Chapter 32 : Paris
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Paris was enchanting. It was beautiful and charming and I loved it. We spent the first two days exploring the city, before coming back and holing up in the room to order room service.
The day before my birthday, we went shopping for what felt like the thousandth time, all needing to find something for the Potter’s New Years Party. We had asked around and been told the best place to go to get what we needed, so after a leisurely (and late) breakfast, we bundled up and headed out into the light snow.
This city seemed to have healed Dom. She’d gone back to being herself. Only one time I’d seen her looking sad, staring down at her new tattoo. She and Georgia had spent most of their time chattering, gossiping and laughing while I sat back and watched them.
I missed James, and couldn’t wait to see him again. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be in time for my seventeenth birthday, as we weren’t returning until early on New Year’s Eve.
It was right before lunchtime and we were strolling through the city streets. Dom and Georgia walked ahead of me, their arms linked and their heads close together as they stared at all the cute French boys that walked past them.
One of them came up to me, and grabbed my hand, bringing it to his lips. He was tall, blonde and had sparkling blue eyes. He winked at me, and then ran away laughing as Georgia chased him off. I laughed, blushing. James would be furious, and I laughingly begged her not to tell him.
She called him anyway, snatching my brand new phone out of my back pocket. I heard her tell James that I’d just been molested by a suave French boy in a beret.
I heard his yelling voice from ten feet away, and doubled over laughing. Georgia skipped over to me, and held out a tiny device. James had somehow ordered phones and slipped one into my bag without me knowing. I hadn’t figured it out until noon our first day here when my purse starting ringing.
He’d promised that he wouldn’t call again unless he absolutely had to. Which turned into many times the first day, but after I’d had a talk with him, he’d backed off.
“What in the seven hells is going on there?!?”
“Random guys kissing you on the street is nothing?” I snorted, laughing and covered my mouth with my hand to try and get myself under control.
“He just kissed my hand.”
“DAMN PARIS BOYS! I TOLD YOU!”
“James, you need to calm down.”
I could almost feel him pouting through the phone. “I just got you Charlotte.”
“And I’m coming back to you in two days, ok? Two days.”
“That’s too long Lottie.” He sighed and I smiled.
“I miss you too.”
“Yea.” I turned around and froze, seeing a familiar face walking towards me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t who I wanted to see. Avery Nott, of all people. This wasn’t good. “Uh James, I’m going to have to call you back.”
“What? Why? What’s wrong.”
I weighed the benefits of telling him that the worst person in our school had just found us in Paris. I was absolutely positive it was a coincidence, but I was also positive James wouldn’t see it that way.
“Avery Nott just showed up.” My voice was tight, and squeaky as I waited for his response. I heard dead silence on the other end of the line, until I finally heard very heavy breathing and realized he was probably doing all he could to not punch a hole in the closest wall.
“Leave. All of you, leave.”
When I turned back around I saw him walking towards me. Me! “I’ll call you back.”
“Charlotte!” I heard his protest, but hung up anyway. Dom and Georgia rushed over to me and we all glared at Avery as he came to stand in front of us. I slid the phone into my back pocket.
“Look at the babes Paris gave to me.”
“Kindly fuck off Avery. Thanks.” Georgia’s voice practically dripped with acid and my skin crawled as I saw the look he gave her.
“See I have this event tonight, and I was hoping that I could find someone to join me. Now that you’re here… and I know you… what’d you say Gray, heard you were single. You can’t possibly have anything going on tonight.”
“She’s not. And no. None of us want to go with you.” Dom stared at him, rolled her eyes, and turned to me. Georgia started walking away, Dom followed her, and I turned to go with them.
Avery grabbed my wrist and tugged me backwards. My heart froze. We were in public, it’s not like I could just whip out my wand and use a spell. His fingers tightened around my wrist like a vice.
“I don’t take no very well, babe, so how about you answer that again.”
“I’m not single, and I’m pretty sure my boyfriend would have a problem with this. So let go.” James wasn’t my boyfriend, at least I was pretty sure about that, but figured the threat might be enough.
He sneered at me, and flung my hand back at me. I wrapped one hand around it, feeling the gentle throbbing underneath the skin. “Asher is nothing compared to what I could offer you.”
“One, I never said Asher. And two, there isn’t anything you can offer anyone because you’re a piece of pond scum. Leave us alone Avery. We’re not going with you, we’re not talking to you.” I heard my phone ringing and knew James was calling me, for the fourth time since I’d hung up.
I turned around, hating the feeling of having my back to him, and stared at the girls, who were only a foot or so behind me. I could tell from their stances that they both had their hands wrapped around their wands, and were quite prepared to fight him.
“So you’re James Potter’s bitch now. I don’t care. I said I don’t take no well and…” I heard him growl, and whirled around with my wand out in front of me. He laughed in my face. “You can’t use that!”
“She can’t. We can.” I turned my head and saw a large group of guys walking towards us, and they all had wands at their side. I looked back at Dom and Georgia and saw confusion. Wizards, here? I don’t know why I was so confused by this, we lived everywhere in the world.
“This isn’t any of your business, you lazy French prats.”
“Actually, we’re taught how to be gentlemen at our school. Apparently Hogwarts is behind the times. Shame. Either way, you won’t lay a hand on them unless they want you to.”
I hit me in that moment that they must be from Beauxbatons, and it was confirmed a moment later when the guy that had been doing the talking shoved his sleeves up. I saw the school logo tattooed onto his forearm.
“You really want to take me on?” Avery walked towards the guy at the front. He towered over him. Avery was probably six and half feet tall, and built like a tank. The guy that had been standing up to him was shorter than James (who was tall himself) and was most definitely not built like a tank.
“You really want to take all of us on?” There were eight guys, and not a single one of them looked scared. “Really? You’re probably in Slytherin, I’m guessing, and you don’t look that smart. Leave the girls alone and go crawl back into whatever hole you came out of.” They all shoved past him and walked towards us, holding out their arms.
Each of us linked an arm, for safety reasons, and walked away from Avery. We chatted easily back and forth, and they promised to walk us to our destination before leaving us to our day.
After a casual stroll through the city streets, we arrived at one of the shopping districts.
“Are you all ok?”
“Yes. Thank you so much. You all have been very kind.” I said, looking around at each of them. Five of the eight guys only spoke French, which hadn’t been a problem for Dom, who was bilingual. I was actually nice to watch, she was actually flirting with them.
My phone wouldn’t stop ringing and I shrugged apologetically at them, walking away.
“You couldn’t have answered your phone earlier?” James growled at me on the other end.
“I was in the middle of a situation!”
“With my least favorite person in the world! Are you ok?”
“Mostly. Got rescued by some of the Beauxbaton’s Quidditch players, of all people.”
“Remember when you said you wouldn’t go off to Paris and get swept up by Parisian guys? Quidditch guys?!?”
“James… if it weren’t for them Avery would have done a lot worse. You should be grateful. As it is, all I’ll end up with is a bruised wrist because of that asshat. Let it go. I’m fine.”
His voice, when he spoke next, was steely and deadly calm. “He touched you?”
I realized, perhaps a bit too late, that I shouldn’t have said that. “He grabbed my wrist when I walked away from him, is all.”
“I’m going to murder him when I see him again.”
“Let it go James. I have to go, we’re going shopping now.”
“I miss you.” His voice had gotten soft, velvety and utterly sexy. I smiled and felt myself blushing.
“I miss you too. Now I have to go. I’ll see you in two days.” I pulled the phone away, and hung up, mouthing James at my friends as they looked at me.
“James, we know. I was just telling Dom that it might have been a mistake to not transfer. I didn’t know their boys were that freaking hot. And polite. Like a good southern gentleman, only better. Can I transfer now?” She turned her head, and watched them all as they walked away. Looks like they’d only just said goodbye.
A really good looking guy with sort of long brown hair turned around to wave at Georgia, and his smile was so amazing it almost melted me. Damn.
“You’re not allowed to transfer. We need you too much.” Dom said, looking sort of sad. She’d been having fun chatting up two of the guys, I’d noticed, but I wondered if she was thinking about something else. “Let’s just go shopping. Come on now!”
We walked in and Dom and Georgia tore through, pulling dress after dress off the racks. They seemed to want to try on everything. I just wandered around, looking for things that really caught my eye. Towards the back of the store, I found something that looked like what I wanted. I took it into the dressing room and tried it on.
I stared at myself in the full length mirror, marveling at how I looked in the dress. Dom was chattering away in the dressing room next to mine, and I could tell that she hadn’t found ‘the’ dress yet. But I just had. I didn’t own many nice dresses and decided to buy a new one for the party in two days.
Given that it was very formal and it was my first real chance to impress James in a dress, I wanted something spectacular. James had given me advanced notice of the decorations and I wanted a dress to match it. His Mum had apparently decided on a dark, enchanted winter forest theme; lots of glittery snow, long tree branches painted black, twinkling lights in dark jewel tones.
I wanted something that was half snow princess, half dark enchantress. It was a tall order to fill and I wasn’t sure I would find the right dress. I spun around and smiled over my shoulder at my reflection.
The dress was white silk and one shouldered. It gathered right above my waist and flared out; poofy, but only slightly so. A thick black silk sash wound around the waist. Staring from the one shoulder was a very thin sheer fabric on top of the silk, that cut in half after the sash- so that the sheer layer fluttered every time you moved, like curtains in the breeze.
The best part though, were the thousands of hand stitched sparkly black (and a few deep emerald green) leaves all over the dress. They clustered tightly around the bodice and then became more and more sporadic the further down the dress you looked. It fit perfectly and was exactly what I had wanted. I couldn’t stop staring. I heard a gasp and looked over my shoulder, grinning at Dom.
“Charlie! Oh my God. You look… you look amazing. You have to get that dress. Oh, you look so pretty!” She looked like she was about to cry and put a gloved hand to her mouth. “I’m going to have so much fun styling you for the party. Please tell me you like that dress?”
“I love it. I can’t wait to wear it.” Realizing how stupid that sounded given that I was already wearing it I added, “to the party, of course.”
“James is going to die.”
“I hope you don’t mean that literally…”
“Well when I’m done with you, you’ll look so captivating you might actually take his breath away. Hmm, maybe you should go with something that makes you look less sexy, don’t need you killing my cousin right after you two finally made things work.”
“He’ll have to survive. I’m getting this dress, I may be in love with it.” I spun around and watched the fabric swirl around my legs. I looked up at Dom and smiled, and the look she gave me made me wonder what she was thinking. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“You’re just… glowing. You look so happy and radiant and…” She paused and I could tell that she was fighting tears. “You don’t understand Charlie, because you’ve never seen yourself from the outside. You’ve never seen how special and amazing you are, and I’ve always tried to tell you this, and you never listen. You walk around and even though you’re happy when you’re with me, and Georgie, you’re not really happy. It’s just like you turn up the light a little bit. And now… I look at you… and you’re glowing. You’re happy- truly happy- you’re letting that brilliant light you carry within shine bright. You don’t know how amazing it is to see you like this. This is why I wanted you to be with James, I saw it from the beginning. You light up around him. You, become your true self Charlotte and… I don’t know why I’m telling you all this.” I had started crying and tripped over my feet running to her for a hug. There was a reason she was my best friend. “Now before I ruin your amazing dress, I do need your help. I’m torn between two dresses and you must tell me which one to get. It’s my first real chance to… do something special.”
Last year, she’d had a guy she’d wanted to show off for. Greyson Peters, from Slytherin. I’d been teasing her about it at the time, and tried not to look at her sadly, wishing she was picking out a dress for someone, like I was. Instead, she was just trying to move on from an incredibly traumatic event.
I walked into her dressing room and looked at the two gowns hanging. One was a strapless deep emerald green mermaid style gown with a long slit on one side and a jeweled broach on the hip. The other was a sky blue princess dress, with thin straps and white beading. Before she could even try them on I pointed to the green dress. “That one. Definitely that one.”
“That’s what I was hoping you’d say. Georgia!” She poked her head out of the room she was in and immediately upon seeing my dress, she started tearing up. “Yea, Charlotte looks amazing doesn’t she?”
“James is going to flippin die when he sees you. You need some accessories though.”
“We’ll get to that. Tell me Georgie- which dress do you like better?”
“The green one.” Georgia barely batted an eye, and I tried and failed not to laugh. “Now, come here, both of you. I need help too.” We followed her and leaned against the walls of the dressing room. There were three dresses, which she tried on for us to see. One was gold, one was navy and one was purple. Dom and I both pointed to the purple dress at the same time. It was one shouldered cap sleeve black lace bodice, over a close fitting amethyst silk dress. There was an extra large butterfly pendant in the center and it made her look stunning. Not that she needed help in that department.
After getting all our dresses purchased, along with a pair of long gloves for each of us (Dom insisted we needed them), we headed back to our hotel room and spent the rest of the night eating desserts and watching chick flicks.
My seventeenth birthday was the next day, and Dom and Georgia treated me like a princess. We spent about half the day in the spa, getting everything done that they offered. It was a long list- massages, manicures, pedicures, facias, mud bath, you name it, they had it.
James had called me in the morning and despite my protests, got everyone in his family (and mine) to sing me Happy Birthday on the phone. I turned red from laughing so much. Harper is the only one there that can carry a tune, and it was so bad it became hilarious.
He’d also waited until everyone had walked away to tell me pointedly that he had a special gift waiting for me when I got back, and it wasn’t something that could easily be wrapped with pretty paper. When I said nothing, because I was too busy blushing and gaping, he’d told me he meant sex and asked if I’d figured that out yet. If I’d been able to, I would have reached through the phone to swat at his shoulder. I settled for telling him to shut up and hanging up on him while he laughed.
For dinner, we ate in the Eiffel Tower and went clubbing, much to James’s annoyance. I was never one for big parties, and enjoyed that my seventeenth birthday was a mostly low key affair. I’d be celebrating with James once I got back, and Harper said she wanted to do something with me as well. I’d grown up in a family that consider eighteen to be the first true adult birthday, so celebrating this much at seventeen was a bit strange.
We left Paris in the very early morning on New Year’s Eve, holding bags of freshly baked croissants. The sky lightened, and the pearly pinks of dawn bled across the sky. We took the train back to London, and while Georgia and Dom chattered away happily, I stared out at the brightening sky, a wisp of a smile gracing my features.
We were going back to Dom’s house to get ready for the party. Dom insisted that it had to be this way, something about how James wasn’t allowed to see me at all until my big debut fully dressed up. When I told him he wouldn’t see me until the evening and that Dom was the reason, he used a lot of bad words in deciding that she was no longer his second favorite cousin.
Once we got into London, we met Victorie in Diagon Alley for a few last minute supplies before apparating to Shell Cottage. We arrived at her house just after two in the afternoon, giving us about three hours to get ready. Dom, Georgia and Victorie were all in a panic that they wouldn’t be able to get ready in time.
I lounged back and tried to read a book, internally laughing at them running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Georgia finally decided that I had lots to do before I could be considered stunning enough to leave the house and she forcibly yanked me out of my chair.
We all took ridiculously long showers, and used our favorite beauty spells for hairless skin, silky hair… the works. I thought I was going to choke to death inhaling the fumes from hairspray and perfume. Dom told me to start acting like a girl, and forced me to sit down in front of her vanity table so she and Victorie could get to work on me.
They did my hair first, taking my naturally wavy hair to the next level. They pulled one side away from my face and secured it in the back with star shaped diamond clips. I looked at myself in the mirror and stared in awe at their handiwork. It was incredibly soft and shiny and I looked like I should be in some sort of advertisement in a magazine.
My eyes shone like pieces of silver underneath darkened eyes, dark gray eyeshadow with a thin line of dark emerald green. A very soft light pink blush and sheer plum gloss made my look complete. Everything was done to make my eyes the focal point, and I thanked them profusely for making me look like a dark enchantress.
When it was time to leave, we used a special (and expensive) version of Floo powder designed to not ruffle feathers, or hair, as they said. It meant that when we’d arrive from the upstairs fireplace in the library that we’d look as perfect as we did going into it. Which, after putting hours of working into looking this good, was a necessary thing.
I was going to see James soon, and I couldn't keep the grin off my face.
A/N- Do do do... I have nothing to say. Sigh.
Next chapter is New Year's Eve.
Read on lovlies. :)
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