Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics; To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
[Book Year 4]
Desiree Warbeck pushed her way through the windy grounds, wishing she could instead be buried under her blankets down in her room. Susan Bones was grumbling next to her as they trudged their way to the greenhouses. Desiree was too focused on trying to keep her scarf wrapped around her neck to complain with her, but she silently agreed that the teachers forcing them to go to class after the weekend’s excitement was cruel and unusual.
She hoped Professor Sprout would go easy on them in class today; as Head of Hufflepuff house, she had to know there was no way any of her students would have had a restful weekend after Cedric Diggory’s name had been pulled from the Goblet of Fire, even if they had tried.
Up ahead, she saw Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil whispering to each other. They looked far more rested than she felt. She guessed that Gryffindor hadn’t been quite as dedicated in their celebration of Harry Potter’s surprising addition to the Triwizard Tournament. That twist hadn’t done anything to dampen the Hufflepuffs’ spirits during the partying over the weekend, but at breakfast Desiree overheard Ernie Macmillan and others grumbling about the Gryffindor’s penchant for hogging the spotlight. Desiree was of the minority who didn’t believe Potter had put his name in the Goblet. The look on his face when his name was called…well Desiree would have felt the same, even if she had been known for getting into as much trouble as Potter and his friends were.
Lavender glanced back against the wind, her face brightening when she saw Desiree and Susan. “Hey Des, hey Susan!” she called, waving them over.
“Hey ladies,” Desiree said through a yawn.
“We were just discussing the Triwizard Tournament,” Parvati told them.
“I’m sure you’re all thrilled about Potter, are you?” Susan’s voice had a tinge of accusation to it, but Lavender and Parvati didn’t look swayed.
“What?” Parvati blinked, “Oh, that’s cool, I guess. But did you notice Angelina? She looked really down that she didn’t get it.”
“Did she?” Desiree asked. She had heard the sixth year had put her name in the Goblet, but Angelina hadn’t spoken about it the few times they had seen each other in the halls or at Hogwarts BSU meetings.
“Yeah,” Lavender said, her lip curling slightly, “I thought it was kind of weird.”
“Well, I mean, it’s clearly very dangerous,” Lavender explained, “I just thought she’d have more sense.”
Desiree understood. “Didn’t Lee put his name in as well?”
“Almost,” Parvati corrected.
Lavender rolled his eyes, “He wasn’t going to get it anyway. Plus, he hangs out with the Weasley twins and they’re always doing reckless things.”
“I don’t know,” Susan said, “I mean the tournament is supposed to be exciting and everything, right? You’re both Gryffindors, you know how you can get.”
Lavender and Parvati gave her a look, “I suppose…” Lavender said, unconvinced.
They cut off their conversation as they entered the greenhouse, where Professor Sprout instructed them to grab their dragonhide gloves and bags of fertilizer. “The Bouncing Bulbs need repotting, they’re not growing fast enough,” the professor said, “Hagrid must be using new soil.”
Desiree wondered how Hagrid would have time to get new soil for Professor Sprout given all of the time he’d been spending trying to cage the Blast-Ended Skrewts, which she had only heard horror stories of from Susan, Lavender, and her other classmates. She was glad she had chosen Muggle Studies instead of Care of Magical Creatures.
As she helped Susan pull down a bag of Great Gerabard’s Guiltless Grubs for Plant Growth, she thought back to Lavender and Parvati’s judgmental whispers about Angelina. She hadn’t really thought much about the girl’s entering the Triwizard Tournament, but she understood why someone like Lavender might be alarmed. Angelina was largely considered the blueprint for Black female students of how to adequately navigate the predominantly white school and was quick to offer anything from homework tips to hair supplies. Though she was too busy to have an official leadership position in the BSU, Blaise Zabini and Dean Thomas had often looked to her for guidance when they were stuck. Desiree had noticed that Angelina had pulled back this year, though. It seemed she was only coming to meetings out of habit, rarely offering up any suggestions, and when she did speak, only doing so in as few words as possible.
That evening, Desiree strolled leisurely toward the library. Blaise had asked for help with their Charms essay and though she was pretty sure he knew exactly what the benefits of the Summoning Charm were, she had agreed, but only after getting caught up on sleep.
She was trying her best to ignore the giddy feeling in the pit of her stomach that seemed to only grow the closer she got to the library, when she spotted the swinging box braids of Angelina Johnson ahead of her.
“Angelina!” Desiree called cheerfully.
Angelina turned, and though she smiled when she saw her, Desiree couldn’t help but notice how harried she looked. She was carrying a large book, looking close to tears, “Hey Des, how’s it going?”
“Oh, I’m fine,” Desiree said, watching her closely, “Are you okay?”
“What? Oh, I’ll be fine,” Angelina sniffed and looked away.
Desiree swung her bag around and rooted through the front pocket, her fingers quickly finding what she was looking for beneath broken quills, hand lotion, and her wand. She pulled out her emergency chocolate frog — which she had taken to carrying with her the year before, with prompting from Professor Lupin — and passed it to Angelina. “Here.”
“Thanks,” Angelina muttered, taking the frog with her free hand.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Ang?” Desiree asked, raising her eyebrows at her, “You’ve not been yourself lately.”
Angelina ripped the packaging for the frog open with her teeth. She took a big bite and sighed. “It’s fine, just…family stuff.”
“Were they upset at you for putting your name in the Goblet?” Desiree asked, wondering if the Johnsons looked at the Triwizard Tournament with the same disdain as Lavender and Parvati.
“No,” Angelina said, “Things have just been hard since the World Cup. My mum wrote an op-ed in the Prophet denouncing the freaks who attacked those Muggles, and she’s been getting hate mail.”
“No way!” Desiree was shocked. She thought there had been common agreement that what had happened at the Quidditch World Cup, including the appearance of the Dark Mark for the first time in thirteen years, was a horrible thing that should never happen again. But then she thought about the kids Blaise sometimes hung out with, Malfoy and Parkinson and Nott, and realized maybe not everyone felt the same.
“She told us to ignore it, but she’s had to cut back on her writing. And then Dad’s shop in London was vandalized twice. They could barely afford my books for school this year. I didn’t even bring it up to them when Mum forgot my dress robes,” Angelina was near tears.
Desiree reached out to touch Angelina’s shoulder, “I’m really sorry. That’s horrible.”
Angelina sniffed, wiping her eyes, “We’ll be okay. I know we will. I just worry about my brother, and on top of that I don’t feel right asking my parents for anything extra, you know? I thought the Tournament would be a good way to get some money, but that didn’t pan out.”
“Maybe you could ask the BSU for help?” Desiree suggested, “Some of us have something to give, or we could —”
“No,” Angelina shook her head vigorously. “I couldn’t – thanks for offering though.”
“I’m sure there’s another way,” Desiree pushed forward, understanding why Angelina might feel strange asking for money. “I’ll try to think of other options.”
Angelina smiled, “Thanks Des. That’s really sweet of you.”
Desiree smiled back, and then hurried off to make her study date with Blaise. He was sitting at one of the tables between the Charms and Transfiguration sections, frowning over his blank piece of parchment and spinning the quill in his hand impatiently.
“Sorry I’m late,” Desiree said, sliding into the seat across from him and dropping her bag on the table.
Blaise’s face opened up at the sight of her; he wore a permanent scowl most days but seemed to save the occasional smile for Desiree. Her stomach flipped and she dove into her bag, pulling out her book, parchment, and quill.
“I was starting to think I would have to do this all on my own,” he said with an exaggerated sigh.
“Oh whatever, it was only a few minutes.”
“Imagine me, Blaise Zabini, passing Flitwick a subpar paper because my friend was too busy sleeping off her hangover to help. I have an image to uphold, you know.”
“Alright, alright, that’s enough,” Desiree rolled her eyes, though a grin found its way onto her face.
They got to work reading about and discussing Summoning, but in the back of Desiree’s mind, she was still trying to come up with a solution for Angelina. She underlined a sentence in her book and then looked up.
“Yeah?” he answered vaguely, still scribbling out the last few words of a sentence.
“I was just wondering, how do you think someone could make money at Hogwarts?”
Blaise looked up from his parchment, eyebrows raised, “You thinking of starting a cookie business or something?”
She shook her head. “No.”
“You could,” he said, “I’m sure others outside of the BSU would love to get their hands on them, but you shouldn’t offer them without a price.”
“I’m not selling cookies, Blaise.”
“Fine, fine. I don’t really know,” he answered seriously, “I’ve never really been interested in entrepreneurship, to be honest. You could ask the Weasleys though. They gave Montague some sweet that turned him into a canary last week. I think they’re planning to sell it.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” Desiree said, with a frown. She didn’t think it would be a good idea to ask Fred and George Weasley. She didn’t know them all that well, but they were Angelina’s classmates; she wasn’t the best liar and Angelina would hate it if more people found out about her predicament.
Desiree spent the entire month of November trying to come up with a solution, and in the meantime, she had given Angelina one of the boxes from her stash of chocolate frogs that she kept under her bed.
In early December, Professor Sprout had announced to the Hufflepuff students that the Yule Ball would be happening on Christmas for students fourth year and above. The halls were abuzz with anticipation as the dance loomed, and Desiree had agreed to go with Hannah Abbott and Susan early on, not wanting to go through the trouble of finding a date.
One Sunday, Desiree had stayed behind as she usually did to help Blaise clean up Professor Sinistra’s classroom after all the other members of the BSU had left.
“I still think you could sell these,” Blaise said, passing Desiree her empty tin, which had previously been filled with sugar cookies decorated to look like Christmas trees. In a moment of inspiration, she had charmed them to blink red and green lights, an effect which wore off the minute the cookie hit one’s tongue.
“That takes all the fun out of it,” Desiree said, “The only payment I need are the looks of satisfaction on people’s faces once they’ve had one.”
“Merlin’s beard,” Blaise said with a roll of his eyes, “Does it physically hurt to genuinely be that sweet?”
“I don’t know,” Desiree grinned, “How does it feel to scare people away with just a look?”
“I can’t see why you’re asking me,” Blaise teased, “You’ve got that down too.”
“Yes, but I don’t work at it.”
“You know, we could practice together,” Blaise’s voice turned casual as if the thought had just occurred to him. But Desiree knew his face, could see the calculating look in his eyes.
She watched him cautiously, “How do you mean?”
“Well, you know the Yule Ball is coming up and…” was it just her, or did Blaise actually look nervous? “It might be fun, you know, to go together and scare people with our piercing looks of judgment.”
Desiree was sure that hadn’t been the transition he was aiming for, but something about his rare stumble was endearing. Still, she shook her head.
“I can’t. I said I would go with Susan and Hannah.”
Blaise’s eyes met hers. He frowned, “That’s not the only reason why.”
Desiree sighed, “Honestly, Blaise, I like hanging out with you, but you still have some growing to do.”
“What does that mean?”
“Oh, come on, you know,” Desiree gave him a knowing look. As much as she felt she knew the true Blaise, there was still the mask he wore when in public, the one that tried hard to blend in with the Crabbes and Goyles of the school. They had fun together, but she wouldn’t cosign those tendencies in front of the entire school, even if he had been getting better since starting the BSU.
Blaise sighed, looking put out but not upset with her. “Fine,” he said, “I guess I’ll just see you there then.”
Desiree left Professor Sinistra’s classroom soon after, thinking that she would head over to the Great Hall for lunch. She was hailed by Angelina on the seventh floor, who looked both excited and afraid.
“Fred Weasley just asked me to the ball,” Angelina looked panicked, “I said yes, but I have nothing to wear! I can’t go to the ball in my regular robes.”
“Okay, okay, calm down,” Desiree said, “I’m sure we can come up with something.”
They threw ideas at each other on the way to lunch, though by the time Angelina weakly suggested that they find a way to rob Gringotts, Desiree was starting to feel hopeless. In the entrance hall, they saw Hermione Granger with her friends. Her face lit up when she saw Angelina and Desiree, and she waved for Potter and Weasley to continue without her.
“Hi Desiree,” Hermione said quickly, “Angelina, I need your help.”
“Well, I —” Hermione cut off, looking around the hall before lowering her voice, “Viktor’s asked me to the Yule Ball and —”
“Shh!” Hermione said, “I don’t want everyone to know just yet. I’ve agreed, but I have no idea how to do my hair, and yours is always beautiful, so I wondered if you could maybe help me straighten it?”
Angelina smiled kindly, “Of cour —”
“It’ll be 15 Galleons,” Desiree blurted out. It amazed her that she hadn’t thought of it sooner. “More, if you want it braided.”
“Oh,” Hermione was taken aback. She looked back to Angelina, “That’s perfectly fine. I don’t know if I want to braid it this time though, I just want something for the day.”
“You’ll need to get a tub of Black Magic or Sleakeazy’s,” Angelina told her, “But I can make it work.”
“Thank you so much,” Hermione said, hugging Angelina tightly before hurrying off after her friends.
Angelina grinned at Desiree, “You’re brilliant.”
Word quickly spread around Hogwarts about Angelina’s budding hair business. She remarked to Desiree in passing that it was lucky there was no Quidditch this year because she was able to use the time that would’ve been spent at practices to take appointments. In the week leading up to the Yule Ball, the Black students filled the halls, flaunting their new hairstyles. Lavender sported bantu knots, while Lee’s locs were freshly twisted. Desiree got box braids the day before the ball, and Hermione’s appointment was the day of. Many people paid in advance and so Angelina was able to Owl Order a set of bright yellow silk dress robes in enough time for the ball.
The Yule Ball was fun, and while Susan and Hannah quickly ditched Desiree to dance with two Durmstrang boys, she contented herself with seeing all of her friends having fun while she lingered near the sweets. She had just taken a huge bite of chocolate cake, watching Angelina and Fred do a strange dance that seemed to be mimicking a mongoose, when a voice nearby startled her.
“Still think it was a good idea to come with friends?”
Desiree almost choked on her cake, but when she saw that it was Blaise, she tried her best to swallow the rest of it with dignity, before asking, “Still think all Muggle-borns are scum?”
Blaise winced, “I never said I thought all Muggle-borns were scum.”
“Your friends do.”
He scratched behind his ear uncomfortably, “They’re not my friends, not really. I mean, I guess I do try to fit in, but imagine what it’s like having to live with Draco Malfoy.”
Desiree wrinkled her nose, “No thanks. This cake is really good, and I would like to keep it down.”
Blaise smiled. He really did look good, Desiree mused. Not that she was surprised. He wore robes of black shimmering velvet, and it looked like he had gotten a fresh haircut.
“Who did you come with, then?” she asked, despite herself. She shouldn’t care, especially when she had turned him down.
“Dean,” Blaise shrugged, “Apparently, he’d thought about asking Granger, but it seems Krum got to her first.”
“Dean was going to ask Hermione?” Desiree was shocked.
“It’s not that surprising if you pay attention,” Blaise said, though he sounded disinterested, “He seems to admire her or something.”
“Sure,” Desiree said, “I mean, I admire her too.”
“You would.” She caught the teasing tone in his voice.
“Did you want something?” she asked, sure he didn’t come over to her just to discuss Muggle-borns and his friend’s possible budding crush.
“Ah,” there was the nervousness again. If Desiree didn’t feel so awkward herself, she would have enjoyed seeing him squirm, “Would you, uh, want to dance?”
Desiree huffed, thinking. She’d had a strong reason for not coming to the ball with Blaise, and she knew he wouldn’t change overnight. “One dance.”
“Okay,” Blaise said eagerly. He gently relieved her of her chocolate cake before pulling her to the dance floor. “You look really pretty, by the way. I should’ve said earlier.”
Desiree felt her stomach flip. “Thanks, uh, you too,” she stuttered. She realized she had said it wrong as Blaise began to look amused, but she plowed on, trying to ignore how nervous she was. “Angelina do your hair?”
Blaise shrugged, “She’s good with magicking clippers. That was a good call, by the way.”
“Suggesting she make money from doing hair,” Blaise said, a knowing look in his eyes.
Desiree suddenly felt self-conscious, “Who said I did anything?”
“Oh, come on, I know it was you. All that talk about making money but not wanting to sell your baked goods,” Blaise laughed, “It wasn’t hard to put together. If you’re paying attention.”
Desiree soaked in his words, including the fact that he was paying attention to her. She bit her lip, unsure of what to say.
“I think it’s cool,” he said, “That you helped her.”
“I didn’t do it for your approval,” she snapped.
Blaise’s eyes widened, “I didn’t mean it like that.”
Desiree sighed, “I know.”
She hesitated before leaning her head on Blaise’s shoulder, and together they spun around the room, not noticing when the song changed and blended into the next.