“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
― Mark Twain
Chapter 1- Prologue
“Addie? Can you come down here, please?” calls Mum, a scarily urgent edge to her voice. Startled, I knock an evidently unscrewed pot of paint all over my sketchbook, my bed covers, and, more importantly, over the half-completed portrait of my beautiful Kneazle that I was working on. Damn. Maybe I should have listened to Mum when she said not to paint on the bed.
“Addie!” she shouts again with yet more urgency.
As I attempt to smear the red paint off with my fingers, I, for the millionth time in my life, realise how easier life would be if only I’d been gifted with magic. There’s bound to be a clearing-up spell invented by Alfonzo the Neat in 80BC or something.
I mean, I could practically do anything with just a wave of a wand, right? It would save so much hassle. Forget about the spilled paint — right now I could levitate that bag of Fizzing Whizzbees all the way from the other side of my room without moving a muscle. And yes, I eat Fizzing Whizzbees. Adore them, in fact. Just because I don’t belong in their world doesn’t mean I can’t dip into their luxuries!
But, alas, I am powerless, stinking Squib (not literally, that’s just a silly rumour). It’s no fun being the runt of the litter, believe me. Quite humiliating, actually. My little sister is already showing signs of magic, and one day she’ll get to prance around in some fancy castle, the stuff of legends, while I have the time of my life studying science and maths in a ‘Muggle’ comprehensive, as my parents call it.
My one (pitiful) claim to magic is the fact that I own a pet Kneazle, Mercury, and even he legally belongs to my stepfather (or so the license states). Mercury took a liking to me as soon as he was brought home five years ago, much to the surprise of my family (honestly, I know they mean well, but why shouldn’t a magical creature like me, just because I don’t possess super powers like they do? Admittedly he isn’t exactly affectionate to our next door neighbour, dear old Doris, but that’s not the point).
In fact, the little silver devil is sleeping soundly on my feet as I speak, and is the sole reason I cannot get up to fetch my Fizzing Whizzbees. My laziness has nothing to do with it, I assure you.
Whoops. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt during my fifteen years of existence, it is that one must not keep mother waiting. Although a typically sweet and harmless soul, she can be pretty feisty when she wants to be. I bolt down the stairs and hurtle into the living room where my mum is stretched out on a chaise longue and gestures for me to sit on the matching armchair opposite her. Swallowing back the lump forming in my throat, I perch nervously on the edge of the seat.
“So, Addie,” she begins. Phew! When I’m in trouble she usually yells “ADELAIDE NAOMI BEST!” at the top of her lungs, in that terrifying roar that only mothers can achieve. I swear the sole purpose of a middle name is so you can tell when you’re really in trouble. Nonetheless, she used my nickname, so I’m safe for the moment.
“I’ve just got off the phone with Fleur,” she continues casually.
Nodding slowly, I rack my brains trying to think of where I’ve heard that name before.
“You know, Fleur Weasley, my old school friend.”
“Oh. Her.” She’s this French woman Mum is constantly glued on to the phone to, jabbering away like there’s no tomorrow.
“Well, how do you feel about spending the summer in France, with her family?” Mum questions, her tone all nonchalant, but I can tell she’s struggling to keep a colossal grin at bay.
So, wow. Er, that’s definitely not what I was expecting to hear.
“What?” I sputter.
Her expression looks as if she’s presenting me with the best news ever, like I’ve received a belated acceptance letter to Hogwarts or something. “She’s offered for you to stay with her, maybe help out in the shop a bit. It’s such a great chance for you to gain some independence and learn to look after yourself. Isn’t it exciting?!”
Oh yeah, being shipped off to stay with the family of my mum’s old friend, of whom I haven’t seen in donkey’s years, is almost making me wet myself with anticipation.
I stare into her eyes, gaze scrutinising, trying to make out whether she’s kidding or not. “Is this some sick joke?”
She shakes her head, no. Her blue eyes are wide and sparkling and so full of hope… I don’t understand why.
“Wait, so you and dad and Florence would stay home without me?” My eyebrows furrow as I try to absorb what I’ve been told. “Are you so sick of me that you’re trying to kick me out the house or something?” I add, my voice (rather embarrassingly) wobbling towards the end.
I know I’m not exactly the ideal daughter they’ve always dreamed of – having no magical powers is the greatest disappointment I could’ve given them, really. But still, there are girls my age with babies to look after, and others who run off with men twice their age. Then there’s me: quiet, obedient, good marks, no boyfriends… so maybe I should have ‘BORE’ branded on my forehead, but I could have turned out worse, right?
Mum frowns. “Don’t be silly, Addie, I just want what’s best for you. Don’t you miss the Weasley children? You were all so close when you were younger!”
Ha. A bubble of laughter escapes from my lips, until I realise she’s being serious.
I definitely do not miss those kids, for the following well thought-out reasons:
REASONS WHY I, ADELAIDE NAOMI BEST, DO NOT MISS THE WEASLEY CHILDREN
1.) The eldest Weasley child, Victory or something, never liked me the second she set eyes on me for reasons I cannot fathom. (I always suspected she held her nose up at me for being a Squib.) The one time I stayed with them, she refused to play with her sister and I as apparently she was too cool to hang with us ‘babies’. So condescending. Typical French, isn’t it?
Not to mention she was stunning even at the age of twelve; no doubt she is now a famous French supermodel who will be eager to pummel the tiny amount of self-esteem I possess until there is nothing left (not that that’s a very good reason to not miss someone, but whatever).
2.) Dominique, the middle child, and I got along just fine until one day, mid-summer, she decided she was also too cool to play dollies with me, and went off to join her sister in dull adult conversations concerning French politics and other equally dreary topics. She’s only a couple of years older than me, for god’s sake! Ugh, she was a mini-Victory in the making. I did not appreciate being ditched like that. Unfortunately, this has occurred far more often in my life than I would like to admit.
3.) And that brings me to my third and final point: Louis. The little brother was left to entertain me and so I spent the remaining summer days watching my dolly get run over by various large plastic vehicles - that boy is a psychopath, I’m telling you. Poor Miss Molly didn’t know what was coming to her. Eventually I got bored of watching her being murdered repeatedly, so I snatched her back and attempted to evacuate the premises – not before Louis managed to throw a red fire truck at my face in anger and betrayal, though, leaving an indent on my skin slightly above my left eyebrow. The idiot could’ve had my eye out. The evidence remains still to this day, much to the dismay of my self-conscious teenage self.
Basically, the whole family is snobby, pretentious and more than a little violent, and I would rather die a slow and painful death than spend four whole weeks of my life with them.
“Mum, you know we didn’t exactly hit it off last time – that one time – we met. They’re practically strangers and it would just be so – so awkward!” I swallow as my voice starts to waver on the hysterical side. “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. I’m not going!”
Heaving a sigh, she goes over to one of the bottom cupboards in the trophy cabinet (the shiny silver one proclaiming ‘Under 10s Figure Skater of the Year 2009’ is mine, in case you were wondering) and flicks through some old photo albums. Looks like she’s got a sudden wave of nostalgia. Is this my cue to leave, or..?
“Look at this,” she commands just as I’m about to get up, tossing a handful of photographs onto my lap. Little me, clad in dungarees and missing my two front teeth, sitting with a cute blonde girl with her glossy hair up in pigtails, creating what seems to be a scrumptious bucket of mud pie with sprinkles of juicy green grass on top. A little toddler in nothing but his nappy, peering innocently at the camera whilst sticking a miniature pair of plastic legs in his mouth. I bet you a million pounds those legs belonged to Miss Molly.
“Good times,” I reply, voice dripping with sarcasm, and fling the photos back at her.
“Adelaide,” Mum says warningly, hands on hips and all.
This is my last chance. If this doesn’t work, I don’t know what will.
“Please, Mummy, don’t make me go,” I say quietly, widening my blue eyes and batting my lashes, going for the Innocent Little Daddy’s Girl look. Works like a charm on him, but Mum seems to have some resistance to it. “You know I’d much rather stay home with you.”
Mum sighs and moves to sit by me; I mechanically inch away. “Love, this trip could do wonders for you. It’ll crack open that shell you’re hiding in!”
“Okay, first of all, I am not a chicken. Secondly, I was going to stay with Jade for a bit this summer,” I wail. “We’ve already made plans. I can’t bail on her now!”
“Jade Jackson? I thought I told you to stop hanging around her. She’s a terrible influence on a naïve girl like you,” comes her stern reply.
Usually I do whatever Mum tells me to, like the obedient little Catholic girl I am, but if I stopped hanging with Jade I’d literally have no one else to hang with (I’m not exactly the most popular girl at school) and turn into a carbon-copy of the crazy old Kneazle lady next-door. Not that I’d tell Mum that; I disappoint her enough as it is.
I apologize for the copious amount of self-pity I possess, by the way; it’s probably the reason I’m lacking in friends. Ugh, it’s just one big torturous circle I can never escape from.
“Oh, come on. She gave up smoking ages ago, there’s nothing to worry about,” I try to reason. It’s not like I even tried a ciggy; I’m not that stupid (or brave). Frizzled lungs are not cool. But Mum doesn’t look convinced.
She raises her arched eyebrows and looks at me in disbelief. “You’d seriously pass up an offer to spend a month in France to hang out with some friend?”
I nod enthusiastically.
“I’m sorry Addie, but I can’t let you miss out on an opportunity like this - to experience the culture and, with a bit of luck, you might grow up a bit. We’ll discuss this with your father later, but you are going and one day you will thank me for it,” she says curtly before striding out of the room.
Thank her? Yeah, fat chance.
Stupid mothers always think they know best. She may adore France, but I do not. Just because she went to school there, I have to love it too and ‘embrace my French heritage’. Christ, I only know one word in the whole language (merde, in case you were interested. I’ve heard Mum mutter it enough times to pick up on it). Anyway, I’ve seen it all on TV; it’s full of a load of people wearing berets and showing off their silly moustaches and prancing around whilst nibbling on a baguette. I don’t even like bread that much. But I must admit, the moustaches are kind of cool.
“I’m not going, and there is nothing you can do to make me!” I declare once and for all before following her out of the room and storming up the staircase into my bedroom, making sure to slam the door extra hard behind me to enforce my point.
I am never, in a hundred billion years, going to the Land of Moustaches and Baguettes.
A/N: Welcome to my new story! It’s my first attempt at writing in first person - let me know what you think. I’d love to hear what you think of Addie and the story so far.
me gusta=I like
10/12/12: title changed from Enchanté to Live a Little