The Sugar Quill
Author: Talking Purple Rabbits  Story: Of Balls and Bargains  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

A/N: This idea came to me after reading way too many fifth-year fics with Yule Balls in them…

A/N:  This idea came to me after reading way too many fifth-year fics with Yule Balls in them….The Yule Ball was specifically for the Tournament!  It didn’t happen every year!  I decided there must be a reason for their appearance in most fics, and here it is. Thanks to Arabella and Zsenya for the Sugar Quill, and to Yolanda for being a wonderful BETA reader.

 

Dedication:  To DV, Dbs, ‘Vora, whatever.  You heard this first; were supportive always.

 

Disclaimer: All characters and settings are the property of JK Rowling and Warner Bros.  The plot and robe design are mine.  If I had a scanner you could see what the robes actually look like. J

 

 

Of Balls And Bargains

 

 

            Su Li spun around, surveying herself in the mirror.  Satisfied, she smoothed down the front of her elaborate robes and began to plait her waist-length hair.  The design had turned out quite nicely, she thought.  No unseemly pulls or whatnot.  Of course, lavish robes were Madam Malkin’s specialty.  They should be, too, for the price Su had to pay.  There went her Hogsmeade money for the next four terms, and this year’s Christmas money.  All her gifts would have to be hand-made.  But it was worth it, for these robes.

            The outfit was rather against the school’s dress code, the standard boring black.  Oh, there was a layer of black on top, but it was rather sheer and the iridescent layer of a rich blue shown through, especially through the slashes on the sleeves and skirt.  The collar, wristcuffs, and waistband were silver, glowing softly.  The neckline was high, and the skirt was ankle-length, making an elegant, regal picture.  Su finished plaiting her hair, and secured the dark braid with a band of silver and blue.  The colours proudly displayed her Ravenclaw pride, which would be to her credit, should she be found.

            Su grabbed her cloak, pulled it over her head, and proceeded quietly down her dormitory’s stairs.  She peered into the common room and breathed a sigh of relief.  No Prefects in sight.  She quickly rushed to the entrance, a slab of the stone wall guarded by a suit of armour.  Once out in the open, Su drew the cloak around her even tighter.  She knew only too well what the price for breaking the dress code would be-five points deducted from her house.  But Su was a repeat offender, and could be in line for a detention, should the wrong teacher spot her.

            Her task seemed simple enough -get to the library, where she would find all of her year waiting to see the robes she had talked about endlessly.  Su wished she didn’t have to leave the Ravenclaw house to show off her robes (the last thing she needed was an owl home about her behaviour; Mum was already upset over her recent less-than-perfect Potions exam), but the boys would not be allowed in her dormitory, and the common room was too full of Prefects and snitches.  In the library, the bookshelves were high and long, a perfect spot to hide from those who enforced the law.  Also, it seemed the other Ravenclaws were testing her-was she daring enough to leave the safety of her house, with so many offences on her back?  Well, Su thought, she would show them.  And she would be the recipient of some worthy attention, maybe even that of one Terry Boot…

            Luckily for Su, the foundress Rowena had thought it well to place the house reasonably near the library, making Su’s task rather simple.  Through one corridor, up a set of stairs, and past three classrooms on her right.  Then she would be there.  Still, the path was long enough to make Su a bit nervous.

            It wasn’t until Su began mounting the staircase that she ran into trouble-quite literally.

            “Oomph-sorry Professor,” Su said hastily.  Wonderful.  Of all the professors she had to run into, it would be Professor McGonagall.  Well, at least it wasn’t Snape.  Su shuddered to think what he might say if he found her.

            “Miss Li, isn’t it a bit warm for your cloak indoors?” asked McGonagall pointedly.

            “Oh, erm, I’m rather cold actually.  I was-er-just on my way to see Flit-Professor Flitwick, uh, to ask him if the house-elves could, er, possibly make the dormitory fires warmer.  I did not see him in our common room, so I thought I’d try the library…” Su fibbed quickly.

            “Indeed.  I believe Professor Flitwick was just making his way to the staff room.  Shall I tell him for you?”

            “If you would, Professor, thank you.”  Argh!  Now her dormitory would be unbearable.  Padma, Mandy, Lisa, and Morag would be after her for this.  Su turned to continue going up the stairs, but as she reached for the banister, a bit of blue peeked out from under her cloak.

            “Li, what is that?” Professor McGonagall pointed.

            Su bit her lip. “It’s-it’s…” She was in Ravenclaw, dammit! Those of wit and learning and all that rot.  Then why couldn’t she think of a suitable excuse?  Just rubbish about house-elves and fires…

            “Let me see your robes, Miss Li.”

            Su lowered her gaze as she unfastened the (appropriately) silver clasp on her cloak and showed off her robes.  She waited for the gasp or intake of breath or whatever, and when she heard nothing, looked up.  McGonagall would be excellent at poker, she thought.  Just the right stony face for it.

            “Do you-“ The professor sighed.  “Do you have a reason for breaking the dress code for the umpteenth time, Miss Li?”

            “Black is rather listless, wouldn’t you agree, Professor?”  Su looked at McGonagall, dressed in black from hat to pointed boot.  Even her boot buckles were black.   Or perhaps she wouldn’t agree.  “Sometimes we need some colour in our lives.  Halloween is tomorrow, you know.”

            “I am well aware of that fact, Miss Li.  However, that is no excuse for going against the regulations issued by this school.  Save the fripperies for a special occasion-a dance or ball of some sort.  Certainly not in school, when you ought to be learning.”

            Su fumed.  Fripperies!  At a ball! What ball?!?  They hadn’t planned another ball, though she knew at least half the student body would be thrilled to have another Yule Ball, even if the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students couldn’t attend.  Suddenly, an idea popped into her head, as if it had Apparated there.  “Professor, I would simply love to wear these to a ball. Has the staffs planned another?”

            Professor McGonagall frowned.  “Another ball?  I do not think so…you are aware, Miss Li, that the entire castle is working vigorously against Voldemort. We hardly have time to prepare a ball.  And the last ball was specifically for the Triwizard Tournament.”

            “But, Professor…” Su checked her tone.  Whinging would not help her situation in the least.  “I understand, Professor, however, I think a ball could still be beneficial.  After all, Voldemort’s goal is to destroy all of the wizarding population, isn’t it?  If we spend our time moping and feeling sorrowful, won’t that be letting him win?  Better we should go on with our lives cheerfully, and not let him defeat our spirit, wouldn’t you say?”

            “If we were to arrange a ball, Miss Li, when would you propose we have it? And who would organise it?”

            “How about tomorrow? For Halloween?”

            Professor McGonagall raised an eyebrow. “You think we could put together a ball in twenty-four hours?”

            “Well, it was a thought.  How about Christmas?  They say Hogwarts is one of the safest places in the world…I bet Muggle-born students would most likely feel less vulnerable if they could stay under Professor Dumbledore’s watchful eye.  And then we wouldn’t be having a ‘Yule Ball’, which is just for the Tournament, we could have a ‘Winter Festival’ of sorts.  As for organising…how about setting up a student committee?  I’m sure there are plenty of students who would want to see another Yule Ball.”

            “Hmm…It is an interesting suggestion.  How about this:  If I see neither hide nor hair of those robes for the next several weeks, and no professor reports a dress code infraction until then, I will bring your suggestion to the Headmaster. Then, and only then, may I see you wearing those robes.”

            “Sure, Professor. Okay.”

            Professor McGonagall looked at Su sternly.  Su held her gaze as innocently as possible.  She must not give anything away!  “Alright then.  But you must go change out of those robes immediately!”

            “Yes, Professor.”  Su hurried back to her dormitory, and changed out of her dress robes into the uniform black.

            On her way to the library once more, Su tried to keep from laughing out loud. Another ball!  This would be brilliant!  Su wondered who might invite her…perhaps Terry?  Su’s cheeks flushed at the thought, and she nearly turned around to see if anyone was close enough to hear her thoughts.

            In the library, her appearance was met by stares.  “Where’re your robes?” demanded Padma.

            “And after all that talk about their fancy designs…What d’you wager she made it all up?” asked Lisa snootily.

            “I do have them!  McGonagall caught me in them, though.”  Several of the fifth-years winced.  “Buuut….” Su said, knowing how smug she sounded, “I got us another Yule Ball!”

            The reaction was instantaneous.  Several girls screeched at once, and the boys began looking around nervously.  All in all, it was a satisfying day.  New robes, a ball, and lots of deserved attention, yes, quite a good day.  After all, McGongall only said that she didn’t want to see Su wearing the robes….

 

 

Fin

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