Chapter 2 : Deux
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For Faye Estelle Moncrieff, her grandparent’s mansion set on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean was a prison. As was her father’s eighteenth century townhouse in Paris and the ski chalet in the Alps. All beautiful and privileged and empty.
Just like me, she thought. Feared, as she stared at her Latin conjugations.
She glanced up at the formidable woman sitting across the desk from her. Faye always thought her governess, Madame Dubois, could have been pretty if she smiled. As it was, her salt and pepper hair was pulled back so tightly into an elegant chignon that the skin of her face was pulled sharply against her bones. Cold green eyes glittered behind rimless glasses perched on a long, thin nose. They were eyes that never missed a stray thread or untucked blouse, or jam stain. Eyes that had followed and reproached Faye for almost four years.
Madame was engrossed in her own reading so Faye allowed herself to look around the room. Today they were studying in the blue library. One of the smaller studies. As the title suggested, everything was different shades of blue. The plush carpet, the huge drapes that usually covered the windows, the Louis XVI furniture. Only the huge mahogany desk in the center of the room wasn’t blue.
Faye looked back at her open workbook and sighed internally. As her grandparents wanted her to have a well-rounded education, Faye studied both magical and Muggle subjects. Three days a week, she did things like languages, deportment, and literature and four days a week, things like Potions, Charms, and Transfiguration.
Today was a Muggle day.
Faye glanced up and out one of the huge windows and sighed to herself again. It was summer and the sun was shining. She knew that outside, others were enjoying the sounds of waves, birds, and laughter. Indoors, Faye had only the ticking clock to keep her company.
Her mind drifted back, as it often did, to those brief few moments last summer when she almost had friends. Two beautiful, blonde, shining friends who wanted to take her away for school.
She coughed slightly and Madame looked up.
“Mademoiselle Moncrieff,” she said in sharp French. She never called Faye anything else. “Have you finished your conjugations?”
“Yes, Madame,” Faye answered. “May I be excused? The heat is making me feel faint.”
Madame narrowed her eyes sharply but Faye must have looked peaked because Madame nodded curtly. “Quickly though, we must move on. Your Greek is abysmal.”
Faye nodded, face carefully blank. She stood and smoothed down her pleated silk skirt. With a brief curtsy, she turned and left the room. She shut the door quietly, the perfect picture of decorum. With a deep breath, she started to walk down the corridor and with a small smirk, started to run.
Hair ribbon streaming behind her, she hopped on one foot and then the other as she pulled off her shoes. She kept running, down corridors, around corners, and down stairs as she threw her patent pumps over her shoulder. She whipped off her white hair ribbon and it fluttered down behind her.
She’d reached the entrance hall and kept moving as she shimmied out of her stockings and winked at the maid, Brigitte, who was watching from the hall with a disapproving look. Faye grinned as she sprinted out the huge front doors, nude colored material of her stockings drifting behind her to land gently in a crumpled heap in the marble floor of the foyer.
Faye kept running, her bare feet sinking into warm sand as she reached the beach. She felt drunk. Her chest was tight with that particular combination of elation and fear. But she didn’t care about being caught now. She’d needed to get away and now she needed a plan.
Panting now, Faye sank down onto the sand, not heeding the expensive fabric of her dark blue dress. She looked back at the huge house on the hill. The gold stonewalls glowing in the sunlight seemed to mock her. Seemed to say to enjoy her freedom because it was brief.
The pretty little bird in her pretty gilded cage, she thought savagely. The fairy tale princess sitting in her tower, waiting for her prince.
“Fuck that,” she said aloud in French. She giggled and yelled it again in English and startled a seagull. It flapped away, squawking indignantly that Faye Moncrieff, delicate flower and budding society lady could be so uncouth.
“Fuck. That,” she said again, even more firmly. Who was that bird to judge her? “If this is a fairy tale,” she yelled at the bird. “I’d have to be Sleeping Beauty because I’m tired just waiting for that bastard to show up!”
Whether she meant her prince or her father, she wasn’t entirely sure but it was the Freudian question of the hour. She closed her eyes and let the wind blow her dark hair across her face, not caring about knots and tangles.
She heard a voice shout her name and she looked up quickly. And then again, “Faye!” as a cloud of silvery silk seemed to envelope her.
“Dom?” She choked and gagged slightly. Dom’s hair looked beautiful but tasted horrible.
“Faye!” Dom shouted again as she sat back. She was grinning and kept hold of Faye’s arms as she shouted over her shoulder. “Lou, you lazy sod! Look who I found!”
Louis ambled slowly over the crest of the hill and Faye grinned at him. They were just as beautiful as Faye remembered. With their different shades of blonde hair and almost identical blue eyes, she thought they looked like Artemis and Apollo.
Louis in particular seemed to have grown up and out of his baby fat. He looked gob smacked but grinned quickly back. “Well hello,” he said, walking over and giving Faye a one armed hug. “Déjà vu, eh?”
Faye shrugged and told them of her daring escape. Much to her delight, they were very impressed.
“I knew it,” Dom breathed but when Faye looked her curiously, Dom just shook her head.
“Well anyway,” Faye went on. “Now I need a scheme. If I stay here any longer I’ll scream.”
“You could write poetry,” Louis muttered but no one listened to him.
Dom’s eyes took on a manic gleam and Louis moaned. “You have to come to Hogwarts, then,” she said excitedly, ignoring her brother. “Here’s the thing,” she went on. “James, Fred, Sander and Willa have left and seem to think it’s some great loss. But this year, me, Louis, Al, Rose, Molly, and Scorpius are all seventh years which means—“
“Shit’s about to get weird,” Louis said. Dom nodded. Faye just stared at them with wide eyes. She may have read about their family but just hearing so many names in quick succession left her breathless.
Just then, a long black car appeared on the road behind them and began to smoothly make its way up the hill to the chateau. They all stared at it and Faye’s eyes narrowed. They watched the car’s accent before Faye stood abruptly, face set in determination. She turned and started to stride away.
“Where are you going?” Dom asked.
“Step one of the plan,” Faye said, turning around but continuing to walk backwards. “Terrorize my father into letting me leave.” She saluted the twins with a grin and followed the car’s path up the hill.
“Well,” Louis said, looking at Dom.
But Dom didn’t answer because she was thinking. If Faye pulled this off… If she managed to convince her protective, powerful father to let her go away for her last year of school…
Dom had always been a dreamer. She had always wanted big, grand things that never happened. But it didn’t matter because she was always moving on to a new dream. But there was one that had followed her for many years.
Dom and her siblings and cousins dealt with the family’s fame and notoriety in different ways.
But Dom knew that even those who pretended not to care felt the strain of either their name or infamous red hair. And she wanted to help. She was selfish, certainly, but the main drive of her dream was to find a way to distinguish this younger generation from the older. They didn’t have a war to fight but there had to be some way they could show that they weren’t just famous by association. That they were just as interesting and worthwhile.
Maybe not as interesting as Uncle Harry but there’s only one Chosen One.
Dom just didn’t know how. She was a dreamer, not a chess master. But she was beginning to think that Faye might be just the mastermind that she needed.
Up at the house, Faye pushed open the front door and immediately recognized the sound of her father arguing with Madame Dubois. She walked inside and began to make her way upstairs, following the raised voices.
“Madame,” her father started but the governess cut him off.
“Monsieur Moncrieff,” she said sternly. “Mademoiselle is not lost. She was feeling faint and I think, a bit overwhelmed. She is a child, Monsieur Moncrieff, and children crave the outdoors. Your daughter is bright and while I do not appreciate being lied to, as long as no harm has come to her, I see no reason why we cannot forget this incident.”
There was a pause and Faye wouldn’t have been surprised if her father quailed slightly under the onslaught of stern French. Madame Dubois was more frightening than Grand-mère.
“If no harm has come to her,” her father started but Faye pushed open the heavy door to the blue library. Her father and her tutor were standing face to face and while Madame looked quite calm, Faye could see the pulsing vein on her father’s forehead that always indicated danger.
“Papa,” she said quietly and the adults looked at her.
“Faye,” he said and in two strides was at the door to pull her into his arms for a hug.
Faye allowed herself to be hugged and feel like a child for a moment before she pushed gently at her father’s shoulders. She knew the longer she basked in his affection, the harder it would be when he inevitably left and she had no idea when she would see him again. The spaces between visits had been getting longer and longer.
He set her down and just then seemed to notice the state of her clothes. From the sound of a gasp behind him, Madame had noticed as well. Faye knew that if she allowed either of them to start scolding her, she would never say what she needed to.
So she gently extricated herself from her father’s arms and looked at her governess.
“Madame,” she said politely, folding her hands in front of her. “I apologize for lying to you. It was rude and immature and I regret not asking you for permission to go for a walk.” Madame frowned slightly but nodded to acknowledge Faye’s apology. “If you wouldn’t mind, Madame,” she went on. “I would like to speak to my father.”
Madame nodded again, glancing at Faye’s father. With a slight curtsy and a last disapproving glance at Faye’s bare feet, she walked out and closed the door softly behind her.
Faye looked at her father and he straightened to his full height with a sigh. Whenever she saw him, she immediately felt eight years old again. Usually it made her feel cherished but just then she needed her courage.
“Faye Estelle,” he said tiredly and rubbed his chin. He always looked at her like he didn’t know what to do with her. “Where are your shoes?” He finally asked.
Faye shrugged and dug her big toe into the plush carpet. “Papa, I have to talk to you,” she said but he wasn’t listening. He’d turned to pace to the window.
“Faye Estelle, you know I worry,” he said, sounding exhausted. “Why did you—“
“Papa I want to go to Hogwarts,” she said loudly, interrupting her father for the first time in her life.
He turned quickly and stared at her. “You… No!” Faye jumped when he yelled suddenly and paced back towards her. “To Hogwarts?! Faye, why would you even think of that? Hogwarts?” He ended with a mutter as he stared at his daughter like he hardly recognized her.
“Because I want to go to school, Papa,” Faye said and she clasped her hands behind her back to hide their trembling. “I know that Beauxbatons…wasn’t right. I’m seventeen, Papa! I want friends! And you know I have better career choices if I sit my exams properly at a school…” She trailed off and felt panic start to claw at her throat as she watched her father’s face close. He was about to dismiss her and as soon as he did she’d never have another chance.
“Because Maman went to Hogwarts!” She yelled and he jumped and gaped at her. “And sometimes…sometimes I feel like I’m losing her, Papa,” she said more quietly. She felt tears in her eyes and knew the words were true but they felt like cheap, hollow manipulation. And as a single, glistening tear fell down her cheek and her father visibly softened, Faye felt the panic replaced by nausea.
“Faye,” he said softly and her tears began to fall in earnest.
“Please Papa,” she pleaded. “I just don’t want to forget her,” she finished in a whisper.
He dropped to one knee in front of her and pulled her into his arms. Faye knew this was a gesture of habit because while petite, she was still a foot taller than him now. He let go and looked up at her, cupping her cheek in one hand.
“My girl,” he whispered, eyes searching her face. “I almost wish…” he started, that particular sadness in his voice that he reserved for Faye’s mother. “But no,” he blinked and the ghost of his wife was gone from his eyes. “You look just like me,” he finished and Faye’s stomach clenched. She’d always wondered, would it be easier or harder if she looked like her mother?
But he was right. She looked just like her handsome Papa with his chocolate brown eyes, elegant features, and thick, dark brown hair. She never saw her mother when she looked in the mirror.
He sighed and stood. His eyes were hooded and Faye knew he was far away. “Speak to Madame Dubois and have her write to the Headmistress. If she admits you, you may go.” He paused and stared out the window. “I must go back to Paris tonight, Faye Estelle. But I will see you before you leave the country.”
She nodded and then whispered, “Thank you, Papa.” He didn’t turn around. She left him and went to find Madame, feeling like her victory was hollow.
Twenty minutes later, Faye returned to the beach where Dom and Louis hadn’t moved from where she’d left them. She stopped for a moment, just watching them before they saw her. Silvery Dom like Artemis, goddess of the moon, seemed to draw sunlight and attention in equal amounts. And golden Louis, like the sun god Apollo seemed to exude heat and light, warming everyone around him.
Louis looked up and saw her. He waved and Dom looked over as well. Faye walked over to them and she couldn’t contain her smile. Finally, she felt like her conversation with her father might have been worth it.
She plopped down on the sand, still completely heedless of her silk and took a deep breath. “He agreed,” she said. Dom screeched and Faye recoiled but was soon enveloped in Dom. For the second time that day, Faye wondered how something that smelled remarkably like strawberries tasted so much like bleach as she spit out a chunk of Dom’s hair.
Louis was grinning wider than she’d ever seen and Faye could hardly breathe with Dom strangling her but she was happier than she could remember.
“Wait,” Faye choked with a laugh and took a deep, relieved breath as Dom let go and sat back. “He agreed but I don’t know if I’ve been accepted yet. Madame wrote to your Headmistress, McGonagall, I believe? So we have to wait for her reply.”
Louis rolled his eyes and leaned back on his elbows. “Minnie will accept you, don’t worry. You’re just the type of student that she wishes we all were.”
“Minnie?” Faye asked.
“Headmistress McGonagall,” Dom cut in, steamrolling over her brother. “She’s about a thousand years old and taught Transfiguration when our grandparents and parents were there but then she fought in the wars and always had a soft spot for Uncle Harry so now she’s basically a family friend. Doesn’t stop her from punishing us, mind. Especially James. I think she takes special pleasure in punishing James for some reason…” Dom frowned and shrugged. “Probably his grandfather. James always said that shouting ‘James Potter’ in the halls was a passion of Minnie’s…”
Louis caught Faye’s eye and rolled his eyes but she just grinned. Faye was fluent in four modern languages and passable in Latin and Ancient Greek but Dom may as well be speaking Martian for all Faye understood. But she didn’t care. She could tell that being friends with Dom would be a bit like being run over by a freight train but Faye loved it.
The next day it rained and they couldn’t meet at the beach but Faye ran the two miles between the chateau and Dom and Louis’ grandparents’ house to tell them, with hair dripping in her eyes and a stitch in her side that…yes. Professor McGonagall had written back and said that Hogwarts would be proud to accept a student like Faye Estelle Moncrieff.
Dom shrieked again and Faye was treated to a smothering by both twins at once. Eventually they calmed down enough to invite Faye into the house. She met their mother, Fleur, who quickly dried Faye and then hugged her. Faye was pleased to chatter in French about her short time at Beauxbatons while Fleur gushed and Dom and Louis rolled their eyes.
Their father, Bill, had gone back to work the week before but Faye met the twins’ older sister, Victoire and her fiancé, Teddy.
And so in the space of two days, Faye had made her first real friends and fallen deeply in love for the first time. Except for Etienne who was her first kiss at the age of seven.
Teddy, with his shock of blue hair, warm brown eyes, and a laugh that tied her stomach in knots, was perfect. For all of five minutes until Faye met Victoire and saw how in love she and Teddy were and sighed over wedding plans with Dom.
When the Weasleys returned to England, Faye went with them, all of her belongings stuffed into a single trunk. She did not see her father again but even though Madame didn’t cry, Faye thought her formidable governess might have been holding back tears. Even her grand-mere and grand-pere came to see her off, her grand-pere stuffing a full moneybag into her hand with a wink.
Author's Note: I apologize for the abrupt ending but the division between this and the next chapter was a bit sketchy.
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