Who: Katie Bell, Blaise Zabini, and anyone else who wants to see the performance, really...
Where: Diagon Alley, platform in front of Flourish and Blotts
“I can’t believe you talked me into this...” Katie said for what seemed like the umpteenth time that night.
Mr. Flourish chuckled as he gently plucked her hands from where they were twisting the sash of her costume into a mess. “Really, my dear. You’ll be just fine...”
“I haven’t played to an audience since I was 8-years-old, let alone sung to one!” the nervous young woman all but wailed, not at all appeased. She acted like a trapped creature, the feathers of her gown and the accenting wings promoting this theme all the more: she looked like a bird ready to take flight.
“Tut-tut! I may be an old man, and I may not know much of music, but I DO know that you love to sing and play and are good at it. I can hear it in your voice: you never let it go to waste. It would have weakened if you didn’t keep up with practicing. But your voice is clear and strong. And you did say you wanted to share your mother’s gift with others...”
“Someday! I meant someday, not now, not tonight! I’m.... oh, Merlin’s ghost...” She fidgeted again, this time fingering the curls her hair had been swept into, courtesy of Madam Malkin as the final touches to her costume. “I just... don’t think I can do this. I’m not... I’m not good enough,” she finally confessed in a small voice.
Patting her arm comfortingly, Mr. Flourish reassured her. “That’s what you think. You have to stop holding yourself up to your mother’s shadow, love. She wouldn’t want you to forever live with her looming over yourself. I’m not saying you should surpass and forget her. What I’m saying is that you should live, child. Live. I pushed you into that ball because I wanted you to remember how to live... and I made a mistake. It was too much, too soon. But this... this is something you can do. I have faith in you.”
He smiled kindly as her resistance began to buckle. Very gently, he lifted up the feathered eye-mask to her face, and she carefully slipped the band around her hair. “Besides... tonight you are not Katie Bell. You are Odile, the Black Swan Princess!”
A faint blush rose on her pale cheeks. “I still can’t believe you went and had this costume made for me...”
He waved her comment aside. “It was my pleasure, child! After all, you did enjoy the book so much, and you were rather attached to her character if memory serves me correct. Besides... what’s an old fool like me going to spend money on anyways, eh?” His smile widened as he managed to get a slight chuckle out of her. Finally, he waved his wand and enlarged the small object in Katie’s hand until she was holding her mother’s guitar carefully in her arms. “You’ll be fine,” he told her again. “If I really must, I will help you if it becomes too much. But I really do think you can do this.”
His faith and hope in her was what helped to dispel the worst of her fears. She heard the crowd clap and cheer as the last performers, a small folk band, left the platform that had been set up in front of the bookstore for the Halloween fete. Mr. Flourish had offered to introduce her, but she had declined. Hiding behind anonymity and a mask made her feel a little more safe, a little more sure of herself. With a deep breath, she made her way onto the platform, the cheers becoming murmurs as several noticed her outfit. Her blush returned. She really wasn’t one for such luxuries or fancy costumes... but it helped her to disappear behind her role. Now, she was the Black Swan... and no one need to know any more than that. She settled on one of the stools on the platform, plucking a quick tune to warm up and give the crowd a chance to quiet down.