Chapter 5 : Not Quite Perfect
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She dashed up the staircase towards her tiny flat, wrenched open the door and hurtled into the dingy room. At last, she allowed her feelings to finally take hold of her, and for once, she didn’t try and hide them, to sweep them into that familiar mask of indifference. She didn’t care about the building’s other occupants, she truly didn’t care, she was too gloriously happy to spare them a thought.
“Yes!” she squealed, casting off her bag, scarf and shoes, and jumping up and down, all dignity and poise forgotten. “Bill Weasley! Bill! Bill! And we are going out togezzer! Tonight!”
Laughing loudly, tears of mirth gathering in her eyes, she collapsed onto the low bed, reliving the moment in her head. Once she’d realised who he was, she’d lowered her wand, feeling immensely embarrassed. She’d wanted to creep away; she couldn’t bear it if he’d laughed at her. But no, to her immense surprise, he’d introduced himself, offering a gentlemanly hand for her to shake, and invited her out for a drink that evening. He had been so calm and collected, like it was no big deal at all, and in comparison, she’d seemed silly and giggly. She’d barely been able to stammer out a reply, but he’d organised all the details; the meeting place, the time. And now, now she had to get ready for her date...with Bill Weasley!
She suddenly wished she had someone to talk to, someone she could chat with and giggle with as she prepared for the night ahead. She thought back to her days at Beauxbatons, where she and the other girls had stayed up talking in the dormitory to all hours of the night. She’d always dismissed the other girls of being immature, silly little girls, who spent all their time prattling on about immature silly little boys, but she suddenly found herself pining for their camaraderie. Still, she could always write a letter, couldn’t she? She crossed to the shabby wooden table in the corner in the room that served as a dining table, a writing desk, a place to hold the large wireless that came with the room and as somewhere to hold everything that wouldn’t fit in the scant wardrobe and chest of drawers. She pulled out a fresh piece of parchment, loaded up her best eagle feather quill with her favourite dark blue ink, then paused, the pointed nib hovering inches above the blank sheet.
How could she even begin to describe the emotions coursing through her body; excitement, relief and a slight twinge of nerves, to girls she hadn’t seen, or spoken to, in months? It was ridiculous! She wondered briefly about scribbling a note home to Gabrielle, but dismissed the thought almost immediately. As close as the two sisters were, she was forced to admit that her Gabrielle was, perhaps, a tad too young to receive such a letter from her older sister. She doubted even whether Maman, who she was closest to in the world, would be able to decipher a heartfelt letter from her at this moment in time. She made to crumple up the parchment, but stopped halfway through. She had to write a letter home sometime. In fact, one of the conditions of her being allowed to come here was that she’d send an owl home at least twice a week. It was already Thursday and she hadn’t written at all this week. Smoothing out the now slightly crumpled sheet, she dipped her quill into the ink once more and began to write a nondescript letter to keep her parents from being worried.
Dear Maman, Papa and Gabrielle [she wrote]
Everything is fine here in England. The weather is always a bit grey and dismal, but I’ve come to get used to it. I’ve just finished work for the day – it’s been very busy this week which is why I haven’t written before now. My English is coming along well and everyone at Gringotts Bank is extremely friendly and welcoming. I’m going out tonight with a friend I’ve made, so I must go and get ready. I’ll send another owl at the weekend.
Missing you always, you affectionate,
She signed off the note with an elaborate signature, then sat back and surveyed the note she’d just written. Somewhere along the line, she’d decided that honesty was definitely not the best policy when it came to writing home to her parents. If they really knew what her life was like in England, they’d have brought her back to France after the first week.
Deciding she’d send it later, she pushed the letter into a pale blue envelope and crossed to her wardrobe. She surveyed the neatly pressed robes and polished shoes with grim disinterest. It was hopeless; she had absolutely nothing to wear. Nothing! And this was meant to be one of the greatest nights of her life. She was going out with the man of her dreams- literally – and not one of the garments in her inadequately sized wardrobe was perfect. She pulled out outfit after outfit and held them up against herself in front of the little mirror mounted on the wall, before discarded them in a haphazard heap on the bed.
The pink made her look like a child, the green didn’t look right with her hair, the grey was too serious, the blue looked too much like her old school uniform. Were dress robes too formal for a simple drink after work? Probably. Nevertheless, she reached into the back of the wardrobe and pulled out the silvery dress robes she hadn’t been able to resist bringing with her. She held them up against her slender frame and softly stroked the delicate silver silk. The dress robes had cost her parents a small fortune and they were easily the nicest robes she owned. Roger Davies certainly seemed to think so at the Yule Ball, she thought with a wry smile. Still, perhaps not quite right for tonight. She laid them regretfully on the bed and delved back inside her wardrobe.
Half an hour later, she was forced to conclude that her pale blue robes were, in fact, the best option. Regardless of whether or not they looked like her old Beauxbatons uniform, they would have to do. She slipped into them quickly, noticing with a slight twinge of panic that she was supposed to be meeting Bill in half an hour. Fastening the small buttons with deft fingers, Fleur crossed back to the old mirror and snatched up her silver-backed hairbrush. She swept her hair back off her face, then brushed it back again, turning sideways to assess her profile. Hair off the face. Definitely. Unless- She tied her hair up in an elegant knot at the nape of her neck. Did she look too serious now? Sighing loudly, she pulled the long silvery strands free again and let her hair tumble about her shoulders. But she looked like such a little girl with her hair loose! Exasperatedly, she turned away from the mirror, frowning at her reflection and set about looking for her shoes. Her hair would have to do.
She eventually found her good blue shoes ten minutes later, after much groping under the bed and quite a bit of swearing under her breath. They were perhaps a bit too high and pointy just for tottering down Diagon Alley, but they went well with her blue robes after all, and she wasn’t exactly sure if she had even brought her silver shoes to England anyway.
This was not how she had imagined getting ready for her first evening out with Bill Weasley. Still, she reminded herself firmly, it could be worse. At least she was going out with him! A few hours ago, he had been nothing but a fond recollection and a wistful fantasy after all.
Dousing herself in her best French perfume, she grabbed her bag from where it hung on the doorknob and cast one last sweeping glance in the mirror. Not quite perfect, she decided sadly as she closed the door behind her. Not quite perfect, but it was about the best she could hope for under the circumstances.
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