Author's Note: OMG, three months and no update! I'm sorry, really I am. But The Crash of September-October 2008 costed me lots of reviews. Which depressed me exponentially, since I had been THISCLOSE to 100! But I'm back! (Because I've got writer's block on my short story. Well, another one. But yeah. Another time). That ought to count for something!
Since it HAS been so long, I had to get this out the second I finished. So, if this is even crappier than usual, please let me know and I'll try to fix it. Or improve next time. (Though I don't know when exactly "next time" would be. School = life, sadly. But my future rides on it! So).
I've missed you. You've missed me. Welcome back.
(Hindi terms defined at the bottom.)
I swear violently to myself at seeing the scar her bloody stiletto left on my forearm. It’s still there, hours after the fact. And I have to dress up – all Western like, thank Merlin – and look presentable and not at all like I’m scheming against the bride. Perfect. That Padma knows how to ruin her sister’s life.
“MUM!” I shriek to the house as a whole, though no one hears me. No one ever hears me. All the women of the family are tending to the precious dulhan, of course. Technically, I should be, too, but clearly I’m not. I have myself to ready for tonight! The engagement party I’ve spent all of about four hours planning. And tonight is my first public appearance with Harry Potter. You know, the down-on-his-luck savior of the world, who nonchalantly agreed to be my plus one. That Harry Potter. “Mum, HELP!”
Lavender once told me that when screaming out for help, one should always pause for three seconds in between. I don’t bother with that rule of thumb, screaming my bloody lungs out until someone actually bothers her head about the evil sister of the bride. It isn’t even my mum; it’s her little sister.
“Parvati?” she grumbles, hair half up in curlers and a lurid green facemask plastered on her face. So maybe I’m not the only selfish one in the family not attending to the bride. “Something wrong?”
“Yeah, but I need Mum.” I need my mother – which is rare enough, considering my rampant pride and independence. She’s the one who actually knows about Magical healing spells and the like. Asking a Squib, whether she’s my aunt or not, for magical assistance is not the kind of thing I’m willing to risk. Most of the guests I’ll simper at tonight already hate me for varying reasons. I didn’t need the Cool Aunt to hate me, too.
“She’s helping Padma, Sunshine,” Sandhya Khala beams at the name. Sandhya Khala is, not too much of a surprise, very single. Padma and I have a bet that we’ll be mothers before she marries. So far, Padma is pretty well on her way to winning. It’s not even as if our aunt is ugly, she’s just very misfortunate. Not like me. I know exactly what I want. Roger Davies. “In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for me!”
Brilliant. “You know what, Sandhya Khala?” I simper at her, too. I don’t like simpering at people I like, taking my aunt for example. But I’ll do anything if it means saving my neck and my humility. “I think I can live with… this. Thanks, though,” I add graciously. “For the offer.”
Sandhya Khala blinks suspiciously, but she has other things to worry about. All of which, of course, are more important than me. So she waddles off, leaving me and my huge scar to figure out what to do with each other.
What a surprise, then, that when Mum does remember that I do, in fact, exist, the scar is still dominating my forearm. Mum – dear old traditional Mum – is not in Western attire, as was mandated by the invitations I had had rush-delivered to the extensive guest list. She is wearing a sari.
“Mum!” I hiss, lifting the skirt of my dress so I don’t tear it with my heels. (Stiletto heels, of course. Much sexier than Padma’s, if I do say so myself). “You’re not supposed to wear that!”
She glares at me, sneaks a glance at my arm, and shakes her head. Probably wondering where she went wrong in raising one angel and one cheeky devil. I don’t think I had a particularly healthy childhood, actually. My family might have loved me at some point, but I was too young at the time and don’t remember much of it. Fighting with Padma, fighting for attention, befriending Pansy Parkinson… my childhood is not one I’d willingly go back to.
“This is my daughter’s mangni, Parvati,” she sniffs.
“No it’s not, it’s her engagement.”
Daddy, who chooses now to pass by, shoots me a scandalized look.
“Oh, fine,” I sigh. “Fine, wear what you want. Why should I care? I’m not involved with this bloody wedding anyway. Definitely not with the mangni either.” I throw my hands in the air. I think I may be looking for a certain gold-clad bride to strangle, but you didn’t hear that from me. Did you?
Good. I thought not.
“Where’s Potter?” Padma waltzes over, tossing her elaborately done-up hair. Mine, by contrast, is simply down. And straight. But I wouldn’t trade a diamond for the crowds of people harping over me. Even if that diamond comes from Roger. “What, did he leave you already?”
“Of course not!” I snap. “But you know, Padma Jannu,” I add, “you should keep an eye on Roger.”
I don’t mention that I’ll be the one who ruins her engagement. That’s just impractical.
As it turns out, Harry shows up. On time, about half an hour after I warn Padma about what’s coming. Which, as he’ll come to see as we go through this whole shaadi thing, is not at all tactful.
Harry actually cleans up nice. He’s wearing normal, straight black suit. Although it isn’t quite normal, considering he’s about the most famous wizard ever. But, as I’ve tried to warn the Davies’ side and most of my own – I’m a half-blood. My dad’s a Muggleborn. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just that when there’s a wedding in an Indian family, by default the entire bloody clan has to be along for the ride. And when half the clan is Muggle and half isn’t, things get very messy. But yes, I have to say, he looks much better now than… then.
“When then?” he asks me as we stand in the garden. I am staying the hell away from my family. Now that Padma is more or less ready, they have to get ready. “What do you mean?”
“You know.” I roll my eyes. I don’t want to bring up bad memories. It’d be nice if for once I could make it out of a family gathering and not be scarred for life. “Then.”
“I still don’t – oh.” Harry’s eyes are very green. It works well against the black. Startlingly well, actually. “Then.”
So he remembers too. Now I feel stupid for bringing it up. As if either of us needs a reason to storm away now. We don’t. I have an assignment to do, he has a girlfriend to make jealous. Too late now.
“You know we should have left by now?” he says conversationally, tapping his wristwatch. I glance at it: he’s right. We should have gone half an hour ago. But…
“Shit! Harry, my God, you can’t wear that!” I wonder if he can hear how in control I am. After all, I’m not shrieking quite yet.
“Wear what? The watch? Look, if you care about your sister–”
I’m spared from contradicting him by quickly undoing the watchstrap. At least, it should be quick. Why do all Indian functions take place hours after sunset? “Dammit, Harry, what sort of watch do you think this is? Hmm? If anyone sees this thing – look, get the damned thing off, will you?” I can’t manage it. Sad. But whatever, I’ve never been the preening sort. Men can take off their own articles of clothing.
Except when it suits me, of course. But now is definitely not the time to be thinking about Harry taking off his own articles of clothing.
I shudder at the image.
He isn’t even that good-looking.
I don’t know what Ginny sees in him on certain days of the week.
What I saw in him ten years ago.
“Oh! Oh, bloody hell, I forgot…” He does so and stows it in his jacket’s inner pocket. “Thank God you caught that, Parvati,” he smiles meekly. “Sorry – I haven’t been around Muggles for awhile now.” He grimaces in the darkness. “But whatever, crisis averted.”
“And you’re all about crisis aversion,” I sigh, shaking my head. The man is such an airhead. Really. I wonder if fighting You Know Who didn’t, you know, kill off some of his common sense. He’s not stupid. But I suppose I’ll have to get used to watching out for wizards’ carelessness. Otherwise we’ll kind of be screwed.
“Yeah,” he chuckles with a dry sort of chuckle. “Yeah, I guess I am. But I think I forgot to compliment you.”
He did. But I don’t particularly care. I know I look good, scar notwithstanding.
“Isn’t that part of plus-one etiquette?”
“Yeah, but you’re my friend, Harry. You don’t have to bother with that if you don’t want to.”
Obviously, there’s only one person I care about here complimenting me on how stunning I look.
“And in the case that I do?”
“I don’t think Ginny cares about what we say in private.”
Harry’s smile is wide – the whiteness of his teeth works well against the suit, too. What a charming Auror I’ve found to be my plus-one. Who’d have thought?
“Actually, that’s probably what she cares most about.”
And, I realize a bit too late, he’s right.
Although I do not appreciate being reminded that Harry doesn’t actually think I look good. Seriously, that’s basically the sneakiest thing he’s ever done. Ever. Say stuff he doesn’t mean to make his ex-girlfriend jealous when (and if) she ever hears about it!
Funny, how easily I’m impressed.
1. dulhan - bride.
2. sari - Indian outfit. Usually worn by adults.
3. mangni - engagement.
4. shaadi - wedding.