for the QLFC, Season 6, Round 3:

prompts —

CHASER 2: Furby;

(emotion) fear;

(dialogue) "Pay attention to me."

(genre) family

thanks to my loves sienna, shay, adi, and audrey for betaing!

wc (without a/n): 2903

note: Wikipedia tells me that Furbies start out speaking "Furbish" and gradually learning English, so this story connects to learning and new knowledge about magic/oneself

. . .

Blaise's mother had always told him that magic was a language to be learned, a language to be mastered. Of course, since Blaise was nine years old, the most Mother could do was show him what he would one day be able to do.

To Blaise, Mother was a visionary: she was elegance personified as she swept through a room with blue silk dripping off her figure, jewels winking on her collarbone and fluid Italian spilling from her lips.

Even the smallest of spells entranced Blaise. Mother would light her wand with a simple Lumos and Blaise would watch, awed, wondering when it would be his turn to wield that kind of power. When Mother rid herself of a husband, he felt only curiosity. He wasn't disgusted by what Mother did: he wanted to know how she had done it. It was a fascinating thing, this different language of magic, and Blaise yearned to learn it.

The opportunity would not come for two more years, however. The waiting was agonizing, but then the letter came.

Mother had smiled when the owl had pecked at the window, the tap tap tap a welcoming sound, the bells of Blaise's destiny.

So he stands here today at Ollivander's little shop, waiting for his wand to choose him and waiting to be the kind of wizard that would make Mother proud.

. . .

The kind of wizard that would make Mother proud, of course, would go into Slytherin. All the Zabinis before him had gone into Slytherin, Mother had always told him, and to go anywhere else ("Merlin forbid, Gryffindor!") was a travesty and a dishonor.

"Look around for other pureblood families," she had told him before he'd walked through Platform 9 ¾. Blaise gives the platform a cursory glance, looking over the bright red train and the steam billowing out of it, searching for a noticeable face. He spots the signature blond of the Malfoy family and the pug-like face so partial to the Parkinsons.

Blaise readies himself, takes in a deep breath. He knows Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson. They were playmates when they were younger.

And what are they now? Classmates? Friends? Allies?

Nothing?

It's a disheartening sort of feeling that slips into his chest as the thought occurs to him that he might just be left behind. It might be childish of him, but he's always considered them something akin to family. Mother was always so cold, so distant, and while they're far from warm and welcoming, they'd always felt close to his heart.

What if Draco and Pansy moved on, finding other friends and other people? Where would Blaise be then?

Blaise dispels these thoughts. Their notions are stupid and insecure and Blaise is a Zabini — they don't get insecure. It's high time he remembers this, remembers that his true family lies not in those he chooses, but where the blood flows in his veins.

He approaches them.

. . .

Draco leaves the carriage almost immediately when he learns that Harry Potter is on the train. Blaise sighs. Of course he would. He should have expected it.

"What's so special about his scar, anyway?" Pansy mutters snidely under her breath. So it rankles her, too, he notes with a small amount of satisfaction.

He's not quite as satisfied when Draco returns, scowling and complaining about Potter.

He's not quite sure why he feels such a prickling in his stomach as Draco speaks. It's probably just nerves about the Sorting, he tells himself.

. . .

"Better be… SLYTHERIN!"

Blaise can't help sighing softly in relief, only audible to himself.

Slytherin. Thank Merlin. Where he's supposed to be, where he expects to be, where the weight and legacy of his entire family lies. He approaches their table with an easy swagger, confident that he's exactly where he belongs.

. . .

Even if Blaise feels a bit out of place among Draco and Pansy, he sticks around. They're his friends, his honorary family. After all, family was what had brought them together in the first place: mothers forging pre-Hogwarts bonds between their children.

He can't help but curl his lip at Crabbe and Goyle, though. They're so insipid, he and Pansy mutter to each other, incapable of free thought.

"Can't even raise their wands without help," Pansy mutters snidely to him. "Don't know why Draco keeps them around."

"Muscle," replies Blaise. Pansy scoffs at that.

. . .

Learning magic is thrilling. From his very first Lumos to the more advanced Wingardium Leviosa, magic is a tongue that gradually becomes familiar to Blaise.

It brings Blaise a rush to be learning the sacred language Mother knows so well, the same one that his ancestors before him had studied. Perhaps they had slept in the very same dorms as him. The thought of his family, his kin in the Slytherin dorms is comforting.

Blaise remembers vague memories of his grandfather, his Nonno. They're thin and wispy, just vague snippets of unintelligible Italian, but they remind him that Nonno and his predecessors had been real people once.

Could Blaise even try to live up to that?

. . .

First year drops in and drops out just as quickly. The summer months are upon him, and Mother is proud of him in the muted way that defines her character. She can't ask him to do magic, but she asks him what he learned.

"And thank the good heavens you didn't make a fool out of yourself like those dunderheads Crabbe and Goyle. They can barely call themselves wizards," she says with a shake of her head.

There was a bit of commotion at the end of the year with Harry Potter — "Always Potter," Draco had said — something about Professor Quirrell. Blaise hadn't heard or cared much about it; all he'd found out was that Quirrell would not be returning to the school next year.

"Just as well," Pansy had said.

"Sniveling fool shouldn't have had the job in the first place," agreed Blaise.

. . .

With second year comes a lot of head-shaking. The Chamber of Secrets is allegedly open, which puts Slytherin house in an even more unfavorable light than before.

Pansy turns her puglike nose up at the entire affair, and says, "It's not good for Draco, talking about the Chamber. It's stupid!"

Blaise notices that Crabbe and Goyle aren't their usual selves. And when they begin to grow frantic, with one head of hair growing redder and the other face beginning to grow narrower — well, the leap isn't far off.

Pansy shakes her head. "Stupid, I told you."

"I was hardly disagreeing," Blaise points out.

. . .

Third year arrives and there's a criminal on the run whose target is to break into Hogwarts.

"Fun," Pansy says as they're walking down to the Great Hall on the first day of school. "Isn't it all just wonderful?"

And then Draco decides to go on looking for trouble.

Dramatic as ever, he insults a Hippogriff. It's only fitting that he gets bitten by it.

Blaise doesn't know why he finds it so beautiful, Draco's face twisted in pain as blood pours from his arm. Something about the primal emotion on Draco's face, he decides. It's rare to see such openness among Slytherins.

. . .

Sirius Black doesn't scare him, but the thought of possibly liking Draco does. His face had once been familiar, something to smile at because this was family.

But now he finds that face beautiful. He likes it more than he should. And frankly, it scares the hell out of him.

He avoids Pansy's knowing stares in the Great Hall when she catches his eyes on Draco for longer than they should be.

. . .

"Pay attention to me," says Professor Moody, excitement flowing through his voice, and he raises his wand upon a spider. "Avada Kedavra!"

The spider falls. Blaise watches, entranced. How could he do anything but pay attention? This was the tongue he'd been born to learn.

That spider had been moving, just a second before, an ugly little thing but otherwise harmless. It had lived.

He looks at his wand. It could do that. If Blaise tries hard enough, he could do that. He doesn't know how he feels about it. Would Mother do that? Had she already? In taking out another husband, would she have used Avada Kedavra?

He doesn't know how he feels about it. But then, this spell is powerful, and Mother is also powerful. He wouldn't be surprised if she had.

The lesson would have been good, but then the Professor has to showcase the last Unforgivable.

Excitement curls up in his chest as students line up for Imperius.

Quickly, it becomes revulsion. He can tell the Professor's enjoying it, a manic smirk set on his features while his eye (oh, Merlin, his eye!) zips about, relishing the expressions of the classroom, relishing the control he exerts over the children in the class. It's juvenile, Blaise thinks, juvenile that he has to get his kicks on schoolchildren decades younger than him.

Fortunately, he stops after Potter resists.

"Of course it was Potter," Draco mutters from somewhere behind him.

. . .

Cedric Diggory is dead. Harry Potter shows up with the body.

Blaise remembers the scare at the Quidditch World Cup with the Dark Mark, and then his eyes shift to notice Draco's face next to him in the bleachers, pale with fear and still beautiful in the moonlight — almost as if it's gleaming.

No one had expected the Triwizard Tournament to go this far, to take one of their own.

He lets his eyes rest upon Draco for a moment longer, trying to ignore the tight knots curling themselves into his stomach.

. . .

Fifth year rolls around with the halls draped in pink and stinking of one Dolores Umbridge. It's all very annoying to Pansy, who can't stand the pink.

"It's disgusting," she tells them with finality, and Blaise really can't disagree.

. . .

Harry Potter is preaching about equality and warnings and war. He claims that the Dark Lord is back.

Blaise doesn't know if it's true. But he suspects that it is, seeing as how Draco's face is nothing but pale lately and Theodore Nott's eyes have taken to settling upon Potter more often than not.

Merlin, he doesn't want a war.

War would rip everything apart at the seams, tearing the family he'd somehow acquired into shards, a thousand little pieces.

He doesn't want it all to be for nothing.

And, most of all, he doesn't want to die. Because that's what defines war: death.

Then again, it's not about what he wants.

. . .

It's funny that Potter's talking about the houses uniting, and yet a single Slytherin isn't invited to their little gathering.

For once, Blaise is learning nothing. It makes his blood boil when he looks at the Gryffindors, deliberately excluding them from a chance to learn — they learn the language without knowing it even is a language. A waste.

Maybe the empty halls and the sneering glares make them join the Inquisitorial Squad — a bitterness, a desire to be exactly what the others believe they are.

Backstabbing Slytherins are nothing compared to the camaraderie of the Gryffindors, after all. Friendship means nothing to Slytherins — the only thing that matters is power.

Slytherins are always the villains, anyway. The Gryffindors can have what they want.

. . .

The Dark Lord is back. Potter arrives, the savior as always, bearing the news.

He attacked the Department of Mysteries with his Death Eaters. Potter and his cohorts had fought him off, but he isn't gone yet. And now that he's back, back for sure…

Images fly past Blaise's vision. Bodies and blood, families ripped apart, lives stolen, and skulls branded onto deathly pale arms — colorless with fear. Draco and Pansy, limp and lifeless on a distant battlefield. Mother, a stone-cold body in a Ministry morgue, the Dark Mark glistening green over their house.

Images of his family, dead.

Blaise is so scared he wants to scream.

. . .

On the train to sixth year, everything is different. Of course, the one thing that isn't is that everyone's staring at Harry Potter, but the news of the Dark Lord's return has sent a palpable chill through the Slytherin compartment.

Draco takes the time to boast about the Death Eaters. It makes Blaise sick.

It's as if Blaise has to choose now: will he stick with his unofficial family who've joined the Death Eaters, or hide away with Mother and her talk of caution and neutrality?

But those words — about "bigger and better things" — everyone knows that's a euphemism. Blaise hates that. It helps a little bit with his choice.

He hates that Draco is still beautiful, after everything.

. . .

Katie Bell is attacked. Draco looks awfully shifty after the incident.

Blaise pretends not to notice until he can't anymore.

. . .

"What's going on with you, Draco?"

"I'm fine, Blaise. There's nothing —"

Draco thinks he can deflect. He thought wrong.

"Cut the bullshit and tell me what's going on. Don't say it's nothing, because you haven't looked worse in your life, and I suspect you're even neglecting hair gel. And you never miss hair gel," Blaise says. "Stop trying to hide, Draco."

"Blaise," — I — please. Don't — don't ask, please —" Draco's practically begging. Blaise can tell that he's scared. Scared for his life, maybe.

It only confirms his suspicions more. And Blaise would leave this alone if he wasn't deathly afraid, too.

"Just tell me," he pleads, quieter this time. "Did they — Mark you?"

The very idea sends a shiver down his spine. The thought of Draco, one of theirs. Not part of the family Blaise still clung childishly to, but part of something more dark and twisted than he could even imagine, a cult of dark magic and bones and snakes.

Draco is stock still for a while. They stand there, in the dorm room of all places to be having a confrontation, and then Draco drops his head a fraction.

. . .

Perhaps a bit of what happened last night was cathartic to Draco, because he corners Blaise after breakfast today, and says, "He's going to kill me."

Blaise turns away. "No, no, I don't want to know."

"You signed up for this when you decided you wanted to know the first bit," Draco points out matter-of-factly.

"I guess I did," Blaise concedes. "And if you're going to do whatever it is they want you to do, well, I'd rather you have your head on straight."

"Is this — an alliance?" Draco asks hesitantly.

"Oh, Merlin, no. No way in hell I'm doing that. I'm just — you could say — an advisor. To make sure you don't kill someone."

An advisor. This is what they've come to, after all these years. Not family — allies.

"That's going to be a problem."

. . .

"They want you to kill Dumbledore."

"Yeah. Yeah, they do."

. . .

"Ron Weasley was poisoned earlier. Don't tell me you did that!"

"..."

. . .

"Oh, Merlin, Blaise, I'm running out of time. Nothing's working, the Vanishing Cabinet isn't working, how am I going to do this?"

"...I don't know."

. . .

Everything is desperate. Why had Blaise agreed to counsel Draco? He's given himself a death sentence. And Draco's on the noose already. Blaise doesn't want to be an accomplice to murder, but he knows more than he should, and if Draco lets anything slip…

The thoughts of what could happen send the horrific nightmares back into Blaise's mind. Bloodshed and desolate violence, tearing his world apart piece by piece. A beam of green light shot through Draco's chest because the Dark Lord finds out.

A beam of green light shot at Mother, paying the price for his foolishness.

. . .

"Draco," he says one night after Nott's gone to the library, "this is a mess."

"Yeah," he agrees. "We can't keep going like this."

"But what else are we supposed to do? I mean, I'm further into this than I'd like to be and it's all just… Draco, I don't think you get how afraid I am. For myself, sure, but for you… if you died…"

"I'm terrified, too," Draco says, moving closer to Blaise. He puts an arm on his back, as if trying console him.

Blaise laughs. "Is that supposed to be comforting?"

Draco laughs a moment too late, not sure if Blaise is being snide or if he's joking.

"I was joking."

Draco still doesn't laugh. Instead he says, "I'm scared, Blaise. So damn scared. I don't know anything anymore, except that I want to do this."

He leans in and presses his lips to Blaise's. Blaise can't see him, but he must look beautiful.

. . .

Just like that, everything becomes more terrifying. Knowing that Draco might have to kill someone. Knowing that his Draco might have to kill someone.

He would have to say the words. "Avada Kedavra." Blaise remembered Moody speaking them with glee, truly wanting it.

He remembers wanting to master the language of magic. Blaise knows it now. He has it in his fingertips.

Love. Love for Draco. That's his magic. It's all he needs.

. . .

The Dark Lord is living with Draco now. The bags under his eyes are more pronounced than ever. The fear is eating him alive.

They can't hold on for much longer. The war is going to take what they have, snatch childhood from their fingertips and tug at their heartstrings until they're nothing but frayed threads.

Blaise just regrets that they hadn't made more magic.