A/N:  Okay, here is some more of this story.  I hope you like it.  Much more detail than the first chapter, but only because there will be a little more story, instead of being designed as a one shot.  Also, re-read chapter one because there were some changes made there, as well.  Thanks to Marek, who caught that I had misspelled Professor Umbridge's name.  I've now corrected that.  Thanks to everyone who asked for this, and I hope it is to your liking.  Now, let's see if I can actually get some more of W&K written.  K

Blaise glanced toward the Gryffindor table and released a silent sigh of frustration.  The Gryfflette wasn't here yet, but at least Malfoy was already seated, so Blaise didn't have to worry about the lunatic bothering her.  It had been over two weeks since Blaise had walked Ginny Weasley back to Gryffindor tower after she'd smashed Malfoy in the face and broken her hand.  When the healer had declared her fit to return to Gryffindor, Blaise had elected himself as her escort.  He'd even gone so far as to threaten the girl if she didn't let him walk her back. 

            Blaise couldn't help a small grin remembering her outraged expression when he'd threatened to see that house points were taken if she didn't comply.  She'd been livid!  And she'd been nearly irresistible.  But when he'd tried to steal a tiny kiss, she'd panicked.  The girl had cried out and struck at him, calling him 'Tom'.  As he'd quickly hustled her into an empty classroom to calm her it didn't take Blaise long to figure out that she was striking out at a memory, not himself. 

            His initial intention had been to try to corner the little Gryff in some dark niche.  He'd actually envisioned a few brief kisses and maybe, if he were lucky, a moment or two holding that delicious body to his.  Blaise wasn't stupid; he had NOT intended a full-out assault on the skittish girl.  Once they were in the classroom, though, she'd nearly collapsed in his arms; an aftereffect of the bone-knitting potion Madame Pomfrey had given her, and not, to Blaise's chagrin a result of his deadly charm.  Then she'd mumbled some nonsense about girls falling all over him.  She tried to pull away from him, but he just couldn't let her go.  She threatened to scream, which only made Blaise more determined.  That was when he knew he had to at least kiss her.  And his intentions, good and not so good alike, had been completely swept away the second she'd so shyly answered his kiss.  He'd never felt anything like the rush of heat that had washed over him when her fingers tangled in his hair and her tiny, sweet tongue tentatively explored his mouth.

            Stifling a groan, Blaise cursed and tried to concentrate on whatever that silly bint Parkinson was saying.  He was sitting next to her for breakfast and she was talking nonstop.  Blaise had to wonder how the girl could talk that fast and still stuff her pug-like face at the same time.  Did she realize just how unattractive that made her?  Probably not, he reasoned.  Pansy Parkinson was basically ignorant when it came to her own shortcomings.  Grimacing, he turned his mind away from her.  Unfortunately, that led him back to thinking about Ginny Weasley and the distressingly few intimate moments they'd shared.  As much as he enjoyed remembering those moments, he tried not to.  If he thought about kissing his Gryfflette, he would be reduced to shifting in his seat and spending the entire breakfast period uncomfortably and frustratingly aroused.  Where the hell was she, anyhow? 

            Ignoring his own advice, he focused his thoughts on the small redhead who was causing him so much turmoil.  The girl had been avoiding him ever since that night two weeks ago, a fact that irritated Blaise no end.  He'd tried on several occasions to talk to her or catch her alone, but she'd shied away.  Hell, he had even seen her flinch from him before she realized that he was not Tom Riddle.  That made things even more frustrating; knowing that it wasn't necessarily him that she was avoiding, but some decrepit old Slytherin who hadn't even been seen in nearly fifty years. 

The fact that the girl had responded so passionately to him when he'd first kissed her just added to Blaise's frustration.  He had awakened in the middle of the night many times in the past two weeks with his sheets wrapped around his sweating body and visions of the Gryfflette dancing in his head.  And it was almost embarrassing the number of times thinking of that first fiery kiss had sent him running for the loo or anyplace else he could find with enough privacy to either calm himself down or get himself off.  He didn't know what it was about the girl that affected him so strongly but it did, and he was determined to make certain that she felt the same way.

            As irritated and frustrated as he was, Blaise was also worried.  First, that lunatic Malfoy was going out of his way to be in the Gryfflette's way, as well, and not for any good reasons.  Though the git would never admit it, Malfoy was obsessed with the girl.  Something had happened between them a few years ago, when that sow Umbridge had been their DADA teacher.  Whatever it was, now Malfoy had somehow convinced himself that he had to get even for it and to 'put her in her place'.  Malfoy tried to tyrannize and bully the youngest Weasley any chance he got and after the incident at supper a few weeks ago, things were getting worse.  Blaise had his hands full upsetting Malfoy's plans and keeping his cohorts busy elsewhere.  With a decidedly malicious grin toward Vince Crabbe and Greg Goyle, Blaise decided that there were some advantages to being tall, strong, and ruthlessly violent at need. 

            Blaise's biggest worry, however, wasn't the lunatic housemate of his.  He was much more worried about that idiot Potter.  Harry-bleeding-Potter had finally noticed what had been under his nose these six years: Ginny Weasley.  The sixth year Gryffindor girl was not beautiful.  She never would be with her blazing hair, long nose and strong features.  Nor did she have what was considered a perfect figure. Ginny was what other girls cattily called 'pear-shaped'.  She had a slender torso, thin arms, and a tiny bust.  Her hips however were wide and full and her bottom was deliciously rounded.  In fact, Blaise's hands itched to mold themselves to that beautiful backside again, but he hadn't gotten a chance.  Girls might ridicule that type of figure, but Blaise, and many other boys found it incredibly sexy.  And Potter was finally seeing it.

Blaise shifted uncomfortably (just as he'd known he would) as he glanced at the hero of Gryffindor house.  Potter was considered to be attractive, Blaise knew.  He could actually see that a girl might find Potter irresistible.  He had dark thick hair that was always messy, and, a girl had told him once, begged to be put to rights.  He also had very unusual eyes; dark green with long black lashes that Potter's ridiculous glasses only seemed to enhance.  Blaise had heard more than one girl going on about Potter's damned eyes.  The Gryffindor boy's features were clean and regular and he was trim and athletic.  Potter was certainly not the hulking ape that Blaise felt himself to be when standing near the tiny Gryfflette, and the prat had the added advantage of not resembling someone Ginny Weasley seemed to be frightened of.  And, if that weren't enough, Potter was in the same house as the girl Blaise was infatuated with.  He saw her every day and could talk to her whenever he wished.  It was almost unbearable at times, and the only reason Blaise wasn't tearing his hair out at this point was that Ginny was obviously not giving Potter the time of day.  

Last week, frustrated and growing desperate, Blaise had gone so far as to try to sneak up on Ginny and possibly drag her into a classroom again.  On that occasion, however, Potter had come hurrying up the corridor and pulled Ginny aside.  Blaise slipped back into the doorway and had to listen to the great git trying to smooth-talk the girl while pretending he was discussing quidditch.  Either the girl was fully aware that Potter was interested in her but ignoring it, or she was completely oblivious.  Harry Potter had walked away from their conversation seeming dissatisfied and confused.  Blaise, however, had been delighted.  At least he wasn't the only one his Gryflette was ignoring. 

Potter really shouldn't have been surprised, Blaise thought.  Ginny Weasley was not what she seemed.  She seemed as soft as butter, but as Draco Malfoy had reason to know the girl had a bit of steel in her, as well.  Ginny had taken just so much of his filthy bullying before she'd walloped him in the face.  She regularly stood up to the older bullies while defending the younger kids (which was probably why Malfoy was still so incensed with her), but she was just as determined when playing in a quidditch match.  She flew like a dream and threw everything she had into a game.  Her eyes sparkled and she seemed to radiate sexual energy.  In fact, everything she did, she did with passion.  Boys, especially Potter and Malfoy, were finally noticing.  And Blaise believed it made them wonder how she would react in their arms.  That was something Blaise was not about to let either Potter or Malfoy find out for themselves.  Ginny Weasley was his, whether she knew it or not.  And she would know it, soon enough.   

            While Blaise was annoyed at Ginny's stubborn standoffishness, he was impressed, as well.  It wasn't often a girl had Blaise jumping through hoops to get her attention. So he'd backed off these last few days, realizing that he would have sneak up on her if he were going to get his little Gryff alone again.  He wanted to talk to her, to find out why she was avoiding him and why she was so afraid of Tom Riddle.  And most of all, he needed to be near her.  Blaise craved her company just as much as he craved her body.  He wanted her hands in his hair, and her mouth on his, but he wanted to know everything about her, to listen to her and laugh with her almost as much.  The only way to accomplish that was to get her to talk to him. 

With that in mind, Blaise turned his attention to Ginny's best friend, a pretty dark girl sitting alone and apparently saving a place for the Gryfflette.  The girl was dating some Ravenclaw boy, and Blaise got the feeling the girl wasn't a typical, hidebound Gryffindor.  A plan was forming in his mind.  What was the girl's name, anyway, he asked himself?  Something typically English and flowery, he was sure.  Rose.  That was it; her name was Rose.  Blaise grinned.  He'd have a little chat with Rose as soon as possible.  Blaise was, after all, a Slytherin, and if being with Ginny meant enlisting the help of her friends or even that prat of a brother of hers, he'd do it.  Blaise always got what he wanted, sooner or later. 

He was instantly aware of her when she entered the great hall, looking around like a trapped animal.  He was careful not to look her way, but he knew every move she made.  And when the meal was over and she was concentrating on whatever homework she'd brought to table with her, Blaise made his move. 

Ginny peeked round the corner, then let out a sigh of relief.  The corridor was clear.  She hefted her book bag onto her shoulder and practically ran toward the great hall.  I knew I should have hurried up with my shower, she thought to herself as she approached the doors. 

            Ginny had been sneaking around the castle for two weeks now, always careful to walk with her friends or on the alert for the two people who seemed to be contriving to make her life as uncomfortable as possible.  The first, Draco Malfoy, a seventh year Slytherin, had been making her life uncomfortable for the past several months, with his unending stream of insults and lewd comments.  The other, however, was the main reason for Ginny's recent, unusual caution.

            Blaise Zabini, also a seventh year Slytherin, was the Head Boy.  He could wander just about anywhere he wanted in the castle, and could be Tom Riddle's (or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, as Riddle was commonly known now) double.  He was also the other reason Ginny had taken to lurking in doorways and prowling about the corridors making sure they were clear.  Blaise Zabini had developed a nerve-wracking habit of just 'happening' to show up wherever Ginny was, especially when she happened to be alone in a deserted passageway.  It had been only with the greatest effort that Ginny had been able to avoid both Slytherins.

            Pushing open the doors to the great hall, Ginny hurried over to the Gryffindor table, purposely averting her eyes from the other students.  So far, no one knew about the strange encounter she'd had with Blaise Zabini two weeks ago.  It had been a rather trying day, with Malfoy being more insulting than usual.  In fact, the stupid git had said something so insulting that Ginny had thrown caution to the wind and tried to slap him.  Naturally, she'd missed, but she had been so humiliated that she'd left the library crying.  Unfortunately then she'd run into Blaise Zabini.  He had also been, if not insulting, at least mocking.  And Blaise Zabini mocking her and looking like the specter of the fiend who had nearly caused her death in her first year had been worse than all Malfoy's insults put together.

            But then something rather odd had happened.  Malfoy had insulted her again after supper.  This time, though, Ginny hauled off and clobbered the slimy ferret.  She'd actually socked him in the face and knocked him on his ass!  Oh, she knew it was only because he hadn't been expecting it.  She'd seen Malfoy and Ron fight before and knew that even though Malfoy was a great coward, he could fight if he wanted.  But it felt good, anyway.  Until she realized she'd broken her hand. 

            Zabini had stepped in and prevented anyone from getting in trouble; he'd seen the whole thing and made Professor Snape think it would be embarrassing if the story got around that she'd decked Malfoy (although there had been enough witnesses who had no reason to like or defend Malfoy, so it got around anyway).  Then Zabini sent Ron and his friends back to Gryffindor and ordered Ginny to the healer. 

            Apparently Ginny had passed out from pain.  Ron told her later that she had just collapsed and that Zabini had done a levitating spell and floated her to the healer.  She didn't really remember that part, but she did remember Zabini being there when she woke and was released.  He insisted on escorting her back to Gryffindor (hell, he'd threatened her!), but on the way back, he'd dragged her into an empty classroom and kissed her!

            Sliding into her seat beside her best friend Rose, Ginny felt her face grow warm.  What Zabini had done to her hadn't been a kiss; it had been more like sex with clothes on!  She'd never felt anything like that before, and she wasn't entirely certain she wanted to feel anything like that again.  It had been devastating and debilitating and intoxicating.  And even though she'd been nearly delirious with desire, Ginny had also been scared to death.  She barely had the presence of mind to ask Zabini to stop before she let him go too far.  Heaven knew that if he had tried to coax her, she would have gladly gone along, regardless of the consequences afterward.  Ginny didn't like not being in control and she was NOT in control where the Head Boy was concerned.

            Dropping her book bag to the floor, Ginny glanced at the girl on her right.  "Thanks for waiting for me, Rose," she said with more than a little sarcasm.

            The pretty girl rolled her dark eyes and pouted with her full lips.  "Really, Ginny, it's not like you need mummy to take you to the loo any more.  I was starving and you were taking your sweet time about your shower.  But you made it here all right, didn't you?  And Malfoy didn't bother you, since he's been here from the start!"

            Ginny bit back a retort.  It wasn't really Malfoy that she was worried about.  It was Zabini, who kept sidling up next to her in corridors and trying to corner her in dark doorways.  Instead she said, "Yeah, well, I'll be sure to let you know straight away when he finally does ambush me.  You can always say I was taking too long with my hair or something!"

            Rose grinned.  "He's an annoying little ferret, but he's a rich annoying ferret, who happens to be really cute.  Maybe he's stuck in his pre-adolescent stage, you know?  Where he shows a girl he likes her by pulling her hair or sticking nasty, slithery things in her desk."

            "Cute?" Ginny asked, incredulous.  "There's nothing cute about that stupid git!" she insisted, unintentionally looking at the stupid git.  Thankfully, he wasn't looking at her at the moment, but his expression was typically nasty and mean.  "Unless you like that starved, ratty, sneaky kind of face," she added, unable to admit that his looks were fine.  It was his personality that made him such an ugly bugger.  "I don't know how he looks at you, Rosie, but you've seen how he looks at me.  He hates me and the feeling is mutual.  So don't go on about this 'adolescent crush' crap.  I'm trying to eat breakfast!"

            Rose giggled, finally making Ginny smile, which was what the girl had been going for.  Ginny didn't smile nearly enough lately, and Rose was worried.  There was more than Malfoy bothering her, but so far Ginny hadn't been very forthcoming about the cause.  But Rose was patient.  She'd get the truth out of her best friend one way or the other.  With that thought, the girl turned back to her interrupted meal.

            After breakfast was finished, most of the students sat lingering over juice or tea.  As it was Sunday and there were no classes, there was no reason to hurry back to common rooms.  A few of the students, Ginny included, had brought homework to the great hall to complete it here, where the atmosphere was more relaxed.  Most of them, however, were just visiting, chatting, or gossiping.  This was the best time of the week for those who were 'going out' with someone in another house to be able to spend time with one another.  Ginny was just glad to have so many other kids about so she could study in peace.  She'd found that lately even the library wasn't public enough to keep Zabini from lurking about.

            Rose sat with her for a while, both of the girls discussing the homework Ginny was working on.  The other girl soon grew bored.

            "Gin, I'm going to go sit at the Ravenclaw table, okay?"

            Ginny looked up, alarmed, but Rose reassured her.  "I'm just going over for a while, right?  I'll come get you when I'm ready to go."

              "Oh, yeah, sorry," Ginny said lamely.  She knew Rose wanted to spend time with her boyfriend and she felt guilty about monopolizing so much of the girl's free time.  "Go ahead.  And don't worry about getting me; I'll be fine.  I'm just being paranoid."

            Rose smiled and strolled toward the Ravenclaw table.  Ginny glanced furtively around the great hall, but both Malfoy and Zabini were nowhere to be seen.  You really are being paranoid, she told herself.  Zabini hadn't tried anything for almost a week.  He'd probably finally got it though his head that she wasn't interested in him.  And I'm not! she insisted.  With a sigh of relief and a twinge of disappointment she would never admit to, Ginny bent over her homework again. 

            She wasn't sure how long she'd been working, but the next Ginny knew, someone was sliding into the bench next to her.  She didn't really notice, thinking it was Rose, about to give her a hard time for taking so long, until a hard, warm thigh slid next to hers.  That got her immediate attention.

            "Such an industrious little Gryff," a smooth, deep voice rumbled.

            Ginny straightened abruptly, nearly slamming her head into Blaise Zabini's square chin.  Giving her a smirk, he drew back quickly, his eyes dancing with amusement.  He didn't go far, though, and Ginny noted with alarm that he was actually straddling the bench.  One of his long legs was brushing against her own, while the other was snugged familiarly along her broad backside.  Ginny squirmed uncomfortably, trying to scoot away.  She froze at his warm, low chuckle.

            "I wouldn't wiggle too much, Gryfflette," he cautioned, his voice deepening.  "You have no idea what kind of thoughts having that delicious derriere rubbing against me is causing.  So, what are you working on?"

            Ginny sat, unmoving, trying not to let his words and tone affect her.  Good lord, how could he possibly make even his laugh sound so intimate and suggestive?  She desperately tried to think of some scathing comeback that would put him in his place and get him to shove off.  Unfortunately, she could only breathe in the clean scent of his cologne and wonder what he meant by 'delicious derriere' when she knew her bottom was large enough to have its own postal code!  She nervously stared at the parchment in front of her and concentrated hard on not letting his closeness bother her.  Why couldn't she just get up and leave this Slytherin boy, she wondered distractedly?  Why did he have to look so much like Riddle?  And why, why, why did that look he gave her make her insides turn sloppy and mushy, and make her think she was somehow suddenly sexy

            "Hmmm," he said, his lips nearly brushing her ear.  Ginny jumped, but he continued.  "Cat got your tongue?  That's fine, Gryfflette, although I'd prefer that it was I who had your tongue, and preferably in my mouth among other places."  Ginny flushed at the mental images his words conjured.  He continued in that smooth, velvety voice as though he hadn't just suggested--whatever it was he was suggesting.  "Luckily, my mother did teach me to read, so I'll figure it out myself.  It looks like Arithmancy, but your handwriting is worse than mine, so that's only a guess.  I'm disappointed, though.  No hearts, no doodling.  You haven't even written your sweetheart's name and drawn flowers round it.  That would have been so enlightening.  Now I'll just have to follow you round to see who is taking so much of your time that I don't see you anymore."

            For the second time he had Ginny's full attention.  "You'll what?" she demanded, yanking away from him.  She looked up, fully intending to stand up and storm out of the great hall, preferably after slapping his arrogant face.  But then he fixed her with that look, the one he was so good at and Ginny couldn't look away.  She couldn't move, and she barely noticed when he slid his hand along her arm and took her own in his. 

            "There, I knew you could actually look at me if you tried," he said, bringing her fingers to his mouth and brushing them lightly with his lips.  Ginny's hand trembled and her heart pounded, but she couldn't pull away.  "Now, little Gryff, maybe you'll tell me why you're still avoiding me, because I thought we had come to an understanding the night we kissed."

            Ginny didn't answer.  She couldn't deny that she had been avoiding him.  For that matter, with him sitting this close, she found it difficult to say anything at all.  Her cheeks flushed at his reminder of the kiss and the conversation they'd had outside Gryffindor, but the fact was that he still made her nervous and edgy and not just because of his resemblance to Tom Riddle. 

"You know, abject fear is not the usual reaction I get when I kiss a girl," he said, though his serious expression belied the joking words.  He looked down at the small hand he had clasped in his own larger one and added, "Something frightened you and I don't think it had anything to do with me stealing a kiss."

Ginny was finally able to look away. 

"We didn't kiss!  You mauled me!" she retorted, snatching her hand back.  "And if you don't like the 'abject fear', maybe you should go maul someone else!" 

Ginny looked around, for moral support perhaps, but the great hall was now empty except for the two of them.  Thanks a million, Rose, Ginny thought acidly, conveniently forgetting that she told her friend not to worry about her.  Strangely, what Ginny felt right now wasn't fear so much as nervousness.  Nervousness and a healthy dose of something very like excitement.  That wasn't all, though.  With Blaise Zabini's large, warm body next to her and his deep, rumbling voice calming her, she actually began to feel safe and protected.  It didn't make any sense, since he could have easily passed for the one person in all the world she most hated and feared.  Bewildered, she could only sit there stupidly silent, trying to avoid his eyes.  He put a tentative arm around her shoulder and she didn't pull away.

"Sorry, pet," he said softly, sending a shiver of warmth tingling up her spine.  "There isn't another girl in the world who kisses like you, and I'm just stubborn enough to want all your kisses for myself.  Besides, it's not me you're afraid of."  He paused, but she didn't answer.  "It's Riddle, isn't it?" he demanded suddenly.  "It's because I look something like him, right?  How do you know about Tom Riddle, anyway?  Even if he were still alive, he'd be ancient by now.  So why does he scare you?"

Ginny shook her head, but he seemed to know she wasn't denying his words.  He released her hand.  Taking her chin between his fingers, he turned her face to him.

"You do believe that I don't want to hurt you, right?" he asked.

Ginny thought about that for a moment.  "Yes," she answered finally.  Giving him a weak smile, she added, "I know you're in Slytherin and all that, but like someone told me a few weeks ago, some of you are actually almost human."

Blaise grinned.  He was the one who had told her that, after he'd kissed her.  She had reacted as though he'd been about to devour her (and she hadn't been too far wrong, either!).  Then, angry and frustrated, he'd been about to wash his hands of her completely; no girl was worth the painful frustration he was sure she would cause him. He hadn't been able to, though.  Hell, he had been hooked the second she'd shyly returned his kiss.  He'd spent much of the last two weeks planning how he could best get her in his arms.  Now he gazed (in a revoltingly adoring way, he was certain) at the fiery little redhead and saw the indecision on her face. 

"Come on, Ginny," he cajoled, releasing her chin and using the opportunity to slide his fingers along her jaw.  When they rested over her pounding pulse, he paused, a little breathless.  Ruthlessly stamping down the rampant lust she provoked, just by sitting there, he said, "I'm nothing if not determined.  Even my mother says so.  Actually," he confessed with a small grin, "I think she used 'stubborn', and 'obstinate'.  She's given up on trying to put me off anything I want.  And what I want now is to know about Riddle."

Ginny shivered again.  She didn't want to talk about Tom Riddle, especially not to Blaise Zabini.  How was she supposed to tell this frightening, almost mesmerizing young man that he was a continual reminder of the single worst event of her life? 

"Even if I told you, you wouldn't believe me," she said finally.

Blaise gave her a considering look, then tucked her more comfortably against his chest.

"Try me," he answered simply.

Silence hung over the two teens for several moments as Ginny's thoughts whirled.  He wouldn't believe her, she knew it.  Hell, Ron and Hermione knew the entire story and they still didn't believe half of what Ginny said.  She opened her mouth to tell him to get lost, to bugger off and leave her alone.  What came out, though, was not what she had intended.

"You don't look 'something like' Tom Riddle.  You could be his twin," she explained. 

Thank God, Blaise thought, relieved.  She was at least going to give him a chance.  Keeping his voice neutral, he asked, "You've seen pictures of him, then?"  He'd never been curious enough to look himself, but the school did have old albums of its previous graduates, so that was entirely possible.  I suppose anything's possible in a school of witchcraft, he mused. 

Ginny sighed and shook her head.  "No, I don't think I've ever seen a picture of him."  Blaise was confused, but he waited patiently.  Ginny finally continued.  "I found something of his," she said shakily, "It was a book; a diary."

When Ginny finished her story, Blaise wanted to curse.  He wanted to find that phantom Tom Riddle and strangle the unlife out of the bastard.  And he didn't for even a second doubt that what she'd said was the truth.  In fact, the realization that Tom Riddle was actually Lord Voldemort explained a lot of the half-whispers and hints and stifled conversations that went on in his home, as well as in the Slytherin common room..  Blaise looked down at the tiny sixteen year old now cradled in his arms and wanted to carry her off somewhere, promising to protect her.  Not that she seemed to need anyone to carry her off and protect her.  Didn't she stand up to bullies regularly?  Hadn't she smashed Malfoy in the face?  Hadn't she kept Blaise himself at arm's length when he was determined to get closer to her?  This girl wasn't weak and defenseless; she was strong and dangerous.  And the fact that he was actually thinking in terms of carrying off and protecting and it didn't frighten him demonstrated just how strong and dangerous his attraction to her was. 

He'd thought, when he'd kissed her, that there was much more to Ginny Weasley than met the eye, and he hadn't known the half of it.  She had confronted the specter of the madman who would become Lord Voldemort and had lived to tell of it.  Not only lived, but she had been strong enough to get over it without going mad herself.  She'd spent a year being slowly and slyly manipulated by the evil magic the dark lord had left in his diary.  If the only residual effect was a fear of his image, she had more strength and courage than anyone Blaise knew.  And wasn't it just his damned luck that the girl he'd fallen for so immediately and so unexpectedly was afraid of him because he happened to look like that monster?

He didn't curse, and he didn't yell.  What he did was to settle the girl more comfortably and softly stroke her hair, murmuring comforting words into her ear and thanking the fates that her girlfriend had agreed to give him a chance to speak privately with his Gryfflette.  That was what he meant to do; talk to her. 

Despite his best intentions, though, her fiery tresses gleamed invitingly and Blaise couldn't help letting his hand wander down their length along her shoulder to the very slope of her tiny breasts.  Even now, when she was still upset, with tears running down her blotched, red cheeks and a handkerchief wadded in her hand to mop them up, Blaise felt the electricity running between them.  He couldn't help remembering how it had felt to cup those tiny breasts in his large hands and coax those kitteny soft sounds from her throat.  Stifling a groan, he stilled his hand.  He was supposed to be comforting her, not trying to feel her up.  With an enormous effort, Blaise rested his hand on his own thigh and waited. 

Ginny stirred.  It had been such a relief to be able to tell someone what had happened.  Even if he didn't believe her, telling Blaise the story had lifted a horrible weight from her heart.  Until now, the only one she could really discuss it with was Harry, and he didn't like to talk about the Chamber.  Not that she blamed him.  She'd been unconscious for most of it, except for the very beginning, when Tom's form had materialized from that damned book.  Harry, on the other hand, had had to fight the basilisk and still deal with the evil phantom.  He was certainly not interested in how Ginny had felt betrayed by Tom's behavior.  Tom had been her best friend, her comforter and confidant, and then he'd tried to kill her! 

And now, almost six years later, Ginny was confronting another Slytherin who wanted to be her comforter and confidant.  But in the case of Blaise Zabini, Ginny was fairly certain friendship wasn't all that he wanted.  Are you sure it's all you want? a voice in her brain asked.  No, she answered, although hesitantly.  I don't want anything from him.

She was sure the voice was laughing at her.  Ginny closed her eyes and leaned more securely against Blaise's broad chest, practically laughing at herself.  She almost felt like she could just drift off, she was so warm and comfortable. 

"Ginny," his voice rumbled, just beside her ear.  "If you keep wiggling against me like that, I can't be responsible for my actions."

Ginny smiled at his lazy, comfortable tone until she actually processed just what he said.  The hardness along her backside, which Ginny realized had been there for some time, seemed to emphasize his point.  She sat up quickly, but he had his arms looped lightly around her, preventing her from scrambling away from him. 

"Let go, Zabini!" she muttered, trying to scoot away along the bench. 

"Ginny, look at me!" he ordered, all traces of teasing gone.  "I'm not him!  And I'm not going to hurt you!"

Blaise now gripped her shoulders and was holding her firmly, making her look at him.  Ginny glared.

"You're right!  Because I won't give you the chance!  Now get off!"

It was insane to fight with her when she was ready to panic, but he couldn't just let her go.  Who knew when he'd be able to talk to her again?  Coming to a quick decision, Blaise leaned forward and placed his lips gently on hers.

Ginny gasped.  She stopped squirming and trying to yank away, and simply froze, not knowing what to do.  Blaise felt her confusion and took advantage.  He slipped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer.  He would have loved to pull her fully against his aching body, but the way they were sitting on the bench made it awkward.  Besides, that would be a great way to scare her off again.  Instead, he kept the soft contact between their mouths and didn't go any further. 

Ginny felt heat build up inside her.  What was it about this boy that caused her to react so strongly to him?  He wasn't doing anything; he wasn't even really kissing her, and she was already breathless.  Her hands itched to tangle in his thick dark hair, and she had to clench them together to stop them.  Still he held her, gently but firmly, one arm around her shoulder and one hand cupping her face, the fingers barely touching her skin. 

He'd said he was stubborn and obstinate.  As the gentle not-quite-a-kiss went on Ginny added an aggravating patience to the list of his vices.  He obviously wasn't going to just get frustrated and let her go.  No, he was going to force her to push him away.  And for some reason she couldn't.  Instead, she felt herself melting into his arms.  Worse, her tightly clenched hands loosened and started to steal slowly up his chest toward the broad shoulders.  Ginny felt him shiver, but he continued to hold her gently.  Her hands crept up his shoulders and one found its way into the thick dark hair at the nape of his neck.  When her fingers curled through the coarse strands, he groaned and pulled away from her mouth.

"God, Ginny," he breathed softly, his voice sending another set of hot chills dancing along her spine.  "The things you do to me!"

Ginny couldn't help the barest smile of satisfaction.  At least she wasn't the only one being addled by an overload of hormones.  He leaned toward her again, but she pulled back.  When he frowned, she looked guiltily away.

"Okay, okay," she said quietly.  "I know you're not him, and I know you don't want to hurt me.  But what do you want?"

The look she shot him was so suspicious that Blaise couldn't help smirking.  "You know what I want, little Gryff," he said, fixing her with a seductive look. "I want you."

Damn him and that look, she thought disgustedly, fighting off the tingles his voice caused.  "So you want a quick shag in some deserted classroom?  Is that it?  I wonder you went to all the trouble of following me and trying to catch me alone when you could get that from at least a dozen other girls here," Ginny snapped, dragging her eyes away from his and reaching for her book. 

She was beginning to feel uncomfortable and was ready to snatch at any excuse to push him away.  Blaise Zabini was too good at this seductive bit and Ginny was far too inexperienced to defend herself from him.  Not that she'd never had boyfriends before, but Dean and Michael weren't even in the same league as the young man next to her.  But if she could be angry with him, maybe she could control her body's reactions.  Besides, Blaise Zabini was a tomcat, wasn't he?  He was definitely not boyfriend material, and Ginny wasn't interested in being the next in line.  And even though he denied that he was just trying to 'score' with her, he couldn't really be interested in her, could he?  She didn't know.  In fact, all she was sure of right now was she needed to get away from him.  

She was startled when his large hand plucked the book easily from her grasp.  She rounded on him, ready for a fight, but froze at his look.  He looked even angrier than she felt. 

"I don't want a quick shag, although if you're offering I certainly won't refuse," he answered, irate himself.  Ignoring her angry splutter, he went on. "I already told you you're not just another 'notch' on my belt, I don't have some bet on, and I'm not just killing time with you.  You know exactly what I want.  And I'm very persistent.  Get used to it, Gryfflette.  I'm not going anywhere.  Now, if you're ready to go, I'll walk you back to Gryffindor.  You never know where that lunatic Malfoy will show up."

Ginny could only gape at him as he stood.  He was still holding her book and didn't seem in any hurry to give it back.  He was also holding a hand out to her and despite herself Ginny took it.  Blaise smiled faintly as she allowed him to help her to her feet.  She quickly gathered her quill and parchment and ink, tucking them neatly into her bag.  He handed over the book, which also went into the bag.  As she stepped over the bench, Blaise tugged the bag from her grip and slung it over his own shoulder.  She gave him a surprised look.

"Don't ask me," he said with a rueful smile.  "This is new territory for me.  I thought it was common for a fellow to carry his girl's books."

Ginny felt her mouth drop open and closed it quickly.  "Who said I was your girl?" she demanded, though the force of her words was lost.  He had wrapped his arm around her shoulders and dropped a quick kiss on her forehead, leaving her breathless.

"Me," he answered simply.

Ginny would have stopped, but he was propelling her firmly through the doors of the great hall. She settled for asking, "Then I guess that makes you my fellow?" 

The Malfoy-worthy sneer she gave him was wiped from her face when he said, "Of course.  I thought that was obvious two weeks ago."

The walk up to Gryffindor had a sort of dream-like quality.  Ginny was vaguely aware of passing one or two students, but she couldn't have said whom they were, any more than she could remember exactly how Blaise Zabini had connived his way into walking her to her dorm again.  Every time she tried to stop, to question or even challenge him, he tightened his arm about her shoulders, pulled her against his chest and brushed a soft kiss across her brow.  It was something she'd never imagined, this gentleness.  Then again, until two weeks ago, she'd never imagined kissing him, either!  And now she couldn't seem to stop remembering it!  Ginny kept taking quick, stealthy glances at him, but he was staring straight ahead, a thoughtful frown on his face.  He seemed as confused as she was.  He'd called her his 'girl' and said he was her 'fellow'.  Was it possible that he really did like her?  Deciding it was too much to think of at the moment, Ginny banished it from her mind.  When they finally reached the last corridor before the entrance to the common room, he slowed to a halt. 

"We're here," he said, slipping the bag from his shoulder. Handing it back to Ginny he added, "It's a nice day outside."

Ginny gave him a frown.  "Uh, yeah, I guess," she said hesitantly.  She didn't want him to think he'd won here.  She still didn't want to have anything to do with him, she insisted to herself.  But Ginny was uncertain how to tell him that.  She who fights and runs away…Ginny figured it was time to run away for now.  "I have to go."

As she was about to make her escape, Blaise reached for her shoulders.  "Hang on, pet.  I have to patrol the grounds today, since it's nice enough for everyone to be outside.  Will you come with me?  I'll meet you here in an hour."

Ginny had to swallow back a breathless giggle of disbelief.  She hated girls who giggled around boys, but she was so nervous around this boy, she almost couldn't help it.  He wanted her to go with him on patrol?  She couldn't believe she was actually considering it.  So much for running away, she thought.  All the same, she couldn't help asking, "Why would you want me to go with you?  It's not like I would be much help.  There'd be nothing for me to do, right?"

Blaise smiled; a slow curve of his lips that made Ginny's heart rate jump.  "Oh, I think we could find lots of things to do, little Gryff," he assured her, lifting a hand to brush his thumb against her lower lip. 

Ginny breathed in sharply as a shiver of heat washed over her.  Tell him to bugger off, Ginny!  Hello?  Tom Riddle look-alike?  Ginny ignored the voice as her eyelids fluttered closed and her lips parted slightly.  

He must have seen something of the sudden rush of desire that had just flooded her, because he groaned, "Oh, God, Ginny," before pulling her face to his.   His mouth caught hers as he wrapped his arms around her.  It was nothing like what happened in the great hall.  Now his kiss was hard and demanding, and Ginny returned it quickly, her arms snaking around his neck, pulling him closer.  Ginny tried to push up on her toes, wanting his body tight against hers the way it had been the first time he'd kissed her.

Blaise groaned again.  He was a normal, healthy male with normal desires, but he was amazed at the way his body reacted so instantly to her.  He hadn't bedded the multitudes that she apparently thought he had, but he had a fair amount of experience, and he'd never experienced anything like the need that pounded through him when he kissed this girl.  And now the girl was holding him tightly, all on her own, pressing that small, sumptuous body against his, and making that kitten soft sound that was destined to drive him mad.  With almost superhuman restraint, Blaise broke away from her soft mouth to say, "Does this mean you'll meet me?"

Ginny's eyes fluttered open as she smothered a sigh of disappointment.  "Do I have a choice?" she murmured. 

She couldn't help shivering when he growled, "Not a chance in the world, Gryfflette!"

Draco Malfoy glared at nothing in particular as he sat in the best chair in the common room.  He'd been watching that son of a bitch Zabini these last two weeks and he hadn't liked what he'd seen.  That Blaise Zabini was infatuated with the little Gryffindor slut was obvious.  Not only had Zabini had the nerve to give Draco a dressing down for insulting the youngest Weasley in the library, the great berk had actually threatened Draco.  He'd told Draco that if he said a word about it at supper, his life would become miserable.  Draco wasn't afraid of Zabini, but he knew what the hulking bastard was capable of.  Consequently, he kept his mouth shut during supper.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Zabini had been trying to get the girl's attention since the night the sneaking little bint had smashed him in the face with her dirty little blow.  Anger coursed through the slender blond at the memory of how the short redhead had knocked him on his ass.  She'd made him look stupid, just as she had two years ago in Professor Umbridge's office.  Just as she had on countless occasions when she'd stopped him bullying younger kids.  And he hadn't even had an opportunity to pay her back for it.  Because not only was Zabini infatuated with the pale, freckled little whore, he was protecting her!  It was so bad that Crabbe and Goyle had refused to help Draco in his hate campaign against the youngest Weasley. 

Draco was obsessed with getting even with the girl now, and had pretty much left off thinking of anything else.  His grades were suffering, his so-called friends were complaining, and even his mother and father were asking what was wrong since he no longer bothered to answer their letters.  In spite of the bad grades, Draco was not stupid.  If he hadn't been so close to the situation, or if he'd given the matter even a little thought, he would realize that what he felt for Ginny Weasley was not hate, but something much more shocking.  Possibly the fact that it would be shocking to all parties, particularly in view of his previous feelings toward the family in general and the girl's older brother in particular had kept him from recognizing what he really wanted with the sixth year Gryffindor.  But Draco made a habit of lying, and he was good at lying to himself.  So he glared about the common room and planned several horrid, monstrous ways to bring the conceited little Weasley to her knees.

Zabini would be a problem, he knew.  Draco had never liked Zabini above half anyway, and now he had even more reason to dislike the pompous git.  Zabini was in the way.  It was as though Zabini was standing between a lion and its prey, and Draco would have to do something about the bastard before his plans could proceed.  There was a drawback there, of course.  While Draco was sneaky and ruthless, Zabini was, too.  Not only that, but Zabini was vicious when crossed, as Crabbe and Goyle both could attest to. 

They'd been instructed to stand by and harass the Weasley girl a few days ago.  The seventh year Slytherins and the sixth year Gryffindors crossed paths about twice a week and this was one of those days.  Crabbe and Goyle only had to stall Weasley in the hallway just long enough for Draco, who had had to stay behind in class, to take over.  Unfortunately, when Draco found his cohorts, both were crumpled in the hallway, groaning in pain and suffering from various sprains and wrenched joints. 

Zabini had heard them talking about what they'd do when they cornered the little slut.  He'd dragged them into a side corridor before they had a chance to get near the Weasley girl and had worked both over rather thoroughly.  Draco had been shocked, but he was even more so when Crabbe informed him that Zabini had inflicted the extensive damage he had with only his hands.  He hadn't touched his wand! 

Draco didn't consider himself a coward.  He was just very careful to choose his battles.  And he was certain he never wanted to get into a physical clash with Zabini.  He would actually have preferred no conflict with the huge Head Boy, but since Zabini was guarding what Draco considered to be his, there would be a confrontation.  Draco would just have to make sure it took place where he wanted, and he'd have to make sure his wand was handy.  Because no one, not even Blaise Zabini, was going to keep Draco from his revenge on the Weasley girl.

Speaking of Zabini, Draco glanced around and noticed that the huge gorilla wasn't in the common room.  Draco frowned as he made a very good guess where the young man had gotten to.  Sniffing after the weasel, he thought contemptuously.  As though the girl would give him the time of day.  Letting his thoughts drift, Draco allowed a small, cold smile to lift his thin lips.  He did have to admit that the girl was rather good at avoiding not only Draco and his henchmen, but also that sneaking snake Zabini.  She'd been fairly successful at keeping out of both Slytherin boys' way for the last two weeks.  And Draco also had to admit that he could almost admire how the girl had so adroitly led Zabini such a merry chase.  His pale face flushed lightly and the smile grew wider.  What in hell was Zabini thinking?  What would a girl like Ginny Weasley ever see in a hulking, posturing prat like Blaise Zabini?  The boy wasn't even that good looking, and if he ever got a tiny creature like Weasley beneath him, he'd probably crush the girl to death! 

The smile was suddenly replaced by a dark scowl.  Just the thought of Zabini's giant hands groping the youngest Weasley caused Draco to nearly choke with rage.  He snapped out of his thoughts suddenly.  What the hell?  Draco looked around, as though he suspected someone else of putting such disgusting thoughts into his head.  What the hell did he care whether Zabini shagged the little slut's brains out?  He didn't, did he?  No, he answered himself, he did not care.  Just as long as he got his revenge first.

Just then, Zabini rushed into the common room.  He didn't bother greeting anyone, just hurried up the corridor to the boy's dorms.  Draco's eyes narrowed as he noted that Zabini's hair was a wreck.  Not only that, but the boy's cheeks were flushed and he had that look he'd had quite often lately.  That 'outta my way, I have to wank off' look.  What had Zabini been up to?  And why was Draco certain that the little Weasley had somehow been involved? 

Draco didn't even bother to examine his sudden anger.  He shoved himself out of his chair and stormed out of the common room, intent on finding some Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw to vent his anger on.  He didn't notice that his palms were seeping blood from the small, half-moon shaped slices his carefully manicured nails had made.

An hour after Blaise had left her, breathless and tingling, Ginny was dithering at the entry to the common room.  When she'd finally entered Gryffindor, she'd gone upstairs and stowed her things, then she'd changed her outfit several times before deciding that there wasn't any way Bl—Zabini was going to see what she wore under her robe, anyway, because she wasn't about to let him within arm's length of her.  She'd been temporarily insane when she'd agreed to go with him on patrol, and now that she was thinking clearly, she realized that he was a very dangerous person.  He was dangerous to her peace of mind and he was dangerous to her virtue. 

Not only was he the image of Tom Riddle (although that argument was wearing a bit thin) he seemed to have the ability to make her mindless with desire within seconds.  It wasn't just that he was so damned sexy, although he was much sexier than he had any right to be.  But he had believed her!  Without any proof at all, Blaise Zabini had believed every word Ginny uttered about her encounter with Tom Riddle in her first year.  How was she supposed to deal with that?  So now the Head Boy was not only desirable, he was wonderful and understanding, as well.  It was enough to make you sick, and Ginny knew that, in this state of mind, if he ever got her alone again for more than a minute, he'd have her flat on her back with her knickers in a puddle of cotton on the floor.  If, that is, she didn't just wrestle him to the ground and attack him first! 

No, there was no way Ginny was going to let herself get caught alone with the frighteningly persuasive Slytherin again, and she had better start right now!  Before she could act on her good intentions, Ron stormed into the common room. 

"I can't believe that stupid git has the nerve to stand right outside our common room like some damned watchdog!" he was fuming, crossing the room to throw himself into a chair next to Hermione and Harry.  "Who the hell does he think he is?!"

"Who, Ron?" Harry asked, giving Ron a bewildered look. 

Ginny's stomach lurched.  She had a sneaking suspicion exactly who it was that Ron was yelling about.  The suspicion was confirmed a few seconds later. 

"Zabini!  Stupid prat.  He's standing down the hall as though he has every right to be there!  Smirking bastard!  What does he think he's doing, anyway?  Just because he's Head Boy doesn't mean he can sneak around our hallways!"

Ginny felt another jolt when Harry raised his eyes and looked directly into hers.  Making soothing comments to Ron, Harry stood and walked casually to Ginny's side.  She tried to back away, but he stopped her. 

"I'll bet you know what he's doing out there, don't you, Gin?"

"And just what business is it of yours?" she demanded defensively.

Harry gave her a small smile.  "None, actually," he admitted.  "I just noticed him lurking around ever since that night he walked you back to Gryffindor.  He's got it bad for you, but I hoped you wouldn't notice.  My bad luck, I guess."

Ginny gave Harry a bewildered look.  "I don't understand.  I thought you were going to go on about him being a Slytherin and all that."

With a shrug, Harry said, "Well, there is that, and he does have a reputation.  But he's actually all right for a Slytherin.  Better than the rest of that lot.  Besides, I figure if anyone could handle him, you could.  I just wish you would have noticed me, first."

Her eyebrows shot up at that.  "But, Harry, you know I was mad about you my first three years here!  Don't you think you left it a bit late?"

Returning the surprised smile she gave him, Harry said, "Yeah, I should have noticed, but I didn't.  Like I said, my bad luck.  But if you change your mind…"

He left the sentence hanging.  Ginny shook her head.  "Harry, you're mad!"

"So I've been told," he said, giving her an awkward pat on the shoulder.  "Well, better not leave him waiting, or he'll be pounding on the wall soon and you know how Ron would react to that!"

With that, he walked away.  Ginny watched him flop onto the couch next to Ron and make some comment.  It must have been a joke, because her brother laughed.  After a moment, both boys rose and walked toward the boys' dorms. 

Breathing a sigh of relief that any scenes had been avoided for the moment, Ginny once again turned toward the girls' dorms.  Zabini might be waiting, but she wasn't going, and that was that!  Before she could take more than a few steps, though, she heard someone entering the common room.

"Ginny!  There you are!  Come on!  We're waiting!"

She looked around and saw Rose motioning to her excitedly.  "We?" Ginny asked suspiciously.  "Who are 'we' and what are 'we' waiting for?"

The girl rolled her eyes and hurried to Ginny's side, grabbing her arm.  "Come on, Gin!  Beautiful day, lovely sunshine, even lovelier boys…don't those make you think of romance?"

Dropping Ginny's arm, Rose gave her a quick punch.  "And why didn't you ever tell me about Zabini?  Why did I have to find out from him?  He asked me if I could leave you two alone for a little while because you'd had a lover's quarrel, and I didn't even know you were going out!  Thanks for trusting me, Gin!"

"We're not going out!" Ginny insisted.  "I was just about to go upstairs and finish my homework!"

"Then why did he say you were?  He looked very serious about it.  And," she paused for a second, her eyes dancing.  "He said if you didn't come out, he'd start pounding on the portrait and yelling for you!  Just think what Ron would say!"

That stopped Ginny in her tracks.  Good grief, the last thing she needed was for Ron to be storming about over the Head Boy's interest in her.  And she knew Blaise Zabini would probably not just quietly back away.  Sighing, she gave Rose a resigned look.  "Well, then, let's get this over with."

Rose smiled as they headed toward the exit.  "Way to go, Gin.  It'll be fun, really!"  Smirking, she added, "By the way, that's an awfully nice outfit for someone who was just going to do homework!"

We!  Ginny was mentally fuming as she walked beside the tall Slytherin near the wall of the castle.  Rose distinctly said 'we' were going to spend the afternoon together, so where did she get herself off to? 

Somehow, as soon as Ginny, Blaise, Rose and her Ravenclaw boyfriend had stepped onto the lawn of the castle, Rose and her beau had just disappeared, leaving Ginny with the young man she'd just vowed she wouldn't spend any time alone with.  Not that Blaise seemed to mind.  He seemed to be taking this turn of events in stride.  And just when did I start thinking of him as 'Blaise'? she demanded of herself.  It was ridiculous!

The silence between them was growing uncomfortable, but Blaise didn't seem to notice.  He certainly didn't seem to notice several other students staring or even pointing at the two of them.  Ginny felt a sudden urge to creep away, but before the thought completed itself, Blaise reached out and took her arm.

"You're not thinking of sneaking away, are you, Gryfflette?  That would be cowardly, especially since your brother seems to want to talk to you."

Ginny looked around, panicked.  Ron was nowhere to be seen, however.  She glared up at the tall boy beside her and saw him smile back.

"That got your attention, didn't it, little Gryff?  Now, suppose you do something besides look like a hunted rabbit.  You're a Gryffindor, not a cowering Hufflepuff.  Besides, I'm not the big bad wolf, and I don't plan to eat you."

Ginny drew herself up indignantly as Blaise continued.

"At least, I don't plan to eat you just yet," he said smoothly, the one eyebrow shooting up suggestively.

Ginny's eyes flew open wide and she could feel the heat rising in her face.  "You--you--pervert!" she accused, snatching her arm away.  She would have stormed off, but he laughed and grabbed her arm again. 

"It's not perverted, Gryfflette.  Not when someone tastes as good as you do.  If the rest of you tastes as good as your mouth…"

He left the sentence hanging as he led her toward one of the many small, arched doorways in the surrounding wall.  Ginny's spluttered reply was cut off as she took in her surroundings.  Once they moved beneath the archway, they were in a secluded garden.  The path led to another archway, but it branched, as well, through large rhododendron bushes and small, ivy covered, tumbled walls. 

"I thought you were supposed to be keeping the other kids out of trouble," Ginny said, one eyebrow arched.

Blaise smiled at her and led her to a particularly well-hidden alcove with a stone bench.  Ivy trailed down the back wall of the alcove and new spring flowers were pushing up through the dark, rich soil.  Blaise moved them toward the bench.  "I am," he answered smoothly, his deep voice sending a thrill down Ginny's spine.  "I'm keeping them from coming in here."

The garden really was beautiful, but Ginny couldn't help asking nervously, "And how many other girls have you brought here, Zabini?  And please don't try to tell me I'm the first.  I frankly wouldn't believe you."

"Well, then, I won't tell you that, Gryfflette.  You aren't the first girl I've brought here.  I won't lie and pretend I'm some saint, like Potter.  I've been with other girls before, although not as many as you seem to think.  But this is a nice, private place and I wanted to spend some time with you were we wouldn't be interrupted."

Pulling her around to look into her eyes, Blaise said, "Look, Ginny, I won't try to force you into anything.  I want to be with you, and I'll do whatever it takes to make that happen.  But what happens when we're together is up to you.  You're making the rules now.  All right?  If you want to just sit here and talk about--hell, I don't know--flowers, I'll do my best."

Ginny swallowed, still uncomfortable with his intensity.  But the thought of discussing flowers with Blaise Zabini made her giggle nervously.  He smiled at her for a moment before becoming serious again.  "I doubt you'll believe this, either, but you are different than the other girls I've been with.  They were nice and we enjoyed each other.  But that's all it was.  Just physical.  You…"  He broke off and shrugged.  "You're special," he finished finally.

Lord help me, she thought suddenly.  I actually believe him!  Feeling like her knees were suddenly filled with water, Ginny sat at the bench and wished she could think of something to say.  The tension was too thick.  When Blaise sat next to her, his intense gaze focused on her, she could barely think.  It was as though he were willing her to look at him, to respond to him.  Not that he needed to will her to do so when she couldn't seem to resist him. 

It was so quiet here, so private, Ginny felt like they were the only two people in the entire school right now.  Clearing her throat, she finally glanced up, wanting to say something to break the heavy mood.  Her eyes met his, and she was done for. 

He hadn't moved, hadn't done anything except look at her with that look, and she was trapped.  This time, however, she didn't wait for him to take the initiative.  Ginny reached up to wrap her hand around his neck, tugging his mouth to hers.  She saw the surprise on his face before his long, black lashes fluttered down over those arresting eyes.  As their lips met, Ginny felt like she was being engulfed in a searing, delicious heat.  Unconsciously tightening her fingers, she pulled his mouth more firmly to hers.  He sighed as their lips met, but still he held back. 

This was a breakthrough of sorts, he knew.  She had pulled him in for the kiss this time.  Blaise was desperate to pull her to him, but he meant what he'd said.  He didn't want to force her and he wasn't going to do anything that might scare her off.  These last two weeks of trying to get her alone once more had been sheer hell.  Her lips moved lightly over his, shaking his resolve and making Blaise want to groan.  The one aborted kiss he'd had outside Gryffindor earlier had only left him needing more.  He'd even had to run back to Slytherin and get himself off, and he was still afraid he might not be able to restrain himself.  She didn't seem to want to go any farther, though, and Blaise was having a hell of a time trying to find some control.

Ginny felt his body tense, but he didn't deepen the kiss or even pull her closer, as he had before.  It was all Ginny could do not to groan in frustration.  Maybe he was trying to go slow, like he'd said, but maybe now that he'd kissed her again, he wasn't as interested.  Her lack of real experience might be putting him off.  Her body felt like it was about to ignite, and he was giving her an almost brotherly kiss that made her want to scream.  If that wasn't enough, the way they were sitting had her twisted uncomfortably just to reach him, and her spine was protesting painfully.  With a sigh, Ginny pulled away.  Her hands dropped from his shoulders, one of them inadvertently coming to rest on his upper leg. 

Blaise stared at the small hand on his thigh for a split second before his control snapped.  Her warm hand so close to that part of him pushed him over the edge.  He stood abruptly, nearly tripping in his haste.  She looked up, startled, but he didn't give her a chance to object.  He could only drag her up from the small bench, and crush her to him.  You're going to ruin everything! his brain screamed helplessly. It didn't matter.  As his mouth covered hers, his hands moved to the beautiful bottom he had longed to touch, gripping and pulling her hard against him.  And then, when he might have found a shred of restraint and tried to save the situation, she made that soft, mewling sound. 

Oh God, oh God, oh God, Ginny thought wildly.  Not interested?  How wrong could she be?  She could feel his interest in every hard inch of him that now seemed glued to her front.  He was holding her, grinding himself into her, and she couldn't seem to stop him.  She didn't even want to stop him! And his mouth, and lips!  There should be a law against what that mouth was doing to her.  His tongue had shoved its way into her mouth and now any thoughts of pushing him away just disappeared.  She made a soft, helpless sound in her throat.  His reaction was immediate.  His hands tightened on her bottom and he pulled her up, off of her feet.  Ginny's arms wound around his neck, but her gasp was lost in his mouth.  He was carrying her!  She tried to pull away, to see where he was taking her, when her back struck the wall. 

He pinned her hips against the ivy-lined wall with his own, knowing he was way out of line. But that sound, that soft mewl of desire made him insane.  He couldn't help himself at this point.  His hands slid from her bottom along her thighs, pulling them up and wrapping them around his hips.  Oh, God, he thought as he pressed his length against her, I'm just going to lose it right here!  She whimpered against his mouth as his hips ground into hers.  Lord, he had never needed anyone like he needed this girl.  Holding her in place with his body, Blaise brought one hand up to her small, perfect breast while the other began to trace a path up her inner thigh.  Not here! his brain pleaded.  It's too public!  Someone could just walk by, and she'll never forgive you!  Even as he released her mouth and bent his head to her bosom, he knew he couldn't stop now.  It was her voice that stopped him.

"Blaise," she whispered, breathy, excited.  "Blaise, please don't."

Blaise, please don't, she said, and when she used that voice that was at once frightened and sultry, he could only obey.  Despite the pounding of his heart and the need slamming through his body, Blaise clenched his hands into fists and raised his head, ready to face the worst. 

Ginny's eyes were half-closed; heavy with need.  Oh, lord, how does he do this to me? she wondered, not for the first time.  But she looked resolutely at him, barely flinching as his expression hardened and he once more resembled Riddle.  She was still being pinned to the wall by his hard body and her hands were still clutching at his shoulders, itching to pull him back to her.  Taking a deep breath she said, "Will you let me down?"

Blaise swallowed.  She wasn't ranting at him, and she didn't seem ready to panic.  Maybe she was just in shock at what he'd done to her.  Maybe as soon as he released her, she would go into hysterics.  He didn't really have a choice, though.  Grasping her waist and moving a bare step back, he gently lowered her to her feet.  Surprisingly, she didn't haul off and slap him.  She didn't begin screaming.  Ginny didn't even remove her hands from his shoulders.  What she did do had him staring at her, mouth agape in disbelief.  She shook her head and gave him an amused frown.

"Against the wall of the castle?  And in broad daylight, at that?  I'd actually pictured my first time in a somewhat more romantic setting."  She clicked her tongue but her eyes were crinkled and sparkling with humour.  "Honestly, Blaise.  Are you going to tell me you were overcome with desire and mistook the wall for a bed?"

Blaise continued to stare at her for a moment.  Was she actually joking with him?  She seemed to be, but he didn't know her well enough to know whether she was or this was just the calm before the storm.  She was looking up at him as though she actually expected an answer to her question, and Blaise frantically wracked his brain for something to explain how her voice and her eyes and her scent seemed to instantly set him at fever pitch.  The small touch of her hand on his thigh had been like a spark striking a pile of dry kindling and igniting an inferno. 

Ginny watched him for a few seconds, marveling at how the image of Tom had disappeared when she'd spoken.  He was now just Blaise Zabini, Head Boy, Slytherin, and the sexiest thing she'd ever seen.  The play of emotions across his face was fascinating, but in spite of her amusement, Ginny was still frightened at how quickly she lost control with this young man.  Even if he had looked nothing like Tom, Blaise was someone to be extremely careful of.  Lowering her eyes, she dropped her hands and tried to pull away.  His grip tightened.

"Ginny, wait," he said, his deep voice striking a chord inside her.  She stopped and looked up at him once more.

The look wasn't there.  Instead, his expression was filled with confusion. 

"I thought you'd be ready to murder me," he said finally.  "I never lose control like that, but I don't have any control with you.  What have you done to me?"

Ginny's eyebrows shot up.  "Me?" she demanded.  "I didn't do anything!  It's you!  I don't let boys snog the hell out of me when I barely know their names.  But you've done it twice!  Three times if you count upstairs outside Gryffindor.  I have never let anyone touch me like that, but I didn't even try to stop you when you were feeling me up and practically grinding me into the wall.  I should be ready to murder you, but I'm not even complaining!  What have you done to me?"

Blaise eyed her for a moment.  She was serious.  Of course, he knew she was fairly inexperienced.  For one thing, no one (except that prat Malfoy) talked about her.  Her reputation was spotless, not that he cared one way or the other. But, more important was the way she kissed.  She just was not overly experienced.  It was so obvious.  Her reactions were tentative and shy and almost shocked, but they were enough to make him want to explode.  So what was it about her that fired him up so quickly and thoroughly? 

Slowly he reached up to cup her face in one of his large hands.  "Whatever it is, Gryfflette, I hope to God you never let anyone else do it to you.  I don't share well."

He was smiling, but his tone was serious.  Ginny touched his hand.  "I don't really understand, either.  I don't think I've ever felt anything like this before.  It's scary," she admitted in a tiny voice.

"Lord, Ginny, the last thing I want to do is scare you!" he exclaimed.  "I can't explain it, but I need to be with you!  If that means I have to keep my hands to myself for a while, I'll do it."  As though he realized that he hadn't been able to do so a minute ago, he amended, "I'll try to keep my hands to myself."

Ginny had to smile at his admission.  Lowering her lashes, she said, "I don't think you need to do anything that drastic.  But I would like a chance to get to know you better before we go too much farther."

His eyes lit up.  "So would I," he told her enthusiastically.  "Where do we start?"

Giving him a shy, mischievous smile, she took his hand and led him to the bench.  Sitting, she said, "We could always talk about—hell, I don't know, flowers?"

Draco was not a happy camper.  In fact he was a very unhappy camper.  He'd watched that son of a bitch Zabini escort the Weasley girl from the castle, her stupid friends trailing along like whipped puppies.  Then the friends disappeared and Zabini made for the path that would lead to the walls around the castle.  And that would lead to any number of secluded little gardens.  He narrowed his eyes.  Obviously he'd been wrong.  The little slut was about to give Zabini much more than the time of day from the looks of it.  Draco knew all about Zabini's reputation with girls.  It was just one more thing to hate the hulking bastard for.  Draco wasn't a washout with women, but he'd had nowhere near Zabini's success.  Draco couldn't understand it.  He was rich, his father was powerful, and Draco wasn't a troll in the looks department.  And he certainly wasn't an overgrown gorilla, like Zabini.  And now the one girl in the whole damned school that Draco was sure would tell Zabini to fuck off looked about to end up on her back for the prat. 

If Draco had examined his emotions, he would have quickly identified jealousy as the major component of his current feelings.  He wasn't given to serious introspection, though, especially when the subject at hand was a certain redheaded Gryffindor girl.  Instead, Draco mentally called Ginny Weasley every filthy name he could think of in every language he knew. 

His lip curled as he imagined what Zabini and the Weasley girl might be up to.  Of course she was a slut. He'd told himself that a thousand times.  Now she was going to prove it with the biggest whore in the school.  They deserved each other. 

No matter how many times he replayed this litany in his mind, or how many variations he tried, it didn't make him feel any better.  In fact, his stomach was now knotted up.  The mere thought of what Zabini might be doing with the Weasley girl right now made him sick.  Zabini had no right to touch her.  And Draco would make sure Zabini didn't touch her again. 

All thoughts of choosing his battles and not getting into a physical confrontation with the huge Slytherin had simply disappeared.  Almost growling, Draco hurried to the path Zabini and Weasley had taken and rushed after them.  He didn't see them anywhere and had to assume that Zabini had taken her into one of the hidden gardens.  His eyes narrowed.  Slowing his pace, Draco began to listen for the obvious sounds of a couple in the middle of a tryst. 

At first he heard nothing unusual.  Then he heard a laugh.  A male laugh.  Draco tracked the sound to an archway and looked carefully around the wall.  He couldn't see anything out of the ordinary, but then he heard another laugh.  This time it was a feminine laugh, very soft and very beckoning.  He entered the small garden.

Another masculine laugh nearly made Draco charge toward the tall rhododendrons that seemed to be screening a hidden niche, but his instincts stopped him abruptly.  He'd walked in or nearly walked in on Zabini enough times when the git was shagging a girl to recognize that this laughter wasn't that of a couple indulging in pleasant pillow talk.  Zabini sounded genuinely amused.  And there weren't any of the other sounds Draco had expected.  There was no panting or groaning, nothing like that at all!  Even more cautiously, Draco crept forward, inching ahead until he could peek around the sheltering plants.  What he saw shocked him so badly he nearly barged into the alcove to demand to know what was going on. 

Zabini and Ginny were sitting on a small stone bench.  Both were fully clothed and didn't seem ready to change that condition any time soon.  Admittedly, Ginny was looking up at Zabini with a disgustingly tender smile, but she wasn't touching him at all.   More importantly, he wasn't touching her.  And they were talking about, of all things, flowers!  Ginny was telling Zabini about the spring bulbs that would be blooming at her home.  Zabini wasn't helping much with the conversation other than to add that his mum loved gardening and she was pretty good at it.  Then he asked the girl whether she did any gardening when she was home.

Draco couldn't believe it.  Blaise Zabini had Ginny Weasley all to himself in a private little hideaway and he was behaving himself!  He was not trying to shove his tongue down the girl's throat or his big, disgusting hands down her knickers.  Backing away, Draco realized that this was bad.  It was very bad, indeed.  There were only two reasons the berk would hold himself back.  The first would be that Ginny had rejected him.  Even Zabini wouldn't try to force a girl.  But if Ginny had rejected him, Zabini would have gone off to find someone more willing.  The other reason, the bad reason was that she hadn't rejected him, but had asked him to stop and he had!  And that could only mean that she was not just a quick shag to Zabini.  He actually cared about the girl.  And from the way the girl was looking at Zabini, she obviously cared about him, as well.

Making his way back to the lawn of the castle, Draco felt as though he'd been struck by one of Ginny's famous hexes.  His head was spinning, his stomach was queasy, and he felt as though his world had suddenly shifted on its axis, so that nothing seemed right any longer.  Blaise Zabini was finally serious about a girl.  The girl in question, the girl that Draco had been unable to get out of his mind for that past several months, seemed to return the feelings.  Ginny and Zabini!  And when the hell had he started thinking of her as Ginny!?  Finally, after months of trying to convince himself of his hatred of the red-haired firebrand in his rival house, Draco finally began to recognize what he was feeling.  He didn't like it.  He didn't like it at all.  Unfortunately, he was depressingly aware that that probably didn't really matter.