The Sugar Quill
Author: Newbia The Elf  Story: Career Advice  Chapter: Narcissa Black
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Career Counseling Sign Up Sheet

 

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.

 

--Mary Meinstein, Head Girl

 

~*~*~

 

Career Advice Sign Up Sheet #4

 

1. Sirius Black8.00

 

2. Toledo Bones8.15

 

3. Peter Pettigrew8.30

 

4. Anna Prewett8.45

 

5.  Kirkus Smith9.00

 

6. Narcissa Black9.15

 

 

Anyone 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.

 

            “Well?”

            “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 close relation.

 

            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 hideous grimace.

 

“Or not.”

 

            “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 cheerful.

 

            “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.

            “I know-”

 

            “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 designer?”

 

            “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 smiling part.

 

            “Anything else? You’ve got good grades, you can really go far.”

 

Narcissa wondered what he said to the people with horrible grades.

 

            “Not really.”

“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 lethal.

 

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.

 

//
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