Paola DeMarco

April 25, 2021, 5:44 p.m.

Have a begrudgingly creative title

Paola was more than a little annoyed at the unanticipated loss of the afternoon's free period. She was finally ahead enough in Cultural Studies that she felt like she could relax a bit, and had settled into the Draco Commonroom's most comfortable armchair with the next book in a new-to-her series about four young mages with unusual magics who'd had to literally combine their powers to survive an earthquake and ended up more-or-less permanently linked. While the idea of being permanently attached mentally and magically to anyone was a bit disconcerting for Paola, the author did acknowledge the downsides of the bond even though it was mostly written as "power of friendship, times eleven." And it'd be interesting if there were real-life equivalents of the protagonists' powers to work with magic intrinsic to objects rather than having to pull it within themselves. That was a question for Professor McKindy though, later. Now was time for reading.

Paola had gotten far enough into her reading to be well and truly engrossed when a piece of paper flew in from nowhere and dropped unceremoniously on the open book before her. Paola automatically brushed it away without reading it and turned to the next page in her book. The paper leapt off the carpet with a very disgruntled-sounding rustle and re-intruded over Paola's book.. This time, she actually read it. Practical lab, now, DH Fell, were the key points in the missive, and Paola groaned. The neat burgundy blouse and pleated gray skirt (now somewhat creased from how she was curled up in the armchair) would not be good enough for the finicky Fell. (Yes, finicky. Finicky was a polite and accurate word for the Deputy Headmaster.) She shoved her favorite Saturn bookmark into her book to mark her page and trudged up to her dorm to grab her robes.

On the way back down, she discovered that the set of robes she'd grabbed were too short and weirdly tight in the shoulders and upper back. With a sigh that she directed mostly at the obnoxiously hovering paper, she turned around and went back to her dorm. She'd arrived at school with two sets of robes, one newer and slightly larger than the other. The robe she had on must be one from last term. Aunt Sara had suggested the second set of robes, pointing out that Paola would be growing a lot this year and she probably didn't want to deal with trying to figure out how to buy new ones she couldn't try on in person or with risking a wardrobe malfunction from a misapplied Engorgio. Aunt Sara was right, Paola thought with a sigh as she checked the new robe's fit in the mirror and realized she was growing not just taller. Well, she'd think about that later. Also possibly about learning some tailoring spells, since the new robes seemed baggy compared to both her old ones and her structured blouse and skirt.

The paper was fluttering anxiously at her again, so Paola sighed, tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, and turned to leave not just her dorm but also the Draco commonroom. Then she paused, and making sure the paper was watching, took her book from where she'd replaced it on her bookshelf and slid it deliberately into her satchel. If this turned out to be a waste of time, she didn't want to miss out on valuable reading time.

Upon arriving in the Practical Lab, Paola scooted to a table close to the back, the better to be out of Fell's glaring range and to possibly find an opportunity to get back to her book. The mandatory lesson, it turned out, was to create a fictional business, complete with play money. Paola suppressed a small snort at the phrase "monetary gratification". Maybe that explained her dad a little, but money was fairly abstract to Paola. She had an allowance, which she did tend to save for the things she really wanted (since books were not cheap), the embassy took care of things like food and housing, and Dad made enough money to try to buy her affection with gifts like a really really nice telescope. And his family was rich, too. Money was just kind of there; Paola had never given much thought to how to earn it or invest it. Oh, she knew she'd need a job some day, even if she wasn't entirely sure what she wanted it to be.

Some of what Fell described for the lesson was part of her dad's job, helping Americans and Tunisians who wanted to do business together deal with all the forms and fees and other paperwork. Paola knew a little about it, but it wasn't as interesting as astronomy or medicine. The business plan template at least seemed simpler than some of the forms her dad dealt with.

Paola stared at the form blankly. So much for having time to read. She removed a blank piece of paper from her bag and began brainstorming. Something astronomy related? Something to do with books? Paola didn't particularly want to sell any of her books, but maybe a book recommendation service? She could charge based on how many titles the client wanted recommended to them, maybe.

Or, going back to astronomy related businesses for a minute, she could maybe sell stargazing sessions and show people what to look for with her telescope. She gazed idly around the room as she thought, her eyes catching on Nando. He'd slumped in a bit late and was sitting grumpily fairly close to her. They were friends now, somehow, probably due to the fact that he always had interesting ideas and actually managed to listen to her despite the way his brain ricocheted around, but she still didn't know if she'd trust him with her telescope. Maybe stargazing sessions were out, at least if she had to actually follow through on these sales after the class was over.

But maybe she could do some sort of magical star projection map? Customizable, for whatever place and time of year the customer wanted? Paola scribbled enthusiastically. She'd have to do a lot of research to design the spells, and it'd probably be a good idea to embed them in some sort of object so the spell would be easily reusuable, turning on and off with a word or just the touch of a wand. Hmm...

She still sort of liked the book recommendation service, though. Maybe she needed a second opinion. Nando was actually the closest of her friends, so she stood and quietly walked over to him, noting with a wince that due to the room's layout, she'd end up sneaking up on him. Whoops. What was he working on anyway?

But before she could say anything to signal her presence, he noticed her and collapsed protectively over his paper, snapping accusations about stealing his ideas.

Paola blinked, once or twice. "Nando, where is your brain right now? I'm not about to steal your ideas. I have too many of my own." She flourished her notepaper at him. "I came to get your opinion, not take over your--what did you say, Witchtendo? Like those video games you still haven't taught me how to play?"

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An Exercise in Economy (Years 1-3) - Bellamy Fell || April 24
Begrudging Creativity is Creativity Nonetheless - Fernando Reyes || April 25
Have a begrudgingly creative title - Paola DeMarco || April 25
Begrudged Creativity Suits Us - Nando || April 25