Chapter 6 : The Stiletto
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Oh yes! Last month, I wrote a prequel to this fic entitled Mithai for ginwannabe's (Taryn's) birthday! It explains how and why Padma and Roger got together, what happened about Lavender and Seamus, and various other tidbits of information it would probably benefit you to know for upcoming chapters ^_^ Please, if you get the chance, check it out! (I hope) You won't be disappointed!
Translations at the bottom ^_^
Vicky is the closest thing I have to a friend, yes. But do I love her like a sister? Nope. Subjecting Vicky Frobisher to that sort of animosity isn’t a very nice thank-you for putting up with me for all these years. And a thank you she most definitely deserves.
“Parvati,” she calls at the end of my workday, which is about five hours later than everyone else’s. Mackey relishes in giving me all the last-minute-must-confirm-in-a-tedious-and-usually-circuitous-manner stories. “You have that column ready? I can run it down to the boss tonight if you are.”
I trudge over to her desk, the neatly organized one with those handy little baskets. I shudder at the orderliness. It’s absolutely unnatural, that’s what it is. “Am I ready? No. Do I give up? Hell yes.” I plop the file containing my work into the Binge Drinking basket. “Can you make that all pretty-like for Mackey? Thank you. Good night.”
Vicky glances at the clock; it’s ten past twelve. I still have no idea why she’s still here when I am. Not like I ask her to suffer along with me.
“God damn this job,” she sighs. Still, baffling me, she continues with the emptying of baskets and shifting of priorities like an informer in war. She can side with either me, who is semi-nice to her, or Mackey, who actually signs her paychecks. Ether or. And yet, she sides with me. Complete and utter idiot, if you ask me. I’d side with Mackey myself. Sure, he’s the most horrible son of a bitch I’ve ever met, but he gives me money.
Not nearly enough to sustain the lifestyle I’d love to live, but every little bit helps. Or so Vicky says. I’m not so optimistic on my own, see. Vicky says a lot of things, but I hardly listen to her. I’m such a horrible friend.
“Get some sleep,” I advise her, as if I’m fit to give anyone advice. (There was a time when people used to flock to me for help with their vapid little fantasies. The time has passed. My lack of success in life has reminded others how they should steer clear of me.) “Oh, yeah, and don’t make a big deal when I don’t show up tomorrow,” I add off-handedly.
Vicky blinks; in the relative darkness her eyes are like huge gold plates. I swear quietly at how the admittedly poetic simile-metaphor-something reminds me of place settings. “Why the hell won’t you?” she asks. “It’s Friday. Money.”
I roll my eyes. I don’t want to skive off work on payday. If my mother weren’t breathing down my neck, I wouldn’t. Overexposure to my mum’s masala-tinged breath is a pretty damn good incentive to do whatever she wants you to do, if she’ll only stop breathing in front of you.
“It’s ’cause of Saturday,” I answer, making my way to the door, beyond which I will Apparate home. Not like I’ll sleep. I briefly consider crashing at the office overnight to avoid the work waiting for me, but stop. I don’t fancy Mackey showing up and seeing me so knackered.
Being a light sleeper, I don’t really, er, sleep. I haven’t for at least three days. God damn that bloody wedding I’m bloody organizing.
Vicky nods in understanding. “See you, then.”
“If I make it out alive,” I add. I allow Vicky to hear one last scoff before going off into the London night and then back home.
I’ve been praying for days now that Saturday never comes. Two Fridays would be great, two Sundays not so much. A sporadically placed Wednesday would suck, but it is much better than this particular Saturday.
I’d give mostly anything to not have to organize Padma Patil and Roger Davies’ engagement celebration.
All I know as of now is that they want to include the über-fake Davies family in the parties. This I understand. Not like they’ll enjoy the “uncivilized” half-village we hail from. Hell if I do. I’m not even sure why they’re commissioning me to do all the party planning. They’re not even really paying me, either. Padma ought to know that, were I so inclined, I’d happily sabotage everything if it meant ruining the wedding.
I’m not so inclined, as it happens. If I screw up the wedding, Roger becomes unhappy on my account. That’s unacceptable.
Besides, I like to think that I’m much subtler than that.
I am actually quite glad I’m not marrying Roger. When I do, it’ll be a quiet affair. None of this whole-freaking-family nonsense Padma and Roger insist on. There’s a lot less hassle when you willfully exclude most of your family, British citizens (or in fact, the ridiculous numbers of British residents-who-aren’t-citizens) and Indian people. I’m not too fond of the Davies either, but I doubt they like me much. I’m extremely uncharismatic.
Plus, Dad informed them already about how careful they ought to be in front of me.
I can tell today will be fun.
After a rushed breakfast consisting solely of a single slice of toast and coffee – the so-so type my salary can afford that can hardly be called real coffee – I gather up all my notes, possible seating charts, and all that crap, and Apparate in an especially clumsy manner to Mum’s house at last.
Indians are notorious party people. We just live for weddings. I swear, the rest of us are just celibate kleptomaniacs waiting to steal the dulha’s shoes.
This infamous notoriety explains why, at seven thirty in the morning, an army about twice the size I expected – about a quarter of the British arm of the Patil clan – ambushes me upon my otherwise quiet arrival. I even used the all-but-abandoned kitchen entrance. But lucky for me, everyone’s there anyway. Everyone. No one I can really make out in the too damn bright morning light, but there’s definitely a multitude of people I should know.
I’m given maybe fifteen seconds of independent breathing before being suffocated in someone’s horribly tailored salwar kameez and the scent of ridiculously strong masala coming from said horribly tailored salwar kameez. This can only mean one thing: Mum’s making samosas.
“Mum!” I shriek as loudly as possible, though the cotton absorbs my voice. “What the hell?”
“We’re eating, smart one,” Padma says, scooping her large mass of haleem by the enormous spoonful. I try to not gag at looking at it. There’s only one person in this family who cooks, and it’s Sandhya Khala. She’s really chill for an aunt. It helps that she’s only ten years older than Padma and me. Poor thing is quite unfortunate, though. A Squib if ever there existed. She and Filch could bond over drinks, if he weren’t so revolting.
Sure enough, I spot Sandhya Khala over at the stove, where something is boiling happily away. Probably chai. She and my father are supervising the breakfast issue for the crammed townhouse. Indians aren’t really familiar with the whole “hotel” concept. Why spend money when you can crash at someone else’s pad for the duration of your stay? Nothing against being cheap, since I have to be, for my Gringotts account’s sake. It’s just one of those traits you hate to see in people who aren’t you.
“Morning, Sunshine!” she squeaks, throwing me an unwarranted smile. It’s too damn early to smile. “Haleem?” She gestures toward a bowl of the stuff, but I shake my head no. I can’t stomach ethnic food.
“Thanks, but no thanks,” I say quickly. “Hi, Daddy.”
Dad grunts at me in his typically unvocal greeting. He agrees that anything earlier than eleven is too early to be alive. He’s also one of the few members of the family I kind of connect with.
“You ate already?” my aunt persists. Since she’s a Squib, she has a horrible inferiority complex. She thinks she’s useless. Frankly, she is. Her cooking isn’t even that remarkable, anyway. She’s just the only one who’s willing to do it. Padma, who’s a yes-man, daintily devours anything on her plate. She used to throw it up afterwards (not voluntarily, people), but she’s the reason my aunt still cooks.
Despite this, Mum still likes Padma better than me. Surprise.
“Yeah, I did.” I’m sorry, but Indian food of most varieties is just disgusting. I gave up pretending to like it after I burned my mouth when Sandhya Khala snuck harimirchi in some dish or other. You know, the ridiculously spicy peppers? Those things are hell. Literally. I’ll bet my Kona coffee that hell is not as hot as harimirchi. I did, in fact.
Padma says I can pay up when we get there.
Hell is life without Kona coffee, and with harimirchi.
“Padma,” I continue, fighting my way through the vapors of Desi cooking to wherever she sits, with her ridiculously empty plate. “You wanted to go through the seating charts and crap, yeah?”
She nods, leaping off her chair and leading me upstairs. Here, the smell of masala isn’t so bad, but the chaos is yet another indicator of the event to occur tomorrow. Padma’s five outfit possibilities – she’s more indecisive than I am – are hanging against the closet doors, all the accessories necessary alongside them. Since the party is mostly for the Davies’ benefit, it is a Western theme. Though why they insist on representing Desi culture via Sandhya Khala’s food is beyond me.
“Give it here,” Padma demands. She’s still in her pajamas, but manages to look pretty nonetheless. Seeing how Padma looks always makes me feel better, since we look alike. If she’s pretty, so am I. And I am, so there you go – win-win situation.
I obey with boredom and flop onto her bed. It’s so much comfier than mine is. Bitch. She doesn’t even live here and she’s living better than I am. Bitch.
“Did you pull this out your arse last night?” she asks conversationally, looking over my messy seating chart.
“Of course not,” I sigh. “I actually give a shit about Vishal sitting next to Roger’s so-called hot stepsister, even though his parents will crucify me if I do it, which I did, so I’ll be crucified. Damn.” I roll my eyes. Vishal is the horniest idiot I know. Too bad he’s my cousin.
Whatever. If he’s distantly related, he’s a cousin, and that’s that. It’s served for Indians for centuries, so I guess I’ll have to make do with it.
“Screw Vishal!” Padma stares at me with empty, unfeeling eyes. It’s creepy, since her face is as familiar to me as my own – which may or may not be because she has my face. “What about – Parvati, what are you doing? You don’t care?”
“You think I do?” I blink at this statement. “You’re not serious, are you?”
“This is my bloody wedding,” she points out. And a valid point it is. I’m her sister. I’m supposed to be one of those celibate kleptomaniacs waiting to steal the dulha’s shoes. “The least you can do is make it so no one dies at the damn thing!”
“No one will,” I assure her. “See? I kept Mansi away from Divya! That’s got to be a good thing, right?”
It is, in fact. The two of them have been feuding for six years. I think it started over this Pakistani bloke one of them was dating. It’s blown up into war. If anything happens tomorrow, I’m privately hoping one of them spontaneously combusts. And that’ll be fun to watch, certainly.
“It’s not that!” I can’t understand why, but Padma’s getting increasingly hysterical. She leans over, picks up a gold stiletto, and whacks me with it – not the heel bit, but the flat part where the toes go. It still gave me a pretty deep gash on my forearm. “You don’t care, Parvati, about your sister’s wedding?” She’s standing on the bed now, towering over me though technically I’m taller than her. And she’s older than me. Damn. In any case, I’m still flopped lethargically down and she’s got a bloody stiletto in her hand.
“What do you think?” Of course I care. She’s marrying my true love. How can I not get involved with this?
“I think you’re fired from the wedding party, that’s what I think.” She raises the stiletto again, and I dash out without delay. I’m not one to piss off a fiancée-to-be when she’s got a dagger-sharp heel in her hand.
But being fired from the wedding party certainly puts a damper on my plans to subtly win Roger over to me and ruin Padma’s reputation.
I am, in the simplest of terms, royally screwed.
1. dulha - groom
2. samosas, haleem, harimirchi - all Desi food.
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