Hey ya'll, this is literally my first fanfiction ever, and so I ask that you please be merciful towards any appalling mistakes or miserable failures that I make throughout the process of this whole thing, however long it turns out to be. I'm going to try to update this on a weekly basis, probably around this time on Thursdays, and it's currently 8:21 pm, so I guess around then. I really hope that it doesn't suck, but now I'll just leave you to determine that for yourself. Happy reading!

Chapter One: Even the Fool Plays a Part

Most people wake up to an alarm clock, while some people wake up to a rooster crowing. I, however, have the abrupt pleasure of being awoken by the thud of a heavy object landing directly on my face. "Bloody . . ." I groan, opening my eyes swiftly and assessing for danger. It's then that I hear a snicker to my right and my eye snaps towards the noise. "Malfoy!" I shout, irritated at losing the small amount of sleep I'm able to get these days, the sleep I was counting on before arriving at our destination. Draco plays the part of innocence and sticks his lip out in a sympathy that I know from experience is fake.

"Oh, you poor baby. What's wrong?" This statement doesn't reflect the facial expression he's chosen to wear today, but rather falls short of the mark. It sounds forced and toneless. I sigh inwardly. I didn't imagine that he would be this depressed already, but I've never been one to back away at a challenge.

"You stupid git . . ." I mutter almost completely under my breath as I pick up the textbook that was thrown at me from the floor. It's a Transfiguration textbook, one that Draco and I have been studying intensely for the past few hours, our minds finally succumbing to boredom as I fell asleep. "At least tell me we're there so that waking me wasn't entirely pointless." I kind of figure that he wants me awake to distract him, but one can never be completely sure of anything when it comes to the Malfoy family, Draco being no exception. I know there's a twinge of annoyance in my voice, but it's hard to keep entirely down after being woken and realizing that you are only going to get a whopping three hours of sleep today, and entirely without coffee. I'm going to miss coffee at Hogwarts and I realize now that I probably shouldn't have let myself become so dependent upon over the summer. I will definitely miss it, the substance that I refuse to tell Draco I drink, not that he would know what it is.

"Nope," Draco grinned this time, "I just saw an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. Besides, we should be studying. Aren't you 'at all concerned with your future through the results of your upcoming N.E.W.T.s?"

"I see your McGonagall impersonation is still spot-on," I chuckle, remembering the lecture she'd given one night after catching us sneaking back from the Quidditch Pitch on the first night of our fifth year. "But you know that I can and will pass my N.E.W.T.s and get whatever job I happen to want at the time." I instantly realize my mistake as I see Draco's face fall into the solemn look again, the look that says the world would be lighter than whatever he's bearing. My face falls too, as I see the utterly bleak future for my life, the future that I'm choosing even as we speak, but Draco's not to know this, so I make an interjection to both our thoughts. "Now, normally I'd ask you why the long face, but today is no occasion for frowns. We're back! By golly we're back! The troublesome two, the dangerous duo, the petrifying purebloods . . ." I trail off when I notice the lightness return to Draco's features. I figure he'll be fine now, so I lay back down, hoping to add a fourth hour to my current sleep collection.

I barely close my eyes before I feel a hard jab on my right upper arm. "You bloody git!" I shout, feeling a bit angry from the pain. My attempted angry glare doesn't last too long though, and it turns into a bemused frown, a look that seems to please Draco.

"We really need to work on your poker face, Zabini."

"Yeah, well not everyone can have the curse-in-disguise stone face of a Malfoy, Draco." I retort, playing up to my next move. "And I don't need a poker face when I have my rugged good looks." There it is, the trump card of laughter. There is no way he can be depressed while I do this, I think to myself as I contort my features into what I know is a very bad smolder. I complete my smolder with a dramatic toss of my non-existent luscious locks over my shoulder and a suggestive wink.

Draco bursts out laughing, a deep laugh that I know is real. I am instantly pleased with myself for not falling back to sleep, as well as my skills in covering up the supreme lack of it I've really had. "Well, Blaise, I am excited for the upcoming year." I know that is a lie, a lie that I will have to agree to. There is absolutely no way that either of us could be excited for the rest of the year, and I am barely managing to keep him happy now. Still, I nod in agreement and allow him to continue. "Just think . . . no more brushing flue powder off my clothes, no more of your boxers laying around because you're a disgusting slob . . ." I stick my tongue out at him before making my own contribution to the list.

"No more earplugs to cover up my mother's . . . disturbing . . . habits."

"No more of your atrocious singing as you attempt to cover up your mother's habits."

"Disturbing habits."

"No more lying to my father about where I am all day." There it is. That's exactly why I've been trying to avoid reminiscing about our past, which isn't exactly what you would call inviting. In fact, we only became friends in our first year because neither of us was willing to go home to our parents during Christmas Break. His father scared him, and my mother disturbed me as I'm pretty sure that on top of being married only about a dozen times (during each of which I was forced to be the best man and give a speech for another idiot that I couldn't bear to be near for more than ten minutes), she brings home a different man almost every week, and they don't seem to know sound-proofing spells. So, I knew a lot more than I should have for being so young, and even now I know more than I'd like. Still, I can't help but be happy that Draco and I met, albeit under not very ideal circumstances, and so I can't help but reply with an almost equally somber addition to our list.

"No stupid mother asking if I've had friends over again without her permission, though she gave me permission every time, I just asked her when she was about three feet from a bed and her very disturbing habits."

"No more lying to them both . . . me with my superb poker face and you with your . . . what was it? Rugged good looks."

"Aren't we jealous." That statement alone wasn't enough to do the trick, however, so I prepare to do possibly the most embarrassing thing I've done in a long time. It's all for the show, I tell myself, all for the show. Then I immediately flip my hair as before and smolder, winking even more dramatically this time. I curl my lips in a smile as I begin to pose for the invisible cameras before ripping my shirt off as I'd seen done so many times before at my house by random strangers. Then I begin to rub my hands across the muscles in my abdomen, posing for "sexy pictures". I might regret this bit of theatrics later, but I'll never regret being responsible for Draco smiling in these dark times.

Draco, as expected, starts laughing as he shields his eyes. Not that I have anything to be ashamed of, I grin, glad that I worked out for all those summers like I did. Suddenly Draco's laughter falls short and I can almost feel the chill in the air. "Potter." Draco spits harshly. I freeze as I see the glare of the one person that could ruin all my attempts at light-heartedness—Harry James Potter. Suddenly, Harry starts laughing and pointing . . . at me. Crap. I feel myself blush deeply, not having wanted anyone to see me doing this. I wonder if this is how my mother feels when I walk in on her on "accident". Obviously, I just want her and her man to stop so that I can get some peace and quiet, as loud singing and earplugs only work for so long.

"Malfoy," Harry stiffly nods, "You've stooped lower than I thought if your idea of eye candy is Zabini with his shirt off." Maybe this upsets Draco, but I am mortified. I had expected to be able to hold onto my reputation for at least a few days longer. However, I can feel Draco's glare turn from frost to ice, practically boring right into Harry's soul. Then Draco glances at me and adjusts his expression to a smirk.

"Well it would appear that you can't keep your eyes off him, Potter. Does the Weaslette know? Or perhaps I should inform her and everyone else of your little . . . secret." Now it is Harry's turn to be embarrassed and he turns a shade of scarlet that I imagine matches my own before storming off in a huff. It's now that I remember to put my shirt back on, and it's now that the reality hits me . . . in either situation, I've been cast as the lover of one of the two most widely known people at Hogwarts!

"Gee thanks, Malfoy . . ." I sigh dramatically, "Now everyone will think that Blaise Zabini is either your or Potter's lover . . . no girl will ever approach me! My chances are blown!"

"Oh, don't be so dramatic." Draco's slightly amused, but also a little irritated that I didn't thank him for trying to save face back there. I can tell because he doesn't have his Malfoy mask that depicts any emotion he feels like on now.

"And I suppose that's what I'll tell you the next time you come running to my house away from your father." You bloody idiot! I think to myself, regretting every single word of that sentence, but it's too late. Draco's hands clench into fists and I can almost feel steam rising from his head. I am about to be punched in the face, which I guess will take care of any potential girls all by itself, but I don't really want to practice my healing skills today, which happen to be terrible. So, I do the first thing that I think of and start to laugh. It's forced at first, but quickly I discover that the situation is quite funny and begin to lose myself in the laughter for real.

"Now you're laughing at me?" He looks even more angry, but at this point I really can't stop myself, tumbling onto the floor with tears streaming down my face, my sides burning from the heaving of my chest. Draco just stands and stares at me in contempt until I finally feel calm enough to answer him. "What?" he demands, cocking his head to the side in a gesture that makes my laughter only worse. This time it's nearly ten minutes before I have a handle on myself.

"I'm sorry," I manage roughly, "It's just . . ." more tears begin to fall, and I feel a grin sweeping over my face. It feels so good to laugh like this, but I don't get to keep it up any longer because Draco hoists me from the floor by my shoulders and levels our faces.

"What?" he demands, his face dropping into one of those signature Malfoy unreadable masks. I have the good sense to stop laughing.

"It's just the looks on both your faces . . . priceless. Merlin, am I really that ugly? I mean I know I'm not gay, but it's nice to know how appalling I am to all the men out there. You both looked so disgusted, so appalled . . . like telling a five-year-old that someday he's going to want to kiss girls. And here I thought this year was going to be uneventful . . ." I start laughing a bit again, inwardly hitting myself for mentioning the future again, so I fix my blunder with an addition to my little speech, "And I hope Potter starts telling people, because I will gladly take shirtless pictures with anyone who'd like them. Heck, I'll throw one in for you and Potter for free! I'll even sign it!" Then I wink at him again, wondering how on earth my mother had ended up teaching me something useful, and throw in a smolder with another hair flick. Draco just shakes his head, slightly smiling and probably wondering how I got to be such a hopeless bloke.

The Sorting Ceremony and first meal at Hogwarts usually go off without a hitch, but though I might be one of the only ones who know it, this year isn't going to come close to what you would call normal in any sense of the word. Of course, there was the year that the Chamber of Secrets had been opened, but that is a story for another time, and even that year couldn't hold a candle to this one. I take a deep breath in the quiet murmurs of the beginning of the Sorting. Probably the last deep and calm breath I'll be taking in years, I think to myself before shaking my head clear of such thoughts. Now is no time to give in to depression.

What happens now I secretly hope will go down in Hogwarts History and give people something to laugh about when the fog lifts of what I'm sure will be a war. Maneuvering myself onto my knees, I place both elbows neatly on the table and rest my chin in my hands, mimicking a pose that I've often seen a lovestruck girl practicing. Now I point my gaze directly at Harry Potter and stick out my bottom lip in a pout, waiting for him to look over. The instant he does I smile softly and slowly, sighing dramatically so loudly that the Sorting Hat must sing louder to drown me out. You're screwed, Potter. Taking my sweet time, I press a hand firmly against my lips and eye it longingly as I drag it away and blow the kiss smoothly off my hand and in the direction of Gryffindor table and the Boy-Who-Lived. When enough time passes that I figure the "kiss" could've made it to him, I wink the most over-the-top wink I have winked in my entire life, complete with an innocent smile.

Potter looks absolutely mortified, pulling the collar of his robe as if it were three sizes too small and trying his best to look away, but the struggle is pointless. I have a knack for making eye contact with people when they least desire it, yet another skill I've picked up to scare away my mother's . . . friends. Every time Harry dares to look back I blow another kiss, even going so far as stick my tongue out with the kiss and drag it across my hand before blowing it away, a sickening expression of utmost devotion plastered on my face, a look I'd been practicing over the summer for just such a time.

At this point Draco, who is sitting beside me, acknowledges my antics and half-heartedly tries to pull me into the position that normal people sit in, though I can feel a slight shake in his hand that gives away his silent laughter. Beside Potter, Ron Weasley has a contorted look of rage on his cranberry-red face as Hermione Granger attempts to console him, though when I steal glances in their direction I notice that like Draco, she's barely keeping her laughter contained as she tries not to look at me. Onto phase two. I smile to myself and then pull my wand out of my pocket, being careful never to break my gaze from Harry.

I quickly transfigure my fork into a flower which I stare at longingly. Then I pluck a single petal from the stem and mouth, "He loves me." The next petal plucked leaves me mouthing, "He loves me not." At this point I can feel the stares of half the students in the Great Hall, the other half either taking a great interest in their potatoes or ignoring me entirely. Even the staff is staring, which I can tell because I hear Trelawny whispering a bit too loudly, "I didn't know that he had such an . . . an admiration for Harry." But at this point a few stares aren't enough to phase me and I continue to pluck petals until there are none remaining. Then I stand up on my seat, decide to take a risk just for the heck of it, and hop up onto the Slytherin table, careful not to step on any food. I take one final longing look at Potter before I mouth three words slowly and carefully, ensuring that everyone else sees them. "I love you." After the words leave my mouth, I force tears into my eyes and let out a less-than-dignified wail before leaping from the table and rushing out of the great hall, not bothering to wipe away my almost impressive amounts of tears.

As soon as I'm safely out of sight I drop the act and just saunter around like I own the place, which I do not, but it's not often that I'm completely alone. I waltz with purpose up the steps and onto the seventh floor, wishing my way into the Room of Requirement where I'm to meet my accomplice for the next phase, phase three. As I told her to be, Hermione Granger is waiting for me. I remember the day I convinced her perfectly.

It was the last day of school last year, and everyone was outside enjoying the weather and their new-found freedom, but not Hermione. No, Hermione was exactly where I expected her to be—sitting in her little secluded corner of the library. I knew that this was my chance, but I wasn't leaving anything up to chance and so I wandered my way around the entire library to ensure that no one was around. Then I cast a quick sound-covering spell and walked briskly towards where I knew she sat. Hiding behind a bookshelf, I grabbed the spine of the fattest book on the shelf and yanked it free, causing the titles around it to clap loudly together.

"Who's there?" Hermione questioned, startled. It was then that I decided to show myself.

"Blaise Zabini, at your service." I said cordially, a smile somewhere between polite and joking on my lips as I pressed the book into my forehead in a salute and bowed ever so slightly, silently thanking Merlin that my curls hadn't fallen into my face. I then stood at attention and waited to see what Hermione would do.

"What do want?" She sounded entirely uninterested and didn't even bother to look at me, her eyes gliding over her textbook as though I hadn't walked in the room. This was exactly the opposite of what I'd been planning with my rather theatric entrance. No matter, I wasn't in the mood to give up.

"Well aren't we polite?" I knew that sarcasm probably wasn't the best way to make friends—my father had told me that before he walked out of our lives—but I couldn't help it.

"Well, I'm surprised you would know anything about what is polite, seeing as you're the best friend of Draco Malfoy." She seemed more interested at this point, but her tone was now rather flat as though she were a teacher trying to excuse an unruly child from her classroom. I laughed.

"I hardly think that's a fair way to judge me, Ms. Granger." And there I went again, ruining my entire plan with my slight contempt for other human beings and over-confidence in myself.

"Well, Mr. Zabini—" she started, but I cut her off.

"Please," I scoffed, "Mr. Zabini is a horrible bloke who left us before my eighth birthday and has been presumed dead for some time now, though I can't say it doesn't serve him right. Call me Blaise." That was the bait, and I figured she would take it. I wasn't about to spill all my secrets to her, but I realized that I would have to give her something.

"Fine. Blaise. Aren't you afraid that your reputation will be ruined, hanging around a mudblood and all?" There wasn't any malice in her question, it was like she just expected it and like she wouldn't blame me if I suddenly realized that she was muggleborn and puked all over the floor before exiting, screaming as I went. Again, I scoffed.

"Ms. Granger, the parents you're born to make no difference to me. You deserve to be here just as much as anyone else." Her face widened into a smile. I figured that I was probably the first Slytherin ever to tell her that.

"Wait until I tell Harry!" she gasped, excitement bubbling up from within her.

"Err . . . let's not tell Potter about this . . . or actually, let's not tell anyone about this." This was the dangerous part, but I needed her to understand.

"Why?" she demanded, anger flushing her face.

"Look, you're going to have to have some faith . . ." I begged, though I'd always thought begging was beneath me, "Telling anyone will have most . . . undesirable effects."

"I don't understand." She looked flustered, confused, and hurt. The hurt part is what had me confused. She hardly knew me and already I had the power to hurt her.

"Look, you'll understand one day why I do the things I do, but right now it's just too dangerous."

"Is this about you and your stupid money?" She looked angry again, "Is mummy dearest going to disinherit poor Blaisey Waisey?" I sigh inwardly, about to reveal more information about myself when I can't even tell if I can trust her.

"Wrong again, Ms. Granger. I couldn't care less about the family fortune, and 'mummy' is about the least dear person on the planet to me, second only to my late father."

"You don't care about money?" she gaped, clearly surprised. Normally I would agree with her surprise, but I currently don't see much use for all those family funds in my future. I kind of doubt I'll ever need any more money in my life, but that's not something I was going to tell her.

"Nope. I figure I could make my own way and do just about anything I liked."

"And there's a bit of that Slytherin arrogance." She perked up at that statement, triumphant over the horrible Slytherin she probably thought I was.

"You have no idea," I simply answered, not sure I could say anything else.

"So, what is it you wanted anyway?" Finally, I thought, we cut to the chase.

"I need an associate of sorts, Ms. Granger. I don't expect your friendship, and I can't be seen with you terribly often, but I need someone on the inside, and I certainly can't do that."

"You want me to spy on Harry, don't you!"

"No, I don't." That was the truth. "I want you to be a piece on the gameboard, Merlin knows I am. You see a time is coming where everyone must play their part, a time where the wrong move can ruin everything, and I need your help to make the right moves and win the game. What do you say?"

As I expected, she seemed to know exactly what I was hinting at. Still, she wasn't jumping at the chance to work with me. "Well, I don't see as I can agree to anything. I have no reason to trust you, Blaise, and without that I can't see myself doing anything for your benefit." Oh, how far I was stooping for this girl, but I couldn't say no. I needed her, I still need her.

"If I tell you something, something that I've never told anyone else, would you trust me?"

"Yes, I think I would."

"Follow me." I turned and left the room, hoping that she would be close behind. Again I sighed inwardly, silently mourning the secret I was about to reveal—the biggest secret I'd had in a long time. I walked quickly and led her through back tunnels that not many people knew about, trying not to be seen with her. Finally, I stopped. I stood directly in front of the wall on the seventh floor that would lead to the Room of Requirement. "I need a place where I can hide," I said slowly, careful to enunciate so that not a single syllable would be missed, "a place where everything will be hidden."

Hermione gasped beside me. "How do you know about that?" she breathed, though still in awe of the wall as it revealed a giant wooden door with a beautiful tree carved into it.

"I know a great many things." That was all I said before grabbing her arm and sweeping her into the room, closing the door behind us. The Room of Requirement had given me a rather dark space, lit only by candles flickering tauntingly along the edges. In the center of the room hung a very small chandelier of grey and iron with wax dripping to the table beneath it. At the table sat two harsh-looking metal chairs, chairs that I rather thought belonged in a prison as I shuddered in the cold temperatures.

"I've never seen it look like this . . ." she breathed quietly, as though frightened that talking would set off a booby trap of some sort.

"Well, you've never heard what your about to hear before either." I said this to her in a very soft tone before grabbing her elbow and guided her to the chairs. Then I sat down and took a very deep breath, sweat on my brow. I had been nervous before of course, but that was nothing compared to now. I, Blaise Zabini, was about to lay my cards on the table. I never laid my cards on the table. My gaze found hers and I forced eye contact fiercely, trying to get her to see how serious this was.

"What?" she asked after we sat in silence for a while, "What's your secret."

"You promise you won't tell anyone?" I was begging again, "I need you to not tell anyone."

"I won't tell a soul," she whispered, and I could tell by the solemn glint to her eyes that she meant it. It was then that I knew it was time. Holding my breath, I rolled up my left sleeve and revealed my Dark Mark.

Hey guys, thanks for reading and I really hope that you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please leave a review if you can spare the time, I want to know what you think! (But if it sucks, you know, I guess tell me, just try not to cuss me out, as it isn't personal if I actually do suck at writing) Byeee!