Here is a link to the French to English translations I have compiled for your reading aid.
As the month changed, autumn seemed to encompass Domfront. Rose’s favorite spot had become even more beautiful as the pear trees turned from a soft green to a vibrant red. With summer officially gone, the town seemed to settle into life with a new spirit. The atmosphere had evolved with the slight drop in temperature, creating an early morning image of smoke rising from the rooftops against a pale backdrop of the rising sun and people walking the streets, now bundled against the oncoming cold.
Among them was Rose, welcoming the autumn weather with her favorite blue and pink striped scarf. She had a special grocery list today, so she set out extra early in order to get all of her shopping done in time to get the decorating done. Tonight her family was coming to celebrate Vi’s 17th birthday. Her birthday wasn’t until the next day, but her parents were busy and Rose wanted to have the whole family there for the celebration. She had spent the past week making decorations, a banner, and two presents. She had even enlisted Remy to make a fruit gâteau.
After collecting the groceries for dinner, she dropped them off and headed back out to pick up le gâteau. Remy was, of course, excited to see her and show off his creation. After a brief conversation, she had to hurry and leave knowing how long Remy could keep her trapped in there with his enthusiasm.
As she left, pushing open the door with her back, she couldn’t hold back a smile at the reminder of her first encounter with Phillippe. Last week he had stopped by again, a picnic in tow. He had brought her a croque-monsieur, her favorite sandwich although he didn’t know that at the time. He had also brought her beaucoup des fraises because he had learned she liked them at the restaurant a few weeks earlier. She really enjoyed talking with him about nothing important.
Trying to keep the mood light, he would only discuss random topics, like which famous person she wanted to meet, and what she would do if she only had 24 heures left to live. She couldn’t even answer most of his questions because they caught her off guard. She didn’t have a favorite famous person, and she couldn’t think of anything to do if she knew she was going to die so she said she wanted to go to Parc Disneyland. It wasn’t that she didn’t really want to go there, because it seemed so magical that she couldn’t help but want to go, but it was just so expensive that she had a hard time believing she’d ever go there. Mentioning how magical it seemed to her brought up a new question from him. “Do you believe in magic?”
She had not been ready for that question at all. It was something she hadn’t thought about in a while. She explained that when she was a little kid, she thought she had heard her aunts talking about magic, but she assumed she had misunderstood. She wanted to believe magic did exist so people could use it to help one another, but it seemed like such a ludicrous idea that magic did exist yet no one had proof. Phillippe’s response was even stranger than the question that brought it about.
“When I was about 3 ans, I remember meeting a very dark dangerous fairy who cursed people to die. Although it might have been a nightmare that seemed so real as a kid I convinced myself it was. When I was older, I brought it up to my parents thinking it was a silly dream, but my parents seemed genuinely frightened. They did not find it funny like I thought it would be. My parents told me to forget about it after recovering from fright. Strange, right?”
She only responded by adding, “I guess it makes sense that if good magic existed, then bad magic would exist too. Power corrupts, so I can only imagine the corruption that could come from power such as that.”
That visit from Phillippe had definitely been strange, however he was such an odd character she figured that a visit from him that wasn’t strange would be even weirder. Maybe strange wasn’t the correct term for him. His antics were something so foreign to her, yet she found herself carrying le gâteau up the stairs to la cuisine anticipating his next visit and the new antics it would bring.
“Oh, Rose! You’re home!” Faline called out.
“Qu’est-ce qui se passe?” Rose had walked in the middle of utter chaos. La cuisine was an absolute mess. Faline looked stressed and terrified, and she was covered in cream and garlic.
“Fleur was talking about how hard you were working to set up Vi’s fête tonight, so I thought I’d step in and help make her special dinner, but then I got so confused because there are so many specific ingredients and measurements, and now I’ve made such a huge mess. I think I ruined dinner...”
Rose couldn’t help but laugh at how helpless her aunt looked standing there in the center of the catastrophic disaster that was la cuisine. “Oh, Tante Faline, you look so funny. Merci pour l’aide, but I’ve got it all under control.” There was a reason Rose had been in charge of food since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She shooed Faline out of the kitchen before examining the remains of what was supposed to be her own Domfront version of Moules à la crème Normande. She had once substituted in Domfront Perry for the Normandy Cider because it was cheaper, and everyone thought it tasted so delicious and unique that she had continued to make it that way. Salvaging the poor mussels would not be easy, but it was doable so she tucked away the cake, put on her apron, and got to work.
Many hours and lots of decorations later, everything looked just as Rose had wanted it to be. When Vi came in, rose was so excited she could barely contain her excitement. Dai fed off Rose’s energy, but Vi maintained her typical mellow spirit. They enjoyed the delicious Moules à la Crème Domfront, as Rose called them, but her favorite part was just sitting around the table with her family. She felt whole.
Breaking the spell of contentment, she relocated herself to the counter to slice and serve le gâteau. Vi joined her at the counter. “Rose, I just want to thank you for everything.”
“Don’t worry about it, Vi. I wanted to throw this party. You’re turning 17 ans demain, so go celebrate!”
“But what about our argument? I want you to know that you’re a part of our family.”
“Vi, don’t worry about me.”
“Seriously, Rose.” She grabbed her sister’s arm to get her full attention. “I said some things last time that were not nice. Mama et Papa do keep some things from you, but it’s all to protect you. We don’t want you to exclude you. We want you to come back home, but there are things out of control that keep you here. Mama et Papa love you so much and they hate not having you at home. We all do. I didn’t mean to make you feel like you aren’t a part of our family, because you are a huge part. We practically revolve around you. You mean so much to us. You mean so much to me.”
Rose was so stunned at the words that tumbled out of Vi’s mouth that she couldn’t think of a response. Instead of speaking, she pulled her into a tight hug.
“Où est le gâteau?” Stéfan interrupted their embrace.
“Ici, Papa!” Rose smiled encouragingly at Vi before carrying slices of fruity dessert to the table.
“Joyeux anniversaire!” Dai shouted before leading the family into song. After the song was don, they commenced eating Remy’s delectable gâteau before Vi opened her presents from Rose. They had been wrapped very plainly since Rose had made them by hand rather than spending money she didn’t have. The first present was a wood block painted red with a few hooks for necklaces, and in black Rose had painted a quote from Le Petit Prince, Vi’s favorite book. It read, “C’est le temps que tu as perdu pour ta Rose qui fait ta Rose si importante”. The other gift was a necklace with a short chain and a small wire rose charm.
Rose felt self-conscious and slightly embarrassed at her gift. She felt they both appeared very homemade and were nothing extraordinary, however Vi was absolutely adored them. “Last time you were in town I noticed you admiring all the necklaces when we were shopping, but they all seemed so expensive so I found some things laying around here and I made you these.” She felt her cheeks turned as red as the necklace hanger, but Vi through her arms around her older sister and whispered, “Merci beaucoup, Rose. Merci.”
Just a short while later, everyone was cleaning up so her family could head back home. Rose offered Vi the rest of le gâteau, but she refused on the grounds that it probably wouldn’t survive the car trip home. As she carried it back up to la cuisine, she overheard her mother speaking with her aunts in a hushed tone.
“I told you to give her money to buy a present. She could have bought Vi any necklace she wanted.” Leah said.
“She didn’t ask for money at all. When I asked her if she wanted to go shopping for Vi’s present she told me it had all been taken care of and for us not to worry about it.” Fleur insisted.
“Do you need more money to take care of her? She acts like she’s never seen a Euro.”
“Oh, of course not, chère. She’s doing just fine. That daughter of yours is a bargainer. Every marché she buys groceries for way cheaper than they are worth. She knows how to save.” Faline added.
“You should ask her about your expenses. She could save the company with all the money she’s saved us. You certainly have a brilliant daughter.” Mystie included.
“Well that makes one of them.” Leah sighed.
Before Rose heard anymore, Dai called to her from the shop downstairs so she left le gâteau on the banister at the top of the stairs and quietly went downstairs to meet her sisters, the conversation running through her mind.