Chapter 1 : I Play, You Sin
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“Damn it, Granger. How the hell are we supposed to get out of here?”
I rolled my eyes, folding my arms. Not turning from the darkness, I sighed. “I assume you are blaming me for our current problem, Zabini.”
He snarled something in return, and I heard the harsh rattling of the doorknob, followed by a string of profanities. He gave up with a huff, his feet cutting imprints through the gloomy silence.
“It was your idea to investigate,” he reminded me, his voice pointed and accusing. I turned swiftly on my heel, a scowl on my face. It was so dark I could barely make out his tall shape. He seemed to be glaring at me.
“It’s our job, or have you forgotten that as Aurors we are supposed to…”
Blaise waved his wand languidly through the air in front of his face. Bright light erupted from the tip of his wand. A perfect glowing sphere floated in the air, illuminating the room.
“Yeah, yeah. I know the charter as well as you do, Granger, but I’m sure it did not state we had to stick our noses in every tiny disturbance we encounter. We can’t all be goody goody Gryffinbore’s.”
He smirked at me, my scowl deepening as I took in the smug curl of his lips. Sighing, I gave up and retreated to the far side of the murky room, wanting to keep as much space between us as I could. His eyes followed me.
“What are you doing?” he asked as I slid to the floor, the wall pressed against my back. I tucked my legs up to my chest.
He raised a perfect eyebrow. “On the floor? How very … muggle of you.”
“Shut up,” I snapped and he smiled beautifully, turning away. I scowled at his back, hating the very Slytherin-ness of his demeanour. We had been patrolling the same bleak, deserted area of town every Thursday night for the past two weeks, and every Thursday night I cursed my sheer bad luck.
We had been paired together for the year, something the tall brooding ex-Slytherin detested.
He reminded me of it at every occasion.
I resented him. It was not easy to admit I was jealous of someone, and I tried to tell myself I wasn’t, but over time, the truth had sunk in. I seethed. I raged. I hated him for being so bloody perfect. His casual grace annoyed me. His intelligence annoyed me. It was as if he had been in a state of non-existence all through school, Draco Malfoy’s elegant shadow. I had known of him, seen him around and in classes, but had known nothing about him. At Hogwarts, he had kept close to himself.
Now, he was everywhere, most prominently in my space. He was annoying, aloof, foul tempered but prone to bouts of absurdly cheeky behaviour, and so nauseatingly right. I could never have the last word.
I had heard, after he vanished at the end of school that he had gotten married; a brief affair that ended in disaster. Parvati had told me his wife had left him, but not before taking as much of his money as she could. We had laughed together, saying it served him right – one should never jump into things in a relationship.
Without any warning, he had shown up in my office one day, looking delectable and smug. How anyone was able to look that good was beyond me, and I had decided on the spot it should be illegal. His Ministry robes had been unbuttoned, hanging casually from his shoulders, exposing his fitted shirt and pants. Normally, I would have reprimanded someone for looking so un-fit for work, but in Blaise’s case, all I good do was stare as he raised an elegant eyebrow in my direction.
He had been assigned my partner. I cursed. I screeched at the Head Auror. I scowled. I even took to begging, throwing myself on the floor at the man’s feet and pleading.
It had all been in vain. Blaise Zabini had become my partner, something I seemed to accept as ungraciously as he did.
We had to learn to work together. Closely. A lot. Late nights, heated arguments, him teasing me constantly. So what if my hair fell out of its bun a lot? So what if I didn’t like to wear heels, no matter how much he told me my legs would look better? So what if I choose to ignore him?
So what if he was undeniably the most gorgeous man I had ever seen?
Even thinking that made me feel guilty. The more time I spent staring at his mouth, at the perfect curve of his shoulder, the deep smoulder of his eyes, the more I wanted to suspend time and disbelief and just touch him. Kiss him even.
Unable to do anything about my annoying hormone induced desire, I took to dreaming instead.
I screamed silently at myself every time I woke from one of those dreams. I was supposed to want Ron, and I did, but not the way I wanted Blaise. That sort of want was … well it had not happened with Ron. Not yet, but I convinced myself it would, even though we had been on the brink of taking our relationship further. From friendship into something more. We cared for each other, and I knew without a doubt that Ron loved me in his strange little way.
I chewed my lip as I watched Blaise stalk around the room, followed by his little sphere of light. His restlessness disturbed me, making my feet itch. I followed him with my eyes, him occasionally swinging a glance in my direction, making me dizzy with want and need.
I dropped my eyes, focusing on my hands, resting limply in my lap. I heard him chuckle, a deep sound, leeching smugness into every corner of the room. My eyes widened.
My body grew heated and I tucked myself tighter, wanting to disappear into the wall. This was a new kind of Hell.
“Why did this happen?” I muttered under my breath, but he heard.
“Well, like I said, Granger, if you hadn’t of insisted we stick our faces into an abandoned building in a strange, dark alley…”
“That’s not what I was talking about,” I snapped, glaring at him. “I meant why did I have to get stuck in here with you?”
He looked affronted. “What’s wrong with me?”
I laughed, closing my eyes. “I don’t exactly like you, or you me. It would be much more pleasant to be locked in a dark room with someone I did actually like, don’t you agree?”
He shrugged, leaning back against a desk and folding his arms fluidly with that cat-like grace that infuriated me. “I guess.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“At least,” Blaise continued in his rich voice,”this way things are interesting. Do you know how bored I would be if I were stuck in here with Potter? God, imagine if it were my ex-wife.” He made a face and I stifled a giggle.
“With you here, Granger, a guy could have loads of fun.”
My blood drained. “What … what do you mean?” I stammered, holding his gaze. A sudden wild fear had taken over me. I swallowed, tasting it in my throat.
He smiled wolfishly, the light from his little glowing ball catching on his face. “Don’t worry. I won’t take … ah … any liberties.”
“What do you mean ‘liberties’?” I almost screeched, standing up so quickly my head spun. I clutched at my wand, hidden in my jacket. He winked knowingly and I shivered.
This was so bad.
“You know what I mean,” Blaise replied, stepping closer to me. The room felt too small, too hot and too intimate. I wanted out, desperately, and I turned and raced to the door, grabbing the handle and rattling it.
”It’s not going to open, Granger. We’re stuck. Nice bit of spell work, if I do say so myself,” he mused from somewhere behind me in the darkness.
“Just because you couldn’t get it open, doesn’t mean I won’t,” I huffed, tugging on the handle. I pointed my wand at the door, and he snickered.
“Trust me, you’re wasting your time, Granger. It was a better wizard than you are witch who spelled that door.”
His words sank into my head, and slowly, I felt my mouth drop open, realisation taunting me.
“You! You did this? Blaise Zabini, let me out of this room immediately!” I hissed at him, pointing my wand at his too-perfect face. He laughed and I scowled, my cheeks hot.
“It was the only way I could talk to you without you rushing off,” he answered simply. I blinked, confused as he continued to stare at me. Something flashed in my head – his words, spoken a week earlier. Something about the fact that working with me was not so bad after all. Something about dinner … something about liking the fact my hair was untidy most of the time …
I groaned, rubbing at my face. We had caught wind of the man we were tracking at that precise moment, and in the chaos that followed, I had not thought about Blaise’s words again. I looked up, finding him close. Instinctively, I moved back, my spine connecting with the hard timber of the door.
I licked my lips as he slowly lowered his face towards me.
“Come on, Granger. Don’t be such a prude.” His breath caressed my cheek and I closed my eyes. I was too stunned to even object to his insult. “Let’s have a little fun, hmmm? Care to play?”
His lips found my throat, hot and wet, tearing a path of destruction through my thoughts. It was my dreams becoming reality; my hallucinations become flesh. His breathing was quick and shallow in my ear, his mouth hovering against my skin.
“Why?” I whispered, titling my neck. Heavy-winged butterflies danced in my stomach, making me drowsy with desire.
He was heavenly and deliciously out of bounds.
“You want me, Hermione,” he whispered, his voice sending a thrill of desire marching up my spine. His hands moved lower, caressing my hips through my jeans. “You want this.”
“I don’t,” I lied quickly - too quickly. He pulled back to look at me with glassy eyes and a flushed face. I reached up, touching his cheek. His eyes closed, his fingers digging into my hips before he pulled me against him. I gasped as our bodies connected.
“You do,” he said. He was looking at me again, intense and serious and I swallowed, my mouth dry. I shook myself, making to pull away from him, my body screaming with regret. His hands tightened.
“You’re so very certain of what I want, aren’t you?” I said, narrowing my eyes. I couldn’t believe I’d been so transparent. He grinned wickedly.
“Extremely. Want me to prove it?”
Without waiting for an answer, he kissed me. My head swam as his mouth moved over mine, my lips fusing to him. My arms went around his neck as he deepened the kiss, pulling him as close to me as possible. He kissed me until I flopped against him, deprived of oxygen.
Blaise laughed softly, his hands sliding under my ribs, pulling me upright. “Merlin, Granger, did you just swoon?”
“No I did not,” I mumbled, annoyed and embarrassed. “I couldn’t breathe.”
“I took your breath away?” The grin got wider, the laugh louder and I scowled, hitting at his chest with a weak hand.
I rolled my eyes at his smug expression. “Hardly. That sort of thing tends to happen when a person cannot breathe. It’s called oxygen depletion.”
“It’s called swooning,” he returned triumphantly.
“Stop being so bloody pleased with yourself,” I snapped, pushing him away and folding my arms. “This was a very elaborate set-up, Zabini. Anyone would think you wanted me too,” I added lightly. I did not truly believe it – he was just messing with me, like he enjoyed. He had just stepped the game up a notch.
Heavy lids dropped over his eyes and he ran a hand over his short hair. “Who says I don’t?”
I stared, my mouth falling open. He looked up suddenly, reaching forward and catching me in his arms, pulling me closer. I swallowed, shaking my head.
“We can’t,” I whispered, although I longed for him to kiss me again. “Ron…”
“Weasley is a git,” the Auror stated roughly. “All this time he has wanted you and done nothing about it.”
“That’s not true,” I said, wanting to defend Ron. “He’s shy.”
Blaise laughed softly, his eyes filled with amusement. “His loss. What luck for you that I’m not shy at all.”
“I’m not doing this,” I said firmly. He smiled, weakening my resolve instantly. We stared at one another until I sighed, closing my eyes. I did want this. He was right.
I wanted it badly.
I nodded. His hands went to work quickly, pulling my jacket from my body and tossing it away into the darkness. His lips moved on my throat causing incoherent words to fall from my lips. Some part of my mind was telling me to push him away, but I refused to listen to it. This did not have to go any further than one night, I told myself ruthlessly. It was about desire and nothing more.
I didn’t love him and I never would. It was just physical.
He paused with his hands at the base of my shirt, his eyes finding mine. I nodded, beyond sanity. He cocked his head to the side, studying me, looking for doubt. Irritated and wanting him to get on with it, I frowned. When he did not respond, I reached for the bottom of my own shirt, preparing to pull the garment over my head.
He stopped me.
Perhaps he was having the same idea as me. Perhaps his own little voice was speaking to him, telling him this was not a great move. I peered up at him from under my lashes, my lip pulled between my teeth. He groaned, stepping away from me.
“Damn it, don’t look at me like that,” he whispered throatily, rubbing at the side of his face.
“Like what?” I whispered back.
“Like you want me to rip off your clothes and …”
“And what if I do?” I retorted quickly, reaching for him again.
His eyes flashed at me. “Then your wish would be my command, if that is what you seriously want.”
I chewed my lip, deciding. “Alright, I do.” His eyes glimmered black. A thought struck me, and I held up my hand as he moved closer again. “But not here. Merlin, Blaise, this place is foul. What on earth possessed you to lock me in a stinking, cold, dark and miserable … whatever-this-place-is anyway?”
He shrugged, trailing his fingers through my hair. “Did I get your attention?”
“Yes,” I admitted, winding my arms around his neck. “Although, I would have preferred flowers.”
“I never took you for a flowers sort of person, Granger,” he whispered, nibbling at my throat. “I thought danger was more your thing.”
I laughed, pulling away from him. “Are you serious? Whatever made you think that?”
He shrugged, the movement lifting my arms. I pulled them tighter around him, not wanting to let him go. “You’re an Auror, and, you spent seven bloody years trailing after Potter on his stupid mission. I thought you would thrive on danger.”
I sighed, leaning up to kiss his cheek. “Occasionally, but sometimes, a girl really does prefer flowers.”
“I’ll get you flowers next time,” he promised sincerely, winking at me. I laughed, letting him lift me into his arms and kiss me again.
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