Disclaimer: All characters belong to JK Rowling, Warner Brothers, Scholastic Books, etc, ad nauseum…The plot is mine.

A/N: For those of you who have NOT read this fic before, this is the second version of it.  I wrote it before book 5 came out and since I went to school in America, I had no idea what the Prefect and Head Boy/Girl system is really like.  I made a few mistakes that I saw once book 5 came out, so I made a few changes that those of you who read the original will probably pick up rather quickly.  Also, to make it easier to continue the fic, I made a few other changes that will bring it more in line with OotP.  My undying thanks to Jubilee. She asked me to make a G/B story using the same type of Blaise character I made for Weasel and Kneazle, but het, not gay. And I had originally planned on making this a friendship fic, since I am so obsessed with D/G, but once their hormones got going, the story just started sizzling.  Please keep in mind that my hormonal teenage years are long behind me, but I do remember how intense things felt at that age, and how quickly a situation could get out of hand.  Anyway, enough justification…you read and judge as you see fit. 

Ginny Weasley hurried away from the library, her face red and tears of humiliation slipping down her cheeks. She hated Draco Malfoy! She hated him with a white-hot fury that was almost a living thing, struggling up to choke her. He was such a bastard! As she angrily dashed the tears from her eyes, she cursed the pale, conceited Slytherin and stalked around the corner, making for the stairway that would lead her to Gryffindor Tower. She skidded to a stop, however, when her tear-blurred eyes spotted a tall, dark figure looming in front of her.

"Very impressive for a little Gryffindor," a silky, arrogant voice commented.

Ginny's heart started pounding faster as she wiped the remaining tears from her eyes and glared at the young man towering over her.

"And I thought sweet little Gryffindors like you didn't know that kind of language," the young man mused, smirking at her. "Really, what did Malfoy do to provoke such filth from such sweet, delicate lips?"

Ginny recognized the young man immediately. Blaise Zabini was very well known to all the girls at school, but for vastly different reasons than Ginny's. Zabini was tall; almost as tall as Professor Dumbledore. He had dark hair and piercing eyes that seemed to look straight through the kids he caught in his role as the Head Boy. Most of the girls knew of him because of his deadly charm. If the tales Ginny heard were true, more than one girl had lost her virginity to the not quite handsome, but dead sexy Slytherin, although none of them seemed to be complaining. Ginny's reason for knowing of the Head Boy was unique; he looked frighteningly like Tom Riddle.

Ginny shuddered as those piercing eyes seemed to pin her down right now. He'd only caught her out after curfew once, when she'd been working late on a Herbology project. He'd eyed the pass Professor Sprout had given her, then treated her to such a searching look that she'd felt ready to admit to anything, despite of the fact that she hadn't done anything wrong. It had scared her badly and she did her best to avoid coming to his notice since then, but today was apparently not her day.

Dragging her eyes away from his with considerable effort, Ginny mumbled that had been nothing. The tall Head Boy gave a mocking laugh.

"Really, little Gryff?" he taunted. "Then exactly what is it that's causing the unflattering flush and the teary red eyes?"

Clearing her throat and gathering her courage, Ginny said, "It's none of your business, Zabini!"

She tried to push past him, but he caught her arm easily and held her back. He leaned down so his face was only an inch away. As his eyes locked with hers, he said, "Everything that goes on concerning my House is my business, little Gryff."

His eyebrow twitched up quickly, as though emphasizing his point. He straightened but didn't release her arm. "You have me at a disadvantage, Gryff," he said, his voice as smooth as silk. "You know my name, but I don't know yours. When I write you up for loitering in the halls, I'll have to know who you are."

Ginny stared up at him, shocked. "I'm not loitering!" she cried. "If you hadn't been sneaking around, blocking the halls, I'd already be back in Gryffindor!"

Finally yanking her arm away, Ginny pushed past him and nearly ran down the corridor, Zabini's mocking laughter ringing in her ears.

"Malfoy said what?" Ron roared.

They were in the common room. Supper was in less than an hour and many of the kids were lounging on the couches or at the tables, or finishing homework. Ginny had joined Ron and Harry, watching their game of chess. Hermione was across the room, several books stacked in front of her, conscientiously studying for upcoming N.E.W.T.s. Ginny was glad, since Hermione seemed to be able to sense when something was bothering her and usually was able to get the story from her. Actually, Ginny hadn't meant to say anything at all about the incident with Malfoy, but apparently Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil had been in the library and heard the whole thing. And naturally, being the gossipy old cats they were, they had to bring it up at the most inconvenient time! As soon as Ron had gotten Harry into a checkmate position, Lavender had sidled up to their table.

"Oh, poor Ginny," she'd almost cooed. "It was horrible what Malfoy said to you. I can't believe you're not upstairs crying your eyes out!"

Ron and Harry had both glanced from Lavender to Ginny with questioning looks on their faces. Ginny had flushed.

"It's none of your business, Lavender," Ginny had nearly growled. "It was nothing."

"Didn't sound like nothing to me, Ginny," Parvati chimed in, joining them. "It sounded like Malfoy was either asking for a shag or calling you a—"

"Enough!" Ginny shouted, cutting her off and causing many heads to turn toward her table.

As the girl pretended concern, Ginny flushed even harder. What Malfoy had really said was to the effect that he wondered if the Weasley family was so hard up that Ginny would have to prostitute herself to buy her books next year. She'd tried to slap him, but he'd moved out of the way and she'd only ended up swinging at thin air and nearly ending up on her ass. It had been bad at the time, but repeating it and trying to explain it to Ron with Harry listening was worse. It was humiliating. And now Ron was going ballistic!

Ginny seethed and glared at the two older girls, wishing that a hole to some horrid hell would conveniently open at their feet. They had the nerve to pat her consolingly on the shoulders before turning away, giggling, and heading up to their dorm room. Ginny vowed seven types of revenge on each, at least one involving fleas infesting their private parts, before returning her attention to her enraged brother.

"I'm not going to repeat it, Ron. It was bad enough the first time."

Usually when Ginny kept her voice low and calm, it had a calming effect on her brother. This time, however, it wasn't working.

"That…son of a bitch…called you…a whore?" he demanded, gritting the words out, his large hands clenching and unclenching. Ginny had a sudden mental image of him clenching those hands around Malfoy's skinny little neck, and was shocked at how good the image made her feel. Not that she didn't want to get the arrogant ferret back, but he wasn't worth Ron getting expelled or worse over.

"Ron, will you calm down?" Ginny pleaded. "Don't do something stupid! If you do, Malfoy's won! Don't you see?"

Harry seemed to be thinking the same thing. "Look, Ron, I'd love to clobber Malfoy, too, but it'll only get you in trouble," he said reasonably.

"Wasn't your sister he bloody well called a…a…well, you know!" Ron said between clenched teeth. "I'll kill the bastard!"

Ron stood, apparently prepared to find the 'bastard' this second and commence with the life-taking. Ginny jumped up and grabbed his arm. "Sit down!" she commanded in a very good imitation of their mother's voice. Ron sat.

"Now, Ron, two things," she said, once again trying for calm. "First, what do you care what Malfoy says? You know he spouts off for attention, and you better know that what he says isn't true. Right?"

She glared at her brother, waiting for an answer. Ron glared back, unwilling to give up his anger quite yet. Finally, though, he huffed, "Of course I know it's not true. Don't be such a daft twit!"

"Good," Ginny said. "Second, it's my fight, not yours."

Ginny held up her hand to forestall any argument. "Yeah, yeah, you're my brother and all that but I don't need you defending me! It's only words and I've already proved that I can take care of myself, right? You're not going to always be there, Ron, so let me fight my own fights! And let me pick the important ones. I'm not about to get in trouble for some stupid, spoilt rich brat who thinks he's better than everyone else. He'll get his, one day, and if I can't be the one to give it to him, I just hope I'm on hand to see it!"

Ron opened his mouth, but Ginny gave him another glare. "Not your business, Ron!" she said with finality. Then she rose and stalked away.

"Turned into a real spit-fire," Harry breathed, staring at the departing redhead with something very like admiration in his eyes.

Ron gave his best friend a glare and growled, "Watch it, Potter. That's my little sister you're mentally undressing!"

Supper was fairly uneventful, which surprised Ginny no end. She'd been sure Malfoy would repeat his earlier words along with a highly theatrical and typically malicious imitation of her attempt to slap him. Instead, Malfoy looked bad-tempered and sulky and avoided looking in the direction of the Gryffindor table for the entire meal. Not only that, but his goons, Crabbe and Goyle looked equally irritable. They, however, made it a point to glare stupidly at Ginny from time to time. That didn't bother the girl at all, though. Without Malfoy there to goad them, the goon squad was fairly harmless. Ginny shook her head and was about to look away when a quick movement caught her eye. She glanced toward it before she realized that it was the Head Boy, Zabini, taking his seat. Before she could look away, he'd caught her eye. His mouth twisted into a mocking smile and he gave her a small, superior nod. Once again his eyebrow twitched upward, as though he knew a secret that was too good not to tell. Ginny could only shudder and look away, growing cold at the realization that the Tom Riddle who had come from the diary in her first year at school had given her the same look before giving her a mocking thanks for her life.

As soon as supper was over, Ginny waded through the crowd of kids and toward the stairs leading to Gryffindor Tower, wanting nothing more than to get away from everyone. If she'd had to rate this day on a scale from one to ten, she would give it a minus-infinity. It had been a very bad day and she couldn't wait to shower, change into her most comfortable pajamas, and snuggle into bed with her blankets pulled over her head.

"Well, if it isn't the little slut," she heard a voice hiss as she pushed past some of the Slytherins.

The voice, as well as the stupid laughter from Crabbe and Goyle told Ginny exactly who was addressing her. Don't turn around, she commanded herself. Ignore him! He'll hate that! She planned on doing just that when she heard a surprised shout and a thud directly behind her. Spinning, she was shocked to see Malfoy flat on his face on the ground at her feet. Ron, Harry and Hermione were right behind him, staring down at him, looking equally amazed. Ginny couldn't help feeling a tug of satisfaction. Ron had apparently shoved the conceited git right onto his face! She just hoped that Ron wouldn't get in trouble. The conceited git, at that moment, was struggling to his feet, his nose swollen and bleeding, and his lip split. He looked furious!

"Who did thad!" he demanded, glaring at the students of every house now clustered around him. "You, Weasley? I'll ged you for thad" he threatened. Although Crabbe and Goyle glared menacingly at Ron, the threat lost much of its menace with Malfoy's suddenly nasal pronunciation.  Ron glared right back.

"I didn't touch you, you clumsy prat," Ron declared, then turned one of Malfoy's own insults on the pale boy. "Like I'd really risk contamination, touching the likes of you!"

Someone sniggered and Malfoy glared at the crowd again.

"Been walking long, Malfoy?" someone from the back of the crowd called.

The pale Slytherin flushed and turned, trying to locate the speaker. "Who said thad" he yelled. "I'll find oud! And when I do--"

"Better wipe your nose first, ferret-boy," Ginny said quickly, feeling very daring. "Otherwise you'll drown him in your bloody snot."

A few of the girls gasped, but there was more laughter and even a few of the Slytherins giggled. Draco Malfoy hadn't gone out of his way to make himself liked. He spun on his heel and gave Ginny a venomous look.

Leaning forward to glare into Ginny's face, Malfoy hissed, "When I wad the opidion of a filthy little sl--,"

Ginny struck out at him, putting every ounce of her weight behind the tiny balled-up fist, just the way her brother Charlie had taught her. This time, her blow connected directly with the outthrust jaw, snapping Malfoy's head around and sending him flying back to land in a heap against the wall. A chorus of gasps filled the air. Crabbe and Goyle stumbled over one another to get to Malfoy's side, casting amazed looks back toward the small girl who had downed their leader. No one was more surprised than Ginny herself. She'd actually done it! She's smashed Malfoy in the face! Then she cried out as the pain from the blow made itself felt.

"Bloody hell!" Ron cried, rushing to Ginny's side and grabbing at her hand. She winced and tried to pull away but he didn't seem to notice.  "That was amazing, Gin!"

Before he could continue, a voice shouted, "What is going on here?"

"Crap!" Ron breathed as Professor Snape pushed through the crowd. Dropping his sister's hand, Ron stepped slightly in front of her and faced the teacher.

No one spoke as the tall, gaunt Potions master pulled himself up to his full height and eyed the assembled students distastefully. "Don't you all have somewhere to be right now, instead of clogging the hallways?" he demanded of no one in particular. As he glared at them, the crowd began to disperse.

Harry and Hermione had joined Ron and Ginny and were urging them toward the stairs. Professor Snape's eyes lighted on them with a delighted gleam. "Potter, Weasley, Granger," he said, stopping them in their tracks. "I should have known you three would be at the center of any trouble in the castle," he began.

"They attaged me, Professor!"

Malfoy's whining voice diverted Snape's attention.  He, along with the Gryffindors, turned to look at him.  He looked like hell, Ginny thought, with the fat lip and swollen jaw. And the slimy git still hadn't wiped the blood running down his face. In all, he looked like someone had beaten the holy hell out of him. Snape glanced his way, then turned for a double take.

"What the hell happened to you?" Snape demanded, obviously shocked out of his usual reserved manner of speaking.

Smirking, then wincing at the pain the expression caused, Malfoy pointed at Ginny and her brother. "It was theb, sir," he said. "Weasley shoved be into a wall, thed his slut of a sister got be with a cheap shot to the face!"

Snape's eyes were positively glittering when he looked at the brother and sister. 

"Attacking another student? That's good for several points from Gryffindor," the professor gloated. "And I was just wondering what to do for entertainment next week. Detention sounds too good for you two, but since the Headmaster had dispensed with corporal punishment…"

He let the word hang and Ron and Ginny looked at one another, aghast. They knew arguing that Malfoy had started it would be futile, but Ginny was ready to try, anyway.

"God, Malfoy, haven't you any house pride at all?" a smooth, sneering voice suddenly demanded.

Ginny knew the voice instantly, and shivered. Ron, Harry and Hermione, along with Snape, Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, turned to look at the speaker. Blaise Zabini had been leaning, unnoticed against the door to the Great Hall. Now he pushed himself away and gave Malfoy a smirk.

"What are you talking about, Zabini?" Professor Snape demanded.

Zabini continued forward until he was standing next to Malfoy. He grinned evilly. "Prat nearly gave himself a rupture trying to get at the Weasley girl.  It's no wonder he tripped over himself to slobber over her," he said simply, drawing a protest from Malfoy. He ignored it. "Everyone's talking about how he's obsessed with her, and she won't give him the time of day."

"Thad's a lie!" Malfoy yelled, clenching his fists. He gave Ginny a glare and said, "Subone shoved be from behide! And as for Weasley, I would'd touch her if by life depeded on it!"

"As if I'd let you, you poncey little ferret!" Ginny retorted, cocking her fist at him and ignoring the jagged spike of pain is sent up her arm.  She was running on adrenaline now. "Knocked down by a tap from a girl half your size! Big, bad Slytherin, huh? Big, bad pouf is more like!"

Malfoy lunged toward her and Snape himself had to grab the boy and pull him away. Ron and Harry jumped immediately to block him, while Zabini drew his wand, apparently ready to defend his housemate. Snape glared from one student to another, uncomfortably aware that there was more going on here than met the eye. He also knew that he had to try to keep this quiet.  If the story about Malfoy obsessing over a Gryffindor, unlikely as it seemed, or being knocked flat on his ass by a girl got around, Snape wouldn't be able to hold his head up in the teacher's lounge for the remainder of the school year! It was intolerable, but he knew he would have to let the matter blow over. Giving Zabini a dark look for interfering in this mess in the first place, he cleared his throat.

"I'll…let it go this time," he said in a tight voice. "But if you three, or you, Miss Weasley, put a single toe out of line, you're mine! Zabini, you will explain things to these students while you see them to their common room."

A look passed between Head Boy and professor, then Snape glared at Malfoy. "Malfoy, I want a few words with you!"

The Potions master turned and stalked away, his robes billowing behind him. Malfoy gave Ginny a hate-filled look then sulkily followed after his Head of House, Crabbe and Goyle in tow.

Ron whistled softly and whispered, "Wow, I can't believe we got out of that one!"

"Oh, you didn't, quite, Weasley," Zabini said with a smirk. "You'll understand that there are certain 'conditions' attached to your, um, how should I put it? Your 'stay of execution'."

"What do you mean by 'conditions'," Hermione demanded.

Zabini gave Hermione a superior look and seemed to flaunt his Head Boy's badge in her face. Everyone had expected Hermione to be Head Girl, but she'd been inexplicably passed over in favor of Hannah Abbot. Zabini seemed to know that it was a sore spot with her and was now making the most of it. Without having any sort of rank at all, Hermione felt at a distinct disadvantage.  But she did try not to let it show.  She gave Zabini her best approximation of a glare, which wasn't really very good and asked again, "What 'conditions'?"

"I think he means we have to keep quiet about what really happened," Harry said, giving Zabini a questioning look.

"Right in one, Potter," Zabini said. Motioning toward Ginny, he added, "Probably in the little Gryff's best interests if it went no further, anyway. You wouldn't want Malfoy feeling free to spread his bit of filth round, now would you?"

Ginny clenched her fists at the insulting tone, then sucked her breath in at the sudden pain. She must have hurt her hand on Malfoy's skinny little jaw, and now the adrenaline rush was wearing off. Her hand was one throbbing mass of pain. Biting her lip, she tried to listen as Ron demanded an explanation.

"You're a bloody idiot, Weasley, you know that?" Zabini said by way of answer.

Ginny silently agreed, wondering when her brother was going to notice that she needed some help here.  She was aware of a queasy feeling in her stomach.

"What? What do you mean?"

Zabini didn't answer. Instead he said, "You lot, back to Gryffindor before I recommend points be taken. And you," he added, fixing that frightening stare on Ginny, "will come with me to the healer."

Ginny cradled her arm to her chest, but otherwise didn't move.  She didn't hear Hermione and Ron's concerned questions, because the nausea was getting worse and she did not want to throw up in front of the arrogant Slytherin.

"Ginny, are you all right?" Harry asked, finally noticing her distress. When he touched her hand, though, she yelped and passed out.

When Ginny woke, she looked around, disoriented. She wasn't in her room at the Burrow, and this wasn't her bed at Hogwarts. It only took a few seconds to place the room, though. She was in the hospital wing.

"What the--?" she began, struggling into a sitting position, which was awkward with her right hand swathed in thick gauze bandages and tied in a sling against her chest.

Then she remembered: Malfoy, the punch to the jaw, and the pain from a probably-broken hand. She'd fainted! Ron must have brought her here. Looking around the darkened hospital wing, though, Ginny didn't see anyone. She was all alone.

"Uh, Madam Pomfrey?" she called softly, afraid to disturb anyone else who might be here at the moment, although all the beds she saw seemed to be empty. There was no answer. Scooting to the edge of the bed, she dangled her legs over and tried again, a little louder. "Madam POMFREY?"

A rustle from the front of the ward caused Ginny to glance around. The healer was emerging from her office and bustling toward the girl.  Ginny watched her.

"Miss Weasley! You're awake! Wonderful! You gave us quite a scare at first, with your passing out. How does your hand feel?"

Ginny looked down at her hand again, but it didn't feel like anything. Shaking her head, she shrugged.  A cool, amused voice said, "I think she wants you to test it out, Gryfflette."

Ginny jumped and looked up. Zabini was standing right in front of her, smirking at her.

"Where the hell did you come from?" she demanded, surprise causing her to blurt out her first thought.

The smirk grew wider. "Language, Gryff. That's twice in one day. We Slytherins must really upset you a lot," he said coolly. "I was sneaking about, blocking the halls again, thank you very much."

By now Madam Pomfrey had reached Ginny's bed and was talking a mile a minute while fussing over the girl. Zabini had stepped back to give the healer room, but he continued to watch, amused, as Pomfrey examined Ginny's hand.

"Did it hurt badly, dear?" the healer asked.

"Uh, well, yeah, it did," Ginny admitted, wanting to slap the smirk from Zabini's face.

"Usually does hurt when you break your hand on someone's face," Zabini remarked, chuckling darkly.

The healer ignored his comment and removed the splint and bandages. "Now, dear, I want you to make a fist," she instructed Ginny.

"But this time, don't tuck your thumb in, Gryfflette. That's how you broke your hand in the first place."

Ginny stuck her tongue out at Zabini, at the moment not caring how immature that must have seemed. Zabini raised his eyebrows and grinned at the childish display. Pomfrey, however, turned and leveled a hard look on the young man.

"Mr. Zabini, have a seat and keep quiet," the healer ordered. "Miss Weasley might have to stay the night but I can't make the determination if you're bothering her and making snide comments. If you can't behave, I'll send for someone from Gryffindor to escort her back!"

"Yes, ma'am," Zabini returned with a jaunty salute. He sat in the chair near the bed, but if Madam Pomfrey thought she'd put him in his place, she was sadly mistaken. As the plump healer bustled about her examination, Zabini was making faces and imitating the woman behind her back, causing Ginny to bite her lip to control a sudden attack of nervous giggles. What was the boy playing at, she kept asking herself. Why was he here and where was Ron? She wondered briefly if he was here to take some sort of revenge for Malfoy, but that didn't make sense. There didn't seem to be any love lost between the two Slytherins. Looking away from him finally, Ginny realized with a start that Madam Pomfrey was finished with her exam and frowning at Ginny.

"Uh, I'm sorry, ma'am, did you say something?" she asked.

"I said you're fine, Miss Weasley. You may be a bit tired from the bone-knitting charms, but otherwise, you shouldn't have any problems. You can go back to your room."

Despite telling her she could go, Madam Pomfrey was giving Ginny a look that clearly said she wasn't certain the girl really was fine, after all. Ginny jumped down from the examination table and smoothed her robes. She didn't want to spend the night in the infirmary if she could help it.

"Thanks, ma'am," she said quickly. "I'll just be going now!"

Ginny headed for the exit, glad to make her escape. This day just kept getting worse and worse and the thought of her soft, cozy pajamas and her warm, comfortable bed, kept getting better and better. Then she heard his voice again.

"Got a hot date, Gryfflette?" Zabini asked, catching her up. "What's the hurry?"

Ginny sped up and pushed through the door to the hospital wing. Zabini was right beside her. "Go away, Zabini!" Ginny said tiredly. "I can find my own way back!"

"Yeah, but if you get caught, you'll get in trouble," he answered, giving her a shark-like smile. "You didn't bother getting a pass from the healer, remember? And guess who will make it his business to catch you?" The look he gave her told her plainly that he had no problem blackmailing her to get his way.

Ginny sighed and stopped, weighing her options. She could go back to the healer and ask for a pass, which would really only take a few moments, but would necessitate explanations on why she didn't want Zabini to escort her. Or she could just let the arrogant git escort her to Gryffindor, making sure to go quickly. She wanted to spend as little time in his disturbing company as possible.

"Well, little Gryff? Are you planning on camping out here in the corridor all night or are you going to make a decision?"

Ginny looked up at him, about to tell him to come on then, if he was going to insist. Her words dried on her lips. He was very close to her, and she couldn't account for how he'd got that close in the few seconds she'd paused to think. But there he was, looming over her, staring at her like she was something tasty on the dessert menu. Ginny's eyes widened and her breath caught in her chest as she tried to look away from that compelling gaze. He stepped closer, his lids half closing over the penetrating eyes and Ginny was finally able to pull her gaze away.

"We, uh, should go if we're going," she said in a shaky, breathless voice as she stepped back and hurried away from him.

She heard him mutter something, but she didn't understand his words. She was too busy wondering what the hell had just happened. He'd looked ready to kiss her, Ginny thought, astounded. But that wasn't possible! He didn't even know her, and Ginny was sure that he held the same anti-Gryffindor sentiments as the rest of the Slytherins. The only answer that made sense was that he was trying to 'score' with her, put another notch in his belt, so to speak. That was understandable, given what she'd heard about him. Zabini wasn't that good looking, but the girls who talked about him didn't seem to care. Even Ginny had felt something when he'd looked at her; a pull, like a magnet, drawing her toward the cold, frightening young man. The same way she'd been pulled, again and again, to make entries in Tom's diary. A shudder of fear and revulsion hit her, making Ginny stumble to a halt and lean heavily against the wall.

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

Ginny heard his voice, heard the hint of irritation, but she was trying to blot out the image of Tom Riddle standing over her in the Chamber, his expression superior, and his voice cruel. All of a sudden, she felt like she was back there, hearing the mocking, hated voice.

"Poor, poor misunderstood Ginny," he'd crooned. "No one cared enough to listen, and now, poor little Ginny, you're going to die. Alone, afraid, unloved. Poor Ginny. At least your pathetic life will have some purpose. You'll die so I can live." The phantom Tom had bent over her then, and she'd felt a cold chill as his thin lips had touched her cheek. "My thanks, stupid little girl."

"What is it? What's wrong?" Zabini demanded, standing over her.

Ginny looked up into the face that so resemble the one she hated, and cried out, striking at him with both fists. "No! Not again! Go away, Tom! I hate you! I hate you!"

Blaise stared, astonished, at the girl in front of him. She was striking at him in blind fury, crying and shouting. He looked around, hoping no one was close enough to hear the commotion she was making. He had to do something, fast. Without another thought, he wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off her feet, cursing under his breath as she started kicking and pounding at him even harder. He then pulled her into the nearest room, praying that it would be empty. It was empty, and Zabini breathed a silent thanks. Blaise kicked the door closed and moved toward the center of the room.  He looked at the girl again. She'd become frantic when he'd picked her up, but now she seemed exhausted. She hung limply in his arms with her head resting against his chest.  When he set her on her feet she merely leaned tiredly against him.

Blaise wasn't really sure what had just happened, but the Gryfflette had called him Tom when she'd attacked him. He wasn't stupid. He'd been told countless times by his parents' friends and older relatives of his uncanny resemblance to the famous (to the average Slytherin, at least) Tom Riddle. Tom had been a prefect when he'd been here. He'd been a skilled Quidditch player and was reported to have been very powerful in the dark arts. In fact, he was very much a Slytherin hero.  But that had been years ago.

Somehow, though, this girl had seen his resemblance to Riddle and seemed to be frightened of the former Slytherin. He studied her again, wondering how that could be. If Tom Riddle were still alive, he'd be a doddering old man in his sixties or seventies right now. What possible connection could this little Gryffindor have with Riddle? He didn't know, but he intended to find out. First, though, he had to deal with the girl. Giving her a little shake, he said, "Here, now, Gryfflette, if you're going to call out a name when you're in my arms, at least make it my name."

She didn't answer. He tried again. "It's 'Blaise', not 'Tom'. Now you say it, Gryfflette."

Ginny stiffened at Tom's name, but she didn't move away. She couldn't. She was exhausted from her panic attack. Instead she leaned against Zabini's chest, listening to the rumble of his voice and breathing in the scent of his cologne. It was very soothing and Ginny was so tired.  She should move, she knew, but hell, he was used to girls falling all over him, wasn't he?

"Aren't you?" she mumbled softly.

"Aren't I what?" Blaise asked, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable.

This had been a bad idea. He'd thought it would be a laugh to force her brother and friends back to Gryffindor and perhaps steal a kiss or two escorting the girl back. He'd wanted to since the night he'd come on her returning to her dorm a few months back. She'd been so indignant and so utterly immune to his charm that she'd intrigued him. So he'd begun to watch her, and he'd grown more intrigued. It wasn't that she was beautiful; she wasn't. She was pretty enough, but that wasn't the attraction. The attraction was her vivacity, her spirit, her innocent delight in life. And Blaise had understood that this was not a girl to mess around with. He'd understood the strength of her attraction in a way that that git Malfoy couldn't begin to understand. Malfoy picked on the girl and insulted her because he couldn't admit that he was attracted to her. Blaise understood that he was attracted to the girl himself, and that it would be insane to approach her. Even this afternoon he'd had to restrain himself from doing more than merely teasing her and asking for the name he knew very well. But then she'd actually flattened that prat Malfoy (which had been a beautiful thing to witness), breaking her hand in the process. So when he'd had a chance to get Ginny Weasley alone this night, he hadn't been able to resist. And now he found there was much more than even he had suspected to this girl. The question was, did he care to investigate further, or should he just shove her out the door and forget this ever happened? Somehow, he couldn't bring himself to push her away. At least, not yet.

The girl in question stirred in his arms finally and looked wearily up at him. "Did I say that out loud?" she asked, her cheeks flushing.

"Part of it. What was the rest, Gryfflette? Just want to know what I'm answering."

She blushed and tried to look away. "Used to girls falling all over you. I thought you were, so I didn't mind leaning on you." A faltering smile crossed her lips.

Blaise's brow shot up. "Use me as a leaning post any time you want, just so long as you use my name which, by the way, isn't Tom."

Ginny's smile faded as the hated memory came back. Shivering, she tried to push away, but Zabini held her arms firmly.

Blaise wasn't going to just let her go now.  He'd come this far and wasn't about to let her off that easily. "Sorry, pet," he said teasingly. "You're not going anywhere until you learn to say my name. Now, let's try it again. It's really easy. Just like a fire in the hearth. 'Blaise'. Now you say it."

Ginny shook off the lethargy that had stolen over her and scowled at him. "Let me go, Zabini. I-I'll scream if you don't."

He smirked. "Go ahead, Gryfflette. I'll just have to shut you up if you do!"

Giving him a furious look, Ginny pulled in a breath to scream. He would try to cover her mouth, she knew.  When he did, she would just yank away and kick him in the groin. She never got a chance.  Before she could do more than take her breath, he wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off her feet again. Ginny tried to gasp, but he covered her mouth with his own at that instant. And then all thoughts of screaming seemed to fly from her head. Blaise Zabini obviously knew a thing or two about kissing reluctant girls.  Instead of trying to force her, he let his lips settle, almost butterfly soft, on hers.  His hands gently stroked her back, but he wasn't pressuring her at all.

Lord, Ginny thought, he is so good at this! He was holding her off her feet, gently kissing her into mindless submission. And Ginny was letting him. Hell, she wasn't letting him, she was helping him! She wasn't struggling or fighting, and she was even leaning into him, pressing her mouth to his as though she'd never been kissed before.

"Mmm," Blaise moaned against her mouth. Now his tongue traced her lips lightly as he set her back on her feet and brought his hands to her face. Cupping her face, he looked into her eyes. "God, you taste good," he murmured, pulling her in for another kiss.

Ginny felt a shivery wave of heat roll over her as his words sank in. This is so lovely, she thought distractedly.  The thought surprised her and made her aware of what was happening.  She was insane, letting him kiss her like this when she didn't even know him. She would shove him away, she really would, any moment. Instead, she closed her eyes and parted her lips, unable to resist. Just like all the other girls, she thought fleetingly.  If he'd treated them to this same gentleness, she had no doubt why they'd succumbed.  But at least she understood them now. He was irresistible. As his lips moved over hers, Ginny tangled her hands in his thick, heavy hair, not wanting him to stop. She couldn't resist the urge to deepen the kiss. She opened her mouth wider and gently flicked at his lips with the tip of her tongue. He shuddered and moaned again, the sound getting caught in Ginny's mouth. Pulling away, he whispered, "Oh, yeah, just like that!"

Ginny pulled his mouth to hers once more. He held her tightly against him, pressing his body into hers, sending shiver after shiver of heat through her body. Ginny touched his lips with her tongue, then pushed in deeper, running her tongue over his smooth, even teeth and curling it around his tongue. He moaned and Ginny tightened her fingers in his hair, for once wishing she wasn't so inexperienced. He didn't seem to notice, though. His hands were moving restlessly over her back and bottom, gripping, then stroking, pulling her tighter, then loosening, as though he wasn't sure what to do next. Ginny wondered if that was part of his attraction. He made her feel like she was the passionate, experienced one and that he was the helpless one, overcome by mindless desire.

Blaise could barely think straight. He'd known this girl, this innocent little Gryffindor would be trouble. He'd just thought that he could handle it. He'd been sadly mistaken. He must be insane. What had compelled him to kiss her instead of just shoving her out the door? And now she was kissing him senseless, moving that tiny, sexy body against his, making his blood boil.

Blaise knew she was inexperienced; her kisses were so tentative and shy. So how had she taken control so easily? He was the one with the experience and he was acting like an ignorant little boy getting his first real kiss! It was not to be borne, and Blaise would put a stop to it immediately, he told himself sternly. Yeah, right, he answered mentally. He wasn't going to do anything that might make her stop kissing him. Then Ginny made a little mewling sound in her throat that sent a shiver of need right through his brain and down to that part of him that longed to be buried deep in her right now. Blaise tore his mouth from hers and buried his face in her neck, dragging another of those needy, mewling sounds from her.

God, he thought, he loved that sound. He wanted more, and he wanted to know that she was making it just for him. His hands came up and found her tiny, firm breasts. He heard the breath hitch in her throat and he growled, nipping at her neck. More, his brain shouted. He wanted to hear more. He molded his hands to her breasts, brushing the peaks with his thumbs. She threw her head back and leaned into his touch, now clutching at his shoulders. Blaise shuddered when her movement caused her stomach to press firmly against him.

How had he possibly thought he would be satisfied with a few kisses?  Blaise wanted her more than he could remember ever wanting a girl.  He had to have her, and soon. Bringing his mouth back to hers, he nipped at her lips before covering them and plunging his tongue into her sweet mouth. She mewled again and slid her hands from his shoulders to his chest, mimicking his movements and brushing her thumbs against his hard, flat nipples. The material of his shirt rasped against the sensitive nubs, making him groan against her mouth.

Breaking the kiss, he hissed, "Say it! Say my name!"

Ginny opened her eyes, her lids feeling heavy. She saw the intensity, the passion in his face. It was so intense it was almost frightening.

Blaise slid his hands to her hips and pulled her firmly against him, grinding his length into her soft stomach. "Say it, Ginny," he demanded, needing to hear his name on her lips. Ginny's hands caught at his arms and she arched into him.

"Blaise," she whispered, feeling a thrill at how wonderful his name sounded. "Blaise," she repeated.

"Yes," he answered, leaning in to take her mouth again.

Blaise, Ginny thought, and the name started a blaze in her mind. He made her feel powerful, seductive, even desirable.  But one tiny part of her brain was shrieking at her, trying to tell her to stop, and stop now!  Think of the others, the voice said.  How many other girls had he seduced like this? How many others had felt the thrill of power that was really his power over them? I don't care, she answered the voice. But suddenly she found that she did care.  She didn't want to be one of the many. She wanted to be special, not just a notch on someone's wand. She tried to pull away, but her body wanted him. She managed to break away from his mouth, but that was as far as she got.

"Blaise," she whispered, still thrilling at the sound. "Please…"

"What?" he moaned, loving her voice, the husky purr of it that sent chills through his body. He wanted to hear her say it again, wanted to hear her ask him, beg him to make love to her.

"Please what, Ginny? Tell me what you want."

He moved his mouth to her throat again, but this time he pushed away the robe and moved his mouth over her blouse. Ginny sighed as she arched into his kisses. His lips found one hard peak through the material of her blouse and bra and he pulled it into his mouth.

"Oh, gods!" she breathed. His tongue was circling the hard nub of flesh and she could feel the wet heat of his mouth through both layers of clothing. An aching need was building deep inside her, centered between her thighs. How could she ever make him stop now? "Blaise, please!" she cried as his mouth moved to the other peak.

"Tell me, Ginny! Anything!"

Swallowing, Ginny whispered, "Please, stop!"

It took a second for the words to sink in. Snapping his head up, Blaise stared at her, unbelieving. Her face was flushed, her lips swollen and inviting, and her eyes soft with desire. Her body was quivering in his arms and she was still arched tightly against him. It was obvious that she wanted him, as much as he wanted her.  He had to have misunderstood.

"Please what?" he demanded, his breathing shallow and irregular.

Ginny opened her eyes completely. Blaise was trembling with anger, Ginny was sure.  Suddenly frightened and unsure, she managed to stammer, "I can't stop! I can't make you stop. All I can do is ask."

Blaise straightened, gripping her shoulders tightly so he wouldn't tear her clothes off her. Ginny bit her lip and tried again.

"Please, it's not fair," she whispered. "I'm no match for you; it's not even a challenge. Do you have to make me your next conquest?"

Pathetic! She sounded like a pathetic little girl! Tears stung her eyes and she cursed herself. Pleading wasn't bad enough; now she was crying again, and in front of a Slytherin, too. She stared at him, willing him to understand. But despite asking him to stop, she knew that if he pushed things, she would be helpless to resist.

Blaise stared at her, wondering just who was insane, her or him? Did she honestly think he was doing this just for the thrill of the conquest? Even he wasn't that crazy.  What had begun as a lark had gotten so far out of hand that Blaise was astounded.  And though it had started that way, it sure as hell hadn't ended up the way he had planned. She must be deranged if she thought he was in control here. He hadn't been in control since she'd pressed that sweet little tongue into his mouth and driven him mad. Releasing the breath he'd been holding, Blaise stepped away from Ginny and ran shaking fingers through his hair. She was staring at him with wide, frightened doe eyes, as thought she actually thought he was going to try to force her. God, he needed a drink. Or a cold shower. Possibly both.

Growling out a curse, he turned away from her and headed toward the door.

Ginny watched him hesitantly, almost afraid of what he'd do next.  Maybe he'd just storm out of the room, or maybe he'd begin screaming at her for leading him on. Blaise had his back to her, leaning against the door and he didn't seem to be ready to do anything at all. Ginny was unsure what to say or do, but she needed to get out of this room and away from this boy. Stepping toward him, she said, "Blaise?"

"Don't," he said angrily, straightening. "It's Zabini, got it? Now let's get out of here."

Without a backward glance, he opened the door and stalked out. Ginny followed; half-hoping he would just leave her there. He didn't, though. He waited until she closed the door, then growled, "Let's go!"

Ginny led him toward Gryffindor Tower, though she was sure he knew the way himself. They were both silent, and Ginny was glad. She couldn't think of a thing to say to him, despite the passionate exchange they'd just shared. As they approached the portrait of the fat lady in the pink dress, Ginny slowed.

"I guess--" she began nervously.

"Don't bother, little Gryff," he said, cutting her off. "Stay away from Malfoy.  Avoid anywhere he might be. I meant it about him; he's obsessed with you.  Who knows what that lunatic would do if he had a chance? Just steer clear of him. That should be simple enough, since you've been doing it to me for months."

Ginny stared at him as he turned and stalked away. "Wait!" she cried, running after him. "What are you talking about?"

He turned back to her, a sneer on his face. "You mean about Malfoy's obsession or you avoiding me?"

Ginny shook her head. "Why are you telling me about Malfoy?"

Blaise rolled his eyes. "You think all Slytherins are like Malfoy and his goons? You know, some of us are almost human." A malicious glint lit his eyes. "It felt good as hell to knock him on his face tonight. It felt better to watch you smack him. That was beautiful!"

Ignoring the compliment, Ginny cried, "You knocked him down? But why?"

With a shrug, Blaise said, "He deserved it." Then he turned and walked away.

Ginny knew she shouldn't but she couldn't stop herself. "Blaise," she called, chasing him again.

He spun back to her and grabbed her shoulders, shaking her. "Don't! Don't call me that! No one calls me that!"

Ginny squirmed away from his grasp and glared back. "Liar," she snapped. "You told me to call you that! Just like all the other girls, right?"

"All what other girls?" he demanded, his face flushing.  "What do you think I am, some kind of male whore? Think I get it up for every girl I see? And what business is it of yours, anyway? You told me to stop, I stopped. End of story."

"Oh, please, Blaise," Ginny said sarcastically. "Are you trying to tell me nothing I've heard about you is true? That the girls aren't just dying to let you in their knickers? And I'm special because I'm the only one you ever told to call you Blaise?" Now Ginny rolled her eyes and stalked back toward the entrance to Gryffindor.

"Are you dying to let me in your knickers?" he asked, moving quickly to her side.

She ignored him and tried to hurry ahead.  He grabbed her arm and pulled her round to face him. "Think you're just a notch in my belt or something? Just the next girl in line?" he demanded angrily.

The look on her face told him that's exactly what she was thinking. He scowled and cursed under his breath.

Ginny felt the fear returning. She'd almost forgotten about Tom Riddle for a while, but Blaise was definitely going for the Tom look-alike of the year right now. She shrank back from him, looking away.

Great, Blaise thought. For some reason he'd frightened her again.

Slowly lifting her chin with a forefinger, Blaise forced her to meet his eyes. "You are the only one I ever asked to call me by my first name," he insisted. "I don't know why it was so important to hear you say it, but it was—is!"  Still keeping his eyes locked with hers he added, "I'm not him, but one day, very soon, you're going to explain how you know about Tom Riddle, and why the thought of him frightens you."

He gripped her other arm and pulled her closer. His hands came up to smooth her hair and she relaxed against him. A wave of relief washed over him and it felt like coming home. The Gryfflette didn't know it yet, but she was going to have to get used having him around.

"Then you're going to explain what kind of spell you put on me that makes me unable to think of any other girl. But right now, little Gryff, you're going to kiss me goodnight and send me off to take a long, cold shower. Understand?"

Ginny looked up, and then she couldn't look away. He bent to take her lips in a soft, intoxicating kiss. When he finally broke away, Ginny said, "I think I finally understand."