~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The building looked as if a good swift kick would bring it tumbling down in a heap of lath and rafters. Even in the moonlight, Millicent could see that the small windows were boarded up behind their iron bars; a "To Let" sign hung at a drunken angle on the graffiti-covered door. "Dykes get fucked!" had been spray-painted in red.
This was the place.
Unless Berna from work was having her on. The thought gave Millicent pause. It wouldn't be the first time in the last couple of years that someone had thought it was funny to make a fool of her. It wasn't easy being a Slytherin in the post-war wizarding world -- especially a Slytherin who found it as difficult to conform as Millicent did.
Well, the hell with it. If the spell didn't work, it didn't work. She'd be no more alone than she was now. Millicent lifted her chin in the gesture that had made Pansy nickname her "The Belligerent" and spoke the charm Berna had taught her:
"Et potum, et delectione."
At first, nothing happened. Then the building seemed to shake, its image wavering and twisting. The tilted walls righted themselves, and a soft light began to glow behind sparkling-clean windows. The graffiti gradually faded to reveal a carved oak door banded with iron. Above it, a discreet sign announced in shimmering golden script, "Dyketopia."
Taking a deep breath, Millicent opened the door and walked in.
The interior was pleasantly dim, lit with dozens of floating candles. A long bar took up one wall; bottles of virtually every known liquor gleamed on lighted shelves. Millicent had a quick impression of a welter of little tables, a large dance floor (clearly magically expanded) already crowded with women, and a spot-lit corner containing a live band -- drums, bass, keyboards, and a singer rather unexpectedly crooning "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square."
No one seemed to be paying Millicent any attention, so after a moment, she relaxed and made her way to the bar.
"A pint of Witches' Dark," she said to the bartender, a skinny woman who appeared to be a metamorphmagus; her dark hair turned green as she pulled Millicent's pint and slid it across.
"Three sickles four," she said.
Millicent counted out the coins and relaxed even further. Berna had told her that most people in Amsterdam spoke English, but still, she'd been worried. She'd only been out of the UK once or twice before, and she didn't want to look like an idiot. But so far, so good.
Famous last words. No sooner did she tilt back her head to welcome the first soothing swallow of ale than a voice spoke behind her.
Millicent froze, her glass held in mid-air. Damn and blast! She knew should have worn that damned glamour, she knew it, she knew it! But she'd already felt strange enough coming to a new country and braving a women's club; she hadn't wanted to feel any less like herself than she already did. . .
And now she was paying the price. Merlin's testicles, how could she have been so stupid? How -- ?
"Millicent Bulstrode?" said the voice again.
"Who wants to know?" demanded Millicent in her most pugilistic tone. The now blue-haired bartender looked up, no doubt scenting trouble, and Millicent thought she'd better tone things down. Twisting her lips in what she hoped was more smile than grimace, she nodded to the barkeep and turned to face her interrogator.
It was an older woman who looked vaguely familiar, though Millicent couldn't immediately place her. She had a strong, square chin and iron-grey hair cut in an odd but becoming way: shaved at the sides, with about an inch standing up straight and flat on the top of her head. Her weather-beaten face wore a kind expression, and she stuck a pipe between her teeth so that she could hold out her hand.
"Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank," she said. "Will to my friends. Taught you a few years ago at Hogwarts. Care of Magical Creatures."
Of course! The butchy woman who'd briefly taken over for that incompetent Hagrid. Pansy and Vince and the others had laughed at her for being a "she-male," but Millicent had liked her. And secretly envied her, so comfortable had she seemed in her masculine woman's skin.
"Oh, um, right. Hi," Millicent stammered, hastily wiping her damp palm on her trousers before shaking hands quickly. She felt awkward as hell, and then annoyed. What the fuck? Couldn't she go anywhere without having her past follow her like a sick niffler? What was she supposed to say now? What did this Grubbly-Plank want?
A horrible thought struck her. They were two women on their own in a dyke pub. . .
"Hey!" Millicent said, all her truculence returning. "Are you trying to hit on me or something? Because I -- "
Grubbly-Plank gave a sharp bark of laughter. "Hate to disappoint you, lass, but you're about fifty years too green for me. You just looked like someone who could use an ear, that's all. Seems I was mistaken, though. Well, I'll let you get back to your drink. Sorry to have butted in." She sketched a friendly little salute and began to turn away.
"Wait!" Millicent heard herself say. Somehow, her vague plan to find a solitary seat in a corner no longer had much appeal. "Sorry if I was rude," she muttered. "But I, well, I don't. . .that is, I haven't. . ."
"Spent a lot of time in clubs?" Grubbly-Plank supplied with a smile. Millicent tensed, but the woman didn't seem to be mocking her. "Well, if you'd like to join me for a bit, you're welcome," she continued. "No pressure, though."
"I. . yes, I'd like that," Millicent said. Taking up her pint, she followed Professor Grubbly-Plank through the maze of little tables to one near the back. It was directly next to the dance floor, but as soon as they sat down, the thumping music faded to a level perfectly suited to conversation.
"Excellent sound-proofing charms they have here," said Grubbly-Plank approvingly as she settled into her chair. "Hate a place where you can't hear yourself talk." She took a long swallow of her beer and then smiled; the corners of her eyes crinkled pleasantly. "Well, Millicent Bulstrode. Fancy meeting you here. Your first time, I take it?"
"Thought so. Haven't seen you here before, that I recall."
"You come here a lot?"
"Often enough. It's quiet, homey, friendly if you want friends, but if you don't, nobody bothers you -- ha! Well, almost nobody. Unless it's an old teacher barging in on you." Millicent grinned, and Grubbly-Plank went on, indicating the woman behind the bar, "Janelle serves a good brew and doesn't take any guff. Yes, it's a good place to kick back."
"A friend told me about it," Millicent volunteered. "Well, maybe not a friend. I don't know. I work with her."
"Friends aren't easy to come by these days, I expect,' said Grubbly-Plank. "Not for Slytherins who were at Hogwarts during the war, anyway."
Millicent's annoyance returned big time. "For your information," she spat, "not all Slytherins supported Voldemort. Not that that fact matters to all the bigoted -- "
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold your thestrals," said Grubbly-Plank, holding up her hands. "You don't have to tell me about Slytherins and bigots. For your information, I'm a Slytherin myself. Entered in 1942 and never looked back. Perfect House for me."
"Oh," said Millicent, surprised. "I didn't know."
"No reason you should have. Another?" the professor asked, pointing at their empty glasses. At Millicent's nod, Grubbly-Plank raised two fingers towards the bar and then shot Millicent a shrewd glance. "And of course, being Slytherin is not the only thing that isolates you from a lot of your peers."
Millicent could feel herself flush. When their drinks floated over to them, she grabbed hers and downed a third of it. "Because I like women, you mean?"
She'd always known it, but only recently had she felt the need to do something about it. To find a woman to be with. Millicent was lonely, she could admit that to herself now. But admitting it and fixing it were turning out to be two different things.
"Aye, that. Partly," said Grubbly-Plank. "But for some people, like me, it's more. Suspect it's more for you, too. Complicated. See, when it comes to sex, I want to be with a woman. Not unusual, though there are a lot of people who'd like you to think it is. What's complicated for me is the way I feel inside."
"Do you feel like a man inside?" asked Millicent. She didn't care if it was too blunt; she needed to know.
Grubbly-Plank waved her wand to relight her pipe. "Not really, no," she said, taking a test draw. "Not sure what that even means, to tell you the truth -- to 'feel like a man' or 'feel like a woman.' I just feel like myself, a person who likes men, gets along with 'em, understands 'em, likes to wear their comfy clothes. And I also feel like a person who likes women, gets along with 'em, feels comfortable with 'em. . .and wants to sleep with 'em. But it can unsettle other people, if you're not obviously one sex or the other."
Millicent was confused, a state she never enjoyed and that always made her grumpy. "I don't get it," she said. "Why do you wear your hair like that, then, if you don't feel like a man? And what about those robes?"
She'd been coveting the robes ever since she'd laid eyes on them. They were breathtaking, an impeccably-cut set of men's formal dress robes -- bespoke, clearly; Millicent had seen enough of Draco and his family to recognise that when she saw it. The crease in the trousers could probably slice paper; the shirt was blinding in its whiteness, its cuffs starched crisp; the stock tumbled in a snowy cascade from the professor's throat; a cape hung in luxurious cashmere folds from her shoulders. Her waistcoat fit her flat chest like a dream, and a monocle dangled on a scarlet cord from a gold pin on her lapel. It was all Millicent could do not to stroke the fine fabric.
As if reading her mind, Grubbly-Plank drew a calloused finger along the edge of her waistcoat. "Ah, these," she said fondly. "Had them for decades now. They were my second set of tailored robes. I couldn't afford real quality for the first set, so of course they didn't hold up. Cheap fabric can only take so much magical darning. Spent more than I should have on this set, but it turned out to be economy in the long run."
"But don't they make you feel like a man?" Millicent persisted.
"I'm telling you, Bulstrode, I don't know what that means. Not for myself. Can't speak for others, of course. But for me, these robes just make me feel like myself in clothes that suit me. This hair suits me, too." She paused, rubbing her hand over her head. "A flat-top," she said. "Muggle style. I like it."
"Mind," she went on, puffing ruminatively, "I'm not saying some dykes don't feel like a man inside, whatever that means for them. Just that I don't. I take it you do?"
"I don't know!" The words burst out of Millicent, and then the whole story came tumbling after them. How tough things had been for her family since the war, how there was virtually no work for Slytherins who'd been even vaguely associated with the Death Eaters ("being on that stupid Hogwarts Inquisitorial Squad was enough to black-mark me, and I didn't even do it for politics, but just to fit in!"), how she'd finally landed a job as locker-room cleaner for the Holyhead Harpies' home games ("not exactly what I'd imagined myself doing with my life, but these days, you take what you can get"), how she'd thought she was fine living a solitary life, but how being around so many women had made her realise just how much she wanted a relationship, "or even just to get laid!"
Then she'd met Berna, a clerk in the Harpies' front office. Berna was a Muggle-born whose best Muggle friend was in the process of "transitioning" from a female into a male. She'd told Millicent all about it, and when Millicent had confided that, as a child, she had also often wished she could dress like a boy and be treated like one, instead of always having to fight her mother's notions of lady-like skirts and dancing classes, Berna had suggested that maybe she was a "transperson," too.
"But I don't know!" said Millicent again. "I like men's clothes, but I don't know if I want to be a real male. I just know I don't want to be a girl!"
While she had been talking, Grubbly-Plank had signalled for another round, and now she sipped her fresh pint slowly before speaking.
"What does 'being a girl' mean to you?" she asked finally.
"Oh, you know, being all dainty and flirty and boy-crazy and talking about new robes all the time or about your dream wedding. And then having babies."
The professor threw back her head and laughed. "And that's how the women on the Holyhead Harpies act? That describes your female professors at Hogwarts and your classmates that you saw fighting in the war?"
"Well, no," admitted Millicent, feeling silly. "Not all of them. Some, though. Like Lavender Brown, that air-head Gryffindor. And that Hufflepuff girl who used to cry if she got dirt on her robes in Herbology. And Pansy always talked about how many new sets of robes she had and how all the Slytherin guys were hot for her. But, no, none of the teachers were really girly. Except maybe Trelawney? I mean, I can't imagine someone like McGonagall ever going nuts over boys or pink lace."
Grubbly-Plank laughed again. "No, Minerva's not one for pink lace, trust me."
Millicent figured she'd made her point, so she didn't go on to talk about the Harpies. Or about the one Harpy in particular who'd caught her interest: Ginny Weasley, of all fucking people. In school, the Slytherins had called Ginny "the Weasleyette," and after she'd got engaged to Harry Potter, Millicent had been all set to start calling her "the Potterette." Then, in a "scandal" that had occupied the post-war press far more than the continued persecution of Slytherins, Weasley and Potter had abruptly broken things off and gone their separate ways.
The split had occurred in between Quidditch seasons, and when Ginny returned to the Harpies, she hadn't seemed all that cut up about it. In fact, she'd been pretty cheerful, which frankly, Millicent could understand. Who'd want to live surrounded by all that "war hero" and "Chosen One" crap? Potter couldn't avoid it, but Ginny had apparently decided she could.
Most of the Harpies paid no attention to their locker-room cleaner, but Ginny went out of her way to be friendly, and after an initial period of surly wariness, Millicent had responded. "The Weasleyette" had turned out to be good company -- wickedly funny, nice, and damned easy on the eyes.
But Grubbly-Plank didn't need to know about all that.
The professor had been puffing on her pipe all this time, and now she cleared the smoky air with a quick twist of her wand.
"So," she said. "You don't want to be a 'girl,' and you're not sure you want to be a man. Fair enough. Why don't you just try being Millicent Bulstrode for a while, and see where that gets you? I'll help you get started. I'll stand you your first set of bespoke dress robes."
Millicent felt at first thrilled, then suspicious. She scowled. "Why would you do that? I don't need charity, and I won't be beholden." This last was something her grandmother had always said, and Millicent hadn't really understood the feeling until now. She liked Grubbly-Plank, but she didn't want to owe her anything.
"No charity," said Grubbly-Plank, shaking her head. "It's kind of a tradition among us old butches to help bring you baby butches into the fold. Never forget going for my first set of robes. Ida Macmillan took me -- her grand-nephew was in your Hogwarts year, if I'm not mistaken. Didn't have a lot of money, but she put in a galleon or two. Taught me the ropes, what to ask a tailor, how to tie a stock, the lot."
"I can't pay you back."
"Yes, you can. In thirty, forty years, you'll find someone who needs a little advice about being a man or a woman or what-have-you. Someone who maybe wants a set of man's robes or women's robes or whatever madness people will be wearing then. You take them out, give 'em support and maybe a few sickles if you have some to spare. Tell 'em Will sent you."
She tamped out her pipe and stood up, sending her empty glasses zooming back to the bar. "Got to run. Big Ministry do tonight." She grimaced. "Hence the monkey suit. Just stopped in here for a quick one to fortify myself. Glad I did. Meet me in the Leaky Cauldron at noon tomorrow, Bulstrode. All right?"
For the life of her, Millicent couldn't have said no. "All right."
Somewhat to Will's surprise, Millicent actually turned up at the Leaky Cauldron as promised.
"Well. Here I am," she said, striding up to Will's table at noon on the dot, her sturdy workman's boots clattering on the wooden floor. She sounded more than a little defensive, but Will affected not to notice.
"Good," she said, putting out her pipe and rising. "Let's go. Madam Knarrly waits for no man, woman, or person."
Millicent pushed short hair out of her eyes with blunt-nailed fingers. "Who? Aren't we going to Malkin's?"
"No. Madam Malkin is a dab hand with school robes and ladies' finery, but for good men's tailoring, it's Knarrly you want." Will smiled with what she hoped was reassurance and was rewarded by a tentative smile from Millicent in return.
They walked briskly through Diagon Alley, side by side; it always did Will's heart good to find someone who could keep pace with her. There was silence, but a comfortable one, and Will let her mind wander.
She had pegged Millicent Bulstrode as a baby butch almost from the first day she'd seen her -- four. . .no, five years ago, now, standing among the gaggle of Hogwarts students gathered to learn about magical creatures. Stocky, she was, good solid meat on her bones, like Will herself. She'd stood in the back with her hands on her hips and a mulish expression on her face that had gradually changed to excitement as the lesson progressed.
Unicorns, it had been that day, if Will recalled correctly. Most of the kids had been dead curious and willing to listen. Poor sods, they hadn't got a lot of instruction from Hagrid. His heart might be in the right place, as Minerva was always saying, but Merlin, he was no teacher. Not of standard curriculum, any road. Life lessons, now. . .he had plenty of those. So it all evened out in the end, one way or another.
Like this business with Bulstrode and the dress robes. It was a way of evening the score, of giving back as Will had been given to. She liked that. Liked Bulstrode, too. Strong, that one. Made of the right stuff. Pomona Sprout had spoken on her behalf during the Ministry hearings after the war. Pomona'd got to know her well during that year when Snape had been headmaster at Hogwarts -- said Bulstrode had been sorry even then about supporting Dolores Umbridge and had never even been close to joining the DEs. No charges had been filed.
Will found herself admiring the girl. Things couldn't have been easy for Bulstrode these last years, yet she'd persevered. She'd got a job, stuck with it. And now she was pushing forward with her personal life, too. It took some guts, going to your first women's club on your own, as Will knew from experience. So if Millicent needed a little support, Will was happy to give it.
It had been a stroke of luck, meeting her at Dyketopia. More than robes were at stake here, of course, but robes were a good place to start.
"Here we are," Will said, turning down a small side street and knocking at the first door they came to. A small card announced, "Madam L. Knarrly, Tailor. Appts. By Owl."
"This is really nice of you. . ." Millicent began rather awkwardly as they waited for Lida to let them in, but Will waved her off. Gratitude always made her uncomfortable.
"Do the same for someone else some day, that's all I ask," she said, wishing she could keep the gruffness from her voice. She was thankfully spared further comment by the opening of the door.
The little shop, as always, was stacked with bolts of fabric and cards full of notions. Spools of thread hovered everywhere in the air; Lida hated to have to go searching for them. She'd used to have needles hanging about, too, until too many customers suffered unexpected pricks.
Lida herself, short and comfortably plump, was waiting behind her cutting table, her seamed face breaking into a smile at the sight of them. Except for the increase in wrinkles, she had changed little over the years since Will's first visit.
"Will, good to see you," she said, motioning a charmed tape measure to follow her into the one clear corner where mirrors and a small platform awaited them. "And you'll be Millicent? Stand up here, then, hon, and we'll get you kitted out in no time."
The tape measure began darting around Millicent's body, every now and then flashing numerals into the air which Lida wrote down with a short, business-like quill.
"Will you be binding, dear?" she asked, and Will could tell from Millicent's furrowed brow that she didn't understand.
"Binding your breasts flat," Will explained, indicating her own chest. "Some of us prefer it. Simple charm, nothing to it. Painless."
"Totally up to you," Lida added, motioning Millicent to lift up her arms. "I can give you a flattering line with or without tits. You can always come back for an alteration if you change your mind later."
Millicent seemed a little pink around the ears, but she didn't act flustered. Instead, she grinned and hefted one sizable breast in her hand. "I think I'll keep them like they are for now, thanks," she said. "I'm kind of used to them. I like people to see me coming before I get there."
Lida cackled appreciatively. "Right you are," she said. "Now for the fun part. Let's talk cut and fabric."
Fifty intense minutes later, they'd decided on the fabric (a fine Italian worsted wool), the colour (charcoal-grey pinstripes), the cut (classic English), and the cape (black, lined in burgundy satin). If Will thought that the matching burgundy satin waistcoat was a little over-the-top, she carefully kept all indication of that fact from her expression; it was Millicent's suit, not her own. And she didn't want to do a single thing to dim the glow on the girl's beaming face.
"That's that, then," Lida said finally, sending the fabric swatches floating back into their proper drawers. "Now, here's a little Magical Moment for you, Millicent." She waved her wand again, and a small black box sailed into Millicent's hand. "You know how they work, right? Just say declaro, and it will give you a 3D tutorial on how to tie your stock. Come back today week, and we'll have your first fitting."
Once they were back in the street, Will steeled herself for another thank-you speech, but Millicent seemed to be beyond words. She seized Will's hand, pumped it for all she was worth, and then hurried away down the Alley.
Grinning, Will fished her pipe from her pocket and lit it. What a fine story this was going to make at home.
The bedroom would soon be dark, just the way Will liked it, except for a few flickering candles that were charmed to float at random intervals over the bed. They'd swoop in when she least expected them, giving tantalizing glimpses of Minerva's pale breasts or her softly-rounded stomach or those endless legs. After a second, the lights would be gone again, leaving the velvety darkness behind.
It was Minerva who would be tantalized then, never knowing where or when Will's next touch would come, until all her nerves were aroused by the anticipation. It rarely took long before she began that moaning purr that always went straight to Will's core.
They'd both been so busy that they hadn't had time for sex in weeks. This was their first full evening alone in ages, and Will intended to make the most of it. They'd had dinner, and a nightcap, and then they had undressed each other slowly. Will had even released her breast-binding charm so that she could feel herself cupped full in Minerva's hands.
It was Will's turn to be the director, and she had Minerva lie flat on her back while Will took her long hair out of its bun and spread the tresses over the pillows.
"Hold the headboard, love. Don't let go," she instructed next. The headboard, conveniently, had a filigreed rod at its base, and Minerva obediently took hold, her dark-tipped breasts lifting enticingly as she did so. Will knew she wouldn't let go until specifically told to, no matter how desperately aroused she became, and the thought aroused Will in return.
She looked her fill at Minerva's naked, lean length stretched out against the deep red duvet, and then she wanded the room to darkness.
"You'll be wanting to know all about Miss Bulstrode and the trip to Lida's, I expect," she said conversationally, taking hold of Minerva's left foot and kneading gently.
"Naturally," said Minerva.
"You were right, she was almost belligerent when she first showed up, but she calmed down pretty quickly," Will said, continuing her massage up Minerva's calf. "We had a pleasant walk to Lida's" -- her hand moved to Minerva's left thigh -- "and you should have seen Bulstrode's expression when she saw that moving montage of men's suits on Lida's ceiling."
"I imagine she had no idea there were so many different options," Minerva said, far too coherently, in Will's opinion. Without stopping her massage, Will used her other hand to draw a finger down the inside of Minerva's right thigh and was rewarded with a gasp.
"Quite. Well, you know Lida, she just got right to business and stared measuring with a vengeance. The tape measure was just zipping along. She does that on purpose, you know, with new girls like Millicent, gets them to focus on practical things so they don't feel strange." She had reached the top of Minerva's leg and let just the slightest edge of her finger move along the line from pelvis to hip.
Minerva shuddered. "It's a big . . .ah. . . .a big step for many young women," she said, her body jerking slightly as Will feathered light fingertips across her hipbone. "To realise that they can finally dress and even love the way they wish."
"Show-off," said Will, laughing. Leave it to Minerva to continue a formal conversation while lying naked on her back with her legs spread.
She thought Minerva might expect a second leg massage now, so instead, Will conjured both a cube of ice and a warm, wet face flannel and used them to gently circle each breast.
"Ahhh!" Minerva cried out in surprise, and Will's eyes were sufficiently adjusted to the darkness that she could see her lover's back lift off the bed. Will used her thumbs to stroke the now-stiff nipples as Minerva's voice sank to murmur of pleasure.
"Which is hot? Which is cold?" Will asked teasingly, removing the ice completely and continuing to draw warm circles with the cloth.
"Don't know," gasped Minerva. "Can't tell. Mmmmmmm. . ."
Ah, not quite so coherent now, Will noted with satisfaction. She Vanished the cloth and trailed her hand from sternum to stomach, down through the springy pubic hair to Minerva's own warm wetness. She slid her fingers back and forth, relishing the contact, as Minerva mewled wordlessly and tried to arch further into Will's stroking hand.
"This is what Millicent wants," Will said, entering Minerva with two fingers and feeling her muscles already beginning to clench. "She wants someone to touch the way I like to touch you. She wants someone to spend her life with. Like I have." Will was up to three fingers now. "Someone she can count on. Like I have."
Still stroking and fingering, she moved up to kiss Minerva's breasts, her throat, her jaw. A floating candle appeared briefly, offering Will a flash of Minerva's thin wrists, the tendons standing out sharply as she gripped the headboard hard. Minerva was close, so close. . .gasping. . .close. . .
"Someone. . ." Will whispered, stopping all her movements at once, ". . .to love. Like I have."
She kissed Minerva's lips lightly, then hard, pressing their bodies together. Minerva kissed back hungrily, her hands still raised above her head. Will thought she could comfortably stay like this forever, in the dark warmth of her lover's bed.
But in a few moments, she knew, she would sit up and use her nimble fingers to bring Minerva to the edge of orgasm again, and maybe again, before leading her to a glorious finish. Then they could lie snug in each other's arms. Or maybe they would sleep for a while. Or maybe Minerva would take her turn as director.
Their night was full of possibilities.
And Will hoped the same would soon be true for young Millicent Bulstrode.
Millicent looked at the clothes spread out on her bed and let a big, fat old grin spread across her face. The crease in the grey pin-stripe trousers could probably slice paper; the shirt was blinding in its whiteness, its cuffs starched crisp; the stock was ready to be tied in a snowy cascade. The elegant burgundy satin waistcoat was tantalizing in its softness, and it fitted her bust like a glove.
She'd had the suit for two months now, but tonight was the first time she actually had a chance to wear it. Well, unless you counted the few times she had tried it on in front of her mirror, just to make sure it still fit.
Okay, the many times.
Okay, the daily times.
Tonight, though, she was going out. Back to Dyketopia, to be precise, and she was taking someone with her. True, the robes were perhaps a bit too formal for a night to be spent (she hoped) dancing and then (she hoped more) possibly even flinging off said formal dress robes and dancing (metaphorically speaking) without them.
But she didn't care if the suit was too formal. She, Millicent Bulstrode, erstwhile disgraced Slytherin and (maybe) soon-to-be-erstwhile virgin, was going to a women's dance club, in Amsterdam, no less, and she was going to be wearing a spanking-new set of bespoke dress robes.
And not only that, but she would be escorting a war hero and a Quidditch star.
Because Ginny Weasley, to the shock of no one more than Millicent herself, had agreed to be Millicent's date.
They'd got friendlier over the last few weeks. Conversations had got longer; the laughs had grown more comfortable, and the topics more personal. It had become more and more common for Ginny to wait for Millicent until she finished her cleaning, and then eventually, gradually, Ginny had started helping out. They'd charm and clean and talk and then leave the stadium together, sometimes stopping for a coffee or a quick curry.
Until finally, after fighting with herself for a week, Millicent had found the courage to ask Ginny on a bona-fide date.
"Found the courage." Millicent snorted to herself. She was starting to sound like a fucking Gryffindor. The actual event hadn't been all that courageous, to be honest. She'd planned a nice little speech, but of course she didn't end up delivering it. The minute she'd said, "Ginny" and had seen the lively face look up, all her pretty words had flown away like Lockhart's pixies, and she'd said, "Um. Do you want to go out? Like, with me?"
Ginny's eyes had danced. "Do I want go out? Like, with you? Yes, I'd like that very much."
So it had been settled, and now here it was, the big night. Millicent had tried making plans, figuring out how she'd show up at Ginny's door and maybe toss her cape over her shoulder (a sort of "half-Snape," as it were -- not quite a billow, but with just a touch of the man's flourish) and then offer her arm.
But the trouble with those sorts of plans was, she usually fucked them up. So she was just going to get dressed and head over to Ginny's flat and whatever happened. . .would happen.
Pants first -- new ones -- then her best lace-trimmed brassiere (the one with the lift charm woven in). Then the shirt (the fine linen felt so damned good against her skin), then the stock, which she could tie pretty well now. And finally, her favourite part: the beautiful satin waistcoat. She loved to smooth her hands over the soft, clinging folds, and in her heart of hearts, she hoped Ginny would do the same.
Finally the robes were as settled as they were going to be, and Millicent turned her attention to her hair -- what was left of it. She'd gone ahead and got herself one of those flat-tops like Grubbly-Plank had. It looked great, if she did say so herself: the inch of straight dark hair sitting above her brow made her eyes seem wider and her cheekbones sharper.
She stood in front of her mirror and put her hands on her hips. "Okay?" she asked.
"Okay," said the mirror.
They Apparated to Amsterdam and Dyketopia.
"Is this the place?" Ginny righted herself and looked around, eying the boarded windows and the graffiti-covered door sceptically.
Millicent grinned. "This is the place," she said.
She spoke the charm, and once the club shimmered into place, she offered Ginny her arm. The "Weasleyette" took it, accidently (or not) brushing Millicent's satin-covered breast in the process.
Millicent sucked in her breath sharply; the jolt of pleasure to her loins was almost too much to take.
She tossed her cloak over her shoulder, not caring whether it looked dashing or not. It felt dashing. She felt dashing. She had a beautiful woman on her arm and a beautiful set of men's dress robes on her back.
It was going to be a great night. And maybe even a great life.
The possibilities were endless.