NOTICE TO ALL FIFTH YEARS
Professors Gregor, Carrey, and McGonagall won’t be able to give
career advice. (Thanks a lot, Dennis.) Anyone who signed up for advice Tuesday
through Friday will go to Professor Malory’s office instead.
Meinstein, Head Girl
Career Advice Sign Up Sheet #4
1. Sirius Black—8.00
2. Toledo Bones—8.15
6. Narcissa Black—9.15
who comes late will be put at the end of the list.
ATTENTION GOBSTONES CLUB MEMBERS:
The meeting is cancelled. (Thanks a lot, Dennis) It has
been rescheduled for Friday in Professor Malory’s office, as soon as fifth year
career advice is over. Come at around 9.
—Alfred Poe, President (update: MK has answered our letter!!! She’s going
to be at the meeting!!!)--- Kirkus)
Sirius ran down the corridor and plopped in the chair between Narcissa and a
seventh year boy whose name he didn’t know.
“Am I late?” he asked, out of breath.
The boy shrugged. “I’m here for the Gobstones
meeting.” He stuck his nose back into the book he had been reading and didn’t
bother saying any more. Narcissa just glared at Sirius.
“It’s quarter to 9,” she said briefly, and then
continued to study her cuticles. “Weren’t you supposed to be first?”
“I had homework to do,” Sirius lied smoothly.
Narcissa would have believed him, except that even she knew he would rather
marry Snape than do homework when there was mischief to be had. Sirius did not
normally make small talk to his cousin, and saw no reason to start now, so he
got up and impatiently knocked at Professor Malory’s door.
“Read the sign up sheet!” Malory shouted, in an
exasperated tone of voice that suggested Sirius was not the first one to come
late that week.
For some reason Sirius didn’t try to talk to the
boy, but instead took out a mirror and retreated to a tapestry several yards
away. Narcissa wondered if it was a two-way mirror or if Sirius just really
enjoyed watching himself talk.
The latter didn’t seem that odd, considering he was her
Narcissa stared at a painting on the wall across
from her. It wasn’t that Dogs Playing Exploding Snap was that
interesting, but there wasn’t anything else to do. She had lost her mirror, so
she couldn’t even work with her hair. Narcissa had an odd obsession with
looking at herself. Not even to marvel at her beauty or to nitpick over small
deformities, just to look at and study herself. She
felt disquieted by the thought that everyone else got a much better look at her
head than she did.
“Are you alright?” the seventh year boy asked.
Narcissa glared at him. When she was pensive or relaxed, so that she wasn’t
thinking of her expression and purposely trying to smile, her face would relax
into a frown and everyone assumed that she was upset about something.
“Yes,” she said.
“Oh,” he said, “Sorry. You should smile, you’d
be a lot prettier.”
Narcissa arranged her face into a
“Alfred, you came early,” a familiar voice said.
Andromeda came out of the shadows,
smoothing her impossibly wavy blonde hair into a ponytail. She gave him a kiss
on the top of his head (which was actually a less affectionate public display
of affection than she usually gave to her boyfriends) and sat down in Sirius’
seat. She looked tense and kept on rubbing her eye, which was odd because she
only did that when she was nervous or upset. Andromeda was always sickeningly
“Is there something wrong with your eye?” Alfred
noted. He had only been dating Andromeda for a month.
“No, I’m fine. Is it true that Mafalda
Kensington is going to come to the Gobstones meeting?”
Narcissa rolled her eyes at her
sister’s excitement. Mafalda wasn’t a famous Gobstones player, but anyone who
had made a small living from Gobstones was famous in Andromeda’s eyes.
“No, no, she just answered our fan letter, and
sent autographs. Kirkus always starts rumors. Then again, maybe it’s Dennis;
he’s been mad at Kirkus ever since the incident in the dungeons.”
“Oh, that’s still wonderful!” Andromeda said
eagerly. “Did you bring the autographs?” Her eyes, black as the ocean at night,
had stopped blinking. She looked as though she was going to squeal.
“Gobstone enthusiasts are such losers,” thought Narcissa.
“Ted! Hi!” Andromeda called.
Ted Tonks, a fellow seventh year
Ravenclaw, was walking up the corridor, which was becoming quite crowded as
Kirkus had finally finished his career advice and was coming out. Tonks
looked like he was about to hug Andromeda, but he glanced at Alfred and gave
her a friendly clap on the back instead.
Not that he needed to exercise caution, in Narcissa’s opinion.
Tonks and Andromeda could be snogging in the middle of the corridor and Alfred
would still be clueless. They probably did snog in the middle of the corridor
occasionally, if the gossip was true.
“Hullo, Annie. So, is it true? Mafalda Kensington is going
to visit Hogwarts?”
Narcissa slipped into the classroom before any
more Mafalda worshippers came to clog up the corridor.
Professor Malory was half asleep,
but trying to look busy by shuffling pamphlets. The week of career advice was
obviously getting to him. He could tell from Narcissa’s sneer that it wasn’t
working, so he weakly joked, “So, Miss Black, have you got what it takes to
train security trolls?”
“No.” Narcissa glanced at a mirror behind his
head, and rearranged the ribbons in her hair.
Malory rubbed his light grey eyes and yawned.
“That’s nice, they’re nasty things anyway.” He shuddered, possibly speaking
from experience. “What do you want to do?”
She neatly redid her hair, pretending to think
hard about an answer. Malory rolled his eyes.
“Why is it that no one ever bloody thinks about
what they want to do?” he sighed.
“No, no, I’m sorry I snapped. Listen,” and here
Malory gave another yawn, “what do you like to do?”
“I like to draw.” Narcissa looked thoughtful and
continued, “Especially clothes.”
“What? You’re saying you want to be some sort of
“Eh . . . yeah, I suppose.” Narcissa cared more
whether her hair should be allowed to grow
longer than her shoulders than about her future career choices. Drawing was a
nice hobby, but it would be more likely that she’d be a trophy wife, practicing
how to smile all day. Which was perfectly fine with her, aside from the fake
“Anything else? You’ve got good grades, you can
really go far.”
Narcissa wondered what he said to
the people with horrible grades.
“You should aim a bit higher, Miss
Black. A designer is a job that-”
“I know that most people would make
up some nonsense about how they want to cure
Cruciatus-induced madness or become an Auror,” growled Narcissa, “but I-”
“Joking, just joking!” Malory said nervously,
“It’s a noble profession that takes creativity and a good eye and-”
“No, I shouldn’t have yelled,” Narcissa sighed.
She was still angry, but had enough sense to realize that Malory could give her
a detention. It was lucky that he was so tired and that her eyes were extremely
Malory tried to turn the
conversation back to normal. “It’s extremely hard to become a designer, you
see,” he said gingerly, “so perhaps you should consider something else. Your
teachers say that you work quite hard to do well in class, right?”
“Yes.” Even if she wasn’t going to
a have a job, her parents still thought it was important that she tried to have
a good education, and Narcissa tried hard to look good in their eyes.
“Especially in Charms and
Arithmancy. Perhaps you could be a . . . er . . .”
“Therapist,” said Narcissa
sarcastically. Which wasn’t completely ridiculous unless you thought about it.
She was good at finding out what people were thinking and feeling just from
quietly observing them from across the dinner table. The problem was that she
didn’t care in the slightest about what she found out. To her, feelings were
something to be used to manipulate people, to know how they would react to what
you said and choose your words accordingly. Of course, Narcissa herself didn’t
do much to mask her feelings, because she was usually Angry, Amused, or Staring
at Animals Playing Cards. Not much to hide.
“Please, take me seriously.” Malory
looked pathetic, so Narcissa nodded.
There was the sound of a BOOM
outside and muffled yelling. This would be interesting
if Sirius were involved (when wasn’t he always involved when booms abounded?).
It might be another prank battle between him and Bellatrix.
Bellatrix was a smart girl, but a
complete brat. (Not to Narcissa; Bellatrix was utterly charming to all
Slytherins.) Ever since Sirius had been sorted into Gryffindor, Bellatrix had
made a point to never speak to him but still let her presence be known. She
would always play pranks on him, or try to ruin pranks her was playing. Half
the boys in Slytherin were convinced (more likely dreaming, which was slightly
disturbing as she was barely thirteen) she was in love with them, because she
had saved all of them from countless humiliations, just to annoy Sirius.
If they were on speaking terms,
Sirius would probably be quite proud of her accomplishments in tormenting him.
“I’ll go check that out,” Narcissa said, eager
for an excuse to leave. She had realized several days before that the advice
was a completely useless to anyone that bothered to read the pamphlets and was
itching to get out. “This has been very illuminating, Professor.” Narcissa slid
towards the door.
“Wait, we’re not done y-” The door snapped shut,
and Narcissa promptly forgot about the meeting. She was already sure of her
place in the world anyway.