Chapter 1 : Instability
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Blaise looked up at the mantelpiece above the extravagant marble lined fire place. He had always seen the row of many wedding photos lined neatly upon it as his mother’s resume, each wedding as a promotion, a pay-rise. He had always known that each and every one of his mother’s marriages had been based on money rather than love. But this had not affected her love for him, his mother had always doted on Blaise, and growing up he had wanted for nothing... except consistency and stability.
Looking at these photos caused Blaise to reflect on his childhood. It was an understatement to say that he had not had a ‘normal’ upbringing; he had not had that steadfast family unit that most children enjoyed and thrived in. No, his childhood had been filled with abandonment, death and change. By the time he’d started Hogwarts at the age of eleven he had had four step-fathers, and by the time he’d left Hogwarts his mother had just married her eighth husband. And with each of these new step-fathers came a new home, each one bigger and more ostentatious than the last.
This house - if you could call it something as mundane and insignificant as a house - had been bought by his mother with the inheritance from her eleventh and last husband. He had been a particularly vile man, one Blaise would have detested even if he hadn’t been a Muggle. Alastair Engleton-Forbes, a banker in Muggle London, had been even more obsessed with money and appearances than Blaise’s mother had been. While she had married him for his money, he had married her purely as a trophy wife. He had had no respect for Blaise’s mother and was only pleasant to her when they were in public, parading her around on his arm like an accessory. Of course his mother had taken on this role with ease, and was always the perfect wife on these occasions. But this was no surprise to Blaise who knew his mother was like a chameleon when it came to her men. She had always had the ability to know exactly what these rich men wanted from their women, and she became exactly that, mesmerising them in the process. The woman these men married was not the woman Blaise knew.
To people on the outside, Ms Zabini appeared perfectly happy in her marriages. And, until her last one to Alastair, she was. All her previous husbands, as far as Blaise was aware, had been deeply in love with his mother, putting her on a pedestal and wanted nothing more than to please her. They had all been under her control; she had had them in the palm of her hand. Not Alastair though. He had been the one in control, and control he did.
Blaise had watched his mother slowly lose her confidence and become a shadow of the woman she had once been. During this time Blaise had found himself hoping and praying that his mother would hurry up and murder the vile muggle, as people suspected she had done with her previous husbands. But she didn’t. The only reason Blaise could see for this was that Alastair had picked away at his mother’s self-esteem and confidence so much she had lost her nerve. But before Blaise had to action his thoughts of taking matters into his own hands, Alastair had managed to do it himself. His bad diet, excessive alcohol and the stress of his job had caused a heart attack. Blaise and his mother had been with him when it happened. They had watched his face turn grey and clammy as he clutched his chest and let his brandy glass fall to the floor and smash. Blaise had seen the terror on Alastair’s face as he breathlessly gasped a plea of help. He had simply led his mother from the room, not looking back even when he heard Alastair slump to the floor with a thud.
This was the closest Blaise had come to murder.
Blaise wasn’t a murderer. Growing up he had experienced too much death, and had been subjected to the awful publicity associated with murder. Although his mother had never been charged with murder, there had been much interest in the suspicious deaths of her many husbands, and Blaise had been exposed to a great deal of media attention as a child. This and the feelings of abandonment he had felt had made Blaise want to disassociate himself with murder and death.
This had been one of the reasons he had not aspired to be a Death Eater as many of his house mates had done. As a pure-blood Slytherin during Voldemort’s second reign, Blaise had been expected to want to help the cause. But, although he’d had no desire to associate with Muggles, he had not wanted to actively torture or kill them. He feared death, and not just his own.
Maybe it would have been very different if Alastair had been one of the first of his mother’s husbands - Alastair was enough to make anyone want to rid the world of Muggles. Blaise was grateful that before he had encountered such hatred he had experienced love and acceptance.
Whilst Blaise could not remember a great deal about his early childhood, he did remember being doted on by his mother and the first few step-fathers. He remembered calling his first and second step-father ‘Daddy’ and being devastated when they had died and left him. By step-father number 3 he had learnt not to get too attached and instead clung to his mother and sought solely for her love and affection. He had not realised then, as he did now, that it was his mother’s fault that his father figures kept leaving him. But now that he did it didn’t change anything. He couldn’t hate his mother as he also knew that she had always done it for him, to give him the affluent life she had never had as a child. How could he hate her for being deluded into thinking he needed money and material belongings over anything else?
No, he couldn’t hate her. As well as a mother, she had been his confidant and friend for too long, and he loved her far too much to hate her. After her death Blaise had experienced a brief period of anger and hatred towards his mother, but his head-healer told him this was a natural phase in the grieving process and that it would subside. And it had. He had started seeing his head-healer (as his mother had urged and begged him to do many times after Alastair’s death) shortly after his mother’s funeral. He had not been optimistic about these sessions and thought they would be a total waste of money. But in actual fact he had found them to be invaluable.
At first these sessions had been futile, mainly down to the fact that Blaise had not really wanted to be there and so refused to talk. Clarence, the head-healer, was very good though and by the third session had broken Blaise’s defences and got him to open up. It had all started when Blaise, annoyed with the long stretches of silence that had filled the sessions, stated that he didn’t want to be there, that it was only because he felt he owed it to his mother to be there. This admission had delighted Clarence, and from then on the sessions had been much more productive.
Blaise had then worked through his issues with abandonment, commitment and trust. He was made to see that the only person he had really let know him had been his mother, that he had kept all others at arm’s reach. Looking back at his time at Hogwarts he realised that he had not truly had any friends – yes, he had ‘hung around’ with Malfoy and the other Slytherins, but they had not been his friends. And thinking about that now, he was quite glad of that! But it had also made him think about who he had to talk to, to confide in, now that his mother was gone. This was the same time he had become angry at his mother. And it was after this brief angry period that Blaise had met Katrina.
After a particularly enlightening session where Blaise had become quite upset and tears were shed, he had not wanted to return to the house and found his way into a cafe not far from Clarence’s practice. He had purchased a drink and hidden himself away in a dark corner of the cafe to think.
Blaise had not gone unnoticed, staring at the now cold drink he was cradling, and Katrina had approached him. When Blaise looked up into the waitress’s eyes she was concerned by the red rimmed eyes looking back at her. She did not say much to Blaise in that first meeting, but she had been kind and had brought him a fresh drink on the house. On his way out of the cafe she had smiled kindly at him and stated that he should come again soon. And he did, after every session with Clarence. Blaise wasn’t entirely sure why he did, but he soon found himself looking forward to seeing Katrina and it wasn’t long before he found himself in that cafe in-between sessions too.
It had been a slow start to their relationship but Clarence had been most pleased with this progress and had urged Blaise to continue. And so he had, and it developed from waitress and customer to friends to lovers and Blaise had found that he had come to rely on Katrina’s companionship.
That had been two years ago now, and it was this relationship that had brought Blaise into this room that he hated so much tonight. During today’s session (which were not such a regular occurrence now) Clarence had pointed out that it seemed that Katrina had begun to take his mother’s place in his affections, that she had become his new ‘one constant’. Blaise had found he could not argue with this, it was true.
It was only today that he realised that he loved Katrina, real true love, and he didn’t want to lose her. Ever. So, in the spur of the moment he had bypassed the cafe after his session and had found himself in a jewellery store – the most exclusive magical jewellery store in the country. He had decided in that moment that he wanted to be with Katrina forever and purchased the perfect ring with which to propose to her.
But now, sitting in this room, watching the many wedding photos smiling and waving at him, he wasn’t so sure. Hadn’t he always thought that marriage was a sham, something that caused heartache and pain? Hadn’t his mother’s, and his, past proved that? He got up from the sofa, Fire-whiskey still un-drunk in his hand and crossed over to the mantelpiece to examine the photos. These pictures didn’t depict a happy couple deeply in love. Maybe it was just because Blaise knew the truth behind the weddings, but he could see that these had not been the happiest days of his mother’s life, as weddings were meant to be. There was no twinkle in his mother’s eyes in these photos, no ecstatic smile on her face. No, without the white dresses and smart dress robes, the flowers, the church in the background, this could be just another ordinary photo, of an ordinary day. Marriage hadn’t made his mother happy, why would it make him happy? Did he want to ruin his relationship with Katrina for a simple piece of paper and a ring? What if Katrina was more like his mother than he first thought - what if she married him purely for his money, because Merlin knew he had plenty of it! Would he always be living with suspicions and mistrust if he married Katrina?
He scanned the photos again, picturing in his mind a photo of himself and Katrina on their wedding day, imagining her to look as his mother did on her many wedding days... And that’s when his eyes fell onto the picture of his mother’s first wedding – to his biological father. That wedding photo, the one that stood bigger and bolder than any of the others, right in the middle of the mantelpiece, showed his mother and father blissfully in love. The smile on his mother’s face in this photo was more pure, more natural, more besotted. While in the other nine photos (for Alastair’s photo had long since been destroyed) the participants were facing the camera, in this particular photo they only had eyes for each other. Anyone would have been able to tell the difference between this photo and all of the others. This photo instantly made Blaise realise that his mother had once known how to love. And he took solace in this.
Placing his tumbler on the mantelpiece, Blaise reached into the pocket of his robes and pulled out the small velvet covered box. Slowly he opened the box and peered at the sparkling ring nestled inside. In his moment of madness earlier today he had seen this ring and immediately knew it was the perfect ring for Katrina. It was a simple golden band with a small but elegant, glistening diamond in the centre. It was not a flashy, over-the-top ring like the ones in his mother’s engagement ring collection and had been far from the most expensive in the shop. But in his earlier euphoric state he had known that this would have been the ring Katrina would have picked.
In that moment all doubt left his mind. Blaise knew that his wonderful, beautiful Katrina would never marry him for his money. She didn’t desire to live in a vast, oversized house full of the greatest riches; she didn’t want the finest clothes or the grandest jewels. She wanted him.
Blaise knew what he had to do, what he really wanted to do. He wanted to move on, and he wanted – needed – to ask Katrina to marry him. Without a second thought he snapped the velvet box shut and shoved it back in his pocket and took out his wand. Spinning on one foot he Apparated. Away from his past and into his future. To Katrina. The woman he knew would be able to give him the consistency and stability he had always craved.
A.N –I stepped out of my comfort zone with this one-shot and I’m not entirely happy with it as it did not turn out the way I had originally planned. However, it has been posted as the deadline for the ‘Family challenge’ was getting too close for comfort, so for now it is un-edited. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thankyou for reading :-)
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