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CHAPTER THREE - HOPELESS CLUMSINESS

 

 CRACK.



 

“GAH!”

 

“SHHH!”

 

“WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON IN HERE?”

 

“NOTHING!” Both Fred and I glared at Scorpius, who had just burst out of his open-doored office when he heard the commotion.

 

You see, a tall ginger person had just apparated very suddenly into the middle of my office. Which, understandably, just about made me poop myself. Anybody would, really.

 

“Morning, Fred.” Scorpius nodded to him before disappearing back into his office.

 

“Morning!” Fred called after him. I glared.

 

“It’s only half past ten. You said I had until noon.” I hissed, not rising to greet him.

 

“Nice to see you too.” He said flatly, then walked quickly towards the desk, resting his hands on it and bending his head towards me. “There’s been a glitch. We need your decision now.”

 

“Why?” I muttered.

 

“The tailor needs you to be at the dressmakers in fifteen minutes. She doesn’t have another slot open until Saturday, and by then it will be too late.” Fred glanced over his shoulder at the glass wall. Scorpius and Al were both working intently, not giving us the slightest but of notice.

 

I panicked. “I just need a little more time to-” I stuttered.

 

Now, Patil.” Fred insisted. He glanced at his watch. “Fourteen minutes.”

 

“But-”

 

“Asiya!”

 

“I don’t know!”

 

“Come on! It’s do or die, Asiya.”

 

“I can’t-”

 

“NOW, PATIL!”

 

“FINE!” Wait… WHAT?!

 

Fred looked taken aback. “What?”

 

“I’ll do it.” I sighed. WHY IS MY MOUTH WORKING WITHOUT MY PERMISSION?

 

“Really?” he looked shocked.

 

I raised an eyebrow at him. “I don’t have to if you don’t want me to.”

 

“No!” he grinned and grabbed my jacket off the hook. “Let’s go!”

 

“Wait!” I called as he started bounding out the room. “I can’t just up and leave! I have a job!”

 

Fred shrugged. “Al will understand.” He jumped in front of the glass, his back to me so that Al could see him. “ASIYA. DRESS FITTING. NOW.” He yelled.

 

“Soundproofed.” I said flatly. Fred didn’t even hesitate before indicating at me wildly over his shoulder. Then running his hands down his body and shimmying a little. Then pointed exaggeratingly at his watch. Al nodded and gave a thumbs up. I think I have just been scarred for life.

 

Well, it’s not every day you have ginger international Quidditch stars shimmying in your office. I feel privileged.

 

“Time to fly!” Fred struck a pose before grabbing my wrist and apparating with me.

 

As soon as my feet hit the ground, so did the rest of me.

 

OKAY, PEOPLE HAVE GOT TO STOP APPARATING ME PLACES WITHOUT WARNING.

 

By the time I hauled myself to my feet and regained what little dignity I had left, Fred was already fifty metres away in Diagon Alley, only visible because of the conspicuous ginger hair. I huffed and started off after him, weaving my way through the witches and wizards who ALL seemed to be taller than me. I only caught up with him once he stopped outside a dress shop.

 

“We need to pick up the dress from here, and then take it to Madame Malkins to have it fitted.” He said. “It was originally bought for Chloe, you see. It’ll have to have some alterations on it seeing as you’re a lot smaller and thinner than her.”

 

“I’m petite!”

 

“And you definitely won’t suit the shade of blue. We’ll have it changed.” He said. “It should look great by the time Malkin is done.”

 

He disappeared inside, and before I even had time to follow him, he was back out with a dress bag and had shot off down the street again. I wondered vaguely if he always bolted off without warning like this.

 

I caught up with him again when we reached Madame Malkin’s. How this woman is still alive I haven’t the foggiest (seriously, she should have died about fifty years ago).

 

“Here.” He shoved the dress bag at me. “She’ll know who you are. It’s already been paid for. She’ll have to do loads, seeing as you’re a short stick.”

 

“I’M PETITE!”

 

“Sure you are. Anyways, I’m outta here.”

 

“Aren’t you staying?” I said, fumbling with the dress.

 

He shook his head. “Quidditch practise.”

 

And then he was gone.

 

“Fuck.” I muttered. Then pushed into the little shop.

 

“Ahah!” A little old lady appeared from behind one of the racks. “You must be Miss Patil. Come, come.” She took the dress from me and had it out of the bag in less than a second. “You can change through here.” She led me through to a back room, where she handed me the navy blue dress and disappeared back through to the counter. I blinked twice. She doesn’t dilly-dally, does she?

 

I slowly took off my scarf, gloves, jacket, blouse and skirt, slipping the soft blue material over me. It was HUGE on me. All baggy around the waist and drooping so low at my chest I had to hold it up with my hands. It was silk and a navy blue, definitely not my colour. I think it was supposed to be floor length, but it fell awkwardly to just abo my ankles. Apparently Chloe was short and fat. I stepped out into the shop, where Madame Malkin was just ushering another customer out of the shop.

 

She turned around and took one look at me, wrinkled her nose and said ‘eurgh.’

 

“This girl must have been some whopper.” She said, taking in the looseness around my bust.

 

“I’m petite.” I muttered.

 

She was already waving her wand as she walked towards me. I lifted a little as a stool rose out of the floor beneath my feet, and I promptly fell off.

 

“Up.” She prodded me with her wand until I stepped back up on the stool. I don’t like this lady.

 

She walked in circles around me, waving – and occasionally prodding me with – her wand. My dress tightened in most places and lengthened a little. When at last Madame Malkin stepped away, she looked me up and down and nodded. “Perfect.”

 

She nodded towards the full length mirror and disappeared to attend to another customer.

 

I turned around and stared at the mirror.

 

Oh.

 

Dear.

 

Merlin.

 



 

Trust Albus Potter.

 

The dress was now bright red, floor-length and much better fitting.

 

MUCH better fitting.

 

I will admit, the dress was gorgeous. Ruby red with a gem-studded neckline which dipped in a far too generous v. I sighed and shook my head. Arsehole.

 

“Thanks, Madame Malkin.” I called as I shuffled back into the changing room.

 

Once back into my work clothes, the dress carefully sealed in the dress bag with the shoes in the bottom, I went back into the main shop.

 

“Thank you.” I said once again as I left the shop. I checked the time against the clock at the top of Diagon Alley. Eleven fifteen. I should really go back. I’m not off work for another nine hours.

 

Eh, fuck it.

 

I quickly conjured my lynx patronus and spoke into my wand as I walked briskly back into the shop.

 

“Hello Mr Potter,” I rolled my eyes. “I’m going to take lunch early today seeing as I’m out anyway and I’m going to see my sister. I should be back around two. Hope you can cope without me.” I added mischievously and sent the big cat on his way. I’ll get a bollocking when I get back but I don’t care. He won’t fire me.

 

“Do you have a fireplace?” I asked Madame Malkin. Most shops let you use theirs without charge. She nodded towards it, tucked into the corner.

 

“Powder’s on the shelf.” She muttered before turning back to the customer she was serving. I thanked her and grabbed a handful stepping (rather awkwardly, with the dress) into the fireplace and watching the emerald green flames engulf me as I said ‘St Mungo’s!’

 

*~*~*~*

 

“You know, it’s really not that bad. I like it.” Ramani smiled as I held the dress up against my body. “It suits you.”

 

“Better than the blue did.” I muttered, shoving the dress into the bag. “So, now that I’ve told you my story of the week, it’s your turn.” I lay down on her bed next to her and stared up at the ceiling.

 

She laughed. “You know I never have anything interesting to tell you. Life here is so boring.”

 

I glanced around the hospital ward. Six beds lined one side of the room, and six exactly opposite on the other side. The high roof was home to warm floating candles and each bed was separated by a curtain, which were currently all flung open as the patients chattered to each other. Each of them was aged from thirteen to nineteen, as this was the ‘young witches and wizards’ ward. The room had a definite air of people who had been here for a long time. A girl down the row had twelve or thirteen potted plants growing around her bed, several of them crooning at her fondly as she stroked them. She had a definite air of craziness about her… Most of the other beds had various posters, photographs and the occasional teddy bear, while one bed was surrounded entirely by a mountain of books.

 

The wall behind Ramani’s bed was coated top to bottom with paintings and drawings. Of flowers, people, landscapes, bridges, animals, anything she could lay her eyes on, she put down on paper. There was an unfinished drawing resting on the easel beside her bed, half an otter waiting completion. This was how Ramani passed the time while she was in hospital.

 

My younger sister, Ramani, is sixteen. When she was fourteen, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a cancer which unfortunately couldn’t be cured with magic. She had gone through six months of intense chemotherapy and even had surgery twice, which slowed the cancer down for a little while. Three months after chemo, she was taken into St Mungo’s as a permanent resident. They’re still treating her on a monthly basis with chemotherapy, and she is on a permanent hydration drip, but it’s not going so well. They’ve only given her two more years from now to live. Of course, it was a blow to our entire family but we’re getting through it. At least one person visits her every day, and she still gets taught magical skills by the hospital teachers so she isn’t missing out. Her old friends from school have permission to visit every two weeks and she gets the occasional visit to Hogwarts when she’s feeling good.

 

“Have you heard from Mum lately?” she asked, twirling a bit of my hair around her finger. She liked to play with my hair; I guess it reminded her of when she had her own long, dark ringlets.

 

“Yeah, she called two days ago. Has she been in?” I responded. Ramani shook her head.

 

“She’s finding it hard to get time off work. She was last here two weeks ago.”

 

“I’ll get her to call you.”

 

We lay in silence for a minute, contemplating the ceiling. It’s really very interesting. The floating candles bobbed lazily around the cream paint, sending flickering shadows across the roof.

 

Just so you know, I do not lie with my dying sister and have deep, meaningful conversations about life with her. This isn’t like the movies. Ramani and I sit and chat like normal human beings. We laugh about the stupidest things, we watch Quidditch together, and sometimes we just lie and think.

 

I suppose Ramani has accepted what’s going to happen to her. She never talks about it, and when she does, she makes jokes about it. It’s me that has the slight problem with death. I mean, who wouldn’t, when their sister is on her way to the grave? The prospect scares me, that one day Ramani isn’t going to be around for me to talk to.

 

Hello, I’m Asiya Patil. I think Rowan Atkinson is hilarious, I cry at sad movies, I fall out of my bed when my alarm goes off, I’m hopelessly clumsy, and the prospect of death terrifies me. This is me.

 

*~*~*~*

 

“I want to see it on you.”

 

I stared at Al. “No.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“No.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“No.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“No.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Fuck you.”

 

“That is no way to speak to your boss!”

 

“I don’t care.”

 

“It’s an order, Patil.”

 

“I have rights!”

 

“You have the right to do as I say.”

 

“I will sue you! My dad’s a lawyer!”

 

“Your dad’s an accountant.”

 

“It’s creepy that you know that.”

 

“You told me yesterday.”

 

“That’s no excuse!”

 

“Just put it on.”

 

“No.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“No.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“No.”

 

“No.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“HA!”

 

“Damnit!”

 

“Put it on!”

 

“Fine!” I yelled. The dress was in my left hand, which I had previously been holding up to show Potter. I now whirled around and stomped towards the office bathroom door.

 

“Here are your shoes!”

 

I scowled as one silver heel whizzed past me and the other cracked me in the back of the head.

 

Tosser.

 

Five minutes later I had slipped the dress on for the second time that day, and had (falling over three times) squeezed my way into the ridiculously high shoes.

 

I stepped out of the bathroom, a scowl still on my face as I glared at Albus.

 

“Well?” I said, holding out my arms slightly. He smirked.

 

“Twirl for me.”

 

“You can fuck right off, you prick.”

 

He held up his hands in defence. “Sorry.”

 

I hitched the dress up and tottered towards him in the ridiculously high heels. “How the hell do you expect me to walk in stilettos and a floor length dress? I can barely manage semi-heels on a good day…”

 

But Albus had now been distracted by something that was clearly much more interesting than my whining mouth.

 

i.e. my cleavage.

 

He was staring at my boobs.

 

My boobs.

 

MY. BOOBS.

 

I smirked and folded my arms, boosting my boobs up even more. “Oi, Potter.”

 

“Yeah?” he didn’t remove his eyes from my chest.

 

“My face is up here, douchebag.” I pointed to my nose and his head shot up. I gave him a warning look.

 

“One more glance like that and the deals off.” I growled.

 

“You’re not allowed to do that!” he pointed both hands at me and started backing into his office. “A deals a deal, Patil!”

 

“I can call it off anytime I like, Potter!” I called as he started to shut the door.

 

“NO GO-BACKS!” he screeched before slamming the door. I glared at his back as he walked towards his desk.

 

And on that note, my heel broke and I promptly toppled backwards into the coffee table.

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