Come the Maëlstrom
Valencia yawned as she shuffled into the kitchen. She set up a kettle on the stove and took out four mugs before she shook her head and put two back. She dropped in teabags and the requisite teaspoon of sugar before she took them over to the table and sat down. Her gaze travelled out the window, taking in the small garden and wide space that the barn was on the other side of it.
The vegetables were doing all right, but it was nothing compared to when Harry and Lucius had been tending the garden. It seemed like it was wilting much more than usual. She could be crazy but it seemed like the garden missed those two. The whole farm seemed so much different without them around, not as lively or half as interesting.
She sighed heavily as the kettle whistled. Taking it off the stove, she brought it over to the table and filled up her mug, before placing the kettle on a small, insulated porcelain tile stand. She stirred the tea slowly and sipped it every so often, still looking outside. Ernesto came into the kitchen stretching and then scratching at his chest.
-Morning.- he said, coming over to give her a kiss.
-Morning.- she replied back quietly, her eyes still fixed on the garden.
Ernesto looked at her as he sat down and fixed his cup of tea.- You all right? -
Valencia nodded before she went back to sipping her tea.- Do you think we should have had a kid?- she asked suddenly.
Ernesto choked a bit on his tea and spluttered.- What? This again? -
-I'm just wondering. -
-We talked it over and we both agreed not to. I even got snipped!- Ernesto sounded a bit panicked.
-I know and you were so good about that. - Valencia said as she gave him a sweet smile.
-Are you feeling that maternal? -
Valencia shrugged.- The house just feels so empty now, like there should be someone else here. -
-Well, they might be able to reverse getting snipped but I sure as hell ain't going through that,- Ernesto snorted.- Why don't we talk about this later when we're more awake? We can at least think of ways to get through this. Sound good? -
Valencia nodded her head and they both went back to drinking their tea. When Ernesto finished his, he rose and disappeared. The sound of the front door opening and closing told her that Ernesto had gone out to get the mail.
Mail was about the only thing that could cheer her up nowadays. It was well over a year since she and Ernesto had been kidnapped and almost a year and a half since they had come back to the farm. It was only a month after that when she and Ernesto decided to subscribe to the Daily Prophet to keep track of what was happening. The Aurors, who had stayed a bit longer to make absolutely sure nothing else happened, had been more than happy to help them out. They took them to the nearest wizard bank branch in the area where an account had been set up.
She'd read about Lucius' trial and was glad that he wasn't going to be incarcerated in that Azkaban place. She could tell from the writer's tone and brevity that it obviously wasn't a great place. When the story of Harry's kidnapping made front page, Ernesto had to go through hell to convince her to not book plane tickets for them both over there. Their presence might cause more problems for Harry, and they could only read the paper avidly for any small detail that was reported and hope for the best.
When Harry had been found alive, she'd been relieved. But all the papers had said was that he'd suffered extensive injuries. She felt worried sick and had done her best to distract herself from thoughts of Harry.
And then, the only thing that surfaced in the papers about Harry were the occasional sightings. At least she knew that he was fine then. What took her by surprise was when his picture started appearing more in the paper, especially with him and a younger blond boy that was almost certainly Lucius' son. She didn't know what Harry was planning but she was delighted when a picture of Harry and Lucius in a swanky restaurant warranted a good portion of the society pages.
There had been a flurry of sightings for the two weeks, practically one or even two pictures a day. And then, a few days before Christmas, there was nothing. The papers were obviously baffled and were cranking out more articles filled with speculation from what Valencia guessed to be wizarding socialites. All the quotes from Harry's friends said that he was away taking care of a private matter and couldn't be reached. The blond boy, who indeed was Lucius' son, released an official statement from Milan, saying his father was doing something, that he didn't know what and he would like to be left alone to enjoy his holidays in peace and quiet.
It was shortly after that when the postcards and letters started arriving from them. The first one came from Ottawa in Canada. Now there were almost three shoeboxes filled with postcards and letters stamped from places all around the globe. In fact, she'd lost count; it was a whole slew of places. The last letter they had received was about two weeks ago, from Naples, Italy.
-Hey, look at this!- Ernesto called as he came back into the kitchen.- We got another letter! -
Valencia looked up to see him dump the bills and whatnot on the countertop and come to the table, already pulling out the parchment and unfolding it. She pulled her chair in closer to his, seeing photos fall out. Ernesto fumbled trying to catch them but Valencia scooped them up quickly.
-Well, aren't you going to read it? -
-All right, all right, you nag.- Ernesto said as he chuckled and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.
Valencia swatted him playfully on the head, resting her head against his shoulder as he began to read.
'Dear Ernesto and Valencia,
I know we've been somewhat lazy in writing to you. I suppose we got caught up with sightseeing in Naples. Lucius found a nice little villa with a vineyard that we were looking at. It was too good to pass up so we bought it. Not fun doing the paperwork and what not. I'm just glad we got Draco's help, since his Italian is much better. He wasn't too thrilled to leave Rome for a few days, though he seemed happier when we said he and Blaise could use it when they needed to.
We're in France now and have been for the past week. We definitely got caught up in visiting sights in the French countryside. Aix-en-Provence is absolutely beautiful; the countryside is amazing, everybody is so friendly and the food is nothing short of fantastic! I've learned some new recipes but I think Lucius might be worried that he's getting a bit fat from all the good eating we've been doing lately.
And I'm actually learning a bit of French. What's a bit of one more language to join the mishmash that I picked up? It does have its benefits; Lucius loves it when I speak in French to him when we're in bed and vice versa.'
Valencia snickered as she saw the messy, half-hearted attempt to scribble out that sentence.
'Lucius is chiding me now for saying too much, but I think you get my drift. We've been staying at a small estate that been in Lucius' family for a bit now. Yesterday we threw a huge party and invited everyone from town. Well, it was more that I invited a few people and more and more people showed up before practically the entire town was there and Lucius pretty much went along with it. It was an absolute blast even though I woke up with a killer hangover. Lucius wouldn't stop saying, "I told you so" which made it all the worse.
We're packing up to head down to Madrid now, so don't be surprised if we pop by for a visit in a week or so.
Take care, don't work too much and we'll see you soon!
Harry and Lucius'
Valencia motioned Ernesto over, and he bumped his chair closer to her. One of the photos showed Harry and Lucius sitting beneath what looked like an oak tree. Lucius was smiling and Harry was waving. Another one showed them at the beach during a sunset and the last one was a picture of Lucius and Harry napping on a hammock, black and blond hair ruffled together by the wind. When Ernesto turned it over, they saw that someone had scribbled on the back, 'Ils est trés mignon'.
-They're coming to visit?- Valencia sat back up abruptly.
- Well, I sure hope they come today,- Ernesto said.- All we pretty much have to do is pop into town once we feed the animals. I'm just glad I shaved the sheep and baled the wool yesterday. -
-But I need to tidy up and –- Valencia began.
-Do you really think that's going to matter to them? They lived here for a bit Valencita.- Ernesto stated.
-Yeah…- Valencia said slowly.
-Come on, why don't we take care of things here and head into town early? Maybe stop by the café and have a quick cup of coffee. -
-That sounds good. -
The sun was setting when the truck was jouncing back along the road to the house. They had taken the bales of wool in with them and sold them to a buyer, had a quick cup of coffee at a café and then spent much of the day at the farmer's market, selling what wasn't to be sold off to a big buyer. They had only stopped off at the bank to deposit a sizeable chunk of money and grab something quick to fix up for dinner at the grocery store. Valencia was far too tired to attempt cooking tonight.
When the truck came to a stop close to the house, Valencia wearily got out, slamming the door shut.
-I'll go feed the animals. You want to heat up dinner? -
-Sounds good to me.- Valencia said.- Try to not fall asleep in the hay. -
Ernesto snorted in amusement but nodded his head as he went to the barn. Valencia walked into the house, the smell of something fragrant wafting to her nose. It smelled absolutely delicious but the reason it would be there was a bit of a mystery. She frowned as she sniffed and realised it was coming from her kitchen. She swung the door open and saw two figures seated at the table, talking quietly.
-Harry, what have I told you about cooking in my kitchen?- she asked in exasperation before she froze, eyes widening.- Harry! Lucius! -
She couldn't help but stare at them for a while. They were sitting there like they had never left, mugs in hand and smiles on their faces.
-Hi Valencia,- Harry said.- I hope you don't mind. You weren't here so we let ourselves in and – -
-Valencia!- Ernesto came bursting in through the back door.- You won't believe this! The animals are fed already! -
-Well, someone had to.- Lucius said simply as he raised his mug to drink from it.
Ernesto turned and gaped at them both, not quite grasping that they were sitting there. Then Valencia gave a cry of delight and rushed forward, throwing an arm around their shoulders and hugging them both as tightly as she could.
-Ack! Be careful! The tea's hot!- Harry exclaimed.
Valencia simply tutted in dismissal and continued to hug them. When she finally let go and sat down in a free seat, Harry's face was red and Lucius looked highly amused. She couldn't stop the smile from growing on her face.
-You even made dinner.- Ernesto had taken off the lid and was peering into the pot with a hungry look in his eyes.
-The stew's just keeping warm. Why don't you both sit down and I'll fix you some bowls.- Harry said as he rose.
Valencia couldn't help but grin as Harry made his way over to the stove and shooed Ernesto back to the table. Ernesto gave Harry a light punch to the shoulder and rumpled his hair with a grin before he ambled back.
-He's a very good cook actually.- Lucius said conversationally.- He makes me test out anything new that he makes. -
Valencia snickered as Lucius cast a slightly mournful glance at his waist.
-We just got your letter from Provence today,- Ernesto began as he sat down and made himself comfortable.- Seems like you two have been travelling the world. -
-It was something we discussed a long time ago.- Lucius replied.- We just picked what seemed the most opportune time to leave. -
-Are you going back to England after you're done here?- Valencia asked.
-Nope.- Harry said as he placed a bowl in front of her and then Ernesto.- I don't think we would go back aside from visiting. -
Lucius nodded his head in agreement, taking another drink of his tea. Valencia watched as Harry fixed two more bowls and brought them to the table before getting a basket of bread and taking it to the table.
-Well, then where are you going to live?- Ernesto asked, slightly puzzled.
-We've been looking at places.- Lucius said as he reached for a piece of bread.
-You know the house a good bit away from here?- Harry said mildly as he stirred up his stew.
-That one closer to the river a few miles away?- Ernesto asked.
-Yes, that one.- Lucius said with a smirk.
Valencia took in Lucius' smirk and the slight smile on Harry's face.- You two didn't!- she gasped.
-Huh?- Ernesto looked at her with a completely lost expression.
Harry grinned like a mad fool.- We did. -
-That's wonderful!- Valencia said, rubbing at her eyes as they started to prickle.
-Hey, are you all right?- Ernesto abandoned his stew.- What's going on?- he looked back between Harry and Lucius.
-They're the new neighbours.- Valencia managed with a sniffle, her vision blurring.
-Seriously! That's great! -
Valencia blinked and saw Ernesto clapping Harry heartily on the back. She looked at Lucius as found that he was offering her a handkerchief. She took it and wiped away the tears.
-I don't think we could have asked for better neighbours.- she finally said.
-Same here,- Ernesto agreed.- Last guy who lived there a few years back, said I have the goats from hell. -
-He wasn't that far off,- Lucius replied easily.- Though I might say denizens of hell. -
-Sure they can be a bit temperamental, but there's nothing wrong with my goats!- Ernesto bristled slightly.
-Of course you don't think so. You're biased.- Lucius retorted.
Ernesto huffed before he gave an evil grin.- So, what does 'mignon' mean? -
Lucius sputtered a bit.- I don't know what you're talking about. -
-Ils est trés mignon…- Ernesto put on a fluttery voice.- C'mon, you must know what it means! -
Valencia smiled and Ernesto and Lucius started arguing about 'mignon'. She laughed and shook her head, with a content sigh. She glanced at Harry and found him looking at her. He gave her a smile and motioned to her bowl. She smiled back and started eating. And, finally, everything felt right again.