Disclaimer: Written before the HBP, this tale presents an alternate sixth year in which Dumbledore lives, Draco is more than a foil to Harry, and Blaise Zabini is a girl. (think of her as the other BZ. :D) I hope readers who ship Draco/Ginny will enjoy the story which includes dancing with faeries, Celtic and Norse mythology, school holidays in London and Spain, and loads of fantasy and romance!
Chapter 1- Matchmaker, Matchmaker
If I squint just so, the dust motes twirling in the sunlight look rather like faeries...
Smiling dreamily at the thought, Luna Lovegood turned her attention back to the professor prosing on about some play called 'Much Ado about Nothing.' I like that title, the Ravenclaw fifth year mused. Sounds like my friends' love lives. She made an effort to really listen.
Muggle Studies was one of Luna's favourite classes...today. Professor Hands was explaining the vagaries of the Muggle author Shakespeare and how the man had carefully adapted stories from the works of others, adding clever dialogue and characters to make them his own. The Ravenclaws in the classroom cawed in approval.
Well, perhaps not cawed, exactly, but it would have suited their inquisitive natures, she thought. From her father, the editor of The Quibbler, Luna had inherited the tendency to embellish the truth a bit. Only sometimes, however, and only unimportant details that begged to be made more interesting- she would never actually lie about anything.
Tuning back in to the professor's lecture, Luna wrapped a long strand of dirty-blonde hair around her finger. Idly, she watched the digit slowly turn blue from lack of circulation.
Wrongly thinking that a girl who was playing with her hair could not possibly be paying attention, the professor said, "Miss Lovegood, please tell the class what you have learned so far about this play."
Blinking in a deceptively sleepy manner, she replied, "The Claudio and Hero part of the story is the 'adapted' element of the play- probably from Belleforest's translation of his Histoires Tragiques. That couple isn't very interesting. The other couple that Shakespeare created himself, Beatrice and Benedick, is much livelier. The play wouldn't be worth reading without the quarrelling couple...the plot revolves around them."
While Professor Hands stood speechless, Luna casually released her now purple finger from its wrapping of hair. She noticed Ginny Weasley giving her the standard you are so weird look. Purposefully sending a misty look and smile in return, she was gratified when Ginny's eyes widened with alarm and she hastily turned back around in her seat.
The professor had recovered sufficiently from his surprise to rattle off the instructions for the class assignment. It appeared that they would be paired up to write an essay of their choice about whatever aspect of the play they liked most. Most of the boys partnered together right away. It wasn't a shock that several pairs chose the blundering watchmen as the subject of their essays.
Luna didn't expect anyone to voluntarily pick her as partner. She usually got stuck with whoever was left after all the other choices were made. It didn't bother her. She met loads of interesting people that way.
Thinking about the play and what kind of essay she might like to write- the oddballs she was left with always let her choose - Luna said audibly, "I wish there was some way to test the 'she outwardly loathes him, inwardly loves him and vice versa' theory."
"Why don't you partner up with me, then?" the girl sitting behind her drawled challengingly. "Great minds thinking alike and all... I know the perfect couple to test the theory on."
Blaise Zabini had been bored out of her skull until she heard 'Loony Luna' say her fateful thoughts aloud. The lone sixth year Slytherin stuck in a class with a bunch of fifth year Ravenclaws and Gryffindors, she had been slumped down in her seat, snidely counting the number of times the pedantic professor said 'indeed', when the otherworldly voice had spoken those brilliant, idea inspiring words.
She wouldn't even be in the asinine class if her mother wasn't such a snob. Edina wouldn't hear of her pureblood daughter learning about 'nasty' Muggles last year when the rest of her friends took the class. 'Eddy' Zabini had been so sure that the course would never be made mandatory.
She thought sourly, Thanks a lot Mother dearest. Fat lot you knew. Now I have to study 'nasty' Muggles without a single friend to make it bearable, because only this bloody class fits into my schedule. I'll be wasting a year learning ' much ado about nothing '...hey that sounds like Draco droning on about Harry Potter.
Blaise had been indifferently watching the Weasley girl stare at Lovegood while thinking about the self-proclaimed Prince of Slytherin, when she'd heard Luna wish there was a way to test Shakespeare's theory.
The idea had burst forth, fully realised, like Venus from the waves. See there! I already know loads of Muggle tosh, Mother, wouldn't you be shocked and dismayed? She curled her lip at the mental image of her mother passed out from shock.
Luna was now staring at her with those big bug eyes. Other than her eyes, the rest of the girl looked normal- medium height, fair skin and hair, normal number of fingers and toes. Those clear blue eyes, though, would unnerve her if she believed in any of that sixth sense, precognition crap.
Thankfully, years of Divination with dotty Trelawney had put her wise to the fact that most of that mumbo jumbo was pure gobshite. Raising her brows and thinking, save it for the gullible, Blaise waited to hear what the loony girl would say.
Hmm...Blaise might be the most interesting oddball partner yet.
Taking her time before replying, Luna studied the Slytherin currently sneering at her. She'd seen the girl sitting with Malfoy's group in the Great Hall. Blaise Zabini had clear olive skin, brown hair and brown eyes. It was easy to see what started the rumours. With her short curls, tall, slim frame, striking features, and habit of never wearing jewellery or makeup, someone unobservant could easily mistake the girl for a boy. During Blaise's first year, Pansy Parkinson had.
The pug-faced girl had gone around telling everyone she was going to kiss 'that gorgeous boy Blaise' under the mistletoe before Christmas break. When Pansy cornered Blaise as promised, she got a bloody nose instead of a kiss. The humiliation was worsened by Draco Malfoy's cruel retelling of the story to all their mutual friends, who then ensured the whole school knew.
The story still made the rounds every Christmas. Malfoy had known about Pansy's mistaken idea and done nothing to correct it. That would've ruined his fun. Since then, he'd made a point of mockingly complimenting Blaise and asking Pansy if she agreed. Pansy had retaliated by spreading rumours...not about Draco who deserved it, but about Blaise, who didn't.
I would be narky too if everyone speculated which sex I was and which sex I liked, Luna thought sympathetically. She supposed Blaise hung out with Malfoy's group because they were her only option. That was incredibly sad.
Deciding to become the prickly girl's friend, she said, "What...and who...did you have in mind?"
The wicked smile spreading across the girl's face made Luna wonder who she could pair Blaise up with. She took a moment to contemplate the boys she knew. Neville- too scared. Justin Finch-Fletchley- believed rumours too easily. Terry Boot- a definite maybe. The Ravenclaw sixth-year was wise enough not to listen to rumours and witty enough to appreciate Zabini's snarky humour. Even better, Terry was tall.
Forcing herself to shelve the idea for a later time, Luna returned her attention to the student staring at her with a sardonic brow raised. Was the ability to raise a single brow common to every Slytherin, or just the ones she knew? Wait...Pansy couldn't do it, but then she was more like Malfoy's pet pug, wasn't she? Giving a half-smile in acknowledgement of her drifting train of thought, Luna widened her eyes to show that she was listening attentively to what the other girl was saying.
"Alright...we do a blah-blah essay on the contrasting lovers. I'll toss off a half scroll of parchment and give it to you next class for your input- that's class stuff. The real partnership will be us taking the play to a Hogwarts level. You will convince our Beatrice," Blaise said, lowering her voice conspiringly, "Ginny Weasley, and I will convince our Benedick...Draco Malfoy...that the other has the hots for them. Then we step back and see if real life imitates art."
Blaise became serious. "It won't be lying because I think its true, or it could be, with a little help from us." Intense brown eyes became searching. "Don't tell me that the thought of pulling this off...taking those two down a peg...in their best interest of course...isn't tempting."
Professor Hands was telling the students to wrap up their conversations. Class was over. Luna thought the idea was brilliant and said, "I'm in. Where can we meet and go over the plan?" She frowned. "If we have a plan. Do we have a plan?"
Blaise answered, "After dinner, under the Dragon Claw Willow, and after I read the bloody play, we will definitely have a plan."
Ignoring Ginny's, soon to be Beatrice's, odd looks, Luna said a cheery goodbye to the girl who merely smirked a farewell.
Pretending to listen to Pansy whine about some girl who had said something to someone about her, Draco Malfoy slouched on the bench, chin in hand, gazing up at the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall. Lips pursed slightly in displeasure, he fervently wished that either a shooting star would descend to blast the blathering twit or someone would put him out of his misery.
"Ask and ye shall receive." Blaise Zabini stood by the Slytherin table, smiling.
"Shove over, Goyle." Draco waited for his hulking associate to push his way further down the bench and casually gestured to the now vacant spot. "Have a seat Zabini and tell me what the blazes you're talking about."
"You looked like you were asking the heavens for deliverance. Here I am."
His eyes narrowed as Draco considered the cheeky girl beside him. Something was different about Zabini tonight. Instead of asking what she thought he needed to be delivered from, he changed tact and jeered, "Gone off the androgynous look, have we?" His insolent gaze lingered on the slight amount of brown eyeliner and the hint of powder and lip gloss the girl wore. "You're looking very girly." He gave a look of icy approval.
Blaise laughed. "I've gone off wanting to torment Pansy about her little 'mistake' back in first year. It's too boring to be fun anymore." She sneered across the table at the pug-faced girl's indignant screech. "I do hope some pathetic, confused girls," she said with a derogatory glance at the now sputtering Pansy, "won't be too devastated to know I'm only interested in boys."
A smile of true amusement spread across Draco's face. "Ha! Good one." He paused to nod in smiling emphasis. "Blaise."
"Thanks, Draco," the girl said smilingly, ignoring Parkinson's incoherent sounds of rage to concentrate on her dinner.
After a few moments of eating in silence while impatiently listening to inane conversations, he caught his neighbour's eye and jibed, "If you're not going to help me torture Pansy anymore, Blaise, what good are you?" As expected, the girl rose immediately to the bait.
"You need me to tell you 'no'. You've got too many boot-licking, arse kissing girls clinging like leeches, Malfoy. You don't need a 'yes' woman, you need a 'no' woman."
"A 'no' woman," he repeated with amused incredulity. "No one in Slytherin says no to Draco Malfoy."
"Except the one you want to say no- no to being the flavour of the week, no to letting you copy her notes, no to laughing at a joke when its not funny...and if you don't ask nicely...no to telling you what interesting thing I heard in Moronic Muggles today."
Draco turned to straddle the bench to look this Slytherin goddess full on. He always knew Zabini was a deep one, but this was unexpected and intriguing. Too bad she didn't want to be a flavour of the week. He smiled when the irreverent girl put a hand on the bench and leaned slightly away to meet his gaze. She might have lasted a month.
He looked through thick blond lashes- girls gave him anything he wanted when he did that- and drawled, "By all means, do tell what interesting 'thing' was said." Running a finger down her cheek, he whispered seductively, "Blaise." Draco restrained the urge to smile victoriously at the slight blush on the girl's cheeks. All the ladies loved him. A glimpse of bright red hair from the corner of his eye made him scowl.
Well, all ladies love me except one Weaselette, who wouldn't be half bad if she wasn't such a fury... I see you looking; can't resist, can you? Draco smiled inwardly while covertly watching Ginny glare. Temper, temper...you'll never get a boyfriend other than that Creevey looking like that, Red.
The smug teen decided to do something to make the girl even 'happier.' He'd find out about Zabini's teaser, but he wanted to give his watcher something she could really glare about. Her disapproval was so entertaining.
Draco started tracing Blaise's full lips with a finger. Trying to decide which patented Malfoy move to try next for Ginny's viewing pleasure, he challenged with a cool smile, "Sooo...if you're going to be girly now, when are you getting rid of the baggy robes, Blaise? C'mon, let the world in on what you're hiding under there."
He gaped when she promptly slid off the bench and stood before him. Grinning, the girl opened her robes to flash what was underneath. A white tank and black jeans hugged her fit body.
Quickly closing her robes as the students around them burst into whistles and whispers, Blaise leant down to say, "I'd better go before someone tattles to Snape. I'll tell you what I heard later, but I'll leave you with a hint. It's about someone who is glaring daggers at us right this minute."
Looking over at the Gryffindor table while Blaise sauntered from the room, he saw Ginny Weasley glaring at him so furiously he was relieved that looks couldn't kill. Draco laughed his arse off at the ridiculousness of the entire situation.
How dare that horrid Malfoy have such an infectious laugh! Ginevra Weasley thought angrily. She tried to continue giving her glare of death. Stop twitching you disobedient lips, it isn't funny in the least. No one will wonder if Zabini's a girl NOW, will they? How dare she flash that arrogant git and waltz out leaving him laughing like a hyena? I thought she was the one of the few decent people in the entire Slytherin House, but obviously she's as big a shameless hussy as that cow Pansy Parkinson!
"Did you just call Blaise Zabini a shameless hussy?" Harry Potter's green eyes were filled with laughter.
Ginny looked down the table to the smiling boy. "Did I say that aloud? Sorry. One of Mum's favourite expressions, I'm afraid."
"Are you going to call her a 'Scarlet Woman' next?" Hermione giggled beside her.
"Are you going to keep bringing that up for as long as we both shall live?" On the other side of Hermione, Ron seemed to bitterly regret that he had ever used his mum's phrase in a row with the amused girl.
"Sounds like a marriage vow, brother...something you're not telling us?" In the uproar following that comment, Ginny escaped the unwanted attention everyone had been giving her own slip. She glanced casually back to the Slytherin table. Malfoy was smirking at her!
Tossing her hair, Ginny refused to even acknowledge the disgusting prat's existence. She would not look, not even out of the corner of her eye or in the reflection of Colin's goblet. That Malfoy...stupid girls slobbering all over him constantly must have driven him spare. He really thought he was some Slytherin God of Love.
What a laugh! Lust was more like it. Malfoy's hard heart loved no one, which was a dear happiness to girls like her. Girls too smart to fall for a cold fish like him.
Even if he did look gorgeous when he smiled for real instead of giving one of his usual smirks...even if his laughter did make her want to laugh with him... Who cared? Sirius as a dog had been more attractive to her than that git. Really, she'd rather hear a dog bark than Draco...whatever...
Over at the Ravenclaw table, Luna observed Ginny stabbing her defenceless meat with fury and then saw Draco smirking with satisfaction. Lowering mini Omnioculars, Luna smiled at them fondly. They were the best Christmas present her father had ever given her...last year.
Informing her roommates that she was off to do a bit of research, Luna left the Great Hall with the wonderful feeling that she was embarking on a marvellous adventure. Once the doors closed behind her, she looked around to see if anyone was watching. Only slightly disappointed the coast was clear, she began skipping down the corridor, merrily singing off-key, "Weasley is Our King."
A/N: March 23, 2007... Matchmakers is completely edited! Although the story was always brilliant, lol, it needed to be changed to UK spelling and polished up, not only because I started posting it on sites like Mugglenet, Fictionalley, and the Fire & Ice Archive, but because I love this story and want to present it to FF readers in the best light! Special thanks to die Loreley, whose review to tell me she had re-read the fic made me want to go back and edit, and new readers who provided the impetus for me to put thought into action!