Disclaimer: I own none of the characters or settings (with the exception of Helen and co.)
Authors note: Okay, we now get into the actual story. This chapter is a long one (by my standards anyway) I have been writing alot so I hope you like it. : ) Also, random fact, Quetzalcoatl was the aztec god who protected the harvest. He was the one who originally brought the cocao beans down to earth, like most aztec gods he was extremely vicious and demanded human sacrifice. Lovely.
Child of The Wind and The River
Chapter Two: Quetzalcoatl
The towns highly efficient rumor mill had been working steadily, producing a number of variations on how Vianne and Roux had become a couple. The story, due to its highly controversial nature, had become instant urban legend. Not that the townsfolk expected any less of Vianne, it was generally accepted that where there was controversy she would always be found right in the middle of it. And so the myths of the couple spread. The most widely accepted story was that she had fallen madly in love and that she intended to steal off in the middle of the night and run away with her love leaving everything behind. Whether or not 'everything' included her child, Anouk, was a topic of hot debate. For although it was clear that Vianne loved her daughter, as long as she did not attend the Sunday mass there would still be some that would think ill of her. The favourite story amongst the children was that one of the couple were skilled in witch craft and used magic to make the other fall in love, although who had enchanted whom none could decide upon.
The classroom was so hot it felt like there was no air in it and the sunlight that streamed in through the window was so bright it was hard to see past it to the endless blue sky. Anouk had given up all pretense of working and was staring hard at the bell willing it to ring. Finally it did and the teacher announced "class dismissed" the children all ran for the door ignoring the teachers pleas of "leave calmly, don't run!".
Hoops and skipping roped were produced as the children began their games. Anouk wandered to the edge of the small courtyard and sat down. Near to her was a small group of whispering girls. Anouk could hear snatches of their conversation but not enough to know what they were talking about "witch...find out...you go..." then the group broke up and drifted off in different directions, leaving one girl who came and sat beside Anouk. Her name, Anouk remembered, was Helen "would you like to come play?" Helen asked "I have a spare skipping rope" Anouk agreed happily and Helen spent the rest of the afternoon teaching Anouk to cross-skip.
Vianne glanced at the clock, four thirty. Where was Anouk? Coming down the stairs that led from the apartment to the chocolatrie she was just in time to meet the little girl come bursting through the door with a new friend in tow "Maman, this is Helen. It's alright that she comes to play isn't it?" Helen was half hiding behind Anouk and staring wide-eyed at Vianne, poor girl, Vianne thought, she looks terribly shy.She smiled "of course it is. Come on, Ill fix you you girls some chocolate.
It was strange, thought Helen, Anouks mother looked nothing like a witch, but all the girls at school had assured Helen that she was, so it must be true. Maybe she was just a different sort of witch. The hot chocolate was strange, thick and syrupy and slightly spicy to taste. Helen was worried for a moment that its strange flavour was due to some magic spell cast over it, but she sipped a bit more and nothing happened so she continued to drink the rest greedily. Anouk span the large clay disc that lay on the counter. As it span the mosaic pattern of it swirled into smudges of colour.
"what do you see"
Helen was confused "see where?" she asked and Anouk pointed to the spinning disc "in that" Vianne lent on the counter and explained to her "it is a game, you look into the disc and tell what you see" Helen was sure that this was witch craft, she cast wildly around for a good reason to refuse but she was saved having to answer by the door opening and a man walking in. Vianne looked up "Roux" she greeted him. Helen had to stifle a gasp, it was her enchanted lover! Vianne may not have looked much like a witch but Roux most definitely looked like someone who had been enchanted.
"hot chocolate?" Vianne asked "of course" he replied and they smiled at each other like they were exchanging a secret joke, known only to them. Vianne. As she turned to ladle out another cup of chocolate, knocked over a small clay statuette of an aztec god. A voodoo doll! thought Helen, that's what she's using to enchant him! Seeing her chance her chance while no one was looking, Helen grabbed the clay doll that Vianne had just placed back on the counter and slipped it into her pocket. "my mother will be expecting me home soon. I had better go" she blurted out and disappeared through the door.
"strange child" murmured Vianne.
Helen sat on her bed turning the doll over in her hands. A few of the evenings last rays of sunlight filtered through her closed curtains turning any dust in their path into gold. The very air seemed to tingle with magic from the doll, or maybe it was just the thrill of what she had done. Probably a combination of both Helen decided. It was a strange doll, it had a fierce look about it and its once bright colours were worn with age. Hearing footsteps coming up the stairs she quickly hid the doll inside her schoolbag, just as it was out of sight her mother poked her head into the room "Helen, dinner"
As Anouk was rushing about the apartment gathering her school things together, Vianne was opening the shop for the day. As she walked to and fro arranging and rearranging the displays, she noticed something missing, the aztec god Quetzalcoatl usually stood on the counter. But now the clay figure was gone. She bit her lip, Anouk knew not to use the sculptures in her games and it wasn't like her to disobey. At that moment the little girl in question came scuttling down the stairs in her usual state of disarray "Anouk," Vianne called out to her before she ran out the door "did you take the clay doll from the counter?" Anouk shook her head and then farewelled her mother before skipping out the door. Vianne watched her go with worry in her eyes.
"It's not the fact that she took it, it's the fact that she denied taking it" Vianne sat across the counter from Roux pouring out her troubles while he sat silently spinning his empty cup round in its saucer.
"Are you sure it was her who took it?"
"there's no way else it could have disappeared. Why do you think she denied it?"
"don't tell me you've never told a lie to get out of trouble" Vianne could not argue with that, but this wasn't her she was talking about, this was Anouk "she's never lied to me before" Roux just raised his eyebrows "how do you know? You might just have not caught her lying to you before"
"do you think she lies to me all the time then?"
"I think children in general will cover the truth from time to time if they think it will benefit them. Quite a good skill to have if you want my opinion" despite herself, Vianne smiled "I suppose you're right"
"so do I" Roux agreed.
When the teacher let the children out for interval Anouk made a beeline for her newfound friend, Helen. Helen stood with a group of girls who were whispering together and looking at something Helen held out. Anouk walked towards them but stopped when she heard her own name amongst the whispers "so you've got proof" one of the girls, obviously the ringleader of the group, was saying to Helen. She nodded "it's definitely a voodoo doll and she knocked it off the counter when he came in, that's how I knew she was using it to control him" it became suddenly very clear to Anouk who they were talking about. She walked up and they all hushed each other. Anouk saw Helen try to hide the stolen clay doll behind her back "give that back" said Anouk with colour rising in her cheeks "give what back?" Helen asked, trying to feign innocence but doing it rather poorly. Anouk stamped her foot "the doll behind your back!"
"I'm not a witch-child!"
"yes you are! You're mothers a witch and that makes you a witch-child!"
Anouk flew at Helen, clawing at her hands to get at the clay doll. Out of nowhere a teacher took them both by the ear and escorted them from the playground.
"This is the second time I have had to stop you from fighting Anouk! And Helen, I expect better from you! I shall be talking to both your mothers" Helen looked at her feet and seemed to be sorely regretting her actions. Anouk however was protesting her innocence "but Madam I was only trying to-"
"Be quiet Anouk! I do not want to know who started it or why"
"silence! Or I shall make it one hundred lines. Start writing both of you, 'I shall not strike others' "
"yes Madam" chorused the two girls. One ashamed, the other indignant.