Magic and music did not, as proven by many tone-deaf wizards, mix. Only for a precious few the magic, no pun intended, came true. Weird Sisters had been touring over most of the known world for years, and Celestina Warbeck had grown so famous she'd been allowed to record a national Quidditch team's anthem for them. Lately though, the crop of musical wizards and witches had been scraping the bottom of the barrel, and none of them managed to keep in the business for more than a few months before leaving due to not being good enough or not being able to handle the stress.

Therefore it was with bated breath and a quick escape-route planned that Ron, Harry and Hermione, joined by Dean, Ginny and Seamus sat down at a table in the smoky Hog's Head in Hogsmeade. Neville had called in sick, but the real reason was that he was afraid to come, on account of having his ears drilled through the last time he went to see a new magical band. It was with some apprehension even the attending students arrived, because the band was apparently made up by their most hated Slytherins: Draco Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bulstrode. That Blaise Zabini played the bass of the band was a minor detail since none of them had dealt with him enough to form an opinion.

They called themselves, well, nothing really. Hermione claimed she'd heard them argue in the library once about what they should call themselves, but since Draco Malfoy had insisted on "Draco plus Three" and no one else agreed, they hadn't arrived at a decision. The owner of the Hog's Head had put them down as "The Band" and left it at that.

The announcement which Seamus had found that they would be playing at Hog's Head provided a perfect opportunity, or so the Gryffindors had agreed, to mock the Slytherins for their lack of skills and ridiculous ideas. Hermione had even gone so far that she had brought a book on the Goblin Rebellions with her to read when it became too boring. The stage had been set up at the far end of the room, and wasn't very big. It was just big enough to hold four people and a drum-set, and that was pushing things a bit.

"So how bad do you think they'll be?" Harry asked, sipping his Butterbeer, "On a scale from one to ten."

"They won't touch that scale with a ten foot pole," Dean chuckled. "Neither Parkinson or Malfoy can sing: I've heard them try, and it's not bloody likely they'll let anyone else have the limelight."

"We'll assail our ears for one night, and get to mock Slytherins in the morning." Seamus grinned widely, "Think of the embarrassment!"

They didn't get further than that before the lights dimmed even further, and the performance began. Malfoy came swaggering out on the stage with a guitar in his hands, smirking at the relatively small audience. There was a stony silence. The people had come to know what to expect from magical bands, which was why Muggle music was so popular among the wizarding youth. Pansy stepped out and smiled, sitting down behind the drum-set.

"Malfoy's on guitar, which means he could sing, but he'll need all his concentration to play that thing," Ginny murmured, watching the stage. "And Parkinson's on drums? That's a surprise. I figured she'd sing."

"Well, Malfoy singing is a bad enough image for me," Ron winced at the thought.

"It's enough to give me nightmares, that's for - "Harry didn't get further before Millicent Bulstrode stepped out on stage, and brought Blaise Zabini with her. Harry's sentence was interrupted by Hermione's book hitting the table with a loud thump. "Bloody hell."

Bloody hell were indeed the words fitting the situation. Millicent Bulstrode, the girl who had had Hermione in a headlock in their second year, and had definitely earned her Gryffindor nickname of Bull in the passing years, now looked nothing like her everyday self. She looked at every man in the audience like she was sizing them up, and Hermione would have heard Harry's jaw hitting the table if she hadn't been too busy watching the fourth and final member of the band.

If Bulstrode was seduction in a dress, Zabini was sex on two legs. The black bass was held carelessly in one hand as he surveyed his audience, and he did not look the least bit nervous, when even Malfoy exhibited a few signs of nerves. It looked as if he had been moulded into those black jeans, and the black T-shirt was like a second skin. His eyes clearly showed he felt like he owned his audience.

Then Millicent opened her mouth, and the ability to form coherent sentences was forcibly removed from the mind of every heterosexual male in the room.

"I didn't light this fire,
It was always burning."

Harry melted into an incoherent puddle in his chair, and sat transfixed at her voice. If Millicent had chosen that moment to walk down from the stage and rip his still beating heart out, he would have let her. And it seemed she was staring directly at him.

"It's the flames of revolution
Taking over my heart."

On the other side of the table, Hermione wasn't having much luck with coherency either. Once the book on the Goblin Rebellion had slipped from her fingers, reality had no hopes of getting in touch with her. One look at Zabini's green-and-blue pair of eyes, and those wonderful bass-player forearms, and her brain dribbled out of her ears. Metaphorically speaking of course. She could hear Ginny whisper excitedly to her about how sexy Zabini looked and that if it wasn't for Dean, but Hermione wasn't paying attention. She was as lost to Blaise Zabini's eyes, as Harry was to Millicent Bulstrode's voice.

"I didn't touch the flames
Only a fool would
Stick his hand into
The consuming fire"

Malfoy looked like he was enjoying himself very much, grinning at the audience and playing his guitar for all that he was worth. Despite how hard he was trying, he still could not match his band-mates' voice and bass- playing. It was obvious that Zabini knew what he was doing, even if Malfoy didn't and Parkinson was having a bit of trouble keeping the rhythm. But even if they would have been bad enough to make the audience leave, Zabini's looks and Millicent's voice would have kept them coming back for more.

"The flames were dull
But the sparks made them
Tear through my veins
Like hounds to a chase."

It was incredible. Harry decided that Bulstrode's voice sounded just like velvet would, could it ever sing. The music sounded just like wildfire, deceptively slow, but burning faster than possible beneath. Malfoy had a look of outmost concentration trying to put all his fingers in the right places as Millicent launched into the chorus, to everyone's surprise joined by the voice of Blaise Zabini.

"Some things never change
This fire will always burn for you,
Nothing, nothing feels like this,
Nothing lives like this"

Had it been physically possible, Hermione would be a melting puddle at Zabini's feet. His voice skipped the formalities of going through her ears to her brain, and went directly for raw emotion in sonic form. It went up through the soles of her feet and reached her brain via her spinal cord. It made her very bones hum, and she swore that as soon as the performance as over, she'd put the memory in a Pensive and replay it till she died.

"Sleepwalking through
Waking dreams of you,
Wishing I will never wake
Will never open my eyes

The feelings take me over, And I drown in you The fire burns me up And it's all because of you"

Zabini stepped back and let Bulstrode take over once more. The look in Bulstrode's eyes turned from merely amused to dangerously seductive. Dean Thomas, who was a slow, thoughtful boy, though my no means stupid, was leaning back and watching the band and his friends in amusement. He noticed how Hermione was slowly turning into a shivering pile of gibberish, and how Bulstrode was definitely looking at Harry as she sang. Indeed. What an interesting development.

"One look and I'm paralysed
The defences I built evaporate
One touch and I bleed
And my mind dissipates."

Bulstrode crooned into the Muggle-fashion microphone, sounding for the world as if she was the seductress of Hell's antechamber. Harry tried to scrape up whatever was left of his braincells and stop drooling so obviously. Hermione, who even in her mentally reduced state could add up faster upside down than most people could right side up, wondered fleetingly at the lyrics. There were some rather complicated words in the last verse, which normally didn't fit in songs. She wondered who'd written them.

"Some things never change
This fire will always burn for you,
Nothing, nothing feels like this,
Nothing lives like this

I lie awake at nights,
Wishing for your presence
For your skin under my fingers
You have stolen my sense"

The blatantly sexual images that verse conjured into the minds of every living person in the vicinity was breathtaking. Harry went red from the tips of his ears to somewhere beneath his collar. Ron, who swore to get a guitar the first thing he did as soon as the performance was over if the looks on Ginny's and Hermione's faces was something to go by, waved his hand in front of his best friend's face. No reaction. The same treatment given to Hermione provided the same lack of reaction. Sighing, Ron waved for another Butterbeer. It was he'd feared then: his friends' brains had been surgically removed.

"I wonder at my dreams,
Watch you from the sidelines
I pretend that I can't see you
But your eyes win me over

Insanity never felt this good,
Despite my obsessive tendencies
I don't feel disturbed at all
That madness is descending"

Zabini joined in again on the last verse and the chorus, and his fingers caressed the neck of his bass slowly. The song slowly faded out, and was followed by the most enthusiastic applauds ever to grace the Hog's Head with their presence. Sanity returned to more than a few heads as the band bowed and walked off-stage. Harry mopped his saliva off the table-top, still blushing like a Weasley, while Hermione pretended she'd been reading throughout the whole song and had most definitely not been oogling Blaise Zabini's abdominal muscles, shut up Ginny.


"Well, that was certainly surprising." Dean remarked casually as they walked back to Hogwarts.

"You tell me!" Harry exclaimed, "Bulstrode is a girl!"

"Yes Harry, we noticed." Ginny said patiently. "It wasn't possible to avoid when she was dressed like that."

"I didn't know one could drool that much in under five minutes, Harry." Seamus cut in. "Though it wasn't entirely strange. Bulstrode seems to have grown up quite finely, wouldn't you say?"

"So, I would say, has Zabini," Ginny snickered, "Hermione dropped that book pretty quickly, didn't you?"

Hermione halted abruptly, and started spinning around like a deranged spinning top, muttering to herself under her breath. Seamus and Dean had to both grab her shoulders at once to get her to stop. Ron was still too deep in his dreams about guitars earning him female company, and Ginny was trying to contact the semi-comatose Harry.

"Hermione, for goodness' sake, what is it?"

"I forgot my book, I forgot my book!" She exclaimed. "I forgot my book!"

"Calm down: you're being irrational!" Dean snapped. "We'll get it back in the morning: if we don't head back to the castle now, the Headmaster will give us detention till our grandchildren graduate."

Dragging the wildly protesting Hermione behind them, Seamus and Dean lead the way back to the castle. When Hermione started in on the more colourful phrases to describe them, the Hogwarts most infamous pair of pranksters, second only to Fred and George were close to laughing out loud.

"Now, now, Hermione, we both know that's anatomically impossible," Seamus laughed as the reached the castle. "Now go and get some sleep, and dream about your new Slytherin obsession, and we'll want to know all the dirty details in the morning."

An enraged howl followed him all the way into his dorm.


The band were just pack up and leaving when Blaise noticed the heavy book lying on one of the tables in the pub. He picked it up and turned it over in his hands, looking at the cover and smiling to himself. It was obvious who had left it there. And he was going to return it. Tucking the book into his bag, he smiled once more.

"Hurry up Blaise!" Draco shouted from the door. "We don't have all night!"

"Coming!" He shouted back.


The Gryffindors were all very quiet in the morning, especially Harry and Hermione. Harry still hadn't recovered from the shock of finding out that Millicent Bulstrode, his year-mate of nearly seven years, was actually a girl. Hermione was brooding, but brooding over something distinctly black- haired, black clad and of the definitely Slytherin persuasion. Neville had several times enquired what was wrong, before being told off by a seething Hermione.

After breakfast, Hermione went for a walk, leaving the rest of the Gryffindors coping with Harry's constant exclamations of "Bulstrode's a girl!". The image of Blaise Zabini had been branded into the backs of her eyelids, and she saw him every time she closed her eyes. The fact that Seamus and Dean had been pestering about what she'd been dreaming about didn't make the situation any better.

Hermione knew, with her perfectly logical mind, that she had fallen in love with Blaise Zabini. Logic also suggested that such a thing was impossible: love was something that grew with time, not a wild emotion that appeared in a matter of hours. However, when arriving at that point, Hermione had kindly suggested that her logic should take a hike.

The logic thing to do about her new found emotions would be squashing them and ignoring them for the time being. But logic, which always came easy to her, had listened to her suggestion and was currently hiking its way through the Rocky Mountains. Therefore, she wandered through the corridors, trying to come up with ways to fall out of love again. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with Zabini, as such. Aside from the fact that he had one green eye and one blue eye, he was a perfectly normal, six-foot-seven, black-haired, gorgeous Slytherin. It was that the chance of Zabini noticing her as anything more than the girl who hung out in libraries a lot was minimal.

Morosely retreating to her sanctum, the library, she settled down in and old and worn armchair which looked as if it might at one time have been located in the Slytherin Common Room. It had a rather bad ink sketch of a snake on one arm. Hermione decided she rather liked it. When she had been brooding over Blaise Zabini and the meaning of life (coincidentally the same thing) for a while, she heard someone picking chords on a guitar on the other side of the bookcase. Curiosity overtaking her need to be depressed for a moment, she sneaked a peak around the shelf and eavesdropped (or eaveslooked, depending on your point of view) at the player.

Her brain-functions shut down when she saw that it was the object of last night's dreams: Blaise Zabini. He had traded in his bass for an acoustic guitar, and was strumming something out on it while scribbling a bit on a piece of parchment. He was talking to himself quietly, sometimes scratching out what he had written to write something else in its stead. Hermione eavesdropped shamelessly.

"The blood where I've walked, it isn't mine," He sung quietly, and shivers ran down her spine. "Sounds about right. The only name I've carved into the stone, is the name of the love I left behind. Doesn't come out too stupid, I hope. Don't let me drown in the Siren's tears. And so we have a complete chorus. Help me Merlin if she laughs at me."

Hermione slipped away, out of the library. She hurried back to the Gryffindor Tower to find Ginny: she needed someone who would understand her dreamy looks and squeals over Zabini. Silently, she thanked Merlin Lavender and Parvati hadn't been at the Hog's Head the previous night, or they would have claimed Zabini as their own, along with the right to dream about him. Today was a Saturday, which Hermione also thanked Merlin for: it meant that she wouldn't have to go to her classes distracted. Ginny received the news of Zabini with the appropriate "I'm-so-happy-for-you!" expression, and listened to Hermione's long and complicated speeches about the Slytherin.

"...I've never seen anyone play like that," Hermione confided in her red- headed friend as they walked down to lunch, "Not even at the Metallica concert my father took me to when I was seven. It was breathtaking."

Ginny was about to answer, but instead shut her mouth with a snap, staring over Hermione's shoulder. Raising her eyebrow and turning around, it was only iron-clad self-control that kept Hermione from going scarlet. Zabini was standing before her, with a heavy book in his hand and a vague smile on his face. He also looked distinctly uncomfortable. The suspicious void beside her told Hermione that Ginny had upped and left for lunch, abandoning her to meet the love and terror of her live on her own. Her logic, which had decided to return, hurriedly bought tickets on the first plane to France.

"What?" Was the most coherent thing she managed to get out.

"I just wanted to return your book," Zabini replied, holding up the book on Goblin Rebellions. "Fascinating topic, by the way. The siege on page 713 is best memorised through reacting it with green peas and mashed potatoes."

"Peas? Mashed potatoes?" She repeated incredulously.

"Of course: peas as goblins, and mashed potatoes as the landscape," Zabini grinned, dumping the book in her arms. "Creative learning processes, and what not. Better not leave it lying around like that: anyone could just walk off with it. You should be glad I noticed it after the show."

He walked off whistling the song she had heard him write in the library, as she stood rather paralysed with her newly returned book in her arms. The new information dumped in her head had gone straight through her ears and into her brain, but her brain refused to process it correctly. Zabini had more or less just told her he memorised the Goblin Rebellions and the Battle of Dead Man's Hill by letting green peas and mashed potatoes act out the battle. It was strange, it was insane, and it was perfectly adorable. Sighing heavily, her logic boarded the plane to France, not bothering to buy a return-ticket.


"We need somewhere else to play than Hog's Head." Draco announced.

"Why can't we keep playing there?" Pansy asked.

"Because there's nearly no one there, we'd never be discovered, and because the only reason we even got to play there was because Millie and I volunteered to clean up that pig-sty excuse for a pub." Blaise snorted, tuning his acoustic guitar. "Of course, I don't particularly care about the first two reasons, but I'm never cleaning that pub again."

"But we still need to play somewhere." Millicent said. "Can't we play here, at Hogwarts?"

"We can't just set up a stage and play, Millie," Blaise replied. "We need permission."

"So get one." Millicent shrugged. "You know how to act convincing: convince some Gryffindor to arrange a show for us here. From the looks Granger was giving you last night, I'd say it'd be pretty easy to get her to help."

"She wasn't looking at me, Millie, and even if she was, what should it matter?" Blaise snapped, though the effect was ruined some by the slight blush that was spreading on his face.

"Aside from the fact that the songs you've written are for her, and that I only as late as last week heard you claim she was your personal muse? Nothing," Millicent grinned. "Come on now, Blaise. Please do this for us? I know it's embarrassing for you to talk to her, but crack some jokes, ask if she can do this for us, and if she refuses, offer something in exchange. Like a rare book or something. It's Granger: she'd like that."

"Fine." Blaise gave in after a minute or two. "I'll ask her, but I'm not promising anything."

"Good!" Draco clapped his hands once, startling them somewhat. "On to more pressing matters: what are we going to call ourselves?"

"How about ´I Couldn't Care Less´?" Blaise suggested.

"Poison?" Millicent asked, ignoring Blaise's ludicrous suggestion.

"Muggle band," Blaise turned it down. "Had some hits in the eighties."

"The Snakes?" Pansy offered.

"Too obvious. The Gryffindors would laugh at us." Draco waved it off. "Dragon?"

"Just a cheap play on your name," Millicent said, "Same goes for Bad Faith, just in case you were suggesting it."

Like a poker-player putting down a winning hand, Blaise gave his final suggestion.


"Sounds good," Draco said thoughtfully. "Where did you get it from?"

"He's a titan in Greek Mythology, the eldest of the titans and father of Helios, Eos and Selene," Blaise shrugged. "My Ancient Greek isn't too good, but I think I read somewhere that his name means ´the one above´."

"I like it," Millicent said. "Now we've got a name, so Blaise can go ask Granger to set us up a show here at Hogwarts."

"I will, in the morning," Blaise said, "I'm going to work on my new song."

The newly dubbed Hyperion's members sat around in the Common Room until late, each adding a bit to the new song. Blaise claimed Millicent sounded as if she had had her heart ripped out when she sang it. Millicent grinned and told him that was the plan.


The situation, Hermione decided, was nothing short of surreal. In front of her stood Blaise Zabini, the most gorgeous boy she had ever seen, bar none, with a hopeful expression on his face, asking her if she could get Dumbledore to give them permission for a show at Hogwarts. Someone must have changed the order of the world when she wasn't looking. Things such as this did not happen. Gorgeous Slytherin boys did not ask for her help. Certainly not when it came to arranging shows at Hogwarts. Yet there he stood. Confusion and utter hopeless love was playing hopscotch with her mind.

"You want me to ask Dumbledore's permission?" She asked again, just to check.

"Yes." Zabini nodded, smiling vaguely as always.

"Why me?"

"Because Dumbledore likes you? Because he's bound to agree to what you ask, since you're extremely smart and all the teachers except Snape adore you, and your ideas are always strokes of genius?" The smile was dwindling away as he spoke, getting more and more uncertain and more and more desperate.

"But, I can't -" She started helplessly.

"Please?" The killer smile returned.

"Fine. But only out of the goodness of my heart," She warned him. Like she could have said no when he looked at her like that.

"Granger, I hereby dub you the ultimate ruler of my universe!" Zabini's face lit up. "If I had a crown, I'd give it to you! In fact, I will, if I can get one forged before we graduate. You have no idea how much you have just saved my miserable hide."

The shock of his revelation left her reeling long enough for him to slip away down the corridor again, whistling as he had last time. Hermione realised she now had the responsibility to arrange a gig for a group she wasn't even part of. And all this because of Zabini's killer smile. Curse be to all handsome Slytherins, she thought miserably, as she began to plan what she would tell Dumbledore.

"A concert, you say?" Dumbledore was fairly twinkling.


"A school band, is it?"


"Interesting. This is certainly a wonderful idea," Dumbledore smiled, "And you can tell Mr Zabini that he and his band can play if they want to, though there are of course certain details to be sorted out."

".....Thank you, Headmaster."

Arrangements had been made, a stage had been built in the Great Hall and rumours about the concert were running rampant over the school. All of her year mates plus Ginny were pestering Hermione for details, but all she would admit to was helping the band arrange the concert, and other than that they should be there to see for themselves. Millicent Bulstrode had been seen at Gladrags with Pansy Parkinson, shopping for clothes, Draco Malfoy walked around with his customary arrogant smile on his face, and Blaise Zabini had locked himself in his dorm in a song-writing frenzy.

The concert day dawned in much the same fashion as all days did. The only difference was not, as one might expect, that the sun rose in the wrong direction of the compass, since it didn't. The difference was that all students at Hogwarts attended breakfast. The difference was that today, two three weeks after the first show at Hog's Head, the Slytherin band dubbed Hyperion would be playing once more.

Its members were less than calm. Draco was slowly ripping apart the latest letter from his mother. Pansy kept tapping the table as if it was a drum set. Millicent was stark white, but composed. Blaise was a complete mess. He kept falling asleep in his breakfast, and when they woke him up, he mumbled something about songs and bass, and promptly fell asleep again. As the hours passed, they grew more nervous. Finally, when Draco had been to the bathroom and thrown up more than once, when Pansy had nearly worn her fingers to the bone tapping the table, when Millicent's paleness could only be covered by make-up, and Blaise was finally coming to, it was nearly time for the concert.

"What are you going to wear, Millie?" Pansy asked to distract herself from their impending doom.

"I'm wearing the blue dress," Her friend replied. "You?"

"A white t-shirt and a black skirt. You can't wear anything elegant when you're a drummer," Pansy rolled her eyes. "That privilege is reserved lead- singers, guitarists and bass-players."

"Draco's going with green and black shirt and trousers," Millicent agreed, "He'll look wonderful, if a bit pale."

"What about you Blaise?" Pansy looked at their somewhat mentally disconnected bass-player.

"What's wrong with this?" Blaise asked bewildered, gesturing to his worn black trousers and blue t-shirt.

"Blaise, you slept in those clothes," Pansy wrinkled her nose, "There's no way were letting you on stage in that. Don't you have anything else?"

"I don't think so." He said helplessly.

"You hopeless oaf!" Millicent snapped, "We're raiding your wardrobe, and everybody else's too, for that matter."

They were pressed for time, with only an hour until they had to be on stage, and Blaise could do nothing but watch as they raided his wardrobe for usable clothing.


The Great Hall was packed to capacity, waiting for the band to come on stage. The Gryffindors had gathered right in front of the stage, and Parvati and Lavender who had never seen the band perform were extremely excited. Harry, who still hadn't gotten over the fact that Millicent Bulstrode was a girl, though he had stopped drooling every time her name was mentioned, was staring at the stage with a hungry look in his eyes. Hermione felt like she was suffocating, having to wait for the band like this.

Finally, the lights dimmed and Draco Malfoy walked out on stage, actually looking attractive for once in his green shirt and black trousers. He waved at the crowd and grinned, though he looked extremely pale. Pansy followed him out, but turned instead back to someone off-stage and gestured impatiently. Then, as if pushed, Blaise stumbled out on stage, wearing his black jeans and very little else. He had black gloves with cut-off fingers, gripping his bass till his knuckles turned white, but other than that, he wore nothing. He glared at the crowd moodily, and mouthed some curses they couldn't hear. Hermione wouldn't have heard them anyway: eyes gaze was fixed on his chest, and her mind stuck on noticing the fact that he had a tattoo.

It was a dragon, in black ink, which twisted up his stomach and side. It was a Chinese dragon, instead of the dumpier Western ones, and its tail disappeared underneath the waistband of his jeans. That dragon was the reason to Hermione's brain dribbling out of her ears. All her brain- functions had effectively ceased, and not even Ginny pulling at her hair could pull her back to reality.

When Millicent Bulstrode walked out on stage in her blue dress, Harry joined Hermione in her wide-eyed coma. She grinned maliciously at Blaise, who snapped something at her, before turning her gaze to the crowd assembled before the stage. Her grin turned feral. Every boy but Harry quickly reined in their mind at that smile, knowing that she was a girl who would sooner cut their hearts out and leave them to bleed than actually care about them. But Harry, the suicidal dimwit that he was, just kept drooling.

"Hello everyone," Millicent said, taking hold of the Muggle microphone, spelled to work within the intense magical field that was Hogwarts. "You will have to excuse Blaise's lack of appropriate attire: his only remotely clean clothing were the ones he slept in last night."

Blaise made as if to strangle her, when he suddenly remembered he had a bass in his hands. He weighed it thoughtfully, measuring the distance between him and Millicent's head, but returned to reality when everyone broke out laughing, both at Millicent's words and his actions. He scowled. She just smiled back at him sweetly.

"Don't worry about him: he looks more dangerous than he is. We thought we'd start off this little concert with our latest song, Siren's Tears." She said.

Draco began to play, closely followed by Pansy. Blaise fell in line after one more glare at Millicent, and the concert was kicked off with Siren's Tears, which turned out to be the song Hermione had overheard Blaise writing in the library.

"So many things have withered and gone
The dreams have passed like wind on the hills."

Millicent closed her eyes as she sang the slow, somewhat depressing song. Blaise did his best to ignore the crowd staring at him, while the other two band-members basked in the glory of their first real concert.

"I'm getting weaker, giving in
To your razor blade smile"

Parvati's mouth was somewhere in the vicinity of her knees, as was Lavender's. None of them had believed Harry's delusional rambles about how beautiful Millicent's voice really was. They had laughed it off as being just a joke, that someone that big and ugly couldn't possibly sing. Of course, they had shut up about the ugly part after Harry threatened to hex them.

"And though you might not know me
My blood burns at the sight of you.
And if I have no power in the day of death
Then let me die at with the sight of you."

It was physically impossible for Hermione to take her eyes of Blaise as he played. He wasn't looking at the crowd. He was staring at his feet, playing for a crowd consisting of only himself. It was as if he didn't even notice he had most of Hogwart's population staring at his naked chest.

"The blood where I walked, it isn't mine.
The only name I've carved into the stone
Is the name of the love I left behind
Don't let me drown in the Siren's tears."

However, it was obvious as Millicent launched into the chorus that he was staring at her. He kept staring at her throughout the song. In fact, he never let his gaze leave her as they played. The world seemed to melt away, and Hermione hardly registered Ginny talking next to her. Some words came in through her ears, but she didn't listen.

"Did Bulstrode just sing that she was an addict?" The youngest Weasley snorted. "If she only knew she was Harry's addiction!"

The band played through the Gryffindor favourite Nothing Feels Like This, which they had played in the Hog's Head, as well as Falling Apart and Breathing, two songs they had never heard before. The watching crowd cheered loudly after each song, shouting for more when the band announced they were out of songs. They bowed and walked off stage, followed by insistent shouts for more. Paravti and Lavender finally scraped their jaws off the ground.

"I had no idea that fat cow could sing!" Parvati exclaimed.

"Bulstrode is not a fat cow!" Ginny snapped. "She looks better in that dress than you have in years. Harry would fancy someone who was ugly, and you didn't happen to look at him while she was singing, did you?"

"No," Lavender blushed along with her friend, "Zabini was rather distracting, Malfoy too."

"Zabini owes me a crown," Hermione said absently, returning momentarily to reality.

"A crown?" Seamus joined the conversation. "Why does he owe you a crown?"

"I helped arrange the concert," She replied distantly. "He dubbed me the ruler of the universe, and promised me a crown."

"Did he really say that?" Dean snorted.

"Yes, he did," the Slytherin in question ascertained. "Which is really why I'm here. To hand the crown over."

Hermione's head snapped around so fast her neck made an audible popping sound. Zabini had managed to find an old abandoned black dress-shirt somewhere, and had hastily buttoned it up to create the illusion that he still had some privacy left. He was once more wearing the vague smile, though his hair was plastered to his forehead by the sweat from the exertion of the show. In addition to the vague smile, the black jeans, the black fingerless gloves and the black shirt, he was holding what certainly looked like a crown. It was round, made of something resembling silver, had tiny green stones on it, and glittered in all the right places.

Somewhat awkwardly, he handed the crown over to Hermione, who took it silently and looked at it as if it had just stepped out of hell's antechamber and proclaimed it was the love-child of Voldemort and Sybil Trelawney.

"This is your cue to say something." Zabini prodded when she had been staring for the crown for a minute.

"It's a crown." Hermione pointed out the obvious.

"That was the general idea, yes."

"You gave me a crown."

"I gave you my word, didn't I? I'm sure I did. In fact, I'm pretty sure I even wrote it down somewhere."

"This is real silver." She bounced it on the table. "And it's real emeralds too."

"Precisely. Good eye for details, Granger."

"It must have cost you a fortune!"

"Well, yes." Zabini shrugged it off. "I haven't done anything for my allowance since I was ten, and because my mother is a regular customer at the jewellery store, I got a discount. Still cost quite a lot though."

"You spent a fortune on me?" Hermione still could not quite fit that concept into her head. "Why?"

"Because you're the only one I can spend a fortune on?" Zabini tried. "Besides, I like seeing you in my House-colours."

With that, he walked off towards his waiting friends. Hermione stared at the crown for another moment, before looking at Zabini's retreating back. Millicent said something no one but Zabini could hear, and he snapped something back. Slowly, as if moving through a dream, and not the kind with talking pigs and rivers of chocolate, Hermione put the crown down on the table, and let out a breath she'd only been dimly aware of holding.


"That was perfectly bleeding obvious to everyone but her," Millicent greeted him when he came back.

"I know." Blaise grumbled. "But she's a smart girl. She'll figure it out. If she doesn't, Weasley the Younger will, and the problem's solved."

"That's a very roundabout way of doing things," Draco commented, "Why not just say you like her?"

"Because I'm a rather roundabout person," Blaise shrugged. "And because if I told her, I'd have to kill myself."

"And what a tragedy that would be," Pansy rolled her eyes. "How much did that ridiculous crown cost anyway?"

"I had to sell my grandmother," Blaise told her, mock-serious.

Pansy threw a goblet at him, but he ducked out of the way and laughed. The goblet his Ernie Macmillan on the ear, but no one cared, since they were all planning how to get closer to the band. Millicent, ever the observant one, noticed the slightly crazy looks in the eyes of her classmates, and beat a hasty retreat together with her fellow band-mates.


The crown was kept in a jewellery box her mother had sent her, while Hermione tried to sort through the illogical mess that was her mind. She had a few hard facts to work with. One, Zabini had, after promising her one when she'd said she'd arrange a show for him and his band, presented her with a crown. Two, she had spent an hour and a half of an otherwise normal weeknight staring at his tattooed chest. Never mind that most of the rest of the school had been too. Three, he had been staring back at her. Four, he had returned her book on Goblin Rebellions without being asked beforehand.

Five, and most important, her ability to form coherent sentences disintegrated whenever he got closer than fifteen feet from her. Her immense fancying of him did not seem to be fading. In fact, with the shirtless episode, the flames had been reignited with such vengeance that it left her reeling. Ginny, who had never been particularly oblivious to her feelings for the Slytherin, was starting to grin evilly every time she looked at Hermione. Something clearly had to be done before she went crazy or drove someone else stark raving.

She got up, grabbed her cloak and ran down the stairs. She had to do this quickly, or she'd lose her resolve. She'd really rather not be a puddle of goo, not unlike the half-melted ice-cream she used to eat in the summers, when confronting Zabini.


She made it to the door of the Slytherin Common Room before her determination ran out. Standing there awkwardly, she debated whether she should knock or just run back to the tower. Swallowing her doubts, and deciding that if things went wrong, she'd at least be able to die in peace, even if the cause of death would be acute embarrassment. Lifting her trembling fingers, she knocked on the stone walled entrance.

"Baddock, if you've forgotten the password again, I swear I'll turn you in to Sir Cadogan," Millicent Bulstrode snapped as she opened the door. Her eyes lighted on Hermione's now panicked face, and her expression went blank. "Oh. Blaise!"

Hermione jumped at her sudden shout, wondering how the girl had known she came to see Zabini.

"For the love of Zeus, woman! Do you have to disturb me when I'm having a perfectly good daydream about the love of my life?" Zabini shouted back, though he sounded amused. "I know it's against Slytherin code to like Hermione, but you didn't seem to hate her yesterday."

Bulstrode's grin turned more and more feral as he shouted, just as Hermione's eyes widened in time with his words. When he arrived at the entrance, Bulstrode just chuckled and shoved him out in the corridor, straight into Hermione, and closed the door. Hermione ended up squashed in between a cold stone wall and an off-balance Blaise Zabini. He started stammering an apology, but when he saw who he was apologising to, he stuttered to a stop and turned as red as the couch in the Gryffindor Common Room. Distantly, Hermione reflected that he was amazingly adorable while blushing.

"I'm terribly sorry," He rushed to apologise, "I'll just go off and die of embarrassment and leave you alone."

"Mind if I join you?" She muttered.

He looked as if he would explode from heat one moment, and then severely confused the next, and about to burst out laughing the moment after that. It was a quick and strange progression of emotions, before he finally chuckled.

"I've really made a prat of myself, haven't I?" He asked miserably. He still hadn't moved, and she was still pressed up against the wall.

"If liking me is a crime, then yes. If not, I don't think so," She tried to shrug, but was a little short of room to do so in.

"I don't think it's a crime, as such," Zabini started rambling, "For it to be a crime I would have to stalk you first, or threaten you, which I sincerely hope I haven't do - "

It is considerably difficult to talk with someone else's lips pressed up against yours, especially if your brain gets shut down because of who's lips it is, which was exactly what Blaise Zabini was experiencing. Somwhere in the back of his mind, a part of him was screaming at him, demanding to know what he thought he was doing. Further back, but louder, another part of him was waving flags and cheering him and Hermione on quite enthusiastically. Sometimes, he suspected his mind was part Hufflepuff, judging from its utter brainless adoration for things termed "cute" by the general population. He called it "nauseous" or, if he was feeling particularly Slytherin, "necessary evils".

At the moment, however, he might degrade himself to actually admitting it was marginally, minimally, microscopically cute.

"Oh." Was all he got out when they finally came up for air. "Er."

"Precisely," Hermione agreed, a little breathless, but satisfied that she had managed to silence her doubts long enough for the walk down to the dungeons.

He didn't wait for her to elaborate on that thought, but gave in once more to the cheering-on part of his shut-off brain, and attempted to snog her within an inch of her life. Millicent peeked out of the Common Room entrance ten minutes later, and shut it quickly so that they wouldn't hear her laughter. Pansy asked her what was wrong, and got the response that if it was so easy to bag a Gryffindor, she might as well have a go at Potter.

Fifteen minutes after that, the snogging couple were found by Severus Snape. After saving himself from a severe head-trauma by having the self- discipline not to black out from shock at the sight, he used his best icy- Slytherin voice to scold them for doing such a deed in public, and assigned them detention until they graduated. Which, by some strange turn of events, probably involving a hamster in a tutu, a small rubber duck and a hole in space and time, was a week away. The Head of the Slytherin House then returned to his quarters, after sending the two of them to their separate beds, and made himself a large glass of mixed alcohol to try to erase the image of one of his best students snogging the Gryffindor know-it-all from his retinas.

And his reaction was nothing to that of Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter, Gryffindor students and troublemakers, who caught the couple some minutes later, still not disengaged from each other.

All in all, it had been a lively night.