Chapter 2 : Material Girl
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'cause we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl
Disclaimer: Lyrics belong to Madonna and whoever else was involved in the Material Girl song/Album. All the characters that you recognize belong to JK Rowling and whoever else shares rights to them. Basically, not me.
Shopping in my family is equivalent to Sunday night family dinners. Every weekend my mum, my sister, and I all spend the day in the city where we shop, catch up, and bond over the pros and cons of elegant versus sophisticated. Our communication is at its best when we’re talking about shoes, robe length, and the thin line between edgy and slutty. For us, there’s nothing that can bring us together like retail and Peter doesn’t mind it since we usually use mum’s money and it gives him the opportunity to go out with his mates to watch a Quidditch game or hang out in the Leakey Cauldron.
“What do you think of this one?” Meg-Ann asked, appearing out of the dressing room in a white summer dress that had a deep V-neck. “Too Gennifer Lanston?”
“Too Hollywood 1950's,” I told her, wrinkling my nose in distaste before tossing over a dark blue one. “Try this.”
When it comes to shopping, criticizing isn’t mean; it’s actually a compliment. If you tell someone they look good in a dark orange dress that makes them look like they’re sick you’re essentially telling them that there’s no point in being honest and saying that they look like they haven’t seen the sun in twenty years because they’re too ugly to find anything that would make them look good.
“I love these shoes but I can’t walk in them,” I complained, looking down at my turquoise boots in annoyance. My mum and Meg-Ann both stopped perusing their shoe shelf to look over at me. “Do the wedges look the same?”
“No,” mum said. “They might look okay if you had longer legs but the platform makes it look too turquoise on you.” I sighed and tossed the offending shoes back into their box.
One of the first rules in fashion is to never insult the piece unless you’re insulting the quality. Fashion changes quickly so what’s in style one day may be completely out the next. Take gauchos for example. When my mum was in school they were all the rage. For about two months. Now when we look at the photographs she cringes. Same goes for crocks but thank Merlin my mum never wore those. The thing about clothing, and shoes for that matter, is that if they make their way into manufacturing and a store picks them up they must work for someone. Some clothes need small boobs. Some shoes need long legs. Some skirts need a stick figure. Some dresses need buyers with curves. When someone looks like a drowning rat or a grandmother when they try something on it’s not an insult, it’s a fact. Some clothes might have a hard time finding an owner but it was fitted on someone somewhere.
“Have you girls heard ‘I kissed an earl’ by Kalie Berry?” Mum asked when we were in a record store.
“No, is it new?” Meg-Ann questioned.
“No it was popular when I was a kid. ‘California Pearls’ used to be my friends and my song.”
“Oh, I love that one,” I put in. “Wasn’t that the one you used to play when you were designing at the Davenports?”
“The one and only,” mum agreed. “I used a lot of her outfits for inspiration. Except this one, I can’t stand that dress.”
“It might look good if they were to raise the bust an inch or so,” Meg-Ann said, looking over my mum’s shoulder.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “And they could raise the hemline a little higher too. I love the black hair with it.”
“There is no doubt you are my daughter’s,” mum laughed, putting the record that was decorated in a dozen small photos back on the shelf.
Criticizing fashion is an art form. It’s different from criticizing how a piece of clothing looks on someone when you’re in the dressing room. When you’re at a store the clothing wasn’t designed specifically for that person. When you’re looking at a celebrity on the red carpet or watching a runway show it’s different because the designer created and fitted the dress specifically for that person which is why saying ‘they look like a drowned rat’ would be offensive in that situation.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and eight times out of ten there is something that could have been done to make it look a little bit better but criticizing in those situations is criticizing the designer and their creativity which is why the criticizer has to be extremely careful with their words and remember that it is merely their own opinion. People who criticize celebrities on the red carpet for a living need a serious lesson in this.
“Wedding dress?” I asked my mum when we had all gone over to her own boutique. Not wanting to leave our bags from all the other stores in the main area as free advertisement the three of us all went upstairs to dump our bags and, as usual, my mum’s studio was an organized mess that consisted of multiple sketches, new accessories that she hadn’t priced yet, and half-sewn designs.
“Yeah,” she said, walking over with a sigh. “I had the sketch done but then I was making it and there’s just something off. I can’t quite figure out what. This is the sketch for it.”
In my mum’s store fashion is all about going big or going home, especially when it comes to weddings. Her designs for everyday robes range from traffic stopping to elegant but every one of her wedding gowns is a statement gown. No two dresses are exactly alike and most of them are custom-made. There are a few gowns that turn out more timeless than other’s but she never designs with timeless in mind.
“Have you considered a sweetheart neckline?” I asked, looking from the sketch to the gown. “I like the simplicity of the straight across but if you turn the neck into a sweetheart then the beading might not seem so regimented.”
Criticizing an artist’s design when they’re still in the process of making it can be tricky. They’re not done yet so you have to be careful not to step on their toes but when they’re stuck, not telling them what you think is worse than a small criticism.
The key to a good criticism in fashion is having a reason for it. When you own a major fashion company and are preparing for a run-way show it might be appropriate to say you hate it and leave but when you don’t own a fashion company and you’re not putting a designer’s work on the runway, criticism needs to be backed up with the thought process.
At my mum’s store she designs for everyone and each age range has their own section: young girls Meg-Ann’s age are in the back right corner, older teenagers and girls just out of Hogwarts about my age are in the back left-hand side by the dressing rooms, adults closer to her own age are at the front on the right hand side, wedding gowns are either on display in the windows or kept in a glass casing behind the register, and all of the accessories are in the center of the store lined up on the back wall. It’s all about finding your audience and my mum is really good at drawing in the right people. Her window changes every few weeks to match the season and once she finds a hard-core customer they usually stay with her all the way through.
“Hey Taylor,” Natasha said, sticking her head around the corner of the dressing room area. “Has your mum priced the silver headbands yet?”
“No, the box is still here, why?” I asked, filing my nails as I sat on the red stool behind the counter.
“I have a girl in the purple dress and she can’t decide. The headband looks great and I think it could sell it.”
“Here,” I said, tossing it over to her. “Tell her if she buys it with the dress we’ll give it all to her for seven. The dress was going to go on sale in two days anyways.”
“Thanks,” Natasha said, catching the headband easily.
Making sales is an art. Anybody who tells you that sometimes sales happen and sometimes they don’t is lying. On very rare occasions a salesperson will come across an extremely stubborn client who is deadest on not buying anything but it’s pretty rare. Usually, it’s all about showing them what they can look like. One dress that a customer has just about given up on can be turned around with the right accessories. One pair of shoes that someone’s iffy about on be sold by knocking the price down by five Knuts and throwing in a few samples.
“Ready to make a big sale?” Natasha asked from her perch on the counter. I was organizing all of my mum’s papers that were stuffed under the counter from the past week into piles of receipts, bills, and stock we needed while Natasha took a break since the store was empty except for Meg-Ann and her best friend Lacey who were both looking through a few racks.
“But of course,” I told her, grinning at the group of girls who had just walked. “Five Knuts say they spend at least seven galleons all together.”
“Fifteen says at least seven galleons and 8 sickles,” Natasha countered. I considered for a moment before nodding and holding out my hand.
All of the little sacrifices that are made and cause the profit off of outfits to be closer to twenty sickles instead of thirty are made up eventually because there are always clients who can afford full-price. In order for a shop to stay above water there have to be items that will draw people in who have the ability to pay full price. It can be hard, sometimes, gauging who can truly afford full-price and who just wears that façade but there have to be items that you aren’t willing to compromise the price on and those are the items you want to steer wealthier clients towards.
“How can we help you?” Natasha asked, smiling brightly at them. It looked more like a Cheshire Cat grin than a human smile but they didn’t seem to notice.
“My friend’s getting married,” one of the girls explained. “It’s in a few weeks so I want a summer dress.”
“Bridesmaid or guest?” I asked her even though I was pretty sure it was the latter.
“Guest,” the girl confirmed and I looked at her critically.
Finding the right dress really isn’t as complicated as most people make it. It’s all about knowing your stock, finding out the details of the gathering, and observing your client. How do they dress normally? Do they walk confidently or are their shoulders slumped? Are they tall or shirt? Curvy or boxlike? Athletic or fragile? After figuring out the right type of dress it’s all about fit so you get them into the right dress, stand them up on the pedestal, and start pinning.
“My sister Lucy needs one too,” she added, indicating a girl nearby. They had strikingly similar features with porcelain skin, strong cheekbones, and brown eyes but Lucy’s hair was as ink black as my own while her older sisters was a mousy brown done up in tight ringlets. Lucy wore a black dress with white and yellow flowers on it, a large bag, and heels with knee-length, fishnet socks while her sister was dressed in a sophisticated yellow sundress with a delicate necklace. It was already apparent that it would be hard for them to agree.
“I can talk for myself,” Lucy cut in, glaring at her sister. “I’m not five.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” a third girl cut in. She looked nothing like the others with her curly red hair, streaked with brown and blonde highlights, and freckled nose. The one thing that made me immediately come to the conclusion that they were all related was the dark brown eyes.
“Can all of you just shut up,” yet another voice cut in but this one stopped me short. I had been watching their exchange with mild amusement but as soon as my eyes landed on the blonde I stood up a little straighter and whipped my head around to see Natasha’s hand close in on itself, turning her knuckles white.
“Dominique,” Natasha said coolly. I didn’t even need to see her blue eyes grow hard to know that she was preparing for a fight. “How absolutely lovely to see you again.”
“Pity I can’t say the same,” Dominique responded, glancing at both of us contemptuously. “Then again, I suppose I should have expected to see you here. It’s not like anyone outside of your families would hire you anyways.”
“Yeah,” I agreed easily. “We applied for millions of jobs all over but not even the street cleaners in Hogsmeade would take us. Seemed to think we wouldn’t stay on top of our work since we’ve been known to cause them trouble in the past.”
“Sad really,” Natasha agreed, flicking her own blonde hair over her shoulder. “I was really hoping to get close to old Timmy. Such a lovely lad.”
“Hey,” I cut in, not wanting to wind Dominique up too much. “What do you say we save our little roommate catch-up sess for after we get dresses for Lucy and…what’s your name?” I asked the girl with ringlets.
“Molly,” she supplied immediately.
“Right,” I agreed. “Once we get dresses for Lucy and Molly. Now we have a few different options…”
Most people say that ‘the client is always right’. What they don’t say is that it is often important to manipulate the client into wearing something that you know will work and then stepping back and letting them decide which of the dresses looks best on them. You don’t want to always tell them that they look amazing because if they’re unsure about a dress and you gush about it until they feel like they have to buy it, chances are it will be returned within two days of the sale which does no good for anyone.
“I’m going to win,” Natasha sung quietly in my ear after we had found dresses for the two girls and had finished pinning the rough measurements so that they could be properly fitted.
“No, you’re not,” I sang back. “They don’t have to pay for the dresses until their next fitting.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Natasha shrugged. “Look at the little redhead, the one with the dye job. She’s definitely going to bring in a few Galleons’.”
“Maybe on her own,” I conceded. “But look, the…hold up,” I said suddenly, literally holding my right hand up in front of Natasha’s face. “The first redhead, the one with curly hair, doesn’t she look familiar?”
“I guess,” Natasha said slowly. “I mean, she’s here with Dominique. We probably saw her around—”
“No,” I cut her off again. “She looks really familiar, like I’ve seen her more than just in passing.”
“Well maybe she was a Gryffindor or she went to—oh my Merlin!” Natasha whisper screamed.
“What?” I demanded, impatiently tapping her arm.
“Weasley. Dominique Weasley and her cousin—”
“Rose Weasley. Gryffindor and--”
“Dating Scorpius!” We finished in a whispered scream to each other.
“Oh, this is going to be good,” I grinned. “Scorpius is so dead. On vacation my wand.”
“They didn’t break-up did they?” Natasha asked, frowning.
“I doubt it. Tyler would know and he didn’t say anything,” I said unconcerned.
“Then let’s have some fun with this,” Natasha grinned and we high-fived as Rose started making her way towards the counter with the younger redhead in her wake.
“Hey, not trying to make this awkward, but are you Rose Weasley?” I asked as I started ringing up the younger girl.
“Yeah,” Rose said, smiling. “Do I know you guys from Hogwarts?”
“Oh not us,” Natasha said quickly. “But you’re dating that Malfoy kid right? The one with blonde hair always has a bucket of gel in it?”
“Has kind of a big mouth,” I added. “Literally, of course. He never talks. Bit creepy really.”
“Yes, I’m dating Scorpius and I wouldn’t say he’s creepy. You probably just don’t know him that well,” Rose said shortly.
“Oh no, I know him really well,” Natasha assured her. “We used to swim naked in the kiddy pools together. My mum loves talking about those days. Of course as we got older it wasn’t the same. And then he went all betrayal and turned Headboy.”
“Awful thing to do really,” I said conversationally. “Turning his back on everyone like that. His dad was so disappointed.”
“Good old Draco,” Natasha agreed. “Do you know his family well?”
“Not really,” Rose said with a slight edge in her voice.
“Ah, well, makes sense I suppose,” I said, nodding gravely. “I mean, showing a Weasley his family couldn’t be an easy thing to do.”
“Agreed,” Natasha said seriously. “What I can’t understand, though, is why you would go for him. I mean, let’s face it: Malfoy’s a bit of a prick. You on the other hand are pretty, were Headgirl, and even have all your front teeth.”
“Oh yes, that was unfortunate,” I agreed, nodding gravely. “Losing those teeth must have been traumatizing. It’s good that he met someone who can look past it though. I heard his mother was worried that he would never get married with that…condition.”
“I suppose it’s better than that skin problem that gets past through his family,” Natasha created on the spot. “Maybe since he got the teeth gene the skin condition will skip him.”
“Possibly,” I agreed. “Although it usually comes out between twenty-three and twenty-eight so we won’t know for sure until he’s around thirty.”
“True, true,” Natasha agreed. “I really am happy that he found someone who’s able to look past all of that though.”
“His last girlfriend just broke his heart when she dumped him after seeing him without his teeth,” I added. “I think it’s good though. Adding the herpes she had onto all of his other conditions would be simply terrible.”
“Are you absolutely certain he didn’t get them?” Natasha asked. “My mum was at the St. Mungos ward for…things like that…a few days ago and saw him there on his own.”
“I’m pretty sure,” I responded while watching Rose and the other girl out of the corner of my eye. “He told me a few weeks ago that he had a weird fungus growing on his foot and I suggested he tell his parents but you know how strained their relationship has been since his cross-dressing phase.”
“Who’s cross-dressing?” A deep voice asked cheerfully and Natasha and I both screamed, turning around to see Peter standing behind us, having just walked down from my mum’s work area.
“No one,” I said quickly but the younger red-head piped up happily and told him about our conversation while Rose stood stock still. Peter’s eyes narrowed as Lily continued her story.
“Please tell me that you did not believe a word coming out of these girls mouths,” Peter said to Rose who still looked like she was torn between running away whilst screaming and bursting into tears.
“Erm…I…” Rose stuttered.
“Rose, this is Taylor and Natasha,” Peter said kindly. “They’re friends of Scorpius’ who are having way too much fun taking the mickey out of him.”
“Taylor and Natasha,” Rose repeated dubiously. I grinned sheepishly.
“It’s nice to meet you Rose,” I said, biting my lip to stop from laughing.
“You guys were in Gryffindor, right?” Rose went on slowly. “You were a year ahead of us.”
We both nodded and Rose’s expression cleared as she smiled at us.
“Scorpius has mentioned you a few times,” she said.
“Ooh, speak of the devil and his cousin shall appear,” Natasha sang out as the bell over the door jingled and Tyler walked in, his blonde Mohawk appearing over the shelves before the rest of his body came into view.
“Hey Ty, come meet Scorpius’ girlfriend. Or is it only Natasha and I that he’s been keeping in the dark?” I called out to him.
“I have to get going,” Peter said just as Tyler’s eyes landed on Rose. “Be nice girls.”
“I’m always nice,” I told him, sounding as offended as I could manage.
“Rose Weasley,” Tyler greeted as a smile slowly took over his face. “I’ve never met you and yet I already know more about you than my own mother.”
“You don’t know anything about your mother,” Natasha said, frowning at him.
“Of course I do, Natasha,” Tyler said, sending her a glare. They were still fighting from a few days ago. “I merely don’t feel the need to talk about her 24/7.”
“Okay, what’s her favorite ice-cream flavor?” Natasha challenged.
“Well…it’s…that’s not the point,” Tyler exclaimed and I snorted.
“Face it Ty, you know more about Scorpius’ future skin disease than you do about your mother,” I told him.
“What skin disease?” Tyler asked at the same time Rose squeaked,
“Wait, I thought that wasn’t true!”
“Oh, shippernickles,” Natasha exclaimed under her breath as the door once again jingled.
“What?” I asked less than a second before Scorpius came into view.
“Hey Taybear,” Scorpius greeted me, still out of view from Rose and the other girl. “My mum said that she wanted—” he stopped short when he saw who was standing in front of the counter. His cool blue eyes darted back and forth between us for a few minutes before he cursed under his breath.
“Hello Scorp. How are you?” I asked, taking advantage of his surprise. “We were just getting to know your girlfriend here.”
“You know it’s funny,” Natasha put in, ready to back me up immediately. “Most people who are on vacation in Tokyo don’t shop at Clueless. Did I miss the part where Rosey-posey here learned how to double herself? Or did you suddenly decide to study illusions and this is your latest experiment?” Scorpius grimaced.
“How bad were they?” he asked Rose.
“Erm,” she started, looking between us nervously. “You don’t really have a skin disease do you?”
Scorpius literally groaned in response.
“Leave her alone you guys,” he told us.
“You know,” I said thoughtfully. “We would happily have left her alone if only we didn’t think she was in Tokyo at this very minute. But now that it seems like you don’t want us to meet her I’m sort of interested to see what the big deal about us meeting was.”
“Yeah, you always know my girlfriends,” Tyler added, looking offended by Scorpius’ lie as well.
“That’s because your girlfriends only last for a week,” Scorpius told him.
“Hey! I dated Celia for a whole three weeks and one day,” Tyler said, looking put out.
“That’s because I bet you five sickles she would dump you in less than three weeks so you spent the last week hiding from her,” Natasha said.
“Yeah and you still haven’t paid me,” Tyler said.
“That’s because you cheated!” Natasha exclaimed, her voice becoming louder.
“I did not!” Tyler yelled back. Meg-Ann caught my eye from across the store and came over with a bag of M’n’Ms. I grinned at her and took a few before offering them to Scorpius who shrugged and took a handful. He offered it to Rose but she declined. If it had been under different circumstances I might have felt bad for her. But it wasn’t under other circumstances. So I didn’t.
“The bet was that I couldn’t date her for three weeks and I did!” Tyler went on. My mum made her way down from upstairs and took the chocolate from Scorpius, grinning as she watched my friends go at it.
“You did not date her!” Natasha yelled back. “You hid from her! To date her you have to actually see her!”
“Well I didn’t want to see her, she was annoying!” Tyler yelled.
“So you weren’t dating her!” Natasha yelled.
“Yes, I was! Taylor dated what’s his face for six months when he was in Ireland and she never saw him!”
“Do not bring me into this,” I said, holding up my hands in surrender.
“Yeah, don’t bring her into it!” Natasha argued. “They were dating for over a month before he left so it counted, you didn’t even know her last name!”
“You don’t know half the guys you hook up with’s first name!” Tyler argued.
“Exactly!” Natasha exclaimed. “It was a hookup!”
“She said she was my girlfriend so we were dating!” Tyler said.
“No, you weren’t!” Natasha exclaimed.
“Yes we were!”
“No you weren’t!”
“And cut!” I yelled over both of them. They both shut up but continued to glare at each other.
“That was one of your best,” Meg-Ann grinned at them, clapping enthusiastically.
“Shut up Meg-Ann,” they chorused.
“Gits,” Meg-Ann muttered, crossing her arms with a pout on her face. I laughed and gave her a hug as my mum headed back upstairs, taking the chocolate with her.
“Hey, I’m still confused,” the girl who I rang up first said a few minutes later after everyone else in her group (aside from Rose) had gone outside to wait. “Was any of what you guys said about Scorpius true?”
“That, my darling, is completely up to you to decide,” I told her as I put the last few things she had bought into a bag.
“No, it wasn’t,” Scorpius said immediately, shooting Natasha and I both glares.
“You never know,” I said. “Maybe your parents told us about the skin condition that was going to come up in a few years and they just haven’t figured out how to tell you yet.”
“You could help, you know,” Scorpius said to Tyler through gritted teeth. Tyler shrugged.
“Nah, this is more fun. Think of it as payback for lying to us and not introducing us sooner.”
“Is that what this is about?” Scorpius demanded, sounding exasperated.
“Partially,” I admitted.
“But we also thought that Rose should be prepared for whatever may come,” Natasha added. “I mean, if you do get a skin condition and turn into an even uglier little twerp—”
“Okay, that’s it,” Scorpius said, grabbing Roses hand. “We’re leaving.” I laughed and Natasha handed Lily, the younger redhead with a dye job, her bag.
“It was nice meeting you Rose!” I called after them. “And don’t think this is over Scorpius!”
“Nice meeting you too,” Rose called over her shoulder, failing miserably at her attempt to sound sincere. Natasha, Tyler, and I all cracked up as soon as the door closed.
“Okay, how much chocolate have you guys had today?” Tyler asked us, still laughing.
“I have no idea,” Natasha and I chorused.
“I lost track after my fifth bar,” Natasha said.
“I was shopping all day,” I added.
“Enough to make a giant throw up?” Tyler suggested.
“Sounds about right,” I said, nodding in agreement.
“Scorp is going to kill us,” Natasha said, shaking her head in amusement.
“He deserved it, the little git-face,” Tyler said, and with that we all cracked up again.
“You know we really did Scorpius a favor,” Natasha said thoughtfully after we had calmed down a bit. “Now that she’s seen us on a chocolate-high she’ll know what to expect.”
“Yeah, if Scorpius doesn’t put her under ministry protection,” I said and we spent the rest of the night laughing over the crazy things Scorpius might do to try and keep her away from us now. Revenge is sweet.
A/N: This took me longer to get out than I wanted but I s'pose that's life. It got rejected the first time because I used celebrities names but I'm sure you can figure out the celebrity names that were there origionally.
Review and tell me what you thought. Who's your favorite so far? What do you think the backstory between Natasha and Dominique will be? What about Rose and Scorpius?
Sneakpeak into next chapter:
“So,” James said, breaking the silence yet again. I had only spent a few hours with him but I could already tell that he wasn’t very good at handling silence. Too bad for him, I’m not very good at handling constant conversation.
“So,” I repeated, lifting one eyebrow at him.
“What made you decide to become an Auror?”
“Oh, the wonderful pamphlet,” I said. “I took one look at the plain black cover with the silver writing and new it was the career for me.”
“Yep,” I said, nodding my head serenely. “I can’t resist silver letters.”
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