Chapter 3 : Enchanté
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Here’s a snippet of advice for anyone planning to spend their summer with a family graciously letting you live under their roof:
Do not, under any circumstances, turn up on their doorstep unconscious.
Understandably it’s quite alarming for them to receive their visitors in such a way, not to mention rather rude.
The first thing I see when I open my eyes is a beautiful pair of azure ones staring intently onto my own. Startled, I make to sit bolt upright but groan when a wave of pain washes over me.
“Adelaide? Adelaide, can you ‘ear me?” says the unfamiliar voice. The urgency makes me nervous.
Slumping in my seat, I rub my head as the fog begins to clear. Blonde hair, blue eyes, beautiful: The woman standing over me is indisputably Fleur Weasley.
Finally, I nod my head a fraction of an inch, inwardly pleading for the ache in my head to subside, and there is an audible sigh of relief.
“Zank goodness!” she cries in her thick accent, leaning down to tuck loose hair behind my ear in a typical motherly motion. I can’t help but notice that this woman smells marvellous. “I was worried for a moment zere. You do not like portkeys?”
Oh, quite the contrary; I evidently adore ‘em. Again, I nod meekly. Or do I shake my head? I’m too delirious at this moment in time to care.
Then a thought strikes me like an arrow, causing me to sit straight up in alarm. “Where’s Mercury?”
“Zere,” Fleur says quickly, gesturing to the side of the couch where my Kneazle can be found lapping up milk out of a cute little china bowl.
I sigh happily. Mercury must hear, as he glances up and makes to leap into my arms. I snuggle my face into his familiar silver fur.
“’e is so beautiful,” she tells me, tracing her lean fingers along Mercury’s nose. “I am not so sure if ‘e will get along wiz Coco, though.”
Before I can ask who this mysterious Coco is, Fleur asks me if I want anything to eat.
“Er, no thank you,” comes my instant reply, my voice quiet and polite as always. Of course, my stomach just has to betray me and let out a grumble that could rival that of Vesuvius.
Luckily there is a glass of water on the table which Fleur thrusts at me anyway. “Dreenk,” she commands, and I have no choice but to comply. Friendly one, that Fleur. “Now, you are sure zere is nozing you would like to eat, Adelaide?” She glances knowingly at my protesting stomach.
I suppose I did just travel hundreds of miles in a matter of seconds and go out cold. Maybe a bit of an energy boost would be good for me. Although, I was supposed to be on a diet…
I chug down the rest of my water and turn to face Fleur with a bashful smile on my face. “Well, erm… you have chocolate in France, right?”
French houses are sufficiently familiar to English ones for me to be able to navigate around them. Or at least, this particular house is – I don’t know what I was expecting, but let me tell you, it is fancy. And I thought my house was nice.
The house itself isn’t even that big, really, but there’s been some serious interior decorating going on; polished and organised furniture with marble floors and posh paintings hanging on the walls… very swanky. I can almost see my own reflection in the floor, it’s that glossy; they may as well rent it out to be used as an ice-skating rink. Mercury, the poor baby, can’t seem to get his footing on it. It makes me think of the time when Florence thought it’d be funny to put roller-skates on him.
…I am so coming out here in my slipper socks later.
Right, so, Fleur said my room was on the right side of the bathroom. Or was it the left? And did she mean that side looking away from the bathroom, or looking at it? Wow, I’m screwed.
Now, you may be wondering why I am wandering through a stranger’s house. In a foreign country. Alone. Well, Fleur got an urgent phone call, started muttering, ‘Oh, Louis, Louis’ in your classic concerned mummy voice, promised to return to me in a few minutes, and before I knew it she had literally disappeared into thin air. Oh, dem magical folk. Whatcha gonna do with 'em?
Cautiously, I tread the stairs, being careful to make as little noise as possible, and approach the closest wooden door. I press my ear to it. Nothing. The coast is clear – I think. I crack the door ajar and peek inside. Huh, this room sure is messy – and ohmygod there is the cutest little creature ever on the bed!
My heart melts a little because I am looking at a tiny ball of perfection sent by the God of All Things Cute And Adorable.
I’ve never seen anything quite so beautiful in my life.
Um, apart from Mercury of course!
(I sure do hope Kneazles can’t read minds.)
“Hey baby, do you want me to tickle your tummy?” I coo in arguably the most ridiculous voice heard to man, hastily approaching the adorable kitten who gazes up at me with its big round peepers. I feel Mercury tense up around my legs and begin to hiss. Trust him to bully a kitten. Said kitten, scared out of its wits, leaps up onto the windowsill, out of harm’s reach. I move past the bed and follow him.
Out of the window, something catches my eye: a girl a little older than myself is stretched out on the grass, long blonde hair splayed out around her as she listens to her iPod. The sight takes my breath away (the view, not the girl… I mean, she’s pretty, but that would be weird); the garden is lush. It’s narrow, but seems to stretch miles and miles back. My eyes trace over the fish pond and the cute little wooden bridge to the pretty flowerbeds. I can easily picture Fleur tending to her fleurs there (how punny!).
Then, quite suddenly, the door is flung open behind me, and the soothing silence is broken; instinctively, my hand flies up to clutch at my heart.
A boy enters the room. Streams of fuming French words sneak in behind him.
“Listen, Maman, I just don’t feel up to it today!” he calls back in an equally livid tone. I flinch. “What is it about that that you can’t comprehend?”
And with that, he slams the door shut, effectively blocking out her words.
…As well as blocking me from my escape route.
He huffs. He puffs. He may as well be the Big Bad Wolf because he certainly looks like he wants to blow this house down.
It seems I’ve somehow found myself in the middle of a very French soap opera, except this time there’s no ‘off’ button.
I watch him pace the room with timid fascination, my breath held in place. My feet are seemingly glued to the floor; no part of me is willing to move an inch. And then the inevitable happens, when his eyes finally flicker over to meet mine, and he lets out a startled little yelp which might be humorous in any other situation. But, alas, I am Adelaide Best, and awkward, embarrassing and general FML situations are what fundamentally make me, me.
He stumbles back a few steps till the backs of his calves hit his bed with a light thud, managing to catch himself before he topples over. He gapes at me, surprise etched on his face, which I notice is rather nicely constructed. …What? You’d comment on it if you saw him, too.
“Who are you?” he asks brusquely.
For some reason my mouth remains in a stubborn, thin line, trapping any coherent response in.
So this is Louis - the little boy who threw a red fire truck at my forehead seven years ago? Who else could it be?
Look, I’m not gonna beat around the bush; this here is a good-looking fella.
I’m aware that the Puberty Fairy tends to show a partiality to some people more than others, but this is just ridiculous; I get social awkwardness and the face of a 12-year-old, whilst he gets a beautiful jawline and muscles to boot. Some people get all the luck.
Naturally he looks like he’s ripe for a photo shoot or something, as seems to be the norm with this family. He has his mother’s eyes, for sure – very very bright and very very blue.
This is so unfair – if they make me go out in public with them, it’ll just be this stunning family with a short-arse troll obediently hobbling after them.
Okay. Okay, I need to stop thinking like all the silly girls at school.
…But it’s kind of difficult when there’s a boy stood in front of me, looking like that.
“Oh – err,” I say oh-so-intelligently, my voice squeaking embarrassingly like a prepubescent boy. My mouth snaps shut. I’m too stunned to get any words out.
Stuff it. If in doubt, get the hell out, as my Uncle Boris used to say. I make my way to beeline around him – but his long arm flings out and stops me leaving, catching my wrist, my heart racing at the moment of contact. I suddenly feel like an ant, looking up at him – he must be, what, getting on for six foot?
I shouldn’t be here. I really shouldn’t be here.
Wincing, I turn to face his general direction but avoid eye contact, so I’m basically staring like a pervert at his chest. This is so awks it hurts.
“Uh, désolé, mais qui es-tu?” he says hesitantly. Despite not looking at him, I can still feel his bemused eyes travelling over me.
I bite my lip nervously, feeling heat pool into my cheeks. “Um… no comprendo?”
He cocks a dark blonde eyebrow, looking (quite adorably) confused and (quite understandably) sceptical. “¿Eres española?”
Can this boy speak every language?!
Right, I am now faced with making an important decision. A decision which, I am sure, will end with humiliation either way.
A) Pretend I’m foreign and storm out of the room whilst screeching Spanish swear words at him (I spend most of my Spanish lessons having educational fun with the dictionary).
B) Confess that I am, in fact, a defenceless, wee English girl who got lost in a big scary house.
…Neither sound particularly tempting right now.
“Hello? Knock knock?” he drawls slowly, looking at me like I am stupid. Who can blame him? It’s like I’ve gone brain-dead. “Speak to me. Anyone in there?”
The need to say something overwhelms me: “Sorry – I – I didn’t mean to startle you before.”
Subconsciously I start to back away from his heavy gaze, but end up knocking a stack of notebooks off his desk. Suppressing a groan, I hurriedly begin putting them back in place.
“Don’t touch them,” he suddenly snaps, voice low and strong, and I freeze, dropping the books like they’ve burnt me. Can I do anything right?
I hear him blow air out of his mouth before he says almost coolly, “What are you doing in my room?”
“I – I don’t know – I shouldn’t be here – ”
“No, you shouldn’t,” he agrees, cutting me off. He gestures scathingly to the doorway. “The door’s just there.”
I keep my eyes trained on the carpet as I blunder my way out of the room, Mercury hot on my heels. I don’t want him to see the colour rushing to my cheeks, or to know that my eyes are beginning to prickle.
After loitering around the hallway for a few moments, staring at the collection of school photographs on the walls (I have to admit: despite the evidently temperamental adolescent version of him, gap-tooth Louis was adorable, like fluffy kittens and frolicking puppies adorable), I sigh with relief when Fleur finally joins me at the top of the stairs. Both of our faces are a little more flushed than they were before.
“Ah, zere you are, Adelaide,” she says, the worried crease between her eyebrows smoothing out. “Apologies zat I did not 'elp you to your room – zere was a bit of, euh, conflict wiz my son…”
“Oh, no, it’s – it’s fine,” I mumble quickly in reply. I want to stay as far away from that drama as possible.
By the way, Fleur, your son’s a bit of a moody douche.
“Your room eez zis one, just ‘ere…”
I follow her past the bathroom into a large, bright room. It’s obviously not a guest room; posters of scantily clad band members haphazardly bedeck the walls, and several of what I assume are beauty products gather in a huddle at the foot of an elaborate mirror.
I start thinking I could grow to like this room, until a bunk bed catches my eye. My heart sinks a little.
“You will be sharing zis room wiz Dominique,” she says matter-of-factly, unknowingly confirming my worst fears.
Boom. Thank you for that bombshell.
Instantly my head snaps up to stare at her; share? Holy Kneazles. I wasn’t under the impression I’d be sharing.
I’m not sure I’ve shared anything in my life, let alone a bedroom.
I quickly look away. Deep breaths, Addie. Deep breaths.
The overall impression is very… pink. Not the biggest fan of the colour myself, but it reminds me of Florence’s bedroom which I guess provides some degree of comfort.
I pat the soft covers tentatively before crawling on top of them, and feel all the tension slowly melt away from my shoulders into the mattress. Soft. So soft. I’m talking baby’s-bottom soft here. It’s the kind of soft that allows your mind to drift into the clouds and envisage yourself frolicking on rainbows with ponies and unicorns and…
…and Fleur is still in the room, watching me anxiously.
I haven’t been here five minutes and I’ve already got them thinking I’m a nutcase.
“You are steell feeling unwell?” she says, rushing over to my side. “You need rest?”
“Oh, no, no, I’m fine, sorry,” I squawk, clambering up into a sitting position and hastily kicking my shoes off. Oh god oh god oh god, my shoes have left dirt marks on the covers. I pray Fleur doesn’t notice as I subtly attempt to smudge it with my feet. Oh Christ, I’m just making it worse…
"So, Adelaide, do you zink you will like it 'ere? I am afraid Dominique would not listen when I told ‘er to take ze ‘orrid posters down!”
"It's lovely. Thanks, Mrs Weasley," I respond as sweetly as possible, my mind elsewhere. Dirt marks dirt marks GAH…
"Feel free to call me Fleur, chérie," she says warmly, smoothing her (sleek, sparkling, shiny) locks out of her face. Why can’t I look like that? And I wonder what shampoo/conditioner combo she uses..?
Her gaze then slides over to meet mine and she smiles kindly. I try for a shy smile back. She’s a bit scary, but I think she’s actually quite warm on the inside. At least, I hope so. The smiling and intense eye contact lasts a tad too long, though, if you ask me (I think we may be having a… *blush*, moment), but at last she rises from the bed, smooths down her cream blouse and moves over in three willowy strides to the bedroom door.
Just before she leaves, she turns back around and offers to help unpacking. Well, y’know, I s’pose another pair of hands would get the job done sooner – more time to get out there to ‘experience the culture’ and ‘grow up a bit’ as Mum so eloquently put it…
"Oh, it’s no problem, I’ll be alright, thanks - "
My voice is droned out as Fleur advances to the window and sticks her head out of it. “DOMEENIQUE! Come ‘ere and ‘elp our guest wiz ‘er zings!"
“Our guest? Really, maman?” a voice snaps from somewhere in the distance, but before long Dominique appears hovering in the doorway, arms crossed and scowling face framed by runaway locks spilling from her ponytail.
Stood next to each other, their physical resemblance is uncanny, though Fleur does have a few extra inches on her daughter. Dominique is also clad in a much pinker outfit, almost camouflaged by the pink walls.
“Adelaide, zis is my daughter, Dominique,” Fleur says, turning to stare at said daughter pointedly. “I ‘ope zat you two will get on well.”
“I’m sure we will,” Dominique replies, and I almost smile at her until I catch sight of the unmoving, lifeless expression on her face.
“Well, I am just downstairs if you need anyzing, girls.” Fleur glances between us – a little cautiously, I think – before leaving, and an itching silence settles over the room. I’m not sure whether I should say ‘hi’ or what; maybe I should’ve prepared a PowerPoint presentation introducing myself…
I can’t help but wish Fleur hadn’t left us. I’m actually quite scared for my wellbeing. Adults are much easier to get along with than people my age.
“Well,” Dominique says suddenly, clasping her hands together and shooting me a pearly smile as fake as my French accent, “let’s get this over with.”
I have to share a bedroom with this girl, this hostile monstrosity of a girl, for the next four weeks.
What, dear reader, could possibly go wrong?
“What the fu-dge gave you the inclination to bring this dirty old rag with you, if you don’t mind my asking?”
I snatch Flopsy, my oh-so-originally named rabbit, out of Dominique’s wicked grasp and tuck him safely under my arm. Quietly, I say, “you can swear around me, y’know. I - I’m not gonna feel offended or anything.”
The last thing I want is for her to think me a prude. I know from experience that coming off as one practically screams, ‘I’m a loser; pick on me!!’
“It just feels weird cussing around little people. Especially good little people.”
My lips almost part in outrage. I can’t tell whether she’s kidding or not; her facial expression is neutral and nothing in her tone gives her away, but I’m pretty sure her use of the word ‘good’ wasn’t meant as a compliment.
And, if she’s referring to my height, can I just add that I recently had a growth spurt to achieve 5’4”, thank you very much. Since when is that little? Hmm?
“Good?” I repeat, sounding unsure even to my own ears.
“Yeah. You’re all, I dunno, quiet and sensible and sh-iz. Well, that’s what Maman told us anyway.” They’ve been discussing me? My heart rate quickens at the thought. She contemplates me for a moment, neat eyebrows scrunching together in thought. Gulp. “You do seem to have a bit of backbone, though, which I’m pleased about.”
“Pleased about?” Oh wow, my own imitation skills astound me.
“Yep. You’re not too much of a stuck in the mud. I think.”
“Gee, thanks,” I mutter, hopefully too softly to be heard, but am secretly delighted. Back at school, I get called that all the time – or, at least, enough times for me to start believing it, so it’s nice to be told otherwise.
“But seriously,” she goes on as she flicks through my collection of clothing, looking dishearteningly unimpressed (I cringe when she gets to my kitten-inspired knitwear), “you still have a cuddly toy, and you’re like, what, fourteen, fifteen? I bet you sleep with it and everything, all cutely cuddled up.” I want to use Flopsy to bat that smirk right off her face.
“Pfft, n - no,” I say defensively, cheeks blooming a pale pink, and give a nervous laugh. “Obviously not.”
She pauses in her (unwanted) inspection of my clothes to scrutinize me again. “You don’t have many friends at school, do you, Adelaide?”
I promptly begin choking on my own saliva. What the hell? You can’t just go around saying things like that. Her social skills are worse than mine! I will not stand for that kind of behaviour. No way. She can just –
“Not really,” I admit, voice barely above a whisper.
Seriously, vocal chords?! That was not what we agreed on.
She purses her lips and makes a strange ‘hmph’ sound, smiling knowingly to herself.
I think Dominique would be remarkably pretty if only her face wasn’t permanently twisted in such an ugly sneer. Does she not realise that if the wind blows, she’ll be stuck looking like that forever?
As I slide my paint set securely under the bed, I feel my nails clench into my palms. Wow. I’m actually hating this Dominique girl more than my seven-year-old self did – something I’d never have thought possible.
I want to tell her to leave. To leave the room, to leave me alone. But I can’t. Something’s got an agonisingly tight hold on my throat, restricting anything from coming out. This is her room, after all.
Luckily, Dominique seems to be getting bored with me.
“Well, this has been an informative meeting,” she says, reaching into the pocket of his jeans, “but I quite honestly have better things to be doing.”
And with that, she gives her wand a single swish and I watch glumly as all my stuff goes soaring neatly into cupboards and onto table tops. She could easily have done that to start with. But I suppose she considers herself above that.
“Oh, and do remember, Adelaide, that this is my room. Not yours, not ours - mine.”
Lacking the grace of her mother, Dominique stalks out of the room, her light blonde hair cascading wildly behind her in a way that would make Fleur squirm. I press my lips together.
I hate it here. I can’t see how I’ll ever like it here.
I feel the tears fall before the door shuts behind her. When I agreed to come here I guess a part of me – a very, very small part – thought that maybe I’d be able to get away from people like this. From people constantly putting me down and making me feel like… well, shit. I thought I could start anew and have a summer worthy of some funky teen movie. But I guess that was just wishful thinking. Stupid. People here are even snobbier than in England.
What exactly have I done that made Dominique – and Louis, too – hate me so much? All I’ve been doing is trying to be myself…
I guess that must be the problem. I’m the problem.
Mercury makes a strangled sound and leaps onto my knees. I love him so much. Animals are so much nicer than humans.
“I want to go home,” I mutter into the empty room.
désolé, mais qui es-tu?=sorry, but who are you?
no comprendo=I don’t understand
?eres española?=you're Spanish?
Enchanté=enchanted (to meet you) ~irony~
(Way too many foreign words in this chapter. I hope they’re correct…)
Thoughts? Opinions? Criticisms? <3
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