How Wizards Do Money: Blaise Zabini
“I’d like to start using they pronouns,” Blaise said.
Blaise’s boss didn’t know what to say. He covered for it by not saying anything.
“This means that instead of using he and him, you use they,” Blaise explained. “So it would be something like “This is Blaise Zabini, they are the manager’s assistant.”
“But there’s only one of you,” Blaise’s boss said. “Are you planning to use Polyjuice Potion to double yourself? That’s illegal, you know, in the workplace.”
“No,” Blaise said. “I’m still the same person.”
When Blaise was a young Hogwarts student, many classmates automatically assumed Blaise was female. Blaise at that time identified as male, although they identified as male primarily because nobody had presented any other option. Sometimes Blaise wondered if they were female as well; if there was some kind of way to be both. This was all when Blaise was younger, when their life still felt like something to be explored rather than something to be survived. It was easy to play hopeful games like “this candy will make me a boy and a girl!” when Blaise was younger, when there wasn’t a war.
It took the internet, first cadged off Draco’s iPhone (Draco being the first of the former Slytherin classmates to get an iPhone, naturally) and then later, in depth, on the used laptop Blaise bought off a Muggle and charmed into working, to provide context and vocabulary. It took the internet to give Blaise words like genderqueer and non-binary. It took the internet for Blaise to understand that the wizards who “changed” their genders hadn’t really changed anything; they had always been who they were the entire time. That Blaise, also, had been who they were the entire time.
Blaise’s friends, their real ones, got the concept immediately. Even Draco said, awkwardly but with true friendship behind it, “I always wondered if it would be something like that.” It was Blaise’s boss, the manager whom they assisted, who had the most trouble. There was a tiny breath of uncertainty in everything Blaise’s boss said, and the air between them soon widened into uncomfortability.
Blaise understood that the wizarding world liked to divide itself up into boxes: mudblood or pure-blood, Slytherin or Gryffindor. The fact that adults put so much of their personalities into houses that they had been sorted into 30 years before had always troubled them. It all seemed to be a way to chop people up and deposit them into groups. Blaise knew the Sorting Hat had hesitated, before assigning Blaise to Slytherin. That seemed to be proof enough that the system was flawed.
Blaise thought about printing blog entries off the internet to show their boss, but felt like it was a subject best avoided. After the first few weeks, Blaise stopped correcting their manager’s misgendering and began thinking about another job. They had never cared particularly about what they did as a career; the period immediately after the Second Wizarding War was occupied with rebuilding and trying to contexualize what it meant to be in Slytherin House after the actions of several of its most famous members (Blaise decided, in the end, that Slytherin had to mean nothing to them; if they valued it at all, it would be like condoning all the mistakes of their youth). It was also occupied with thinking about gender and presentation and finding communities of people who shared the same ideas. Blaise’s online handle was DigestedBySnake, and Blaise stayed online well into the night.
The trouble was that it now seemed much harder to get a job than it had in the early 2000s—and even then, Blaise got their job by what felt like luck. Blaise began searching the ads at the end of the Daily Prophet, as well as the Muggle job ads online. Blaise sent out letters via owl, and chopped their career up into little boxes for the Muggle application forms. Nobody responded.
Blaise wore a kilt to work one day and their boss said if they did that again, they would be fired. Blaise tried to make a game out of it, going to the office in a sharp suit and spit-shined shoes and presenting as the concept of masculinity, but nobody else seemed to get the joke. (That time, the manager told Blaise they were overdressed.)
In the end, it was a trip to Pansy Parkinson’s boutique that changed everything. Blaise was taking their niece shopping for new school clothes, and the apostrophe in Pansy’s store lit up like a flower spouting confetti before turning the flower face outwards so both the stamen and pistils were visible.
While Blaise’s niece was busy changing into what passed for teenage fashion these days, Pansy looked straight at Blaise and said “I’ve got a dress in your size if you want it.”
Pansy was always just a little bit abrasive, and her assumptions were a little too broadly drawn, but Blaise was attuned to who meant well and who was out to leave marks. So they were honest with Pansy: “I’d love to, but my boss says if I wear women’s clothing into the office again, I’ll get fired.”
“So get fired,” Pansy said. “Then come work for me. I need help, but you have to be good at taking orders and staying out of my way.”
“You’d hire me?” Blaise said. “I’ve been looking for a new job for months.”
“You can’t look for jobs,” Pansy snorted. “You have to make your own job or find someone you know to hire you.”
Blaise’s niece tumbled out of the dressing room, looking very much like a flower exploding with confetti. “Can we get it please?” she asked.
“I don’t care, it’s your mum’s money,” Blaise said.
As their niece bounced back into the dressing room, Pansy said “Do your thing at the other job, finish it out, then come back here and you can start right away. That work for you?”
“Sure,” Blaise said. “I mean, it’s unbelievable. A little hard to fathom. But… yes, sure, of course.”
Their niece came back out and Pansy quickly wrapped up the clothing. “Tell Blaise,” she said to the young girl, “that this will be their job from now on.”
And Blaise smiled.
Previously: Lee Jordan