I let my footsteps echo as I trudge up the stairway to the north tower. The sound comforts me- I'm just the type of person that can't stand silence. Perhaps it was because of my upbringing: there was always someone rushing about, be it my sister, Liz, or my moronic older brother Derrick. They weren't always around, though. In the few minutes of silence I'd ever experienced, I'd always felt uneasy, as if I were being watched.
Now, reaching the final landing on the North Tower, I stop to enjoy the gentle night breeze let in through a gorgeous arced window. It's beautiful outside- dark, serene, and full of life, though not many can see it. Just at the edge of the Forbidden Forest, I can see a fox stalking a hare. It flinches, finally sensing that it is not alone, but by now I know that it's too late- the fox, in a burst of speed, is already flying towards her. I let my gaze falter to my surroundings, knowing that I haven't the stomach to see what happens next.
Had it not been for the subtle shift of a cloak, I would not have seen it. In a corner, obscured by darkness, a figure is sitting, knees up to its chest, and its head resting on its knees. The girl- or boy, perhaps- doesn't seem to have noticed me. It is obvious that I had intruded on some private moment- the figure is sobbing quietly now, I've noticed- but I have no intention of leaving. I move forward gracefully, and come at a standstill only feet before it. Whoever it is doesn't seem to have noticed. Tentatively, I lean down, coming to rest on my knees beside the figure.
" Someone eaten your cat, then? " I ask indifferently. I'm not quite sure that I've gotten the saying right- could it have been 'someone ran over your dog'? I think it is, but that makes no sense whatsoever- I can hardly imagine a Wizard doing something as mundane as going to the trouble of chasing a dog and simply running overtop its body. I prefer my rendition, thank-you-vary-much.
It stiffens at this, mid sob. It's quite funny, actually. It's almost as if someone had turned off the volume.
" Sod off" comes the his reply. I know that it's a 'him', as his voice is much too low to be a girl's.
" That's quite rude. " I say, sitting beside him and crossing my legs, laying my head on the cool stone. " I've only asked how you are, and you have the nerve to tell me to sod off. Last decent thing I ever do " I mumbled as an afterthought.
" Leave " He tells me curtly. Well, I'd bet you'd like that, wouldn't you?
Too bad we can't always have what we want.
" I must say, I've had just enough of your attitude. " There it is- my arrogant Prefect voice. He's in for it now. " I think that a detenti-"
Finally, the figure raises its head. Deep emerald eyes meet mine in a glare so cold, I feel my resolve waver slightly despite myself.
Perhaps I should just leave him alone, I muse as the hood of his cloak falls to reveal his unruly mop of hair. But something intrigues me- he's not a Prefect, and neither of his dunderheaded friends are on duty tonight. In fact, most have an Astronomy lesson today- It's only me and Filch tonight. Yum yum.
" Want to pick a fight with me, then, Zabini?" He spat out, voice low. He stood and let his robes spill out around him. The tone of his voice scared me. He was easily a few inches shorter then I was, and was lightly muscled. I, on the other hand, was toned and lanky- we were evenly matched on most counts. If worse came to worse, I knew that I could take him- but I knew that I couldn't duel him, and Merlin knows that the boy who lived never left home without his wand. Besides, the hollow look in his eyes frightened me. He didn't seem as if he was completely aware of his surroundings. His eyes, though piercing, were unfocused.
In other words, Potter looked drunk out of his mind. Of course, I didn't particularly care.
" That's exactly what I'd like to do, Potter" I tried my best to match his tone, and did a fair job of it, I might add.
I let my hand slide discreetly to the folds of my robes, griping my wand without losing eye contact. We drew at the same time- Boy Wonder must have somehow seen me going for my wand- and aimed curses at each other in the same instant.
Now, I know what it looks like, but believe it or not, that wasn't me. The boy was so pissed, he didn't even have the sense to throw a silent curse! At the same instant I shot a disarming curse his way. My wand flew out of my hand and landed- out the window. No joke. It's falling even as I crumple at the middle, holding my stomach and willing the rough muscle spasms to cease. In an instant, it's over. I look up through an opening in my silky dark hair and see that he's lost his wand too, but it's much closer than mine. Triumphantly, I grasp at it. I see him reaching out his hand, trying to call it back to his fingers, but it's no use- I've got it now. We're circling each other, calculating, plotting- planning. He's going to come rocketing towards me in a second- I can tell by the way his limbs are pulled back, ready to spring. I decided to even out the playing field, and toss his wand out the window behind me. Don't get me wrong, I haven't really got any morals- I'm just afraid that he'll get it back. From that small preview he'd just given me, he is well versed in the practise of the dark arts. Even after it's left my hands, he comes flying towards me, trying in a desperate attempt to call it to his fingers. And it would have worked, had he not gone flying into my fist. Alright, so that may sound a bit foolish, but that's the way Filch is going to hear it anyways.
He falls backwards, stunned, and growls at me- actually growls. Merlin, that didn't seem like such a good move after all. He stands tentatively.
" You threw out my wand " It's not a question, just a statement. Almost as if he wants me to confirm it without seeming too dependent on my reply. He's an odd little bugger, that Potter.
" I did " I reply patronizingly, as if I were speaking to a toddler.
" I want it... you're going too.." He looks sort of woozy now, and for a moment his eyes roll back into his head. Just as I'm contemplating letting him fall, he lands on his knees, holding his head in his hands. " Merlin" he groans.
Honestly, I don't think I hit him that hard. Though if I could have, I would've.
It's at that moment that his eyes come back into focus. He gets up, shaking, and with one last effort, throws me the hardest punch I've ever felt. I know that the bloody bastard's broken my nose- I can feel warm blood falling down my front, ruining my ivory silk shirt. I saw the punch coming, but somehow figured he'd miss. Not like it matters or anything. By tomorrow, my nose will be as good as new. I'm against the wall now, and Boy Wonder is advancing upon me, rather unsteady. He's clutching at his left wrist, almost as if it were broken. When he removes his hand, blood is clearly visible on his robes.
Blood coming from his wrist. That's when I begin to think- can't you die from that? Yes, you can. So the boy wasn't drunk after all- he was just delusional. He looked so weak that I, for some unknown reason, let go of my throbbing nose in time to catch him before he hit the ground. We both fall onto our knees. In this state, he looks quite harmless- his face is pale and I can feel the warm blood dripping from his wrist. Without thinking, I hold onto his bleeding wrist. He twitches a bit, but I simply scold him.
" Shut up, Potter" I say mildly. Not at all what I would usually say, but these are odd circumstances.
For a moment we sit like this- I'm holding him, and he's sitting half on, half off of my lap. I didn't mean to, honest- It's just that, if he were to die, I'd be blamed.
Yes, that's it.
I know good and well that it isn't, but I have no intention of admitting otherwise.
His head finally falls against my chest, and his breathing is laboured, bringing me back to the task at hand.
"I'll heal you," I say, thinking it through even as I speak "but you have to promise you aren't going to go throwing anymore unforgivables my way, at least for right now."
It's a long time before he's slowed his breathing enough to speak, but he finally looks up at me. He doesn't seem as angry as he was before- just spent. I can't help thinking that I like him better that way.
" You're in no state to be doing me any favours, Zabin-Za-Zabi-"
"Blaise." I say curtly. He gives me an odd look, and I rush to answer it "We'll be here all night if you try to string together my name in this state."
Don't blush, don't blush, do not- it's too late. I already feel my cheeks coloring slightly, scolding myself even as it happens.
Honestly- how intimate can a first name be? Not very.
He chuckles a bit, and rests his head against my chest for the second time. Instead of raising his head to answer me, he simply speaks into my bloodied shirt. "This is ( laboured breath) pretty odd (slight gasp)"
" Tell me about it." I mumble. I realize that one of my arms has found its way around his waist. I swear to Merlin, I didn't do it. I did NOT put it there. But that's not important- I have plenty of time to brood over this ever-so-slightly intimate moment with Potter tomorrow, as that's my 'let's brood over recent events' night. ( It is- I even stay in the common room with Pansy and Theo, drinking coffee all night and harassing the second years. ) In spite of myself, I pull my hand up a little higher, until it's on his back, though rather awkwardly.
" No… put it back" He mumbles. And Merlin, do I want to- but I don't. It wouldn't be right.
He notices that I have no intention in obliging and leans back so that his eyes can meet mine. I gaze steadily at him for a while, before he speaks again. "You can only heal me with a wand, and I can't curse you without one." He shuts his eyes as a wave of nausea, I assume, sweeps over him.
Bloody hell. NOT A CHANCE- I know where this is going. I stare longingly out the window and run through a few choice obscenities before he finishes his thought.
"You're going to have to carry me. "
"Then it looks like you're going to have to sweeten the deal" I'm quick to reply. I must admit, I'm surprised at my own cunning- if he agrees, things could turn out my way. I'm going to carry him anyways, as I'll get the blame for leaving him ( bloody assignment lists- who was stupid enough to think that up?) since he's clearly in my jurisdiction for the night.
He's still staring at me, but his eyes are losing focus again. I have to play this just right, or he'll call my bluff and I'll have to carry him for free. Zabini's don't do 'free'. I let him drop unceremoniously onto the floor, and for a moment I'm regretful, as it seems he won't be strong enough to catch himself before his face hits the tile. Luckily, he lands on his elbow, and immediately gets back up to clutch at his wrist. He gives me a slightly wounded look, but before I can do a double take, he's masked his expression. Poor ickle Potter I can't help but think. He nearly ruined his pretty little face. What a shame.
"What do you want?" He asks, pulling his legs underneath him and crossing them like a four year old.
"I want a few things, actually." I move towards the frame of the door, reminding him that I could change my mind at the drop of a dime.
"Care to enlighten me?" he quirks a dark brow.
Oh, I can't stand him! Bloody prat- even while he lies there, practically dying of blood loss, he can still find the energy to be smug with me.
"First, I want to know how your wrist got that way. And I also want to know why you were crying like a Hufflepuff, as well."
He doesn't even bat a lash- he just starts into his explanation, though somewhat curtly, I note. "I cut myself. Happens all the time- you cut, then you bleed. I like it that way. "
Not quite what I was expecting, but it was a start.
"I noticed you said you cut and then bleed. Not that you get cut and then bleed."
Silence rests between us, and he crawls over to a wall and throws his head back against it, eyes closed for a moment. It seems as if he's waiting for me to ask. Finally, I decide to give him the satisfaction of knowing he has my curiosity.
"So you cut yourself. " I must say, I'd just done the perfect impression of Draco. Cold and uncaring.
"On purpose. "
"Quite the little emo kid, I see." I'm quite proud of myself now- that's an American muggle term. I heard it from Pansy and had always quite liked the sound of it. The edges of his mouth curl up in what might be a smile- it's too dark to tell. But I must admit, I like it- it makes him seem darker, almost dangerous.
"I suppose it's the pain that gives you that extra little thrill" I add, the tinniest bit of sarcasm coating my words.
"I'd rather feel pain then nothing at all." I must say, this whole 'wild child' bit is actually quite a turn on for me. For a fleeting moment, I see a slight resemblance to Draco- the way he seems to be sitting perfectly on the edge of being confident and arrogant. It wasn't something I would have thought Potter could pull off- but I must admit, he'd done it. Kudos to him.
"Well, I might just end up being the only emo kid dumb enough to have killed himself by cutting. I've never hit the blow vain before. "
I've never gotten caught before, either. He didn't need to say it- I had already heard that loud and clear.
"That all?" He asked me. I'm not sure why he even bothered- we both knew that it wasn't.
"You haven't answered my last question." I took the liberty of leaning against the door frame, eyes trained on him.
"Merlin- I'm sitting here dying, and all you want to know is why I was… doing what I was doing."
Potter Potter Potter… Why are you surprised?
"Fine. Tell me in your own time. But until then- you owe me. And you'll be in my debt until such a time as you choose to release you. Got that?" Even before I said it, I'd been thinking up different ways to bind him to his promise. He would be my servant, of sorts- until I could find something good enough for him to repay me with. Perhaps his dignity?
I watched him for a moment as he sat thoughtfully, considering just what 'owing me' might entail. He was beautiful, without a doubt- and though he wasn't as malnourished as he had been when he'd first arrived at Hogwarts some 7 years ago, he still had this sort of, fragility, that scared me. He was strong, that much I knew for sure- but at the same time, he seemed as if he usually had a hard time of holding his own, mentally more than physically.
" Got it. " He muttered.
I jostled him a bit, and before I could stop it, an apology slipped out.
"Don't worry about it, Zabini. I like it rough."
Merlin, taken out of context, that last bit could have been quite- NO! I stopped that train of thought before it could continue.
"Wanna hear a secret, Potter?" I whispered as I lifted his body into my arms.
"You were never going to die. Your blow vain is up here." I traced a line on his bleeding wrist and watched as the contact made him shiver.
"Honest mistake." he smiled a bit before passing out.
Yes, his dignity would do just fine.