Chapter one: Good Advice

Disclaimer: Blaise Zabini belongs to J.K. Rowling... Oh and other H.P characters too...

AN. I don't know if I'll have time to finish everything. But I'm trying to rewrite and finish my stories from 6 years ago. I'll try not to tear my hair out over how silly a lot of the crap I came up with sounds to me now…

Anyway, this chapter has been revised. It's average and hasn't been proofed. You've been warned

Blaise Zabini was currently in his seventh year at Hogwarts. Given his mother's reputation, it came as no surprise that he certainly grew into his looks. He was one of the people that you can instantly tell have great genetics. His rich dark skin was free of any blemishes, his eyebrows were naturally shapely and his eyes were dark and intense. His height and build, combined with his refined jaw line gave him a masculine edge over most of the other boys at Hogwarts.

As a Slytherin he was mostly left well alone, which was how he liked things the best. He was an observer, he liked being able to watch and study people and things at his leisure. This coupled with his tendency to keep to himself and not engage in much pointless small talk kept him off the radar for his first six years at Hogwarts. As such it is easy to imagine how displeased he became when, without warning, vast numbers of the female population suddenly fancied themselves in love with him!

This lead to more unpleasantness with the underground groups that were forming unbeknownst to any of the teachers.

These… Fan clubs were dedicated to getting to know anything and everything about the most sought after males at Hogwarts. Blaise supposed that it was some muggle craze coupled with the wizarding custom of marrying quite soon after graduation that had the seventh year girls in such a riot.

Unfortunately for our hero, he was the subject of adoration of the largest of these organizations. This attention wasn't completely uncalled for- he seemed to tick the boxes in most common requirements. This coupled with his good looks and mysterious air had the girls weak at knees. His general silence added to this. It was apparent that he was intelligent- how else would he make the top of the class in the most advanced courses, but so little was known of him. In fact very few people could consider themselves lucky for hearing him speak in over half a decade! Unlike most of his house mates he avoided insulting children of 'lesser' parentage, in fact he avoided any kind of confrontation to the point of there being teachers that have never heard him speak… It was quite uncanny.

Fortunately for our hero, there were other 'eligible bachelors' in his year that were pursued with more success. Somehow Draco Malfoy made the mix- having grown into his pointed looks and filled out his lanky frame coupled with dropping certain unpleasant names from his vocabulary did wonders for his love life. He was still bigoted and somewhat uppity, but this matched his bad boy persona to a t.

To Malfoy's disdain, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley also made the mix. Even disregarding Potter's good looks he had still enough going for him, as the Hero and Saviour of Wizarding World. He was still a sweet and modest boy and fell into the 'nice guy' category. Ron Weasley, the Eternal Sidekick, eventually showed up his eldest brother Bill in popularity with the female population. He didn't have the refinement of the Slytherin idols but was decidedly masculine and dominant in his own right. He was also a reasonably safe choice given his conventional upbringing and his open manner.

So it became, that in their seventh and final year at Hogwarts, the above mentioned gentlemen became the center of attention of dozens of girls. Some, like Malfoy and surprisingly, Ron, basked in the attention and could put notches on their belts for numerous conquests. Harry Potter, on the other hand was somewhat embarrassed by this attention. Not to mention that he had been in a loving relationship with Ginny Weasley for over a year now.

Blaise Zabini's discomfort with the situation far surpassed Harry's. The boy who lived was popular but given his girlfriend's fierce nature and mastery of hexes, he was, to his relief, mostly left alone. Blaise didn't have any such safety buffer- nor did he want a girlfriend. The girls' increasingly invasive behaviour had him running at the idea of actually willingly spending time with one…

Our story begins with Blaise escaping the castle for a little privacy.

He was sulking. There was no other word for it. Having found another box of probably spiked chocolates in his room did nothing to improve his mood after being surrounded by a gaggle of giggling girls at lunch. Dumbledore's twinkling approval of this group sitting at Slytherin table didn't improve matters. Inter-house unity my arse. Thought Blaise as he scowled.

He managed to leave lunch early and get out of the castle without being noticed and followed by anyone.

He hurried along the banks of the Great Lake until he was out of the line of sight before finally easing his pace. His black eyebrows pulled down in another frown as he thought of what he was running away from.

It isn't fair! He thought angrily. He just wanted to be left alone. He wanted a bit of peace and quiet. And being invisible to mostly everyone again. How was he supposed to observe others where there were always at least few pairs of eyes fixed on him? Batting their eyelashes.

The corners of his shapely lips turned down in disgust as he thought. He didn't want to be pursued. He wanted to be left alone. And, when the time came, to do the pursuing. He liked confidence but he didn't like girls throwing themselves at him. He liked a bit of class.

After half an hour of a brisk walk he finally reached the spot.

He was now quite on the opposite side of the lake, having reached the edge of his clearing. There was a great big oak tree in the center- only tree that has survived the lightning in Blaise's first year. Smaller trees and bushes were starting to grow again, but mostly it was just a grassy patch with a huge ancient tree in the middle. Blaise supposed that the oak could easily be as old as Hogwarts- it was wider than he was tall, and from a broken branch he knew that there were rings enough for several hundred years of growth at least.

He liked to climb up and sit on one of the lower branches and relax. Sometimes he brought a book along, but mostly he just came here to watch. He knew that most people of his age wouldn't find that gratifying, but he enjoyed taking the time to see small things. There was so much to learn after all.

He grinned to himself.

His mother often teased him about his insatiable thirst for knowledge- telling him that he was missorted- that he was quite certainly a Ravenclaw.

Blaise was still smiling when he rounded the large tree. His smile froze when he realized that someone was already there. Female someone.

He sighed, preparing to leave without having his hour of respite. She heard and started. That was a good sign. It suggested that she wasn't waiting to ambush him here. On the downside it meant that she would now know about his hiding place. And he'd have to find another one. Which he didn't want to. He had been coming here for years and spent many pleasant hours watching the giant squid playing in the lake. Sometimes a small herd of Thestrals would come out and play. And once, a unicorn came out of the forest to graze.

Her shapely calf and sensible shoe disappeared behind the trunk. A head cautiously poked out from behind the tree. Her face was drawn and pale. It was surrounded by a mass of curly brown hair.

He relaxed minutely and saw her do the same.

It was Hermione Granger

He offered her a rare grin. He was ok. She was in several of his classes and never bothered him. In fact they were partners in Potions and Ancient Runes. She was the only person who beat his scores, but he found that he didn't mind terribly. She was by no means quiet but thankfully she never forced him into an unwanted conversation and as a result he actually felt reasonably comfortable exchanging a word or two with her. She was one of those rare girls that have actually heard his voice at school.

In fact it was a part of why she was quite disliked by the earlier mentioned 'clubs'. It was known to them that she was a very close friend with Ron and Harry as well as the true rumours that she was on first name basis with Blaise. Her unpopularity with most girls was quite seriously due to her flat refusal to give up any of her friends' personal information that she knew would be 'filed'. Her confronting Cho and Lavender about blabbing about her best friends certainly didn't help the matters. Her scorn for the pathetic groups sealed her fate.

Of course Blaise had no inkling of that. He knew her to be decent and wasn't the kind of person to change his opinion based on a few (decidedly nasty) rumours.

"I didn't realize others knew about this place." Blaise was first to speak.

She shrugged.

"Neither. I sometimes come here to get away."

He nodded. He could understand that.

"I didn't realize that you were the type to seek solitude."

"It's not really my friends I usually need to get away from. It's their admirers." She grimaced

Blaise nodded his understanding.

"You have no idea how irritating it is to always have a flock of geese following you around!" She burst out heatedly.

"You'd be surprised." He chuckled, suddenly finding the whole situation funny.

"Right, sorry I forgot that you're the most desired bachelor at Hogwarts." She batted her eyelashes at him mockingly.

He could feel the heat of a rare blush coming up his neck. He thanked his dark skin for hiding his reaction.

He glowered at her, making her smile mischeviously.

"You have no idea what I have to put up with." He complained.

"You'd be surprised. First Viktor and now Harry and Ron. I've had to forbid them from coming to see me at the library after getting kicked out thanks to their giggling stalkers!" Her mouth turned down at the memory.

"Yeah, but with Krum and Potter you kind of know there is that fame. Why me though? I've always avoided drawing attention to myself. I liked the peace. I hate this!"

He realized that he was whinging but it felt good to get it off his chest to someone who'd understand.

She scratched her chin apparently deep in thought.

"Have you considered getting a girlfriend? It worked for Viktor." She said thoughtfully. "And it certainly seems to work for Harry." She added with a grin.

He shrugged. It never crossed his mind.

He hoisted himself up on one of the low branches and settled to watch. She went back to her spot, knowing that their conversation was over. This was why he didn't mind talking to her. She didn't force long exchanges on him. In fact, her presence wasn't really a nuisance despite him having come out to be alone.

He watched her pull out a piece of parchment and start sketching something. She didn't seem to notice his thoughtful gaze.

She gave him a lot to think about. He didn't really fancy anyone but maybe she had a point. I don't fancy anyone though. He mused about who'd be suitable. Certainly nobody in one of the blasted clubs.