tell us all what to do.”
“Great. Thanks, see you later then.”
So rude. Pretty sure classic case of youngest sibling chippiness. Still not appreciated. As walking though the Ministry had a think about what should do next. Probably work. Best let them know what I was going to be up to or similar. Arrived in the great atrium with its wall of roaring green fireplaces. Stepped up to the nearest one, grabbed a pinch of Floo Powder from a nearby shelf, tossed it in then stepped into the blaze “Gringotts!”
Loathsome feeling Floo-ing. All squished and spinning and claustrophobic and eugh. Stepped out of the grate in office and retched.
“Very dignified Miss Delacour.”
“Shut up, Lou.”
“Are you going to stay Delacour by the way? Pretty sure you should. Victoire Lupin just doesn’t sound right and Victoire Delacour-Lupin is way too much a mouthful and that’s not even bringing your middle name into this and -”
“Did I not tell you to shut up?”
“Right, got it. Shutting up now. Just wondering because the whole wedding is coming up pretty soon and you’ll actually have to decide and how’s the planning going actually? You must be insanely busy, can’t even imagine what it must be like to -”
Nice kid Lou. Really nice actually. Just almost literally never shuts up. Normally able to tune him out. This morning not so much.
“No. I won’t be changing my name. Teddy won’t be changing his either. Anything else?”
Lou shook his head. Smart boy. Had a look around office, wasn’t in here all that much. Fairly big room, fairly massive round table in the middle, few chairs around it. Pretty much supposed to be used for report writing and research. Got Lou to write the reports.. After all, what’s the point of having an assistant if not using him? He allegedly had dreams of becoming a Curse Breaker, was just never ever going to happen however. Definitely had the academic qualifications, just temperamentally unsuited in the extreme. Curse Breaking being a fairly hardcore job, duelling and practical defence pretty much top of the tree. The idea of Lou actually raising his wand in anger pretty much beyond laughable.
Did however do the research part by self. Pin-up boards and similar pretty much everywhere. Couple of computers. Eyed Tracking Board on far wall. Completely brilliant invention. Fair creeper to be fair, actually have a feeling they’re banned for use by anyone who isn’t Law Enforcement. Made Dom get me one. Basically once activated it hooks in with any Tracking Charms cast by same wand. Can of course be removed once no longer needed. Was in affect gigantic world map with little red dots flagging names. Names, that, when tapped showed exact location of said person. Used it to keep an eye on main rival-types.
Strode around the table to have a closer look at it. Quick flick over things showed nothing entirely unusual until a dot suddenly vanished from Versailles, France and reappeared suddenly in La Paz, Bolivia. Not good. Skipped across the room to get a better look. Tapped it and watched as the name popped up. Mathieu Robespierre. Indeed, descendant of the revolutionary-type who killed like everyone then got killed because of it. He loved himself. I hated him. Delusions of grandeur brought about because of aforementioned ancestry. Unfortunately was rather good at his job, somewhat possible he’d know about the tapac-yauri as well. That he was in Bolivia was a rather poor sign. Still, given was the best, remained rather irrelevant.
Shrugged and turned to look through notes. As riffled through them, realised there wasn’t much in them that hadn’t said to Teddy. Was almost entirely sure that the Temple referred to was the one by Lake Titicaca. Was however entirely sure the only time to grab the staff would be at sundown on Friday. Accounts told of the earth opening and a blinding gold filling the night sky. These things normally entirely exaggerated, although by the same token, normally more than hints of truth in said. Trail would be easier to pick up when I got there. The Quechua should know exactly anyway.
Bit lip. Not much more could do here. Lifted the Silencing Charm on Lou. Must have been killing him.
“SO uncalled for,” were the first words out of his mouth.
“Leave it out, I’m going okay? Have to talk to Gorkil about the money, then I’m heading home. You’re not in on the weekend are you?”
“Ahh nope, not unless you need me to be.”
“Shouldn’t do. Well, see you when I get back then.”
“Oh, okay. Good luck Miss!”
“Thanks Lou, see you in a week.”
Left the room with a less dramatic flourish than usual, still not bad. Was slightly nervous about going to see Gorkil. Thing is, while really do get on quite well with goblins, and human-goblin relations having improved significantly in recent years, they’re still a completely alien species. While similar-ish to people, really pretty much completely different. That and they still didn’t like that we were wand-bearers. Still, fairly big fans of dad and Potter-Weasley clan in general which is always handy.
Fortunately his office wasn’t underground so didn’t have to to get on the damned carts. Absolutely outrageous they still used them. Would have been confident they were doing it to keep clients out, save they loved the clients. Strode through work, heels clicking away, dishing out obligatory greetings to the left and right. Walked into his office to find him perched behind his little desk, tracing a line down a map with his finger.
Cleared throat tactfully. Watched as he jumped, lost his place, then scowled ferociously.
“Oh, it’s you Victoire Weasley. Here about the money?”
“As your assistant will have told you, we’re willing to give you what you need. You’ll be paid upon completion of course, you don’t get the staff and you’re paying out of your own pocket.”
While most would consider this completely unreasonable, was pretty much entirely confident could get the thing. Not 100% confident as would be sickeningly arrogant in manner of Dominique, but close enough.
“Fair enough.” Could always charge charge for extra things as well. Like tent. Getting for free-ish, don’t tell the goblins, extra 100+ galleons in pockets.
“That’s just your expenses, you get this for us there will be a significant bonus for you. It’s been a long time since Gringotts Bank discovered a great treasure of the magical world, not since the days of your father. We greatly desire to once again. Make sure you get it Victoire Weasley.”
On that note dismissed self with a flick of a slightly-too-long finger. Not much too long. Just… slightly unnatural. Left bank feeling pretty good about self, yet still with feeling had forgotten something. Trawled through days events. Cafe, Louis, Portkey, Romania, Charlie, ooh that sneaker! He’d completely not introduced me to the girlfriend at all. Rude. Not like I would have told Grandma or anything.
Stepped out of the bank onto the gleaming white marble steps. Nice day actually. Really quite warm, well, as far as English spring days can be warm anyway. Yawned suddenly, had been far too eventful a day. Clearly time to head home. Turned on spot, felt familiar squishing feeling take hold, then was whisked off homeward.
A/N: Ta-da! What did you think? Things should actually start kicking off in the next chapter. Theoretically anyway. Oh, what did you think of Charlie? I’m not entirely convinced, just couldn’t quite get him across properly. Eh, oh well.