Disclaimer:  Not mine.  All characters belong to JKR. 

            Notes:  Many thanks to my husband for trying to pound some understanding of photography into my head.  Any inconsistencies are the fault of the author, not the teacher! 

            SPOILERS:  For upcoming chapters of Weasel and the Kneazle.  But they are just small spoilers and one or two of them are probably things you already guessed.  Anyway, this does very little to further the plot in W&K, it's just a brief Colin/Blaise moment that I couldn't get out of my mind.  Hopefully tastefully done and not too offensive.  But then, love should not be offensive to anyone.  K

"Right, then, sit up straight and look over here at my hand." 

            Colin Creevey was standing behind a camera, looking through the viewfinder, and holding his hand above his head, slightly off to the left side.  He was apparently unhappy with what he was seeing, as he straightened abruptly and dropped his hands to his hips. 

            "Not like that, Parvati," he said, his usually calm voice tinged with a bit of irritation.  "Look, I'm coming over there and I'll put your head just where I want it, right?  Then you don't move until I tell you!"

            Colin walked over to the seventh year girl and lifted his hands to her face.  With practiced ease, he gently tilted her head to the side and at a very slight angle away from the camera.  Then, brushing one long, silky black strand of hair away from her shoulders and adjusting the collar of her robe, he said, "There!  Now don't move!"

            After coaxing a smile to her face, Colin snapped her photograph and breathed a sigh of relief. 

            "Great!  You're through, Parvati.  Will you send Harry in?"

            This was Colin's second year of being the official photographer for the graduating class.  He'd already done the group picture of all the seventh year students yesterday, as well as finishing up half of the individual portraits.  And, contrary to previous years, Colin was doing still shots, using Muggle film and processing, rather than the magical pictures.  There was just something about catching the moment, the second of a person's life on a still photograph that was so much more challenging than getting a magical picture that grew a life of its own.  The still was a better reflection of the person, in Colin's opinion. 

            It was challenging, but it was rewarding, too, when he got a good photograph.  And Colin knew, without conceit, that he was talented and usually got very good images.  But he was tired now.  Trying to get a bunch of energetic, impatient, and sometimes-unruly students to sit still for a real portrait required enormous amounts of patience, and Colin was finally running short of it. 

            Having the only person in the entire castle who could fluster him watching over his shoulder only made Colin's job more difficult.  Colin placed his hands on the small of his back and stretched out his spine before turning to his audience of one.

            "Well," he said, trying to hide his nervousness.  "What do you think?"

            Blaise Zabini was sitting quietly in the dark behind the strong camera lights.  Colin couldn't really make out his features; he seemed to be a darker shadow in the already shadowed corner.  He didn't need to, though.  Colin had every line and plane of the older boy's face memorized.  He could actually imagine the arrogant Slytherin's expression of mixed boredom and amusement.

            Blaise surprised him, though.  Standing and approaching quietly, Blaise was watching Colin with an expression of awe on his face. 

"You're brilliant," he breathed quietly, lifting a hand to Colin's face.  "I would have killed someone by now, and you just bend them to your will.  You mold them all into perfect little masterpieces."

He bent the two or so inches needed to bring his face level with Colin's, his eyes half closed.  "What will you do with me when it's my turn?" he asked just before brushing his lips over the younger boy's.

Colin's whole body was tense with anticipation, but Blaise released him and moved back to the stool he'd been sitting on.  Letting out a sigh of disappointment, Colin turned away as Harry Potter entered the room. 

Harry lifted a hand to shield his eyes from the bright light.  "Colin? Oh, there you are.  Well, now what?"

Colin paused for a second.  Harry had been acting strangely lately.  Just before the last Hogsmeade visit, about a month ago, Harry had cornered Ginny Weasley, Colin's best friend, in the common room to ask her to go with him.  Of course Harry couldn't know that Ginny had been pining after Draco Malfoy these last five months and that the two had finally sorted through various misunderstandings (if you could call being marked as a Death Eater and having your vile cohorts try to abduct the girl you loved 'misunderstandings') and gotten together at the same time Harry finally noticed that Ginny was a girl.  But when Ginny had made it clear that she wasn't interested in him any more, Harry had acted very oddly.  Colin had actually thought Harry was going to physically attack her.  And ever since, Harry behaved like a jealous lunatic around Ginny.  It was getting to the point where Ginny and Harry couldn't be in the same room for more than a few minutes any longer.  Shaking his head, Colin stepped in front of the camera lights and assumed his 'photographer' manner. 

"Well, that was nearly painless," Colin said as he snapped Harry's photograph.

Naturally Harry would be very photogenic.  He was also easy to pose.  It had taken only a minute to get the picture.  Colin was relieved, since he found it difficult and uncomfortable to talk to Harry now.  "You're done.  Could you send Dean in?  I think he's next, right?"

"Hang on, Colin, I want to ask you something."

Harry loosened his tie as he approached.  "These lights are hot," he said by way of explanation, unbuttoning the collar of his shirt.  "You know, Colin, Ginny's been acting strange lately.  Have you noticed?"

Colin glanced uncomfortably toward Blaise.  He'd kept the Slytherin informed of the way Harry had been acting, knowing Blaise would pass the information on to Malfoy.  Colin didn't want to cause trouble between Harry and Malfoy, but he thought Malfoy had a right to know if Ginny might be in danger, even if the danger was from the 'boy who lived'.  And even though Malfoy was insanely jealous of Harry (and almost every other boy at Hogwarts, for that matter) he trusted Ginny and the couple had finally worked through his possessiveness for the most part.  Discussing Ginny with Harry was probably just about the last thing Colin wanted to do.

"No, not really," Colin said, much more calmly than he felt.  "I think Ginny's acting like a normal sixteen year old girl."  He almost added 'who's madly in love', but thought better of it.  As they said, 'amantes amentes'.  Who knew what Harry might do if Colin actually confirmed that she was mad about someone else?  Colin didn't like the nasty sneer that now covered Harry's normally good-looking face.

"And what would you know about 'normal' girls?  You don't even fancy girls, do you Colin?  No wonder your best friends are all giggly females.  You bloody well think you're one of them!  You will tell me what I want to know, you little nance, or I'll make sure the whole school knows!"

Colin was aghast!  It wasn't that Harry knew, but that he was acting like this.  This was not the Harry Potter he'd spent the last several years admiring.  Harry Potter was not cruel and manipulative, and he didn't make these kinds of threats.  His threats were more of the 'take it back or else, Malfoy' variety. 

"Harry!" he said.  "What is wrong with you?  Why are you acting like this?"

Harry didn't get a chance to reply.  Seemingly from nowhere, Blaise exploded into the light and smashed Harry in the face with a stunning blow.  The older Gryffindor flew back against the wall and dropped like a stone to the floor.

"Blaise!" Colin cried.  "Why did you do that!"

Blaise walked over and stood above Harry's limp body, his face still contorted in rage.  He absently rubbed his knuckles as he said, "Bloody bastard was going to hex you!  He already had his wand out."

Colin looked and sure enough, Harry's wand was still loosely clutched in one hand.  He shook his head again.

"I don't understand.  Harry's never acted like that before!  Something's got to him, I know it!"

Blaise shot Colin a scornful look.  "You Gryffindors and your damned sense of honor and trust!  It's going to get you killed some day.  Bad things are going to begin happening, most likely sooner than later, and if you aren't prepared, they will get you.  Who knows what is really going on in Potter's head?  I will not forgive you if you let yourself be hurt, Colin."

Colin's eyes widened at this declaration, but he said, "No, its not that.  You don't understand. I've lived with Harry for the last five and a half years.  Even during the Tri-wizard tournament, when Ron and half the school disliked him, Harry was never this way.  There's something going on.  Have you ever heard of anything like this?  Possession or something?"

Blaise tilted his head as he glanced from Colin to Harry and back.  "Polyjuice potion, perhaps?  You're certain this really is Potter?"

Colin frowned.  "No, I don't think its Polyjuice potion.  We stay on the pitch much longer than an hour when we practice.  But then, he could sneak a flask of the stuff out there, right?"

Without hesitation, Blaise knelt next to the inert form and began searching pockets.  He came up with nothing.  Looking up at Colin he shook his head.  "This must be the real Potter," he said finally.  "No flasks, just his clothes, his wand and some gaudy tiepin that only a Gryffindor with bad taste would wear.  It's not even well made."

"What?"  Colin hurried to kneel beside Blaise.  "Where?"

Blaise flipped the neck of the robe, revealing a small pin embedded in Harry's Gryffindor tie.  It was in the shape of a lion's head with red stones for eyes.  It looked very much like something a Gryffindor would wear, but not Harry.  Harry didn't wear tiepins, or at least he hadn't until recently.  Colin had hundreds of pictures of Harry, and he couldn't remember even one with a tiepin.  It was too low to be seen with his robe buttoned, so it was no wonder Colin hadn't noticed it before. 

"I wonder," he mused for a second.  "Blaise, is there any way to see if the pin's been charmed or hexed or something?  Could someone be using it to control Harry's behavior?"

Colin knew it was a long shot.  He'd probably watched too many James Bond films as a child (and any time he was home at holidays), but it was worth a try.  Blaise was a genius at charms, and had even charmed a piece of jewelry for Malfoy to give Ginny so that if she came up missing they could find her.  If anyone could figure out if Harry had some sort of controlling charm on him, Blaise was the man to do it. 

Blaise lifted his brows, then looked speculatively at the still body in front of him.  Drawing his own wand from his pocket, he waved it briefly over the tiepin.  Breathing a few quiet words, he watched intently.  Both boys gasped when a green glow surrounded the pin for a moment.  As Blaise moved his wand away, the glow faded.

"You're right.  It has been charmed in some way.  I'm not certain what the spell is or how to remove it.  I haven't read very much on mind control charms," he admitted.

"And why should you?" Colin demanded with a smile.  "All you have to do is look at someone just that way and they're ready to do whatever you tell them to."

"Really?" Blaise said, his expression surprised and amused.  "And what if I asked you to…"

"Bloody hell!"

Harry was coming around and both boys jumped up, but not before Blaise pinched the pin from Harry's tie.  He quickly wrapped it in his handkerchief and slipped back to his seat, dropping the pin to the floor and kicking it under the stool. 

Harry sat up awkwardly, rubbing his jaw.  "What the hell happened?"

He looked at Colin, frowning.  "Col?  Where are we?"

"You just got your graduation picture taken, Harry.  Don't you remember?"

Harry looked around, still enough in the glare of the lights to miss Blaise sitting in the corner.  "Vaguely," he said finally, struggling to his feet.  "How long have I been here?"

Colin checked his watch and said, "About ten minutes.  Do you remember anything?"

Harry closed his eyes and leaned against the wall, still gently rubbing his jaw.  "I remember getting my picture snapped.  Then I said I wanted to ask you something, about Gin, I think."

Harry's eyes popped open and his face flushed a dark red.  He looked mortified.  "Colin, tell me I didn't say what I remember saying!"

Colin frowned, biting the inside of his lip.  "What do you remember saying," he asked.

Covering his eyes with an arm, Harry said, "Did I really call you a nance and threaten to tell the school?"  His voice was thick with shame.  Dropping his arm, Harry looked Colin in the eyes.  "I'm so sorry, Colin.  I don't know what I was saying.  I didn't mean it.  I hope you know that."

Colin let out a relieved breath.  This was the Harry Potter he knew and admired.  He knew Harry wouldn't have been so cruel.  He shrugged.

"You were right, though, Harry.  I don't fancy girls."

Harry shook his head.  "I knew that.  I meant that I was sorry about the other things I said.  I don't care who you fancy.  It's your business, not mine.  I just don't understand why I said the other things.  You know I don't really feel that way.  I don't blame you for socking me, though."

Harry gave a brief, shaky laugh.  "Damn, Colin, you really walloped me!  Nearly broke my jaw!"

"I didn't--," he began, then stopped.

"Hey, Colin, no problem.  I deserved it.  I was being a real bastard!"  He shook his head again, then straightened away from the wall.  Brushing the dust from his robes, he looked around absently.  "Damned well knocked my tiepin right off, Col. Good job!"

"When did you start wearing a tiepin, Harry?" Colin asked, trying to sound casual. 

"Hm?"  Harry was distracted, still looking for the pin.  "Uh, a little while ago.  I found it.  Do you see it?  It looks like a lion.  I really liked it."

Colin made a show of looking around, too, but he kept clear of the shadows.  "I'll look around when I clear up, right?" he said.  "If I find it, I'll bring it back to Gryffindor with me.  Anyway, what did you want to ask me about Ginny?"

Colin was nervous, bringing up the subject of his best friend again, but he wanted to see if Harry was really back to himself.  Harry glanced around once more, then shrugged. 

"You know," he said, looking at Colin again, "I really don't remember.  I think I was going to ask if you know who her new fellow was, but it doesn't seem that important.  Oh, lord!"

"What?" Colin asked, concerned.

"Oh, God, Colin, I just remembered what an idiot I've been to Ginny, too!  What the hell is wrong with me?"

Harry glanced around the room quickly, then turned to the door.  "I need to talk to Hermione and Ron!  I'm really sorry, Colin!  I've got to go!"

With that, he opened the door and disappeared through it.  Colin watched, bemused, before going to the door and looking out. 

"Sorry, Dean, I'm out of film.  I'll have to finish you lot tomorrow, right?"

There was some grumbling heard before Colin closed the door and leaned against it.  He sighed and closed his eyes, feeling unbelievably weary.  He jumped when he heard Blaise's voice rumbling in his ear. 

"You've enough film left for my portrait, haven't you?"

Colin opened his eyes to see the tall Slytherin leaning against the door beside him.  Damn, he thought.  Blaise moved like a cat, graceful and silent.  He hadn't even heard the other boy's robes rustling. 

Giving him a wry smile, Colin pushed away from the door and moved to the camera.  He rewound the film and removed it, loading a fresh cartridge which he had already marked 'Blaise'.  Then he sat on the stool the other boy had vacated. 

"Are you sure you want to do this?  I mean, don't you want to get to work on Harry's pin?"

"Potter's problems don't really interest me much unless they become your problems," Blaise said calmly, moving slowly toward Colin.  "For you, I'll look into it, but not right now."  He reached up to unfasten his robes. 

Colin swallowed as the silky garment slid from Blaise's broad shoulders to slither to the ground.  The large, tanned hands went to the green and silver tie, and soon that was dropping to the ground as well.  Next was the white shirt, and Blaise was now standing before the younger boy, clad in only his trousers and shoes.  He quickly kicked off the shoes and dropped his hands to his belt. 

"Are you certain you wish to do this?" Blaise asked, his hands hesitating.

Colin looked up, trying to read Blaise's expression.  With his back to the light, though, Blaise's face was shadow and darkness.  Licking his suddenly dry lips, Colin could only nod.  He had never had the slightest interest in any of the other models he'd photographed before, and he didn't know if he could do justice to the god-like creature standing before him now.

Blaise merely nodded, then walked to the door, locking it.  He moved to the posing stool and pushed it aside.  Stepping quickly out of his trousers and socks, Blaise laid them on the stool and faced Colin, magnificently naked and completely unselfconscious. 

Colin swallowed again and stood.  He'd brought different backgrounds, since he and Blaise had discussed doing this as soon as the headmaster had asked him to do the graduating portraits again this year.  He just hadn't really dreamed that they'd really go through with it.  Now Colin dithered, something that he never did.  Running a shaking hand through his hair he wondered whether he should set up the backdrops or just try to take Blaise's pictures with the portrait background?  Should he ask Blaise to cover up so he could think clearly, or was he just going to stand here and gawk at the vision of aesthetic perfection before him? 

"Colin?  Are you absolutely certain?"

The sudden indecision left him as Colin thought he heard a slight quaver in Blaise's voice.  He sounded a bit uncertain himself.  Colin couldn't imagine why Blaise would sound uncertain.  He was absolutely perfect.  Photographing him would be a pleasure, instead of the chore it sometimes was.  Finally, Colin shook himself and grabbed the large canvas bag he'd brought with him. 

"Just give me a second to set up," he said.  "Why don't you have a seat and relax until I'm ready?"

Blaise wordlessly moved to the seat and perched on the edge, careful not to crease his trousers.  He watched as Colin unzipped the bag and dragged yards of soft, gauzy material from inside.  With the help of his wand, Colin arranged the material over the other background and across the floor.  He twitched it here and there so the material draped gracefully.  He went to the bag and pulled out another piece, this of a thin, diaphanous sheet of gossamer.  It was set aside, for use later, if Colin wished.  The last thing Colin took out was a set of small, square frames.  Each had a different coloured sheet of plastic stretched across it, and was just the perfect size to fit over one of the filler lights. 

"Gels," he said to Blaise's inquiring look.  "They change the colour of the background without the bother of using a different background each time.  But we'll be mostly shooting on the white."

Blaise nodded and Colin set the gels aside, thinking that Blaise's darker skin and colouring would photograph more dramatically on a white background, anyway.  Finally Colin motioned for Blaise to approach.  He heartily wished Blaise had brought a towel or some shorts to wear for the posing portion.  Having him so available was giving Colin all sorts of very unprofessional thoughts.  It only made it worse to see that this intimate setting seemed to be having absolutely no affect on the person who affected him so strongly. 

When Blaise was standing in front of him, Colin almost couldn't resist the urge to run his hands over the broad, firm chest, or to run his fingers through the crisp chest hair.  Instead, his mind went blank again, and he couldn't think of a single pose to set the older boy in.  Panic gripped him, and Colin did the only thing that he could; he ran!

"I can't!  I'll ruin everything!" he said desperately as he turned and hurried for the door.  As his hand closed over the knob, Blaise's hand closed over his.

"Don't!  Don't go!  You don't have to do this, Colin.  I don't want you to do anything you don't want to do.  Just, please, don't go like this."

Colin put his forehead against the door.  "I do want to.  I just can't."  He couldn't really explain, but he tried.  "I—you're so—I mean, I can't do it justice.  I want it to be perfect."

"Colin, look at me," Blaise said, his voice deep and commanding. 

Colin turned. 

"I'm sorry," Blaise said, looking deep into Colin's eyes.  "I wanted to be perfect for you, but I am only what I am.  I can't be something else."

A confused look covered Colin's face.  "What do you mean?  It's not you, it's me."

Blaise touched the younger boy's face gently.  "No, you are an artist.  If you can't make the picture work, the fault is mine."

"No, that's not true," Colin insisted.  "I—,"

"I don't know what it is that you see when you look at me, Colin, but I know what I am.  I just wanted—,"

Blaise stopped for a moment, his hand sliding down Colin's arm.  "You have this talent.  You create beauty."  He took one of Colin's hands and brought it up to his mouth.  "These hands," he said, brushing his lips over Colin's knuckles.  "You heal with these beautiful hand," he whispered.  "You create photographs that are works of art.  You see beauty in things most people would ignore.  You're so strong and good that I understand why you don't wish to sully your hands with me."

Colin stared up at the taller boy.  "No, Blaise!  That isn't it!" he said, moving his hand to twine his fingers with Blaise's.  "Its just that I'm so nervous with you, I can't concentrate.  I don't want to photograph you because I'm too busy wanting to touch you, everywhere, anywhere you let me."

Colin looked away suddenly, embarrassed at his admission.  He'd seen for himself that Blaise hadn't been interested.  "Unprofessional, I know," he said miserably.  "I know that wasn't what you wanted, but…"

Blaise gripped his hand more tightly now, forcing Colin to look at him again.  "How could you possibly think that?" Blaise demanded.

Colin frowned.  "Earlier, I saw—that is, I thought—I was so worked up I could barely move, but you were—well, not!"

Smirking, Blaise brought Colin's hand to his chest and pressed it there.  "You cannot imagine the horrid things I had to concentrate on so that it would not be painfully obvious what I wanted," he said, his voice low and rough.  "Perhaps," he added, dragging Colin's hand downward, "this is more what you expected?"

Colin gasped at the sudden contact.  Blaise closed his eyes and sighed as Colin curled his hand around him.  Leaning forward, Blaise murmured against Colin's lips, "Touch me.  Everywhere, anywhere you wish."

After only a few moments, though, Colin pulled away.  "I want to take your photograph," he said quietly.  "Now."

Blaise stepped back immediately, his eyes dark and intense.  "Whatever you want," he replied, almost sulkily. 

Colin grinned, reassured.  "It won't take that long, I promise."

"It had better not," Blaise retorted, stalking to the backgrounds.  "What do you want me to do?"

Just stay there so I can drool, Colin thought, watching the young man's graceful movements.  "Sit down, Indian style," he said quickly.

Blaise sat and Colin grabbed a corner of the gauzy material.  Dragging it up, he carefully draped it over Blaise's lap. 

"Now, lean back on one hand and bring your knee up, yes like that.  And lay your other arm across your knee, no, more casually.  Yes that's it!"

Colin focused and took the picture.  He changed the pose and took some more.  After about ten pictures, Blaise began to grouse about how long it was taking.  Colin smiled and told him to move his head slightly to the right.  When at least twenty frames had been shot, Blaise stuck his lower lip out mutinously. 

He was actually facing away from Colin, looking over his broad shoulders in an almost, but not quite coy fashion, and Colin couldn't help grinning.  He walked over and cupped the back of Blaise's neck.  He felt a thrill as the older boy looked up, his eyes dark and desire very evident in every inch of him.  Colin had never been the aggressor here, but he couldn't resist leaning down and locking his mouth on Blaise's.  He gave him an intense, if brief kiss that left the Slytherin gasping. 

"Only a few more," he whispered before returning to the camera.

"Malfoy's right," Blaise complained.  "You Gryffindors are a sneaky, manipulative lot, and no one else sees it!"

"And no one will believe you if you tell them, either," Colin quipped.  "Now, turn round and face me again."

Blaise had apparently had enough, though.  Colin watched through the viewfinder as Blaise rose, letting the fabric fall away from his wonderfully hard body. 

"Come over here now," Blaise said, his voice quiet and menacing.

Colin didn't feel menaced.  He did feel a bit overwhelmed, though.  Blaise took a step forward. 

"Must I come and get you?"  The threat in his voice should have been obvious, but Colin continued to fiddle with the camera.  Blaise took another step.

"I'm just packing it up!" Colin insisted. 

Blaise paused until he saw that Colin was indeed packing up the equipment.  Settling back on the backdrop sheet, Blaise watched as the camera went into its case.  The tripod followed, then Colin began to shut off the bright lights.  He left one small light on, and slipped a yellow gel over it, bathing the room in a warm, sunlit glow.  Then he turned to Blaise.

"Now what?" he asked.

Blaise's eyes flamed as he said, "The robe."

Colin approached slowly, as Blaise had done earlier, unfastening the robe and letting it drop to the ground. 

"Next?" he asked.

"Shoes, and then the tie."

Those items were left behind and Colin was now working the buttons of his shirt.  Blaise rose and brushed his hands away, tugging frantically at Colin's remaining clothing.  As the trousers were discarded, Blaise gave Colin one final look.  "Are you certain?" he asked tentatively.

"I've never been more certain of anything in my life," Colin answered honestly.

Much later Colin lay on his back, one arm folded under his head.  He was sore but sated, totally relaxed.  His hand gently stroked the dark head that was resting on his chest.  A tiny smile crossed his lips as he gazed at the young man curled against him.  How odd it was that someone like Blaise Zabini could possibly seem to need comfort and reassurance.  Blaise carried that indefinable air of superiority about him that made one think that he had the world by the tail.  He was often smug and arrogant; he was physically perfect and completely self-assured.  But he had seemed so vulnerable to Colin, especially after such an intimate and loving exchange.  And it had been loving.  Although it had been Colin's first time, he sensed the care and love that Blaise had lavished on him.  This had not been a quick shag to get himself off, but had been a selfless, emotional act that both had shared equally.  And after they had finished, after Blaise had gently disengaged himself and collapsed at Colin's side, the older boy had shyly nestled himself against Colin's body, as if seeking the emotional closeness to go with the physical contact they had just had. 

Smiling again, Colin wrapped his arm around Blaise's shoulder and hugged him more tightly against his chest.  Blaise responded with a soft sigh, pulling himself closer. 

"It's because you're so perfect, you know," he murmured.

"What?"  Colin wasn't sure he'd heard correctly.

Blaise sighed again, then propped himself on one elbow, his eyes fixed on a spot somewhere between Colin's chin and chest.  "The reason I'm afraid of you.  I'm afraid that if I touch someone so perfect, I'll ruin him.  I'd do anything for you, you know."

Colin's heart jumped.  He touched the other boy's chin, lifting it so he could meet his eyes.  "I'm not the perfect one," he said gently.  "You know you are.  You're everything.  All I need, all I want.  I don't need you to do 'anything' for me.  I just need you to care for me."

Blaise studied him for a moment.  "You know I do," he replied simply.  "Always."

Smiling broadly, Colin pulled Blaise against his chest again, cradling the young man gently to his body.  Blaise wrapped a strong arm around Colin's thinner frame and closed his eyes.  Colin stroked the thick black hair again as he said, "That's all I ask."