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Chapter 32 : Halloween
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The next day, I awoke with purpose and ready to work. Potter was finally out of my hair and if Talon knew what was good for him he would stay as far away from me as possible.
The masquerade was going to be announced in two days and there were still so many things to do. Signs needed to be made, dresses needed to be finished, permission to use an empty classroom needed to be had, and my collection needed to be organized to perfection.
There was so much to do and so little time to do it all in. I had let the most annoying and the most distrusting boys in all the Wizarding World distract me long enough and now it was time to get down to business.
One of the most important tasks would be convincing the Headmistress to give me permission to continue with my plans. I wasn’t quite sure how to approach this subject with her as I really didn’t know Professor McGonagall all that well, but I did know she could be very strict, so there was a chance she could refuse me. But I still had to try. Or else it was all for naught. Or I’d have to do it on the sly, and it would be much harder to get the word around if the whole thing had to be kept a secret.
I decided the best way to do this would be to write her a letter explaining the situation and just hope she replies.
Dear Professor McGonagall,
I know you are a busy woman and I am merely one of your many students, so I will try to make this as brief as possible. My name is Sirrah Malfoy and I am in the process of building my own dress business. I recently learned that Hogwarts is planning a masquerade ball for the students that will be announced in two days hence, and so I am writing to you to ask your permission to openly sell my gowns for the occasion.
This ball would be a great opportunity for me to start building a clientele and put my name out there. Along with that, it would be a much easier and less costly way for my peers to find a suitable dress during such a socially stressful time when we all want to look perfect without completely draining our meager allowances on the expensive prices of Hogsmeade’s only dress shop.
And so in light of this, I ask for your permission to open my dress collection to the entire female student body. With your consent, everyone is welcome to come peruse my large assortment of gowns, all of which I have personally made myself. In order to inform everyone, I have also made up signs promoting my business to be hung up on the bulletin boards in all four common rooms (a copy of which I have included with this letter for your perusal). Lastly, I ask for your permission to use a pair of adjoining empty classrooms in which to set up my collection for the perusal of the female student body.
Professor, your permission and support would be much obliged. Let me also assert that while the sale of dresses could be considered for personal gain, for me it is really more about the credibility. While I do expect payment for each dress, I in no way intend to take advantage or overcharge my fellow students. Prices will be low but reasonable and all proceeds will go into my future storefront. I have put a lot of time and effort into planning this and would sincerely appreciate your support in my dream as dress making is what I intend to pursue after Hogwarts.
As there is not much time left before the announcement of the ball is made, I ask that you please reply with your decision as soon as possible and thank you for your time.
With the letter done, I turned next to writing out the flyer with the attempt to attract the broadest audience possible. I needed it to be pleasing to the eye, easy to read, and clearly written.
Are YOU Ready?
Need a dress for the ball but can’t afford Hogsmeade prices?
Looking for that perfect gown but can’t find it in a store?
Want to look amazing for the dance but have no idea where to begin?
S.M. Creations is here to solve all your problems!
For two days only I, Sirrah Malfoy, will be opening my collection to the public
and consulting with clientele to help you find the perfect dress for you.
If you cannot find that dress then we will arrange a private consultation and I will make one for you.
If you have no idea what you want or how to find the right dress, don’t fret!
Simply send me an owl and we will set up an appointment in which I will try to find
the right dress for you based on your individual style and personality.
All dresses are handmade by me and of the highest quality.
Prices are reasonable and negotiable.
That seems satisfactory enough.
Some might chastise me for inviting the entire school (well, half of it anyway) to peruse my collection, but if I was going to be a successful business woman I needed customers. And what better place to start than Hogwarts? And in order to get customers, I needed to put aside my prejudice against the other houses and be open to everything. And everyone.
Seriously. Even if someone as awful as Dominique Weasley walked into my open house looking for a dress, I would help her find the exact one she was looking for, and if I didn't have it I would make one for her. No tricks included. That dress would be in perfect condition and would not be jinxed in any way that might cause the dress to fall off and expose her or even attack her and strangle her little neck while she was wearing it. Because, as hilarious as that would be, that incident would probably haunt me and my business for the rest of my life. I would always be known as the dressmaker who cannot be trusted and it would ruin me before I had even begun.
And I wasn't going to let that happen. Nothing was going to stop me from being a success.
I sealed up the letter with the flyer and owled the envelope to McGonagall.
Next, it was time to get back to work. More dresses needed to be made if I was going to be ready before the ball is announced.
I was mindlessly sitting through another boring Defense Against the Dark Arts lecture when a small third year barged in and interrupted Professor Weasley.
“Yes?” he asked, stopping in the middle of his talk on werewolves.
“The Headmistress would like to see Sirrah Malfoy, sir,” the child replied nervously.
What would the Headmistress want with me? Unless it was about my letter. It must be. What else have I done?
Professor Weasley nodded to me, allowing me to leave. I could feel my housemates’ eyes on me, wondering why I would be sent for like this. Especially Scorpius’. I can just imagine the interrogation I’ll probably get after this. He probably thinks I’ve done something horrible and is already planning what he’ll say in his letter to Father.
I ignore his steely gaze, grab my things, and make my way out of the classroom, following the third year to an unknown destination. I don’t even know where Headmistress’ office is located, it’s not like I’ve ever been there before.
I wonder what this means? Did she not like my proposal? Is she going to reprimand me for wasting her time on something so frivolous? That seems unlikely, she simply could have replied with a stiff “No, you may not sell dresses for it is against school policy” or something equally official along those lines.
I don’t know why on earth she would request to speak with me personally.
She rarely ever lets students into her office.
I followed the third year, paying close attention to where we were going as he led me down to the third floor, and then over to a statue of a gargoyle I’d noticed before but never thought anything of.
“What now?” I asked, confused as to why he stopped me here, in the middle of the corridor.
He then turns to the gargoyle and says “Vera Verto.” I recognize the incantation from my second year of Transfiguration as one that took me days to perfect by turning my finch into a goblet. At this cue though, the gargoyle immediately jumped out of the way to reveal a secret staircase that automatically began to move upwards.
“Professor McGonagall is waiting for you up there,” the third year nods at the moving staircase and then leaves.
I pause for a moment, scared of what the Headmistress could possibly want with me, and then step onto the staircase, allowing it to take me upwards. It stops moving once I reach the top and places me in front of a large wooden door.
“Come in, Miss Malfoy,” a voice suddenly calls out from inside the office before I even have a chance to move.
That’s not scary at all...
I take a deep breath, hold it for a couple seconds, and then let it back out. I then proceed to reach out for the golden handle and let myself into the Headmistress’ office.
McGonagall was sitting behind a large desk in the large oval office, writing something on a piece of parchment. She was dressed in her typical green tartan robes, as usual, and her spectacles rested firmly halfway down her nose.
"You wanted to see me, Professor," I spoke after entering.
"Yes, Miss Malfoy," she said, looking up for a quick second. "Please sit down," she motioned to the chair in front of her and continued writing furiously for a few more seconds.
I slowly made my way over and quietly sat down in the chair proffered.
"Now," she spoke up once I was seated, setting down her quill and putting aside whatever she had been writing and picking up a different piece of parchment. My letter, to be precise. "I assume you know why I called you here today..."
"Not exactly," I spoke honestly.
"Did you or did you not send this letter requesting my permission for you to sell your dresses to the female student body?" she questioned crossly.
"I did," I answered cautiously.
"Then you know why you're here," she declared before continuing on. "Now, Miss Malfoy, I have read your letter and have called you here today so that I could tell you my decision in person."
But why did it have to be in person? So you could see how upset I become when you say no? So you can determine how likely I am to go against your judgment and do it anyway? Which I will, but I won't be happy about it because then I won't be able to open my business to the entire school. Plus, I’ll have to be very selective about who I choose to inform of this so that I can minimize the chances of someone ratting me out as much as possible, which means I won’t really be able to get the word out or make any kind of name for myself before leaving Hogwarts.
"Normally, I would detest such a request as this,” she stated, looking down at letter. “It is no secret that I have never had any interest in fashion... but something about your proposal struck me. I've never seen someone so young so dedicated and determined in what they want to do after Hogwarts. You want to start your own business and that is never easy, and yet you seem fully aware of that and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed,” she finished, looking up at me for a reaction.
"I am willing to do whatever it takes," I confirmed, nodding.
"And while I may not understand your passion, I do understand your drive for it. When did you first start making dresses?"
This question took me off guard. "Before Hogwarts, I attended Madame Girard’s School for Young Witches where I was taught to read and write, among other things. From the very beginning, my favorite had always been sewing class. I worshipped my teacher and she taught me how to sew everything from socks to a dress. And as I grew older, I became more and more interested in the dressmaking bit. I don't know what exactly it is that drew me in, but my teacher once mentioned how a dress can make any girl feel special, and pretty, and like she’s the belle of the ball. And, I guess, I just want to be the person behind it all..." I clear my throat, a little embarrassed for ranting about my childhood to my headmistress.
She just nods her head though, smiling coyly at me and not looking the least bit annoyed, to my surprise.
"And what better time to be that person then when you're at a ball," she muses.
"Exactly," I agree. "So, you said you made your decision..." I trailed off, trying to direct the conversation back to the purpose of this meeting.
"Ah, yes," she says, looking back down at my letter lying on the desk in front of her along with the sample of my flyer. "As I said, I normally would be against such a thing but... as you are opening this to the entire school--well, 4th year and up, of course, as the younger students will not be attending--and as long as you aren't taking advantage of your fellow students with your pricing methods, I see nothing wrong with this proposal. The whole point of the Masquerade Ball is to build house unity and, I say this with no intention to offend you or your housemates, Slytherin has always been the least susceptible to this goal. Therefore I think that your initiative to help your fellow classmates of every house could encourage others to be more forthcoming as well."
So, now I’m just a part of your unity-building agenda? A test subject sent out to see if we Slytherins really can play nice with the rest? I am slightly offended but if it will get me what I want then I’ll take it.
"So, does this mean I have your approval?" I ask, hopeful.
She nods, "Yes. I will make sure your signs are hung up in all four common rooms and for your two-day open house, I will allow you to use the two adjoining classrooms on this very floor, you may do as you like with them as long as you return them to their original décor when you are done."
I almost squealed like a little girl in front of the Headmistress. Almost. I was so excited though. I had gotten what I wanted and can move forward with this endeavor without doing it in secret.
"But I do have one condition," she suddenly speaks up, stopping me in the middle of my mental happy dance.
"What is it?" I ask, suddenly terrified of rejection again.
"To show my support, I would like you to make a gown for me as well," she replied, smiling smugly.
I was so stunned I think I stopped breathing for a second. Her request had completely taken me aback. This is a legitimate honor. Something I definitely cannot mess up.
"I would be honored, Professor. I'll make you anything you want. Free of charge, of course," I reply.
"Don't go too crazy. I'm just a simple old woman who loves her tartan. But a change of color would be nice, maybe," she states, a whimsical look in her eye.
I nod, "Whatever you want. Just send me your ideas, however vague they may be, and your measurements and I will get right on it."
"Thank you, Miss Malfoy."
"Thank you, Professor, for allowing me to do this."
"Well, I thought it’d be better to let you have your way than have you doing anything behind my back," she adds, mischievously.
She clearly saw right through me, I almost laughed out loud at the thought.
"It will be much easier this way though. Thank you," I divulge and she nods knowingly.
"You're welcome, Miss Malfoy. You may return to your classes now."
And with that I quickly exited the Headmistress's office.
The next day I was feeling pretty successful. I had spent the few hours between my last class of the day and dinner in the Room of Requirement, making the final arrangements, and I felt ready for the upcoming ball. Sure, there’d be loads more to do but I was excited. This would be my first real break and it was going to be amazing. I mean, even McGonagall wanted one of my dresses. How many designers can say that?
I had owled her for her information as planned and she’d replied and I had already started working on the design for her gown. And tomorrow my flyers would be hung in the common rooms for everyone to see and I knew it wouldn’t be long now until the open house days. McGonagall and I organized for them to take place in two weeks, during the weekend, so that I would have plenty of time between then and the ball to arrange private meetings and make any needed adjustments for the clients.
I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I made my way down to the Great Hall for the Halloween Feast when I was suddenly accosted by someone from out of the blue.
“Hey, S, haven’t seen you around much lately,” a familiar voice cut through my thoughts, bringing me back to the present.
I cringed at his smug tone, knowing exactly who it was before I even turned to look at him.
“I thought I told you to leave me alone, Talon,” I said through gritted teeth.
“Aw, and here I thought you’d be happy to see me,” he cooed.
“Not as long as you’re still a psychopath,” I retorted, annoyed.
“You know, that really hurts my feelings, S. We’ve known each other forever; I thought we were friends,” he spoke up, quickening his step to get in front of me, thwarting my attempt to escape him.
“I think we both know that I’ve never actually known you, so there’s no possible way we could have ever been friends,” I replied, glaring at him angrily.
“But we could still become friends, Sirrah. We could get to know each other again. What do you say?” he was really putting the charm on, but I wasn’t buying it.
“Except I don’t want to know you,” I spat. “You’re a liar and a fake, and you’re lucky I haven’t told my brother yet about your true identity.”
He took a step closer, his eyes cold with menace. “I don’t think you want to do that, S. Unless you want to suffer the consequences.”
“Are you threatening me?” I gasped, in shock.
“You threatened me first,” he chided.
“If you lay one hand on me I swear I’ll—”
“You’ll what?” he asked. “Run and tell Scorpius? Run and tell your parents? You wouldn’t dare,” he attempted to scare me by towering over me with that threatening, stormy gaze.
“You don’t know what I’d dare or not dare,” I glared icily. I would not show fear.
“Oh, I think I do,” he said, stepping even closer so that our noses were practically touching and then he reached out and grabbed my arm roughly. “See? You want me and you know it.”
“I want nothing to do with you,” I said, trying to shake his hand off, but he wouldn’t let go, instead he squeezed my wrist until it hurt. “Talon, let me go!” I cried.
“Hey!” someone abruptly shouted, coming around the nearest corner. “What’s going on here?”
And there stood James Sirius Potter, eyeing the both of us as if we were the last two people he wanted to see, which we probably were. I did notice yesterday that I did not receive my usual Monday morning letter.
How do I get myself into these situations?
“Why don’t you mind your own business, Potter. Sirrah and I were just having a nice little chat,” Talon spoke, finally letting go of my wrist now that we had a witness. I rubbed it with my other hand, hoping it wouldn’t bruise from his harsh grip.
“Is that true, Sirrah?” Potter asked.
From the look on his face I could tell he didn’t want to be here—didn’t want to be anywhere near me, most likely—but he clearly wasn’t the type of guy who just walked by when someone was in trouble.
“I’m fine, Potter,” I lied. “You can go.”
“Yeah, Potter, you can go now,” Talon added, using his hand to gesture for Potter to move along and let us be.
Potter looked like he was considering it, but then I saw just the slightest shake of his head. “Why don’t you go, Nott?” Potter practically spat out Talon’s name. “Because after what I just saw, I am not leaving her alone with you.”
Talon glared at him with such menace that if looks could kill, James Potter would be one very dead wizard. For a second, I thought Talon might even pull out his wand and curse him. But finally, after what seemed like minutes, he left, brushing past Potter as he did so.
Neither of us spoke after that for a few moments and then Potter finally looked at me and asked, “Are you really alright?”
“I will be,” I replied, holding my head up high.
“I thought you guys were a thing now,” he added, looking unsure of what to do next.
“Talon and I were never a thing,” I reproached. “And we never will be.”
“Really?” he asked, sarcastically. “Because he seems to think you two are perfect for each other.”
“Yeah, well, he’s crazy,” I replied.
He chuckled for a moment and then silenced himself when he realized that I wasn’t laughing, nor did I think my response that funny.
A few more seconds passed.
“Well, isn’t there something you want to say to me?” he then asked, looking at me expectantly.
“Like what?” I asked. If he was looking for an apology for Hogsmeade he wasn’t going to get one. I still had no regrets.
“I don’t know, maybe a thank you?”
“Why should I thank you?” I asked, confused.
“For saving you from Talon,” he spoke, clearly frustrated as he gestured at the air in front of him.
“I didn’t ask you to save me, I could have taken care of him myself,” I chided angrily.
He threw his hands up in the air, flabbergasted. “I can never win with you, can I?” he questioned irritably.
“Of course not, I always win,” I answered seriously, yet for some reason he started laughing again the second I said it. “What’s so funny?” I asked.
“You are the most frustrating person I have ever met,” he chuckled.
“Then why would you want anything to do with me if I frustrate you so much?” I questioned.
He shook his head, “I don’t know.”
Suddenly it got weird between us. It felt like all the air was being sucked out of the corridor and I had to break eye contact. I prayed he wouldn’t try to make another move on me like he did in the Astronomy Tower.
“Are you sure you’ll be alright?” he then asked. “Do you want me to walk you down to the Feast?”
“I’ll be fine,” I assured him. “I’m not afraid of Talon.” That wasn’t true, but I wasn’t going to let him know that.
He nodded, “Well, I guess I’ll see you around then.”
“I hope not,” I retorted. “I think I’ve seen your ugly face enough for one lifetime.”
He chuckled and turned to walk away.
I thought maybe he would stop and look back, but he didn’t; he just kept on walking until he was around the corner and out of sight.
I stood there, frozen like a fool, confused as to what had just taken place. Did he really just walk away from me? Who said James Potter could just walk away? And why does a part of me wish he would come back? Ugh, what is this? Something is clearly wrong with me.
I shook my head in hopes of clearing it of these ridiculous thoughts and continued on my way down to the Great Hall.
The Great Hall was decked out in grandeur as usual for the Halloween Feast. The typical floating candles were replaced with jack o’ lanterns, not just floating above us but all over the place and of all sizes, while live bats flew just below the enchanted ceiling. On the tables, there were cauldrons filled with candy. It was almost always one of the best feasts of the year.
I happily sat down next to Leighton and Kenny, putting what had just happened with Talon and Potter behind me as I piled my plate with all the wonderful treats that filled the table.
But the end of the feast was what I was truly waiting for and, when it finally came, I could barely keep still in my seat.
Once the feast was over and the dessert plates had cleared the table, McGonagall finally stood, silencing the room.
“Happy Halloween, everyone. I hope you all enjoyed the feast,” she stated simply. “But before you all return to your common rooms, I have an announcement to make.”
We all waited patiently for her to continue. I could tell most people, including Leighton and even Kenny, were curious about what this announcement could be. A small few though, mostly Prefects like Scorpius, watched the Headmistress expectantly, already knowing what she was going to say.
“The staff and I have a treat for you. This year, Hogwarts will be having a ball.”
A loud cumulative gasp seemed to run through the hall and whispers began to spring up at all the tables.
“But it will not just be any ordinary ball, this will be a Masquerade Ball,” she continued on, grandly.
Squeals were made, mostly by girls.
“The staff and I have decided to give you this ball as a way to help build house unity. To meet a stranger you may have never thought to talk to before, who you just might find you have a lot of things in common with. But, most of all, it is a dance and a chance for you to enjoy yourselves after all the hard work you’ve done this term.”
She paused for a moment here to let it all sink in.
“The ball will take place Saturday, December 16, just after you’ve finished your classes and before most of you will leave to enjoy the holidays at home. Everyone in 4th year and up is allowed to attend. Festivities will be held in the common rooms for the younger students.”
There were a couple squeals and excitatory cheers from those who were clearly in their 4th year and glad not to be shut up in their common rooms all evening.
“To add on to that, for all the ladies attending the ball, one of your fellow students is offering her services in dressmaking to everyone. Miss Malfoy, will you please rise?” she surprised me by then motioning towards me so that everyone looked in my direction as I sat there, frozen in shock.
After a moment’s hesitation though, I did as she asked and stood up in my seat, so that everyone could see me and know me by name. I sat back down once she started speaking again.
“Sirrah will be hosting an open house to display her collection for everyone to come and browse through, and maybe find the perfect dress. More information will be posted tomorrow on your common room bulletin boards. I have even personally asked her to conjure up a special gown for me that I am quite looking forward to seeing once it’s finished.”
Everyone’s eyes were still on me and I really didn’t like it. Leighton was looking surprised, Tybalt was grinning smugly from down the table, and Scorpius was looking just plain annoyed.
“Now, off you go, everyone, and have a wonderful evening.”
The second McGonagall had finished her speech, everyone began talking and getting up from their seats to return to their dorms. And while I didn’t enjoy the extra attention I was suddenly getting, I was very proud of myself. Instead of just doing as I had requested and posting my flyers and allowing me to use to empty rooms, she went the extra mile to announce it to the school and show her support of me, a well-known, anti-house unity, Slytherin student, by telling everyone that I would not only be selling my dresses to the students, but that I was making one specially for her, the highly revered Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts.
That was amazing.
People couldn’t turn their backs on me now after that. A nice crowd was bound to show up to my open house.
At least, I hoped so.
Author's Note: I know, I'm terrible and I suck at posting chapters. This one definitely took me a while. For months I'd just stare at it, not knowing what to write. Write a scene here, not know what to do for the next few months, write another scene there, go back into writer's block, write a third scene, where is this chapter going, I just need to end it.
So, yeah. I'm sorry. I'll try to get the next one up soon, but I make no promises because I literally just finished writing/editing this and I don't know when I'll be able to even start the next one. So, who knows?
But I hope you liked it and I hope you leave some reviews because I ALWAYS love to hear from you! Unless you're going to repeatedly review, anonymously, telling me I must update or the world will end, I don't much appreciate that. But I love you all, new and old readers, and I want you to tell me what you think.
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