Chapter 9 : The Truth
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There is no Hindi dialogue in this chapter. If there is, it's been defined before.
Love, stuff, and snickerdoodles,
Hell has no fury like a Weasley pissed.
I wonder who said that. The actual quotation, I mean, not the version I contorted to fit my at once horribly ironic and terribly painful situation. I refer to, of course, the one with a canceled mangni, a hysteric dulhan-to-be, and Ginny Weasley. The one that will kill me. You know. That situation.
But what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?
Never mind. That’s bull. What doesn’t kill you will kill you later. Which, I suppose, might make you stronger in the afterlife, or the next life, or whatever the hell comes afterwards.
I’ve never been exactly big on religion. I’ll live, I’ll die, I’ll be reborn – probably as a mealworm, considering my record for excessive bitchiness and scheming against my sister for the heart of my true love. But it’s moments like these, with Ginny Weasley just daring one of the bloody orderlies to come accost her as she makes her way towards her on-again-off-again-boyfriend Harry Potter, whose hand is sweating profusely as it cages mine, that I pray fervently. To Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, to any deity who will give a girl like me the time of day – please, please, please don’t let me die at the hand of a Weasley pissed, who Hell has no fury like.
“Parvati?” Harry whispers urgently, trying to move his lips as little as humanly possible. “Whatever you do, don’t tell the truth. Don’t.”
If I had the time or strength of will to snort, I would. But I don’t, because Ginny Weasley is getting more and more pissed with every passing millisecond, not in part because the troupe I’m ashamed to call my family is causing hysterics in this very uppity, snobbish Muggle hotel. Padma leads my shrieking Greek choir-family, insisting on speaking to the manager and the owner and the couple hiding next to the stairwell to get this bloody conflict resolved.
“Harry, do I look like someone who’d tell the truth?”
“Touché. But please, just let me do the talking.”
Ginny, I notice, is caught up in the swamp of public-relations people in the crowd. I suspect they don’t know that my mother is on chai and the general euphoria that comes with any marriage-related function and now, the horror and indignation of said marriage-related function being canceled. Nothing will work to calm her, short of Stunning Spells, but no one would dare to do magic in such an area. For one, there are Muggles every which way you look. For two, Harry Potter is standing not ten feet away.
Ginny Weasley is stuck?
Maybe Brahma did listen to me. Or Vishnu. Or Shiva. Whoever. I’m not really picky.
“Potter,” I hiss into his ear – which I’m only able to do thanks to my very sexy but painful stilettos, which are much sexier and much more painful than Padma’s. “Do we really need to stick around and talk?”
Harry’s eyes dart between his on-again-off-again-pissed-off-girlfriend and me. I think the both of us equally horrify him; or maybe it’s the grating cacophony of Hindi curse words that scares him. Not like I can possibly blame him for either.
“You can’t leave!” he roars in an undertone. “Didn’t you just say that this is your fault? You owe it to Padma to fix this!”
“No I don’t. All I owe Padma is a good kick in the arse, and there are too many bloody witnesses for me to pull that off successfully.”
“Padma’s your sister!”
The thing about Harry’s near-perfect world is that he doesn’t understand reality. He knows about the things that the rest of us mundane wizards and witches can’t begin to understand – being on the run without indoor plumbing, having prophecies made, vanquishing Dark Lords. His relationship with Ginny, and by default, me, proves just how naïve he really is. It’s almost sad. It’s certainly lucrative, as Mackey knows very, very well. But at the moment it will probably cost him his life.
“Look, this will blow over, okay?” I urge urgently. “If we get out now, you can get your head screwed on straight and I can figure out what happened with the party. Padma and the rest of them will move on, trust me, okay? Now, come on, Diagon Alley can’t be that far away–”
Harry shakes his head; his glasses bounce on the bridge of his nose, and chaotic light reflected from thousands of sequins bounces in turn into my eyes. “Parvati, are you the sort of person who would tell the truth?”
How dearly I hate chiasmus. Vicky tells me it involves reversal of clauses – surely what Harry’s just said to me is a chiasmus? I don’t care right now: rhetorical strategies can go to hell, along with myself, Padma, and Potter.
“Fine! Fine! Tell her–” I gesture angrily at where Ginny is being ushered away by a brave orderly trying to organize the chaos “–whatever the hell you want! I’m going to figure out what the hell this is!”
And then I leave. My exit is pretty anticlimactic, if I do say so myself.
Although just as I disappear out the door, Ginny gets around the orderly.
I pity Harry terribly and wish he had the sense to run away from the girl with Hell-like fury, but he’s much too noble to do anything as spineless as that. That’s just too bloody bad. Ginny can think what she wants, but no one can say that I’m desperate for Harry. All anyone can say is that he’s my plus one to my sister’s wedding to my true love. And that’s the truth, no matter what Harry wants to tell her.
But for now, Harry’s fabrications about our relationship can wait. What is slightly more pressing is the canceling of the engagement party. And even more pressing than that is why my true love was a no-show to the party I had specifically arranged for his and his good-for-nothing shallow family’s sake.
I throw a glance over my shoulder at the hotel façade. It hasn’t gone up in flames quite yet, so that has to be a good thing. I feel little guilt about abandoning my family and Harry to the clutches of white Muggles and Ginny Weasley – everyone brought their respective troubles on themselves. If Harry just acknowledged that Ginny was soulmate and if Padma just acknowledged that someone had screwed up, then no one would be stuck in the mess I’ve artfully escaped the clutches of.
I remember an unresolved question that I asked myself not three seconds ago: where the hell is Roger?
After forcing myself to enter a dodgy alley not far from what may or may not be Trafalgar Square, I Apparate from London and arrive seconds later in Blackpool. It’s an adorable seaside town with burgeoning magical community, and where Roger’s parents live. Normally they’d be at their Mediterranean villa, but they’re ruining their summer by toddling along to India with the rest of us. If I had a Mediterranean villa, I would totally go there instead of India. But I don’t have a Mediterranean villa, and I won’t until Roger marries me.
Still in the dress I was supposed to be wearing at my sister’s engagement, I march up the street, catching the eyes of a stray cat and a nosy cockatiel, and knock on the door.
“Parvati?” he asks disbelievingly. He is, uncomfortably for him and fortuitously for me, wearing just a bathrobe. Clearly he’s just taken a shower. And is naked under said bathrobe. The idea is dizzying, but I remind myself with some regret that I have a job to do. A job that, as Harry would say, I owe it to Padma to do. Gods, I am such a good twin. Let’s see her keep her cool while in the presence of her nearly-naked soon-to-be-brother-in-law with whom she is in love.
“Why are you almost naked in your parents’ house instead of at your engagement?”
Well, that’s one thing I didn’t expect to ever have to say in my life. And trust me, I’ve said a lot of awkward things in my life. But never have I said that, and never to my true love.
Roger chuckles nervously and then asks if I want to come in. I do. So I do. Come in, I mean. I want to come in so I come in.
What? Of course my sentences are not ripe with rhetorical strategies! Roger Davies is almost naked! And with me!
“Er, you want something to drink?”
“I want to know why you’re almost naked in your parents’ house–”
“Would you stop saying that?”
I was going to add “in front of the girl who you really love,” but since he asked…
Instead, I say, “Did you know your fiancée and her family are currently being tranquilized by the PR at the hotel wherein your engagement party was supposed to take place?”
A shadow passes over his face, not an expression I’ve seen often. And trust me, I have seen Roger through a lot of things. “What’s being tranquilized mean? Is this a Muggle thing?”
I shrug, “That’s immaterial. Point is, you do know that your engagement party is supposed to be tonight, don’t you?”
Indulge me: I want to describe Roger Henry Davies’ perfectly sculpted face in very precise detail. He looks like a Greek god, with an aristocratic nose and striking blue-green eyes. His mouth is usually in a crooked line, which serves to communicate his good nature and wicked sense of humor. His hair is dark brown and accents his Quidditch-tanned skin flawlessly, and comes down in waves. A little lock of it usually falls into his eyes, because he likes the shaggy look. It works for him.
“I – err – what? Tonight? Are you – Parvati – are you sh-shitting me? I thought it w-was S-Sunday – n-n-next Sunday–”
And he never, ever lies.
“Roger, tell me the truth.”
“You won’t like it.” He fidgets where he stands, running his hands through his hair. His gorgeous, luxurious chocolate-colored hair.
“No one ever likes the truth. So tell me, why don’t you?”
He seriously considers my valid logic. I can tell because he’s looking at me funny – and I hope he’s just looking at me and not Padma’s twin sister. We are exactly the same, yes, but there is a fundamental difference between us. She thinks she loves him. I know I love him.
“You can’t tell her, okay?” His voice is strangled and stuck in his throat; and I think again of Harry and the fury of his soulmate. If he’s going to weather her wrath without me, I think I can do this for my sister. So I nod expectantly and wait as he ponders how exactly to word his confession.
“I canceled it.”
Short, simple, strong diction, no ambiguity. It is a well-structured sentence. I like it.
Then I run through the content of the words in my head, and wonder whether it would have been better to face Ginny Weasley after all.