Chapter 1 : I.
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Going to supper to sit near that insufferable man is not how you want to spend your evening. He’s nothing but a namedropper; someone who relishes being near, what he deems as, soon-to-be “famous” students only to get the perks that their families may offer. Him wanting you there isn’t a surprise since your mother does have quite the bank storage, but the others are second-rate at best.
“You look handsome, Blaise.”
You slow your walk near the stone fireplace to turn and see Parkinson watching you, her large eyes peering deeply as if she expects something. Not surprising, that desperate bint always wants something.
“Not going to the Great Hall to eat?” you ask offhand, adjusting the tightness of your dark tie.
Parkinson shakes her head and closes the distance between the two of you. Her hand rests on the smooth mantle of the fireplace, her eyes traveling over every inch of you, attempting to remember each detail down to the slight, dark whiskers on your face.
“I wish I was able to come with you,” she whispers in a deep voice, attempting to sound somewhat attractive. “I know you’d be able to enjoy yourself more.”
She gives you a small smile, and you feel the corners of your mouth twitch up. “Don’t get your hopes up, okay? It’s bad for you.”
The smile slips off of her at once and you turn your back on her, legs gliding gracefully toward the stone staircase.
“I know why you’re really going,” she calls out, stopping you in your tracks.
You tilt your head slightly to show you’re listening, but really couldn’t care less about what she has to say. “Do you now?”
“Yes. You’re going to see that Weasley girl.”
A small laugh escapes your mouth at the ridiculous thought and the assuredness that Parkinson has in it.
“Weasley?” you ask. “Are you that daft, Pansy? She’s a mere child, Potter’s tag-along, and nothing more. Now, do go away, please. I’m quite sure Malfoy needs his feet rubbed again.”
As the wall near the end of the corridor opened to allow you out, Parkinson’s loud huff fills your ears as she stomps back up the stairs to her dormitory. Tucking your hands into the pockets of your trousers, you stroll casually out of the common room and through the chilly dungeon, reveling in the welcoming silence.
‘Malfoy needs to keep that woman on a chain,’ you think, a snarl reaching your face. ‘She is truly getting on my last nerve.’
The comfortable cold radiating off of the dungeon walls and the quiet that accompanied it soon vanishes as you near the Entrance Hall. Students surround you, cheerfully heading toward the Great Hall to receive the awaiting lavish meal. Sighing, you continue your stroll toward the stairs, quickly bypassing the others, until you reach the sixth floor. The noise from earlier dies down, filling the corridor only with the dull sound of the bottom of your dress shoes each time they land on the smooth floor.
‘Time to get this over with,’ you think.
The further you go, you notice that someone is already standing near Slughorn’s office, nervously ringing her hands together. Moving closer, that tiny snarl from earlier manages to cover your face again as the bushy-haired girl becomes recognizable; it’s that Granger girl, Potter’s go-to friend.
Hearing you approaching, her neck snaps your way, but her face soon falls. The muscles in her jaw tighten the closer you get; you could practically feel the heat pouring off of her. Neither of you speak, though the snarl on your face melts into a smile as you see her hand twitching to reach for her wand that peaked out of her pocket. Her glare deepens at your amusement, but she still refuses to open her mouth to address you. As your own mouth opens, another voice beats you to the punch.
You look over your shoulder to see Potter heading your way, shooting you a strange look as he moved to greet Granger.
“He’s not here yet?” he asks, ignoring you completely then.
Granger shakes her head, though her eyes stay on you. “The door’s locked.”
Potter heaves an annoyed sigh. “That’s just great. We should go down to the Great Hall with Ron.”
“No. That’ll be rude, Harry.”
A chuckle escapes your lips, gaining the full attention of both of them.
“Something funny, Zabini?” Potter asks as Granger hesitantly pulls on his sleeve to prevent him from moving any closer to you.
You shrug nonchalantly. “Nothing at all, Potter.”
“Ah, my first guests.”
Granger and Potter’s sight travel past you, but you don’t bother to turn around. You have already grown accustom to that voice in the short amount of time you’ve heard it.
Slughorn breezes past you, unlocking his office, and motions for the three of you to follow.
“Come on in, you three,” he says, leading the way.
Potter reluctantly follows behind him, but Granger hesitates, still eyeing you warily. You place out your hand toward Slughorn’s office, and she rolls her eyes, hurrying on in before you.
“Sit wherever,” Slughorn says as you walk in the large office.
A round table sits further in the office, big enough to fit close to ten people or so.
Potter moves to take a seat furthest away from the largest chair which is, no doubt, Slughorn’s. Granger, however, surveys the room, taking in the vast picture collection the man has.
“Your mother’s in one of them, Mr. Zabini,” he announces as he fiddles around his desk.
‘My mother,’ you think.
You move to the section where Granger resides, bending over slightly to get a better look at the pictures on the long table. Several people wave up at you, but none recognizable.
A black picture frame is pushed your way. Granger gives her head a slight nod, and you take the object out of her hand. Inside the frame is an image of a much younger version of your mother standing with Slughorn’s arm draped over her shoulders. She lifts up the half-empty wine glass in her hand as if toasting to you while Slughorn laughs.
Glancing to your left, you feel Granger’s eyes on you.
‘She wants me to thank her,’ you think.
With a small smile, you turn your back on her, hearing her make a tiny noise of disbelief. Rather than instigate any further, you study the picture. Your mother has always been a stunning woman with her smooth, curly hair and flawless skin, but there’s something different about her in the picture. She seems more restful, full of energy. With all the men she’s been going through, it has begun to take a toll on her youthful appearance. But that isn’t what completely bothers you. No, it’s the way Slughorn holds her. You know, you’ve always known, that men of all ages are attracted to her, but-but that still doesn’t excuse the hold Slughorn has on her.
“Now, now students, do take a seat!”
Placing the picture down, you turn to see that the other guests have already arrived and where snatching up seats at the table. An odd feeling soon fills your stomach as you only find two empty seats directly by each other. On either side are an uncomfortable Potter, and a hungry Belby.
“Come along, you two,” Slughorn says.
Noticing you aren’t the only one not heading for a chair, you spot Granger creeping over, taking the seat next Potter. Taking in a deep breath, you situate yourself between Belby and Granger, making sure to slide your chair ever so slightly toward Belby.
“I thank you all for joining me,” Slughorn announces once everyone is situated. “Now, shall we toast?”
As everyone holds up their already-full glass, you can’t help but see Granger stealing uneasy glances your way. This is the closest the two of you have ever been, and it isn’t all that enjoyable.
After Slughorn makes his toast, food instantly appears on the table, and Belby wastes no time in diving in. Slughorn gives him a horrible hidden look of disgust before attempting to have you all introduce yourselves.
“So, Miss Granger,” Slughorn begins, “I believe you are our only Muggle-born.”
You snort slightly at his comment, and slowly pick at the food on your plate. You can feel Granger’s eyes shoot toward you, but she says nothing, intently listening to the Professor.
“…and what is it that your parents do?” he asks.
Granger places her fork down, and speaks, sounding terribly nervous, “Well, both of them are dentist.”
The noise around quiets as everyone’s attention goes to Granger. You look up from your plate to see everyone--sans Potter and that Weasley girl--staring at her as if she grew another head.
“Dentist?” Slughorn asks. “Now, what is that?”
Sighing, you mutter, “They work on teeth.”
The room goes completely silent then once all eyes land on you. Granger is the one most surprised, but you shrug them all off.
“You’re a pure-blood, correct?” Slughorn asks you, leaning in.
“Yes, sir,” you answer.
“How do you know about Muggle occupations?”
You steal one last look at Granger before answering, “We use to live in a Muggle neighborhood when I was younger, sir.”
Slughorn sits up, excitement in his eyes. “Ah, yes, your mother mentioned that in of our letters.”
Inside, you feel your body twisting at the old man’s thoughts of your mother and that sick, demented look in his eyes, but you carry on.
“Yes, well,” you say, “I chipped a tooth while outside playing, and one of the Muggles mentioned a dentist. It’s how I know, sir.”
“Well, that’s fantastic,” Slughorn says. “The more you know, the better. Now, Blaise, what--,”
The man isn’t going to stop unless you do something. You quickly wave him off, attempting to find some excuse. “Pardon the interruption, sir, but I believe it was Granger’s turn to speak of her parents.”
‘Granger’s turn? That’s the best you came up with?’ you silently scold to yourself.
No matter, Slughorn’s attention goes back to her, and he flushes. “Oh, right, do forgive me for that, Miss Granger.”
“Of course, Professor,” Granger says.
She goes on with her discussion of her boring parents as you place all your focus back on your food. The supper is duller than you had earlier imagined. The people here barely have anything worth mentioning except, of course, the magnificent Harry Potter.
A few minutes go by, and Slughorn explains how some dessert may come up soon, so we were to finish our meals within the next five minutes. Seeing that you have hardly a sip left of juice, you reach for the large container, but your hand collides with Granger’s smaller, lighter one. The touch sends a wave of a sick-sort of feeling through the pit of your stomach.
A faint blush covers Granger’s cheeks as she lowers her hand. Shaking it away, you lift the container, pouring some juice into Granger’s glass, before moving onto your own.
“See that there, young men.”
Slughorn’s voice causes both you and Granger to jump a bit and you notice that, yet again, all eyes are in your direction. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot Potter sporting a very confused look while Weasley shoots daggers through to your chest.
“A true gentleman," Slughorn says, motioning toward you. “You lads here could learn a thing or two from Mr. Zabini.”
“It’s nothing,” you softly say, wanting the uncomfortable feeling in your stomach to disappear. “My mother just taught me well.”
“Surely she did.”
You snatch up your glass, using anything to distract you, as Slughorn carries on with the others. Beside you, you can hear Granger conversing with her two friends, but what they speak of flies over your head. You need to leave. You were fine before that man went into dream-mode about your mother and before that-that Muggle-born had the nerve to touch you. You have to get back to your dormitory.
After dessert came, Slughorn can’t announce the end of the party soon enough. You push back your chair, and go to shake Slughorn’s hand one last time.
“Behaving a bit more civil with Miss Granger will help,” he whispers to you.
“Excuse me?” you ask, feeling your brow deepen in confusion.
Slughorn leans in, an odd look covering his face. “She’s a lovely young lady, Blaise, and don’t underestimate her just because she’s a Muggle-born. Have a pleasant evening.”
He lets go of your hand and moves on to see off a few others. Your stance remains though.
‘Is that mad man seriously saying what I think he’s saying?’ you think to yourself.
Looking over your shoulder, you watch as Granger moves to walk on with Weasley. She’s different-looking, that’s for sure. Very bright, despite being a Muggle-born….
“No,” you whisper softly.
Shoving your hands into your pockets, you stride out of the office, not looking back.
Your eyes stay glued to the ceiling of your four poster bed as your mind races with thoughts of the night’s events. Granger is nothing but filth, the same kind father always said to avoid at all costs.
“Knock, knock,” says a hard voice.
The black, silk curtains surrounding your bed slide away, revealing the face of a smiling thin boy, his dirty brown hair falling lazily over his head instead of the usual neat style.
“What do you want, Theodore?” you ask, placing your sight back up.
Theodore pushes your long legs aside, forcing you to give him sitting room.
“How’d it go?” he asks, a laugh teetering in his voice.
You sit up, noting his strange behavior. “Why’d you ask? You thought it was foolish to begin with.”
Theodore shrugs, bringing his leg up to rest on the bed. “Well, you didn’t exactly help my chances by telling about my father.”
Resting back on the pillow, you place your hands behind your head. “Your father shouldn’t be daft enough to join in with that group.”
A laugh falls out of Theodore, causing you to reluctantly smile along with him. “You got me there. He was a bit daft.”
“So I take it you won’t follow in daddy dearest’s footsteps like Malfoy so willingly has with his?”
Another laugh leaves him, but he shakes his head. “Don’t bet on it. I happen to like walking down the street without a mask on or without people running away from me. And Draco…well, he just wants to please his father, doesn’t he?”
“Poor way of showing it.”
“Oh, come on, Blaise. Like you never tried to please your father. Oh wait, your fathers.”
You reach out, giving him a slight shove as his laughter escalates. “Shove off. You can’t blame my mother for falling in love with so many men. She loves love.”
“Love? Okay, call it what you want.”
You smirk at his amusement, but it soon fades, filling you with the confusion and anger from earlier.
“He hated Muggle-borns, you know.”
Theodore’s laughter vanishes, being replaced by a more serious tone. “Who? Your real father?”
You nod and go to looking down at your lap. “Yes. My mother was never one to preach much about blood-purity, but my father definitely was. He wanted to be a Death Eater, badly. That is until, you know.”
Theodore gives your shoulder a small pat. “Sorry, mate.”
“Don’t be, it happens. But he’s probably rolling around in his grave right now.”
Your eyes travel to see Theodore’s reaction, and catch a surprised look on his face. “Hermione Granger?”
“There’s only one.”
“What about the girl?”
You swallow hard and lower your voice. “We had a bit of a-a moment at supper tonight.”
Theodore sits up straighter, his interest obviously piqued. “Really? What kind of moment?”
“Our hands touched when we both reached for the drink. She acted as if I shocked her or something, and even blushed a bit.”
“Oh, that’s great.”
You meet his gaze again. “Great? How is that ‘great?’ That Muggle-born, that Mudblood, may like me. That’s horrible, sickening really.”
Theodore shakes his head, pulling the bed curtains closed, and leans in. “She probably hates herself right now. Inner turmoil is the best kind of torture, more so than anything you or Draco can say to her.”
A moment of silence passes between you two, but Theodore sits back, a smile on his face again. “Besides, it’s not like you can actually get her to go out with you.”
You push fully up on the bed at the poorly-hidden insult buried beneath his words, and find yourself barely inches away from him. “What’s that suppose to mean?”
The amusement grows on him; he’ll burst any minute. “Look at you. She thinks you’re chums with Draco, and everyone knows how you feel about the Weasley’s. There’s no way she’d ever go against her friends, even if she were to fall in lust with you.”
“You don’t think I can do it?” you ask, a powerful rush building inside your chest, exciting you. No one ever tells you what you can’t do. You learned that from a very young age that no one can ever tell you what to do or what not to do. “You really don’t think I can do it?”
“No,” Theodore says, egging it on. “I don’t think you can do it.”
Theodore pauses, his grin widening; he thrives on bets.
“Bet,” he says. “You try, and fail, to get Granger to go out on one date, you owe me.”
“Owe you what?”
“A swim for as long as I like inside your house pool,” he starts. You open your mouth to reject, but he continues on, “Three-hundred galleons from your vault, not your mother’s, and…and I get to smile in bliss whenever your mother hugs me.”
You punch him in the shoulder, causing him to erupt in loud laughter. “All right, all right. If Granger rejects me, you get all of that. But if she accepts--,”
“If she accepts, then I get Mercy.”
The smile leaves Theodore’s face, but the laughter is still in his eyes. Mercy is his chess set, and not just any chess set. The set is hand-carved out of glass, and is the only of its kind. Theodore received it sometime when he was younger, and you have always eyed it from the moment you two met nine years ago.
“Well?” you ask. “I’m waiting.”
Theodore caves. “Fine. If Granger accepts, then you get Mercy. Of course, I don’t see that happening.”
“Whatever you say…. But if I do manage to succeed, what do I do with her afterwards?”
“Well, like the good man always said: get it, touch it and leave it, my friend.”
The two you chuckle more quietly then and you sit back against your pillow again. “Wonderful bet, I like it.”
“Good. Start fresh tomorrow morning, and don’t worry about what that dead father of yours may think. It’s all in good fun even though you won’t win.”
You nod as he hops off of your bed and heads to his toward your right. Bidding him goodnight, you reclose your curtains and burrow yourself beneath the blanket.
‘He’s right,’ you think, closing your eyes. ‘Father’s dead, and mother wouldn’t care if she found out. She’d be angrier if it were that poor Weasley girl instead of the Muggle-born. Besides, it’s past time for me to have a little fun in this stuffy castle.’
Stepping out pass the double oak doors of the Entrance Hall and into the crisp, Saturday morning air has never felt so good. It is the first Hogsmeade trip of the year, and your first day of the bet. Your nerves tingle with excitement at your new mission. Granger may make you feel sick, may make you want to vomit blood, but winning that chess set will be worth it.
You follow behind the other students who are buzzing about the trip, but keep your sights set on the small trio of students that paced ten feet ahead. That mane of brown hair is the only thing keeping you from losing sight in the crowd.
“Following your prize?” a voice whispers in your ear.
You smile softly as Theodore stays by your side. “What else is there to do?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe you can give in right now and save yourself the embarrassment. You lose, and Potter and Weasley will never let you live it down.”
“Don’t flatter yourself, Theodore. I win, and Potter and Weasley will die of shock at how their precious little friend runs away with me for one raging night.”
As you walk on, Hogsmeade approaches. You leave Theodore behind without another word, and make your move.
Your body slightly bumps into Granger, causing her to hit her friends. Their conversation and laughter ceases.
“Watch where you walk, Zabini,” the Weasley boy states.
Ignoring the boys, you give Granger a side-glance. Her look of agitation doesn’t falter, but that blush is sneaking back up on her face. It isn’t the weather. No, it’s you and you both know it.
“Have fun, boys,” you say to Potter and Weasley, before trudging off ahead.
Tucking your hands deeper into your jacket pockets, you walk on with the crowd. A minute goes, and you glance over your shoulder. Granger is a bit further back, but her blank eyes are on you. Once she notices you watching, she diverts her attention elsewhere.
“Let’s grab some butterbeers,” a voice says to you; Theodore.
He takes hold of your arm, dragging you off to the side to go in The Three Broomsticks. He waves a hand at Madam Rosmerta as you two find yourselves a seat in the corner of the bar.
“She still glares at you,” Theodore says, pulling off his coat.
You shake your head and go to remove your jacket, but stall. An uncomfortable, cool breeze floats in. It isn’t like the cold of the dungeons. It’s different, colder. You tug your jacket tighter, quickly thanking Madam Rosmerta as she brings over two large mugs of butterbeer, the steaming white foam nearly falling off the tops.
“She’ll crack,” you murmur once she leaves, taking a sip of the fresh liquid, relaxing as it traveled down your throat, warming your body.
“Yeah, sure she will.”
“What’s going on with you?”
The two of you look toward each other, wearing matching expressions of annoyance. Holding your mug close, you place your attention on in the intruders of your table. Parkinson had come up, taking a seat across from you without asking. Glancing behind her, your mood drops even lower as Malfoy and the two trolls follow behind her not too long after.
“What?” Theodore asks her, attempting to sound innocent.
Parkinson glares at him before placing her piercing, dark eyes on you. “We saw that little interaction with Granger.”
Malfoy, who was impatiently scanning the room, now fully addresses you, disdain riddled in his voice. “The Mudblood, Blaise? Didn’t think you were that desperate.”
You don’t get a chance to respond as the taller of the trolls speaks up. “He looked at the filth again before he came in here.”
“Drop it,” is all you say.
But, like always, no one does. Parkinson makes some kind of strange noise in her throat, but Malfoy is the one to keep the conversation going. “You’re growing pathetic, Blaise.”
“Draco--,” Theodore tries.
“Shut it, Nott,” the shorter troll snaps.
His signature, nerve-wracking smirk crosses his face. “You’re just like your mother. Everyone knows she fell for some Mudblood a few years ago. Or was the Mudblood actually your father?”
You slam your mug down, splashing the aromatizing liquid around on the table and your sleeves, and stand. “Watch where you tread, Malfoy.”
Malfoy’s two strolls step forward once Theodore jumps up, but Malfoy easily waves them off. “You should be the one watching your steps, Zabini. You don’t know what I’m capable of doing.”
His fingers tap on his wand, and you feel your jaw tightening beyond belief.
“People are starting to watch,” Theodore explains.
What those other people may think have no bearing on you. Your hand wants, more than anything, to reach for your wand. Shoving it down Malfoy’s throat will probably solve the anger building in your chest faster than any curse or jinx.
But as Theodore’s hand touches you, you back down. Fighting with Malfoy will only hurt you in the end with him being Snape’s favorite little tool and all.
“Malfoy,” you quietly start so that only the six of you can hear, “why don’t you stick to kissing the Dark Lord’s arse and stay off of my business.”
You move away from your corner table, ignoring Theodore, and see that you had indeed attracted a nosy crowd. With one look from you, the students return to their own private talks. One person remains in sight though: Granger. Her boys begin to find their own table, but she sticks to that spot near the door as you get closer. Your eyes lock, and she moves to say something to you. A slight groan escapes your mouth, a queasy feeling overpowering you.
Without a sound, you slip out of the comforting bar and into the nasty autumn wind, placing a hand over your abdomen. Deciding that walking only made the sick feeling worse, you move to rest your back against the building. Your stomach still tightens and churns, but the threat of something coming up is prevented by the chill that seeps into you. One blessing, at least.
“Stupid,” you mutter, pounding your head back against the hard wall.
Every blue moon, you allow Malfoy to do this to you. You allow him to take control of your emotions, and it blows up in your face each and every time.
“Just face it, Blaise.” You sigh, but continue to stare out at the passing students.
“Face what, Theodore?”
Theodore moves in front of you, pulling you off of the wall. “The reason you and Draco square off so much is because the one thing you have in common is the one thing you both hate in each other: arrogance.”
You try to give him a glare, but fail. “I don’t know what you mean?”
Theodore laughs. “Exactly my point.”
“Whatever, I’m going back to the common room.”
“Yes, have fun with the overgrown trolls in there.”
Seven in the morning, Sunday, and you can’t manage to sleep in. The snores from the other blokes in the room do nothing to ease your suffering. Frustrated, you roll out of bed, and move to get dressed. Five minutes pass, still no waking from the others. Knowing that breakfast wouldn’t be out yet in the Great Hall, you snatch up your school bag, deciding to at least get something done so Theodore won’t pester you tomorrow.
Rubbing your dry eyes, you make your way out of the dungeons and walk as quietly and slowly as possible toward the library. The short argument from Malfoy was most likely the cause of your dreary mood. Though the two of you didn’t speak any more, his looks alone still crawled under your skin, especially knowing he slept in the same room as you did. Maybe that mother of his should have allowed his worthless father to ship him off to Durmstrang; it would have saved you all a good deal of time.
“Need something, Mr. Zabini?”
The stern voice of Madam Pince forces you away from thoughts of Malfoy. She stands near you, holding on tightly to a pile of books, looking as if you just interrupted her.
“No,” you answer. “I’m just going to a table to get some work done.”
“Good, keep quiet.”
She turns her back on you, going about her business, and you head toward the back. However, a soft sneeze freezes you. Clutching your bag, you move down one more row, spotting…. Who else but Granger? She flips through a book, scribbling away on a piece of parchment every few seconds.
‘Not now,’ you think.
Seemingly sensing your presence, she lowers her quill and faces you before you can back away. Her look isn’t as tense as usual; it’s full of surprise instead.
She stares silently, waiting for the typical, Malfoy-like retort. But you back away, not wanting to dry heave as it desperately threatened to come.
As you lean against one of the shelves, you take in deep breaths, and hear another soft sneeze.
‘You don’t want to pull anything from your vault,’ you think. ‘Your mother won’t trust you to give you any money again.’
After ten seconds more of battling inside your head, you move your bag off of your shoulder, making a decision. Theodore isn’t winning any money from you. You will get Granger to like, if not at least lust, you. A conversation starter though; you need something to make it seem less obvious that you’re up to no good.
Reaching into your pocket, you sigh softly with relief as your fingers touch a smooth cloth. Pulling out a dark handkerchief, you gently rub your finger along the gold stitching around the sides. It was old, but your mother insists you keep it anyway. It’s supposed to stand for her “being there” with you or some other rubbish. Whatever it was originally for, there’s finally use for it now.
Dragging your bag, you walk back to where Granger sits. She looks up again, a wave of impatience radiating off of her. You ignore it, and place your bag on the long table.
‘Now or never, Blaise.’
You place the handkerchief on top of her book, and pull up a chair next to her. You’re going to win that chess set no matter how far you have to go.
A/N: Thanks for reading. It's short since I couldn't go over 5,000 words for one challenge. However, I'm definitely making more of this story later on. (also, beautiful chapter image by WolvesOfTheNewMoon)
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