“Here is your table Mr and Mrs Smith,” said the waiter, indicating a place in the restaurant. “You’ve just arrived in our little village?”
“Yes,” said the man with an English accent, “we just got here from Paris this evening. We’re staying next door.”
“A very good choice,” said the waiter, handing over two menus as the couple sat down. “That is without doubt the best in the area.”
“They said the same about you,” said the man, looking at the menu. The waiter nodded and left.
“It is the only hôtel in the area” whispered the woman with a French accent, “unless things have changed.”
“How do you feel now you are here, Marie,” said the man. “Is it strange to back?”
Marie looked over at Sir John and smiled wryly.
“Well Mr Smith… it’s not what I expected, arriving incognito with an English husband,” she said and reached over to hold his hand. He smiled back at her.
“So what’s the plan?” said Sir John. “We look for your old house, or the neighbours or…”
“Yes and yes,” said Marie, “although I don’t think we’ll find much out. We can visit the Hôtel De Ville.”
Sir John looked confused.
“I thought we were staying there?” he said. Marie laughed.
“It’s the… how you say… Town Hall,” she said giggling. “They may have records on my mother, although I doubt it.”
Then Marie looked serious and looked down.
“We should visit the churchyard too,” she said.
“Is it nice?” said Sir John, then realisation dawned on him. “Oh…”
“I have never seen her grave,” said Marie.
“Avez-vous choisir?” said the waiter. “You have chosen?”
“Um… I’ll have the Beouf Bourguignon and my wife will have the Sole Meuniere,” said Sir John. “Do you have any wine to go with that?”
The waiters eyebrows nearly touched his hairline.
“I will see what I can find,” he said.
“There’s someone else I’d like to see,” said Marie.
“Who’s that?” said Sir John.
“The faun,” she said.
“Will he, it, will it still be there?” asked Sir John.
“Maybe not, but, these things do live a while,” said Marie. “And it knew, in a second it knew.”
“But so did Albrecht and Phlebotomous,” said Sir John. “Maybe it’s just… things like that know other…”
“Things like them?” said Marie, looking down.
“Not things, I mean, entities, er, creatures er…” Sir John looked across and saw the hole he was digging. “I mean maybe powers recognise powers. Whether they are human or not. But those things, those nature sprites, they’re slippery creatures.”
“Here is a nice local rosé,” said the returning waiter with two glasses of wine. As he left the couple took a sip of their wines. Sir John’s face contorted.
“That’s rather… rural,” said Sir John
“You should let me order the wine,” said Marie, smiling.
“But about this faun… think of Pook. We should be careful,” said Sir John. “They live for mischief.”
“True,” said Marie, “but he looked at a small girl who knew nothing about herself and knew what I was. Mon cher. I wanted to come here for two things, in truth. My mother’s grave and to see this one.”
“Very well then,” said Sir John, raising his glass, “we shall see them together.”
He took a big gulp of the wine and grimaced. Marie tried, and failed, to stifle a laugh.