Author's Note: This was written for the rarepair_shorts Winter 2010/2011 exchange as a gift for ellielove_x3. Beta read by En En Chan from PI.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Dressing for Success
"Weasley, where are the samples from Jacquard? They were supposed to be on my desk this morning!" Pansy snarled at Ginny, sparks escaping from the tip of the wand in her tightly clenched fist.
Ginny looked up from her drafting board and glared at her boss. "I haven't the foggiest idea. I've been re-doing these designs since six a.m."
"Lovegood? Lovegood!" Pansy screeched, scanning the cluttered studio. "Where is that useless witch?"
"I'm down here..." A muffled voice wafted up from near a dressmaker's dummy swathed in green robes.
Pansy stalked over and found Luna on her back underneath the dummy, the floor-length robes covering her head and shoulders.
"What are you doing?" Pansy demanded.
"Checking to see whether these robes offer sufficient protection from Gurpling Gawkers," Luna answered serenely.
Pansy kicked at Luna's feet. "Get out of there. I'll give you Gawkers. Where are my Jacquard samples?"
Luna lifted the edge of the robes to blink up at Pansy. "On your desk."
"No, they aren't! There was nothing there but a plate of rubbery croque-monsieurs. Never get lunch from that service again. My tongue feels like it's coated." She grimaced.
"Those are the samples," Luna said. "I Transfigured them to foil industrial spies."
Pansy's eyes bugged out nearly as far as Luna's. "Do you mean to tell me I just ate the samples from Jacquard? Do you have any idea how much trouble it was to get those before they went public? Not to mention the cost?" The sparks coming out of her wand were now accompanied by bursts of pink smoke.
"If you just ate them, it shouldn't be a problem. It might get a bit hairy if they're already digested though, so hold still." She slid her wand out from behind her ear and pointed it at Pansy. "Regurgi-"
Just then, an owl swooped in, seemingly from out of nowhere, and flew right at Pansy's head, interrupting Luna's spell.
"Put that wand away!" Pansy shrieked. "You've done enough damage with it as it is." She batted at the owl fluttering insistently around her, an envelope clutched in its talons. "Give me that, you." She snatched the envelope. "And you-" She pointed accusingly at Luna. "Get me a glass of water. Without magic."
Luna clambered to her feet and drifted off.
Pansy flicked her wand and the envelope opened itself. A thick, embossed card floated out and announced:
'Zabini invites all of our favored employees to join us in ringing in the New Year at La Dubletta-'
Pansy squealed with joy, sending the owl off in a flurry of ruffled feathers. "Weasley! Drop everything! I need the robes to end all robes. Now!"
"What about these designs?"
Pansy swept back through the studio, summoning a train of fabrics, ribbons, sequins, pearls, and threads as she went. "Bring them. I need the newest, the best, most spectacular, most magical robes for this event. Blaise is going to notice me this time!"
"Luna? What are you still doing here?" Ginny navigated through the dim studio to where Luna was sitting on the floor, surrounded by a cacophony of fabrics and patterns.
"Sewing," Luna answered, not looking up as she directed a needle to join two pieces of a sparkly, diaphanous material in her lap.
Ginny crouched down, careful not to crush her blue crinoline party robes. "I can see that," she said. "I meant, why are you still working? And don't say it's because these aren't done." She indicated the half-completed robes around them. "It's New Year's Eve. You're allowed to stop for a few hours. You're expected at the party. I'm going there now. Pansy just wanted me to pick up another box of fairy dust for her on the way."
Luna shook her head. "Pansy wants the mockups for the Spring collection by tomorrow."
Ginny's mouth dropped open, aghast. "The entire collection? That's mad! Pansy won't even make it in tomorrow. Probably not the next day, either. You know how she lets herself go at these things."
Luna sighed, patiently picking up miniscule beads with the end of her wand and affixing them to the garment she was working on. "It's all right. She's just angry about the Jacquard samples. It was my fault. I should have remembered how much she likes cheese."
Ginny put her hand on Luna's, forcing her to pause. "Luna, she works both of us harder than she has any right to. I don't know about you, but I only put up with it because of Zabini's contacts to the Italian fashion houses. I'm not here to help Pansy, Merlin knows. And you shouldn't be, either. You've got some... really interesting ideas," she said encouragingly. "Like the invisible runes? No one else would think of something like that. You should really develop some of your ideas, instead of doing all of Pansy's grunt work. And tonight, you're coming to the party." She stood, pulling Luna up with her. "But first," she said as she took in the shapeless, green and yellow striped robes Luna was wearing, "we're going to put together an amazing outfit for you!"
"You were right, Ginny. This material is much better than what I had on." Luna ran her hand over the satiny, silver bodice as they stepped out of the Floo into the foyer of Blaise's mother's mansion. She had taken over her seventh husband's fashion emporium when he died.
"It really accentuates your eyes," Ginny agreed.
"Oh, I meant it's impervious to ectoplasm. Plus the runes I added give an extra layer of protection against blood magic and coffee stains."
Ginny laughed. "If you say so. Although I don't imagine we'll need to test that tonight." She surveyed the crowd of fashionable witches and wizards sparkling with jewels and charms. "Oh Merlin," she gasped, grabbing Luna's arm. "There's Paolo Pirouetti!"
"Where?" Luna asked politely as she adjusted the pleats in the complicated, layered skirts of her robes.
"Over there, in the red robes with that amazing hat-"
"There you are!" Claw-like fingers grasped both Luna's and Ginny's shoulders from behind. "I've been waiting over an hour!" Pansy hissed. "Where have you been?" she demanded of Ginny, then glared at Luna. "And what are you doing here?" She gave the blonde witch a once-over, an unpleasant look on her face.
Ginny shook off Pansy's hand. "She finished for the night. Here's your fairy dust." She tossed Pansy a small, glittering box. "And now we're both on our own time. Ta!" Ginny hooked her arm through Luna's and disappeared into the crowd, leaving Pansy fuming behind them.
"I saw Pansy." Draco was leaning casually against a pillar wrapped in fairy lights, watching the dancing guests with a bored expression.
Blaise's smoky green eyes registered a complete lack of interest as he slowly twirled a glass of white wine between his fingers. "So?"
Draco shrugged. "Thought you might want to be warned."
"I knew she'd be here. Head of design and all. It's not like she'd bow out. Mother still thinks she's doing me a favour. She's going to run Zabini into the ground before I marry Pansy Parkinson."
"Better you than me, that's all I can say."
"You're a mate, you know that, Draco?" Blaise said cynically. He took a sip of wine and let his gaze wander across the crowd.
When he saw Luna and Ginny making their way along the edge of the dance floor, he froze for a moment, then shook himself slightly before resuming his previous, aloof pose. "Who's that? With Weasley."
Draco searched until he found the pair. "Looks like that nutty hanger-on of Potter's. Loony Lovegood. What's she doing here?"
"They work with Pansy. At least Weasley does. I don't know about Lovegood. She must be an employee of some kind if she got in, though."
"You're right: your mother really is going to ruin the company with her hiring practices," Draco commented dryly.
Blaise narrowed his eyes, watching Ginny insinuate herself into a conversation with an older wizard in brilliant red robes. Luna hung limply beside them, staring vacantly upward, her lips moving as if she were counting the tiles on the ceiling.
"I'm not so sure..." Blaise said, half to himself. "What do you think of her outfit?"
Draco did a double take. "You mean Weasley?"
"Lovegood," Blaise said, irritated. "Weasley's wearing something from last year's Winter collection. Embarrassing. Pansy probably let her have it cheap so she could laugh at her."
"Now look at Lovegood. Classic, yet fresh. Daring, Muggle influence in the skirt. If Pansy designed that, she's better than I've been giving her credit for."
"Blaise! Darling!" Pansy breezed up in a swirl of white robes, sparkling from head to toe.
"Speak of the devil," Draco muttered.
"Draco, what a lovely surprise. I didn't expect to see you here." Pansy smiled ingratiatingly and pressed Draco's hands between hers before turning back to Blaise. "And here you are, the man of the hour. Oh, wine!" she exclaimed, taking note of the drink in Blaise's hand. "Draco, be a darling and fetch me a glass, will you? I've only just gotten here and I'm parched."
Draco and Blaise exchanged a look. Blaise nodded with a resigned expression, and Draco excused himself, smirking.
"What a lovely party," Pansy gushed, grasping at Blaise's free hand. "Your mother has outdone herself."
"Why don't you tell her? She's right over there." He nodded at a clutch of wizards surrounding an elegant witch, resplendent in her signature golden turban.
"I'm sure I will, but I hardly get the chance to see you, Blaise. I've been so busy with shows and interviews. Dizzying success at the expense of my private life is the price I've paid, as I'm sure you're aware. I could have had any number of wealthy, influential wizards, but none of them understand what my work means to me. Not like you, Blaise." She leaned in and pushed her lips out in what was probably supposed to be a fetching pout.
"Gone a bit heavy on the fairy dust tonight, haven't you?" Blaise said, noting the not-so-subtle pull of the attraction charms surrounding her.
"You can never have too much fairy dust," Pansy breathed seductively, her eyes going heavy and dark.
"Did you design Lovegood's costume?" Blaise asked suddenly.
"What?" Pansy blinked, momentarily disoriented.
"Lovegood." Blaise inclined his head in Luna's direction. "She works with you?"
Pansy stepped back, irritation written all over her face. "Loony Lovegood? I wouldn't say she works 'with' me. Weasley badgered me until I agreed to let her hang around and fetch coffee and open the mail."
"So she's not wearing a piece from the new collection?"
Pansy turned to stare at Luna. "That grey thing? Never saw it before. Probably off the rack at Gladrags. She looks like a washed-out urchin. The proportions are all wrong. Not to mention the colour does nothing for her skin." She brightened and put herself in between Blaise's line of vision and Luna. "This is one of my newest, though." She twirled slowly around, twitching her robes provocatively back and forth. "What do you think?"
Blaise gave her a quick appraisal. "A bit obvious, isn't it? Cleavage down to here and loaded with slimming charms. Do yourself a favour. Take a page out of Lovegood's book." He pushed away from the wall just as Draco returned with Pansy's wine.
"Keep her out of my hair for a bit, will you?" Blaise murmured to Draco as he left, depositing his empty glass on a house-elf's tray in passing.
"Good evening, ladies," Blaise announced smoothly when he reached the little group. "Signore Pirouetti."
"Signore Zabini," Pirouetti returned in a distinct Italian accent. "What charming witches you have here in Inghilterra." He winked at Ginny.
"I couldn't agree with you more," Blaise assented. "Which is why I'm here to save you from becoming completely enslaved by the wiles of these two. You won't mind if I borrow Miss Lovegood here for a bit?"
Pirouetti's face fell slightly when he realized that Blaise intended to snag one of the ladies, but when he saw that it was Luna, and not Ginny, he was all smiles and winks. "But of course! By all means. I shall have my hands full with Miss Weasley here, shall I not, cara?" He chuckled.
Ginny batted playfully at his arm. "I think I'm the one who'll have her hands full, you wicked wizard."
Blaise offered Luna his elbow, which she took with a quiet smile. "I wouldn't have actually enslaved him, you know," she confided as soon as they were out of earshot. "I only used a mild Enamorment Charm. It will wear off in half an hour."
Blaise laughed. "You what?"
"He was being stodgy and difficult. Ginny wants to get an invitation to do an internship at his head office in Milan. She's quite good. He'll be grateful he's offered it to her."
Blaise laughed again and led Luna to a seat near the wall. "You were at Hogwarts the same time as I was, weren't you? Blaise Zabini." He held out his hand.
Luna shook it, her grasp firmer than Blaise expected. "I know who you are. I'm Luna. I was a year below you."
"That's why I don't remember you from any classes. Gryffindor?"
Luna shook her head. "Ravenclaw. Although I find labels constricting."
Blaise leaned over her, one arm resting against the wall. "I'll dispense with my usual cunning and trickery then. Where did you get your robes?"
Luna gazed up, grey eyes meeting green. "Ginny and I made them."
"Based on what design?"
"We took one of Ginny's for the top and the sleeves, but I wasn't comfortable with the full skirt she originally planned. Too much room for Erklings to hide." She picked up one of the layers covering her legs, exposing a lean, firm thigh. "So I cut the skirt up into various sized strips and attached them lengthwise over each other instead. I prefer shorter skirts anyway. They're more practical if you need to run away."
"Fascinating," Blaise commented, his eyes resting on the expanse of skin she had bared.
"I haven't told you about the runes yet."
"What runes?" he asked, dragging his gaze back up to her face, taking note of all the curves along the way.
"Oh, you can't see them. They're invisible."
"You don't say." Blaise shifted his weight so that his hip was resting against the arm of Luna's chair. "You definitely have a fresh way of looking at things. Send me your portfolio. I'll make sure my mother sees it."
He glanced up and caught sight of a none-too-happy witch in white robes bearing down on them.
"And now, I believe it's time for us to share a dance," Blaise said, quickly holding out his hand. "My Slytherin instincts tell me that retreat is the better part of valour at the moment."
Luna slipped her hand into his. "Have you ever heard of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack?" she asked as they escaped just in the nick of time. "It's a shy and highly magical creature..."