Chapter 1 : Acceptance
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...Okay, that may be an exaggeration.
...Okay, I know it's an exaggeration and the reason I know that is because I've said it out loud twice and each time I've received the dirtiest looks.
I never said it again. Third time's a charm and all.
Admittedly, and silently, I do realize that saying it barely a year after the war is pretty stupid. Saying it after the one year memorial, an evening during which one Harry Potter, the great and powerful Savior, broke down, ran away and disappeared, taking his newfound friend - my best friend - with him, is probably insane.
It's still a bad day.
I spent most of the day pacing the Great Hall for mail, none of which came for me. Nothing of importance anyway; my mother told me that my stepfather was still in hiding and had sent no word, which I didn't care for; my father wished me good luck and promised me a trip away, just the two of us, whether things worked out or not, which I was thankful for. Now I'm sat on the bottom step outside of the hall, just waiting, staring at the wall. People have stopped asking me what I'm doing and telling me to move, now they just past me.
I get a few pushes into the wall, but overall being ignored is going pretty well...
Now I understand how Theodore (the aforementioned best friend) spent most of his time here at Hogwarts and I marvel at his ability to get past it... because it sucks.
I wish he was here to talk to; he's not very good at making situations better, but he can bitch like no one has ever bitched about people and/or situations we don't like and that makes me feel better. And this is a little of both.
But he's not; he's God knows where, doing God knows what, with a guy he didn't even know a year ago. I shouldn't be so upset about it, he wasn't handling the aftermath of the war well at all and if it were any other day I'd be glad he left to get away from the memories, but... my letter isn't here.
I fall against the wall; it hurts when I smack my head against it, but I don't care.
"Are you okay, Blaise?"
I know who it is without looking up. Astoria could very easily be another best friend of mine, my only other best friend; she's one of a few Slytherins to come back after the war and has been the only one to really be good company. Theo didn't for reasons I'm not quite sure about because he never really talked about it; Daphne keeps to herself or talks to her sister because Theo isn't here for her to stalk and Pansy probably made the right choice in staying away; Draco, though acquitted when it comes to prison, is still under some form of house arrest and couldn't come (a witness statement from Potter may have helped a lot, but he still did bad things; Potter could only stop jail).
The small number of Slytherins whose family members were a part of Lord Voldemort's army either hate the neutrals (such as me and Astoria) for not joining like we should have or avoid us for 'doing the smart thing' and the rest of the school either hate or avoid all us Slytherins for being, well, Slytherin.
We neutrals stick together.
Astoria sits beside me and rubs her hand on my shoulder in what I imagine is supposed to be soothing circles.
"I take it your letter hasn't come yet." It's not a question, just a soft spoken fact. It still hurts. I shake my head in reply. "But that doesn't mean that it won't come; you said you have all day, there's still five and a half hours left till midnight."
"It's not coming, Astoria," I murmur, hating myself for the waver in my voice, hating myself for daring to have hope. "But that's okay. At least now I know what to expect when the rest of the letters come in August; if I'm not getting this one, I doubt I'll get in at all."
"That's not true," she says, almost scolding me for daring to be negative. "The program only allows two people to get in early; most applicants are going to be disappointed, but that doesn't mean you won't get in at all."
I jump up off the stairs and go back to pacing; my hair is already mussd up from running my hands through it too many times while waiting for this stupid letter, but I do it again anyway. I can pretend it's helpful.
"Astoria, I'm the best, my scores are unparalleled. No one will do better than me. If my grades don't get me into the early program, no way am I getting in at all." My shoulders slump noticeably and my tone of voice drops considerably as reality sets in. "They don't want me, they don't want someone with negative connections to the war. They consider me a Death Eater's son."
"You don't know that." Astoria gets up to join me, scans the hallway and the Great Hall to make sure there are no onlookers, and then pulls me closer for hug (I don't do hugs, or public displays of affection of any kind). "Your mother's reputation is notorious; now I'm not saying that's a good thing, but everyone knows that your stepfathers are solely your mother's problem and you have very little to do with them. They are not going to judge you based on the one you have now, or what House you're in. They are going to judge you on your academic ability and there are no problems with that. There's probably something wrong with the owl post."
I roll my eyes and try to smile, hugging her back gratefully. It won't do me any good to mention that Hermione Granger got one out of the two letters by breakfast; I've already had the 'She's a war hero, they're going to suck up to her' speech.
"Thank you," I reply instead.
"You are welcome. Now," she says, pushing away from me, just enough to see my face clearly. "You have five hours and twenty-five minutes to wait for your letter; do you want to come back into the Great Hall and eat or do you want to sit out here and sulk a little more?"
"Are you really giving me a choice?"
"Nope, I'm just being polite."
With a smile, Astoria grabs me by the hand and pulls me into the hall - and by pull I mean she acts like she's pulling me while I let her. Not letting her is more hassle than it's worth; Astoria Greengrass always gets what she wants.
She leads us to our usual seats at the Slytherin table. It's sort of split up into three sections now; at one end, close to the teacher's table, there are the new students and the ones who avoid us because they secretly wish they'd been neutral; in the middle there are the students who hate us for being neutral; the other end is where we neutrals sit. You'd think the new students would sit with us, since we're technically the good guys... well, better than some others. But no.
I don't know why I'm so surprised; Slytherin has always been seen as the bad House. Maybe because I expect it from the other Houses, so I can get past it, but getting this sort of treatment from your own Housemates throws you off a little. House loyalty only goes so far when you've lost a war.
"Cheer up, Blaise. Right now, talking about History will make me happier than watching you," Daphne moans. She groans just as quickly; I thank Astoria for kicking her sister under the table.
"So, what's this letter for anyway?" she asks next.
"It's a letter from the Ministry," Astoria explains to her quickly. "In the middle of August, letters come out to people who have applied for internships in different departments to tell them if they've been accepted or denied. Some of the departments require schooling as well, and the schools talk to the Ministry, so if you've been accepted for an internship than you know you've been accepted into school. But two lucky people get a letter now, near the end of June, to start their internship as soon as they graduate; Granger got one of those letters for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, if Blaise gets the second one he'll know he's in school, too."
"It's the basis for my entire life," I mumble between bites of chicken.
"Really? Well, catch it before your life hits you in the face."
My head snaps up, her words surprising me but the owl coming my way shocking me, almost scaring me. It's a common postal owl, not my mother's or father's, so it really could be anything. I refuse to get my hopes up only for a potentially stupid piece of parchment to crush them.
The letter drops in front of me and the owl doesn't stick around. I freeze up because the letter is not anything, not when it has the Ministry seal - it's definitely something.
"Come on, Blaise," Astoria whispers excitedly. "You don't get the rejections in June."
"That doesn't mean I've been accepted, they could be writing to tell me they've found Robert and are informing me of a trail."
"Wouldn't they send that letter to your mother?" Daphne frowns.
"Open it," Astoria chants, Daphne joining in until I have to shush them because the hall is now silent and people are watching us.
It's with shaky hands that I pick it up, rip open the seal and take out the letter. I keep it to myself first; I want to be sure before I tell my friend whether or not my life is shot to hell.
Dear Mr. Zabini,
We are delighted to inform you that you have been accepted into the Department of Magical Law Enforcement...
"Blaise?" Astoria asks nervously.
I let the letter fall onto the table, just staring into space for a few moments.
"I'm going to be a lawyer." I turn to Astoria. "They let me in."
"Of course they did. And you're going to be the best lawyer they've got," my friend boasts. "No one will think badly of you again when comparing you to our House. They'll think 'Wow, Blaise Zabini's never lost a case' or 'Wow, he's put more bad guys away then anyone else, I want him as my lawyer'. You'll be amazing."
I don't say anything and they seem to understand why. Eventually, people stop watching us and go back to eating, and it's almost as if nothing happened, but everything feels different somehow, like something has changed for people. I don't know what, but I want to think it's a good thing.
I catch eyes with Hermione Granger, who holds up her own letter and smiles encouragingly; she's not talking about her own acceptance, she's referring to mine without trying to point and look like a weirdo. It's almost as good as hearing the congratulations she doesn't quite feel comfortable saying to me.
I don't care.
I'm going to be a lawyer.
The next day, some of the Slytherins from the first section of the table move to sit a little closer to us.
A/N: I chose Blaise Zabini for this challenge, because he's awesome and I love him and it's cool to finally write down a bit of my headcanon for him. I hope you enjoy. Please let me know what you think. :)
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