2. Paris: On the Orient Express

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"Vos passeports, s'il vous plaît?"

Albus handed the Muggle documents to the agent, who glanced up briefly at each of their faces before waving them through.

As they passed through the Calais ferry terminus, Minerva leant in to whisper to Albus, "I'm awfully glad he didn't ask us anything. I forgot to check what names you put on the passports."

Albus whispered back, "For the duration of our trip, we are Albert and Victoria White, Mr and Mrs."

"Oh, you never ..."

"Look at your passport, my dear."

She took a quick glance, snapped the passport shut, and put it in her handbag. "You know, Albu— Albert, I think it's a very good job you didn't end up with the Aurors. You'd make a dreadful spy."

"You mean the MI-6."


"The Muggle spies. Although Her Majesty's government wouldn't admit to it."

"Well, whatever the Muggles call them, you wouldn't get in."

"Lots of people are called Victoria and Albert."

Minerva shook her head. "At least I shan't have any difficulty remembering it."

"We have a few hours before our train departs. What would you say to a bit of lunch in Paris, Mrs White?"

They found a quiet spot from which to Apparate, and Albus took them to a tiny alleyway in what turned out to be Les Halles. They came out into a street opposite Saint-Eustache and walked along the edge of the bustling marketplace until they arrived at the restaurant Albus had selected.

"You enjoy pork, don't you?" he asked as he took hold of one of the brass pig's trotters that served as the knobs and pulled the door open for Minerva.

After their meal—onion soup gratinée and grilled pig's trotter with chips, followed by the best chocolate mousse she'd ever had—Minerva declared herself full to bursting and suggested a walk before heading to the train station.

They retraced the route they'd followed earlier, making a detour into the marketplace and stopping at various stalls. It was less crowded than before, and many vendors had packed up their wares, but the air was still thick with the pungent odours of spices and fish. Albus had a conversation with one fishmonger, who seemed delighted to explain to him the differences between the pied de cheval and the huître spéciale d'Isygny and allowed them to sample several of his briny delights right from the shell.

Coming out of the marketplace, they wandered into Saint-Eustache. Minerva had never been in it before, and they strolled around, looking at the stained glass and Rubens's "The Pilgrims of Emmaüs".

They stopped to admire the church's enormous organ, and to Albus's delight, the young man who had been lovingly wiping the ivory keys with a cloth turned out to be the organist. Albus exchanged a few words with him, and the organist sat down and began to play short passages from what Minerva thought might be Bach. The sound was magnificent, deep and resonant; Minerva could feel it in her body, and it gave her the shivers.

When the organist finished, he handed Albus a bill advertising a concert of Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor to be held that evening at the church.

Albus handed it back with a rueful smile, saying, "Désolé, monsieur, main nous partons ce soir."

"Domage. Au retour, alors," said the man.

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