Act V, Part the Second
‘The best audience is intelligent, well-education, and a little drunk’ Alvin Barkley
This set was dark, with torches flickering like stars among the ivy of the walls; James, Algernon and Peter were gathered in front of a small tomb, the plaster of its walls bleached white by the sun, like old bones. Peter beckoned Ferdy, the musicians and two cloaked figures (presumably monks, but actually Claire and Amber Ortega, representing the choir) onstage; they all carried tapers.
“Is this the monument of Leonato?” James asked, the very picture of misery.
“It is, my lord,” said Peter, solemnly.
James held up a scroll and read from it.
“Done to death by slanderous tongues, was the Hero that here lies,” he paused, trying not to cry. “Death, in guerdon of her wrongs, Gives her fame which never dies. So-so-” he stuttered, voice breaking. “So the life that died with shame… li-lives in death with glorious fame.”
He stepped forward and hung the scroll on the gates of the monument with shaking hands.
“Hang thou there upon the tomb, praising her when I am dumb,” he scrubbed his hands across his face. “Now, music, sound, and sing your solemn hymn.”
James sank to his knees as the musicians began to play; Algernon put a comforting hand on his shoulder as Ferdy began to sing:
“Pardon, goddess of the night,
Those that slew thy virgin knight;
For the which, with songs of woe,
Round about her tomb they go.”
“Midnight, Assist our moan;
Help us to sigh and groan,
“Graves, yawn and yield your dead,
Till death be utterèd,
There was a brief pause as the musicians subtly changed the melody before fading away; Professor Flitwick had decided that this section of the play would benefit from a prolonged musical interlude, and had therefore added an English Madgrigal.
Peter, Ferdy, Claire and Amber began to sing, delighting the ear with harmony and discord, letting their four separate melodies bend and twist about one another.
“Draw on, sweet night,
Draw on, sweet night.
Best friend unto those cares,
Best friend unto those cares.
That do arise from painful melancholy,
Arise from painful melancholy.”
Eleanor, listening from the wings, wondered how a song of such exquisite beauty had come to be written about misery.
“My life’s so ill through want of comfort fair,
My life’s so ill through want of comfort fair,
That onto thee, to thee, I concentrate it wholly.
That onto thee, I concentrate it wholly.”
The audience were sitting in stunned silence, absorbing the beautiful music; surprised, no doubt, that four teenagers could produce such a moving sound.
“Sweet night, draw on,
Sweet night, draw on,
Oh, sweet night, draw on.
Sweet night, draw on.
Sweet night, draw on.”
The majority of the cast were gathered in the wings, listening with their eyes tightly closed, letting their souls soar.
“My griefs when they be told,
My griefs when they be told,
To shades and darkness
Find some ease from paining.”
Professor Flitwick had an expression of exquisite pleasure on his face, having been transported entirely by the twisting wall of sound.
“And while thou all in silence dost enfold,
In silence dost enfold,
And while thou all in silence dost enfold,
I then shall have best time for my complaining.”
They were getting quieter now, winding up the complaint gently and with great skill.
“I then shall have best time for my complaining,
For my complaining,
I then shall have best time for my complaining.”*
There was a ringing silence for a few seconds as the four of them finished singing, before the audience, as one, burst into storm of spontaneous applause, which was enthusiastically echoed in the wings. Somewhere amongst them, Professor Flitwick had burst into proud and happy tears.
When the tumult had died down, James got unsteadily to his feet, knees and legs a little numb from kneeling for so long.
“Now unto thy bones goodnight!” he exclaimed. “Yearly will I do this rite.”
“Good morrow, masters,” said Algernon, solemnly. “The wolves have preyed, and look, the gentle day, before the wheels of Phoebus, round about dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey. Thanks to you all, and leave us. Fare you well.”
“Good morrow, masters,” James echoed. “Each his several way.”
They watched the musicians and choir depart, Peter following them, head bowed as if in prayer.
“Come, let us hence and put on other weeds,” said Algernon, his hand resting on his friend’s shoulder. “And then to Leonato’s we will go.”
Together, they left.
The lights came back up on Leonato’s chapel, where everything seemed alive with bustle – the crew had been required to put on costumes and rush about the stage purposefully. Out of the general chaos came Frank and his household, Remus, and a cheerful looking Peter; they hurried forwards.
“Did I not tell you she was innocent?” Peter said, beaming.
“So are the Prince and Claudio, who accused her upon the error that you heard debated,” said Frank, happily. “And Margaret was in some fault for this,” he said, taking Alice’s hand reassuringly. “Although against her will, as it appears in the true course of all the question.”
“Well,” said Severus, pulling on his waistcoat and chuckling. “I am glad that all things sorts so well.”
“And so am I,” he said. “Being else by faith enforced to call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.”
Eleanor offered him a shy smile, which he returned while her uncles’ backs were turned.
“Well, daughter, and you gentlewomen all, withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,” said Frank. “And when I send for you, come hither masked. The Prince and Claudio promised by this hour to visit me.” He turned to Severus as Lily, Eleanor, Alice and Claire went to hide in the chapel. “You know your office, brother,” he said. “You must be father to you brother’s daughter, and give her to young Claudio.”
“Which I will do with confirmed countenance,” said Severus nodding.
“Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think,” said Remus, suddenly looking quite uncomfortable.
“To do what, signior?” asked Peter, puzzled.
“To bind me, or undo me – one of them,” said Remus, and the audience chuckled. “Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior, your niece regards me with an eye of favour.”
“That eye my daughter lent her,” said Frank, with a wry smile. “‘Tis most true.”
“And I do with an eye of love requite her,” said Remus, nervously, and the audience laughed again.
“The sight whereof I think you had from me, from Claudio, and the Prince,” said Frank. “But what’s your will?”
“Your answer, sir, is enigmatical,” said Remus, giving him a look of confusion. “But, for my will – my will is, your good will may stand with ours, this day to be conjoined in the state of –” he took a deep breath. “– honourable marriage,” the audience laughed along with Frank and Peter. “In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.”
“My heart is with your liking,” said Frank, and clapped him about the back.
“And my help,” said Peter, and Remus did a tiny victory dance behind their backs, much to the amusement of the audience. “Here comes the Prince and Claudio,” Peter said, suddenly.
Peter, Frank, Severus and Remus took up their positions in front of the chapel, doing their best to look sombre. The rest of the cast and crew followed Algernon and James in, taking their places to witness the marriage.
“Good morrow to this fair assemblage,” said Algernon, respectfully.
“Good morrow, Prince,” said Frank, stiffly. “Good morrow, Claudio. We here attend you. Are you yet determined today to marry with my brother’s daughter?”
“I’ll hold my mind,” said James, solemnly.
“Call her forth, brother,” said Frank. “Here’s the Friar ready.
Severus went to the chapel and slipped through the door.
“Good morrow, Benedick,” said Algernon. “Why, what’s the matter that you have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness?”
“I think he thinks upon the savage bull,” said James, as Remus rolled his eyes. “Tush, fear not man! We’ll tip thy horns with gold, and all Europe shall rejoice at thee, as once Europa did at the lusty Jove when he would play the noble beast in love.”
“Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low,” said Remus, lightly. “And some such strange bull leaped your father’s cow and got a calf in that same noble feat much like to you, for you have his bleat.”
James narrowed his eyes.
“For this I owe you,” he said, coldly. Here comes other reck’nings.”
Severus led the four ladies forwards, their faces covered with white lace.
“Which is the lady I must seize upon?” asked James, politely.
“This same is she,” said Severus, leading Lily forward gently. “And I do give her to you.”
“Why then, she’s mine,” said James, humbly. “Sweet,” he said, taking her hand. “Let me see your face.”
“No,” said Frank, in a commanding tone. “That you shall not till you take her hand before this friar and swear to marry her.”
“Give me your hand,” said James, kneeling before Lily. “Before this holy friar I am your husband if you like of me.”
At this, Lily lifted her veil; the majority of the congregation gasped theatrically. James and Algernon looked utterly bewildered.
“And when I lived, I was your other wife,” said Lily, tearfully. “And when you loved, you were my other husband.”
“Another Hero!” James exclaimed, astonished.
“Nothing certainer,” said she. “One Hero died defiled; but I do live, and surely as I live, I am a maid.”
“The former Hero!” said Algernon, wonderingly. “Hero that is dead!”
“She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived,” said Frank.
“All this amazement can I qualify,” said Peter, beaming. “When, after that the holy rites are ended, I’ll tell you largely of fair Hero’s death. Meantime let wonder seem familiar!”
There was an air of general dispersal as the assembly chattered to one another in shock.
“Soft and fair, friar,” said Remus, striding forward. “Which is Beatrice?”
Eleanor, who had been trying to slip out of the limelight, was pushed forward by Claire and Alice.
“I answer to that name,” she said, removing her veil with a cough. “What is your will?”
“Do not you love me?” Remus asked, to general amusement, onstage and off.
“Why, no,” Eleanor cried, caught off-guard. “No more than reason!”
“Why, then, your uncle, and the Prince, and Claudio have been deceived,” he said, astonished. “They swore you did.”
“Do not you love me?” asked Eleanor, the audience giggling at her expression.
“Troth no,” Remus shot back, suddenly very aware that this exchange was happening in front of one hell of a lot of people. “No more than reason.”
“Why, then my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula are much deceived,” she said. “For they did swear you did!”
“They swore that you were almost sick for me,” cried Remus, hot and bewildered.
“They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me,” said Eleanor.
“‘Tis no such matter,” Remus assured her. “Then…” he said, and a flash of disappointment crossed his features. “You do not love me?”
“No, truly,” said Eleanor. “But in friendly recompense.”
Remus nodded, and they turned away from one another, their arms crossed and scarlet with embarrassment. The audience howled with laughter.
“Come cousin,” Frank cajoled. “I’m sure you love the gentleman.”
Eleanor scowled at him.
“And I’ll be sworn upon’t that he loves her,” said James, grinning. He strode forward and picked Remus’s pocket expertly, producing a small scroll of parchment. “For here’s a paper written in his hand, a halting sonnet of his own pure brain, fashioned to Beatrice.”
He gave the scroll to Eleanor, who snatched it from him eagerly, and began to read; the audience tittered. Lily hurried forward, picked Eleanor’s pocket and produced a second scroll, which she handed to Remus.
“And here’s another,” she said, grinning, and dancing backwards out of Eleanor’s reach as her cousin tried to slap her hands. “Writ in my cousin’s hand, stol’n from her pocket, containing her affection unto Benedick.”
The pair read in silence for a few moments as the audience laughed.
“A miracle!” Remus announced. “Here’s our own hands against our hearts.” He turned to Eleanor, and took one of her hands. “Come, I will have thee,” he said, and the audience chuckled at her ‘Oh-will-you-now?’ expression. “But, by this light, I take you for pity,” he added, and Eleanor laughed, relenting.
“I would not deny you,” she said, with a warning look at her cousin and uncles. “But, by this good day,” she continued, “I yield under great persuasion, and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption.”
The audience roared with laughter as Remus chuckled.
“Peace!” he said, and took her about the waist. “I will stop your mouth!”
There were whoops and cheers from the audience (and cast, actually) as they kissed, and broke apart, smiling at one another almost shyly.
“How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?” asked Algernon, with a grin.
“I’ll tell thee what, Prince,” said he. “A college of wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my good humour. Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? No. Since I do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it; for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.” He turned to James, and gave him a friendly and forgiving smile. “For thy part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee; but in that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised, and love my cousin,” he concluded, with a nod to the smiling Lily.
“I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice, that I might have cudgelled thee out of thy single life,” said James, lightly. “To make thee a double-dealer, which out of question thou wilt be if my cousin do not look exceedingly narrowly to thee.”
Lily and Eleanor exchanged a look and both, absently, lightly smacked their young men.
“Come, come,” said Remus. “We are friends!”
He and James embraced.
“Let’s have a dance ere we are married, that we may lighten our own hearts and our wives’ heels!” Remus cried, to general agreement; the musicians appeared as if from nowhere.
“We’ll have dancing afterward,” said Frank, firmly.
“First, of my word,” cried Remus, buoyantly. “Therefore, play music!” He walked over to Algernon as the musicians tuned up. “Prince, thou art sad,” he said. “Get thee a wife, get thee a wife!”
They laughed together, and the audience joined them.
Archibald Beck elbowed his way to the front of the crowd, followed by Helbert and Wilbur, who were dragging a scowling Sirius.
“My lord,” said Archibald, with a brief bow. “Your brother John is ta’en in flight, and brought with armèd men back to Messina.”
Algernon and Sirius glared at one another with open contempt.
“Think not on him till tomorrow,” said Remus, darkly. “I’ll devise thee brave punishments for him.”
They watched as the Watch led their struggling prisoner offstage.
“Strike up, Pipers!” cried Remus, taking Eleanor’s hand and leading her offstage to dance.
Eleanor’s head was buzzing as she danced offstage and lined up to take her bows; the players came onstage in pairs, taking a bow or a curtsy and assembling in their pre-set places. She thought she saw her mother’s beaming face beyond the glare of the lights, and glimpsed Estelle and Henrì near the back; they were sat with someone she couldn’t quite make out, but whoever it was, was clapping enthusiastically.
Remus led the cast in a group bow, then acknowledged the band and assorted techies, before leading the final bow.
As they trailed offstage to change into their clothes for the Gala, he pulled her to one side and kissed her.
“What was that for?” she asked, breathlessly.
“Because I can, now,” he grinned. “May I have the honour of the first dance, my lady?” he asked, with a theatrical flourish.
“Have you been possessed by Sirius or something?” she asked, surprised at him. “Of course you may!”
“I’m just a bit hyper from the play, I think,” he said, a little embarrassed at himself.
Eleanor kissed his cheek.
“You’re wonderful whatever,” she said, and slipped behind a screen to change.
“That was amazing!” Lily cried, rearranging her hair. “I never thought it could be like that!”
“Something of a rush,” Severus agreed, from somewhere behind another screen.
“I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep tonight,” Alice giggled. “Oh, I’m so glad that the House Elves are clearing up for us.”
“I will,” said Peter, struggling out of his habit and into his dress robes. “As soon as the Gala’s over I’ll be out like a light.”
“And aching all over tomorrow,” agreed Claire. “Like usual.”
“Look!” cried James, over the general noise.
In the lake, not twenty yards from them, the Giant Squid had swum up to see them; she was enthusiastically applauding, great tentacles splashing all over the place.
“I guess she enjoyed it,” said Sirius, laughing.
“Well,” said Frank, brushing himself down, and looking about him. “I think we did a fine job, after all that.”
Eleanor nodded, pulling her shoes on.
Algernon wandered over, looking dapper in his midnight blue dress robes.
“Shall we go and meet our adoring public?” he asked, with a grin.
As expected, the majority of the school had migrated inside for the dancing, but adoring parents and the odd few friends had lingered to show their support.
Eleanor managed to give Estelle a brief wave before being whisked off in a business-like fashion by Madame Pomfrey. With a startled and bewildered look at Remus, who had immediately begun to follow them, Eleanor was half dragged through the crowd.
“Hush, Miss Wren,” Madame Pomfrey hissed. “I’m trying to help your mother avoid a scene.”
Surprised that Madame Pomfrey and her mother knew one another, Eleanor tried to keep up with the older witch, stumbling from time to time.
“Madame, s’il vous plait – vous êtes blesser mon bras!” she hissed, surprising a couple of the students around her. Madame Pomfrey shot her a look and loosened her grip slightly.
“Je suis désolé, Madamoiselle Wren,” said the matron, with a swift glance at Remus, who was still following them, watching their exchange with curiosity. “Mais nous devons être rapide – faire essayer de suivre.”
“Mais oui, Madame,” she reached out and managed to grab Remus’s hand, pulling him along with them. “La aristocrate est ici? Quelles sont ses intentions?”
“Il a l’intention de honte votre mere – publiquement, si possible.”
“Merde!” she hissed, stumbling slightly, and Madame Pomfrey gave her a Look.
“Regardez à votre langue, Madamoiselle Wren,” she admonished, then – to Eleanor’s surprise, gave her a rather grim smile. “Nous ne sommes pas prêts à laisser la aristocrate ont son chemin.” **
They arrived outside a chamber just off the Great Hall; Eleanor and Remus dusted themselves down.
“Do you ever stop trailing after Miss Wren?” Madame Pomfrey asked him, and he went scarlet. “I’ll take that as a ‘no’.” She looked them over appraisingly. “Although, this time, you may very well come in handy, Mr Lupin… an excellent performance by the way, both of you.”
She gave them a long look, and said, almost to herself: “You all grow up so quickly…”
She pushed the door open, and Eleanor took a deep breath; Remus brushed his hand against hers as they went in, letting her know that he was with her in this, however he could be.
Professor Dumbledore was leaning against a fireplace, cheerfully chatting with Minister Appleby; Professor McGonagall was talking amiably with Madame Buchardt. Minister Buchardt was keeping to himself, sipping wine in the corner. He looked almost buoyant; triumphant. It was all Eleanor could do not to go over there and kick him. She settled for drawing herself up to her full height and smiling shyly.
“Poppy?” asked Professor Dumbledore, eyeing the two students.
“I thought our guests might like to congratulate our stars in person,” she said, and Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore shared a look.
Eleanor understood. There was no way, having seen her mother, that they could have any doubt of her identity; they had decided to Stay Out of It. Fair enough. She didn’t expect anyone to fight her battles for her; she was of age, after all.
Minister Appleby, who was a good deal ruddier than earlier, grinned happily; apparently the mead was keeping her face appropriately blurry.
“By Jove! An excellent idea, Madame Pomfrey!” he sprang forwards and wrung Remus’s hand. “A triumph!” he declared. “You kept us laughing – Ha! Topper!”
“Thank you sir,” said Remus, aware that if he hadn’t been so worried for Eleanor he would have had a hard time keeping a straight face.
“And you, Miss,” cried Minister Appleby, and kissed her hand, gallantly. “It’s not every day you meet a young gal with such spirit! And such a beauty, to boot!” He beamed down at her, and she dimpled, prettily, through her blush. “You all put on a fine show – you will tell your co-stars?”
“Yes, sir, thank you sir,” she said.
“Good show!” he cried. “Weren’t they magnificent?” he asked the room at large.
“They were indeed,” said Professor McGonagall, allowing them both a rare smile. “All the seventh years have worked so hard.”
Dumbledore twinkled at them.
“And with excellent results!” the Minister boomed, oblivious to the dark expression on Minister Buchardt’s thin face. “For such a good cause too, don’cher’think, Madame Buchardt?”
“En effet, monsieur,” Violetta said, warmly. “Zey were magnifique.”
“Oh, call me Everard, dear lady.”
“Everard,” she echoed, with a graceful dip of her elegant head. “My ‘usband and I are always ‘appy to support charity – especially when eet ‘elps les enfants. Eet was fortunate zat we were able to attend tonight.”
“Mais oui, Violetta,” said Minister Buchardt, suddenly. “Fortunate indeed, don’t you think?”
Eleanor contrived to look politely confused, glad of the months of acting practice.
“Eef we ‘ad not,” he continued, enjoying the feeling of control as seven pairs of eyes followed him. “We would never ‘ave seen these fine young people.”
He shook Remus’s hand, and Eleanor was incensed to see him wipe his hand absently on his robes, as if Remus were somehow dirty.
“Et toi, mademoiselle,” he said, making to kiss Eleanor’s hand; he pulled her forwards into the light. “She eez très belle, eez she not?”
Dumbledore was frowning slightly at this behaviour; Minister Appleby, although not having a clue what was going on, had at least picked up on Minister Buchardt’s tone, and was blinking at him in good-natured confusion. The expressions on all three of the women’s faces were unreadable, but Eleanor could tell from Professor McGonagall’s body language that she didn’t like him threatening a student.
“Een fact, she eez almost as beautiful as you, Madame,” he turned to Eleanor. “Are you not, Madamoiselle?”
“Sir?” she asked, doing a rather good impression of someone very confused, given the circumstances.
“Come now, Madamoiselle,” he said, physically turning her to face her mother. “Do you not think you are as pretty as my wife?”
“Now steady on,” said Minister Appleby, uncertainly, but Minister Buchardt ignored him.
“En effet,” he continued, voice growing silky with the anticipation of triumph. “Now zat I see you both, I would say zat you look quite alike, non?” he prodded Eleanor, none too gently, in the ribs.
“Ouch,” she said loudly, and pulled away from him.
Madame Pomfrey tutted loudly, and she heard a slight gasp; she didn’t need to turn around to know what Professor McGonagall’s expression would be.
“Sir!” Minister Appleby cried, appalled at the behaviour of his guest.
“I would ask you to refrain from bullying my students,” said Professor Dumbledore, reasonably.
If Minister Buchardt noticed the slight edge to the headmaster’s voice, he ignored it, apparently under the misguided impression that his influence excluded him from such admonishment.
“What do you say, Violetta?” he asked, voice taut with cruel excitement. “Eez zis young lady not – ‘ow eez it you British say eet? Zee ‘spitting image’ of you?”
“I suppose zere is a resemblance,” said Madame Buchardt, graciously. “But Huon, you are being rude –”
“Am I, Madame?” he asked, and there was an edge of hysteria in his voice now. “Am I, indeed! You deny, zen, the likeness between you and zee young lady?”
“She’s already said there’s a resemblance,” said Minister Appleby, tightly. “By Jove man, what are you at?”
“I am suggesting,” said Minister Buchardt. “Zat zis young lady is so like my wife that she might well be a relation!” he cried.
“I’m afraid sir, that you must be mistaken,” said Eleanor, quietly. “My parents died when I was very young – but I was brought up by my aunt Estelle. Surely, if I was related to Madame Buchardt, my aunt would have told me?”
“The gal has a point,” began Minister Appleby, but Minister Buchardt cut across him.
“You would think zat, no?” he said, eyes sparkling maliciously. “But what eef your aunt ‘as been instructed not to tell you, mademoiselle?”
There was a pause, in which everyone sane tried not to bring attention to themselves; Remus gave up.
“But why would anyone do that, sir?” he asked, and Eleanor noticed that he had been edging closer to her; she was glad of his proximity.
“What a good question!” the Minister cried, looking more than a little mad. “You are tres intelligent, mon jeune maître, savez-vous?” He grinned at Remus, and Eleanor noticed with slight revulsion that the Minister’s teeth were filed to points. “En effet, why? Do you know Madame?” he asked his wife, but Madame Buchardt had decided to give him enough rope to hang himself with, so she stayed silent.
“Do you know what I think?” he continued, with his terrible smile. “I think you know zis young lady. I think you know ‘er very well. I think, Madame, zat she is your daughter,” he said, barely above a whisper.
There was a tense silence; Minister Appleby looked at his guest, appalled.
“Sir! What an accusation! And in public, too! It’s just not cricket, don’cher’know!”
“Madame?” Professor Dumbledore asked, his eyes twinkling; he was letting her know that he was on her side.
“En effet, Monsieur, zis belle mademoiselle eez my daughter,” she shot Eleanor a brilliant smile. “And she eez magnifique.”
Minister Appleby stared between them, thoroughly nonplussed by the whole affair.
Eleanor marvelled at her mother’s unflinching acceptance; Minister Buchardt, however, did not appear to have noticed.
“A-HA!” he cried, looking quite deranged. “You see, Madame? I find out everyzing! You are nozing more zan a poufiasse!”
There was a general intake of breath as the French-speakers in the room understood him and took offence; Dumbledore raised a cold eyebrow.
“Monsieur!” cried Madame Pomfrey, incensed.
Eleanor looked at her mother; clearly, she wanted him to make an utter fool of himself.
“What does that mean?” she asked, the very picture of innocence. “I don’t know what you could mean, sir...”
“You poor leetle thing,” he said, putting what was probably intended as a comforting arm about her shoulders. This time, she couldn’t stop the look of utter revulsion from crossing her features, but he wasn’t paying attention. “See, see how she ‘as ‘urt thees leetle fille, exposing ‘er to such ‘eartbreak? You are too cruel madame. Not fit to be my wife.”
The shock rolled around that part of the room that hadn’t seen this coming, which, largely, meant the unfortunate Minister Appleby.
“What does ‘poufaisse’ mean?” asked Remus, voice tight with surrogate anger.
“Eet describes my belle wife, precisement,” said Minister Buchardt, almost joyfully; Eleanor used the opportunity to wriggle out of his grasp, and went to stand on the other side of Remus.
“Eet means,” said Madame Buchardt, with quiet dignity. “Prostitute… whore…”
Professor McGonagall and Minister Appleby gasped.
“Sir!” Minister Appleby exclaimed. “Steady on!”
“I think it’s time for Mr Lupin and Miss Wren to return to the dance,” said Professor McGonagall, stiffly.
“Indeed,” said Professor Dumbledore, with an air of finality.
Before they were hustled from the room, Eleanor met her mother’s eyes: ‘it will be ok, ma trésor’, they said.
“You have been very rude, sir,” Eleanor said, shaking with anger as Professor McGonagall herded them from the room. “Very rude.”
It took a few minutes for her to calm down, and she waited outside on the balcony that they both now regarded as ‘theirs’ while Remus spirited away a couple of glasses of wine. They were of age now, after all.
“Will she be alright?” he asked, handing her a full goblet, which she took from him, gratefully.
“She’ll manage,” she said, sipping her wine. “Getting us in the chamber with Minister Appleby was a stroke of genius on Madame Pomfrey’s part. And Professor Dumbledore. Whatever Minister Buchardt does, they’ll be on my mother’s side. And theirs are voices that will be listened to. He made her into Hero.”
Remus nodded, wrapping an arm around her almost absently.
“She did that well,” he remarked. “The Minister – what did you call him? ‘La aristocrate’?”
“The gentleman made a complete arse of himself,” he said. “And your mother was grace itself. That will count for a lot. It was beautifully done.”
“Particularly as he insisted upon drawing me in,” Eleanor reflected. “That’s going to rankle with parents.”
They were quiet for a moment, listening to the music coming from the Great Hall behind them.
“Shall we go in?” Remus asked, raising her hand to his lips.
“I did promise you that first dance…” she said.
“You did…” he stood and looked at her for a moment, an odd light in his eyes.
“I was just thinking that a year ago we were setting out to live completely apart…”
“‘Rules for Best Friends,’” Eleanor said, ruefully.
“Perhaps we need ‘Rules for Lovers,’” Remus reflected.
Eleanor laughed, and kissed him.
“I think we should just muddle through, making mistakes and arsing about like everyone else,” she said.
“That works for me,” he said.
Fingers entwined, and leaning into one another, they walked into the Gala to find their friends.
*’Draw on Sweet Night,’ by Thomas Wilbye (I think). If you wish to be amazed, there’s a very good video of it on youtube, performed by the Trinity College, Cambridge Chapel Choir in 2005, sung at the end of a concert as they float away down river; just goes to show that, contrary to popular belief, it is quite possible for ordinary people to perform magic.
**The English translation (roughly):
“Madame, please – you’re hurting my arm!” she hissed, surprising a couple of the students around her. Madame Pomfrey shot her a look and loosened her grip slightly.
“I am sorry, Miss Wren,” said the matron, with a swift glance at Remus, who was still following them, watching their exchange with curiosity. “But we must be quick – do try to keep up.”
“Yes, Madame,” she reached out and managed to grab Remus’s hand, pulling him along with them. “The gentleman is here? What are his intentions?”
“He intends to disgrace your mother – publicly, if possible.”
“Shit!” she hissed, stumbling slightly, and Madame Pomfrey gave her a Look.
“Watch your language, Miss Wren,” she admonished, then – to Eleanor’s surprise, gave her a rather grim smile. “We’re not about to let the gentleman have his way.”