Title: Five Ways
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing(s): Technically Antonio/Alessandra, Alessandra/OMC, Blaise/unnamed-male-character.
Genre/Rating: Drama, Family/T
Word Count: 2278
Summary: Five ways Blaise Zabini ruins his mother's. whole. life.
Warnings: Coarse language.
Notes: I've named Blaise's parents Alessandra and Antonio. I got curious about them when I was working on a Blaise/Neville fic ages and ages ago and then this kind of happened. I ended up creating a whole back-story for them and I keep forgetting it's not canon.
Hopefully, there aren't any inconsistancies in this because I started it a long time ago before coming back. I did check it over so there shouldn't be.
"I'm pregnant," Alessandra says, suddenly and quietly, knowing that if she doesn't say it now she never will.
They are sitting together on a couch in the common room. Alessandra's quill hovers centimeters from her half-finished Potions essay; Antonio's mouth is open in wordless surprise.
"Antonio, you know what my parents are like; you have to help me! I—I don't know what to do!"
"Wait," he interrupts. "Wait."
Alessandra looks to him for hope. She looks to him for comfort and for help and for a way out. She looks and finds none.
"You—you can't expect me to talk any of the blame for this, can you? You think my parents will be any more impressed? You think I'd ever be let near my inheritance if this got out?"
"No way, Allie. No way! This is your problem, not mine!"
And he walks out. He walks out on her and refuses to acknowledge her thereafter; turning his face away from her in the halls and moving seats in the classes they share. Her friends ask her why and, when she tells them, she loses most of them too.
Pureblooded girls from reputable families wait until their wedding night to lose what Antonio tricked her into giving freely. And when they don't, there should never be evidence.
Suddenly people are whispering behind her back. She's a slut, a wanton whore, a tramp.
Suddenly she knows how Sara-Lee felt last term when Alessandra spread those lies as revenge for flirting with Antonio.
The irony hurts.
"Sorry, do you mind...?"
Alessandra looks up from her book and feels a smile tug at her lips. The man standing before her is handsome. Fine, chiselled jaw handsome. Clear, brown eyes and soft, blonde hair handsome. Perfect handsome. And he's asking if he can sit on the park bench beside her.
"Oh, no, go ahead," she says, letting a melodious lilt enter her voice, and then returns to the text.
Chase has found Helen again, after all their years separated and the heroine is in the process of being thoroughly swept off her feet by the charming pirate while her boring fiancé is out of town. It is a critical part, the build up to the main conflict to come, and Alessandra has been guessing the outcome for weeks, unable to pick it up since Blaise got mumps. But she can't seem to get past the sentence she was reading when the blonde man sat down beside her.
She sighs, finally letting her imagination run away with her as she pictures those strong arms wrapped around her, easily casting him as Chase and herself as Helen (and, through a less conscious process, her child's father as the soon-to-be rejected fiancé). She decides his name must be Georges, because a face that handsome needs a name to suit.
Georges is tilting a spellbound Alessandra across his arm for a romantic kiss, when the story playing out in her head is interrupted by the real Georges asking her a question.
"What're you reading?"
It takes a moment to regain her bearings, as the park and screaming children come back into focus. "Hmm? Oh. Oh, just a silly romance novel," she says. She certainly does not think it's silly (in fact, she reveres the imagination of the woman who wrote it), but she knows better than to say so to a man. Especially one she wants to impress.
He laughs. "What is with women and romance novels? All the girls at work talk about at the moment is Helen this and Chase that and ooh, so tragic."
"It's a guilty pleasure," Alessandra says, smiling, and lifts the book so that he can see the cover. "In case you're wondering, Helen's about to run away with him."
"Oh, you did not," Georges says with exaggerated horror. "You've spoiled the ending!"
"Oh, goodness, I'm so sorry," Alessandra responds in kind. "I should have known better."
It is ridiculously easy to talk to this man so soon after first speaking to him and without knowing his real name, but Alessandra thinks better of asking because, somehow, she feels it will destroy what they've developed. She wonders if he has named her too, and whether either of them is correct.
Georges smiles at her in a crooked sort of way that makes her heart beat a little faster. "So. Which king's life did I save in a past life to get to share a bench with a charming lady like you anyway?"
Alessandra giggles, because she might be a mother, but she's still only twenty-three and she's not averse to handsome men who flirt well. Feeling emboldened by his enthusiasm, she counters with, "I don't know, but he can't be as important as the one I saved."
"By God, woman, you know how to please a man."
Alessandra is just raising her ringless finger, about to make a cheeky remark, when she is interrupted by a yelling voice from the playground.
Looking away from her new companion, Alessandra sees Blaise, seated in the sand under the monkey bars, waving and crying. And then it hits her; she'd forgotten. For those few minutes, sitting with this man, she'd forgotten that her son existed. She had been, ever so briefly, a woman, first and foremost again. It had been divine.
"Is—is he yours?"
Alessandra looks back, torn. She could so easily deny it and stay here. It would be so easy. She'd never really wanted a child; she'd only kept him because Antonio had wanted him even less and the spite she'd felt for him then had been enough for her to go against her better judgement. And then Blaise had taken over her life, made it hell right from the start as punishment. It would be so easy. But...she can't. All the same, she can't.
With the harsh reminder, she's been pushed back into the role of mother again, where Alessandra: the woman takes second prize. And she can't.
"I—yes. He's mine. I...suppose I should go over and see what's wrong then."
"I suppose so."
"Er, yes. Well."
Alessandra stands, overwhelmed by the sudden awkwardness, this hesitation. She gives Georges a half-hearted smile and hurries across the lawn.
Blaise is holding his sprained wrist towards her in a pathetic plea for a sympathy she can never seem to extend to him. He's still so young, but his eyes are the same colour as his father's and they're developing the same slant. Alessandra can't see anything but Antonio in him and she hates it. Because, no matter what she thinks of him now, he was another man she could have had if it wasn't for Blaise.
She looks up from him, hoping against hope that Georges is still sitting on the bench, waiting. But he's not. He has whistled a dog over and is beginning to leave.
Alessandra returns her gaze to her son, pulling out her wand to use a healing charm on the injury. She curses her luck, she curses herself, and she curses him.
"No, I don't want to marry your daughter. Because I. like. cock."
Every eye turns, as one, to the speaker of this statement and, even though she recognises his voice, Alessandra presses her fingers to her temples and hopes so dearly that it is not her son. She lifts her head, very carefully avoiding Narcissa Malfoy and Gertrude Parkinson's gazes, and her eyes slit.
Blaise Zabini smiles slyly back at her. He's picked up a piece of fruit and is sucking it like he doesn't know everyone is watching and judging him. Which he, of course, does know. Because her son is far too clever for his own good and because he is the devil incarnate, sent into the world to torment her.
Blaise's smirk is suddenly fading and she just knows he's not done yet. His father never had a conscience and neither does he.
"Oh, dear, Mother," Blaise says, and, for all intents and purposes, he sounds positively contrite, like he actually means it. But Alessandra knows her son as well as she knows herself and there's something else. "I just completely forgot."
He's waiting. Waiting for her to take the bait. And now the others are too. They're from the very purest of Pureblood families and they're utterly horrified, but Blaise has always had a way with his audiences. They'd turn to face her, she's sure, but not while Blaise is casually showcasing what he could do if that wasn't a piece of fruit against his lips.
"Yes, Blaise?" Her voice is careful, polite, strained.
Some guests glance at her, tearing their gaze from whatever indecent thing Blaise is doing now (because, frankly, she's not looking at anything that's not her plate anymore).
"I just realised, Mother," Blaise continues pleasantly, as if discussing the weather. "I hadn't told you yet, had I? Gods, how rude is that?"
"Significantly less rude than ruining my dinner party, darling," she says, tone unchanged. She can feel the desperation and fury in it though, that are making her fingers quiver.
She keeps a calm façade as long as she can, but Alessandra feels she is perfectly entitled to a less-than-dignified sob after the guests begin to leave.
When she was fifteen, Alessandra fell in love. He was barely a head taller than her and his eyes were soft and kind. He used to save her the last scone at breakfast and smile at her from across the table at dinner and help her with Charms homework.
Alessandra doesn't like to remember what happened with him because it hurts. She blocks out the memory of his voice and his smile and the taste of his kisses and how she cried in her room for a week after her parents found out.
Because he was lovely, but he was also a muggleborn.
Blaise tilts his head as he watches her, sitting across from her at breakfast. It is Christmas break and he has just told her he's seeing someone.
Sobbing into her wet pillow so many years ago, Alessandra made a promise to herself. When she was a mother, she'd thought, it wouldn't matter. Blood, sex, race; none of it would matter as long as her child was happy.
Now she presses her cutlery to the vast dining table, shuts her eyes, and realizes just how life has embittered her.
Blaise is seventeen. The boy he's seeing is a blood traitor. And Alessandra breaks her promise.
"Break up with him," she says. "I won't have him tainting our reputation."
Blaise's eyes narrow. Coldness and distrust has long replaced the infuriating way he used to come to her and cling and expect her to hold his nightmares at bay.
He stands, the chair slamming to the ground behind him. "Fuck you."
And then he leaves.
Alessandra gasps, pushing away the hurt and the memories, and wishes she had ever been so brave.
"Look, it's not my fault, Mother. I can hardly help that all the teachers hate Slytherins, besides..."
Blaise is still talking, but she's stopped listening. Her son, sprawled across a chaise settee with the same careful grace; her son, with the same sculpted, beautiful face. Her son; who is also his. The words are an echo of those from a boy the same age; the same tone, same lilt, same indifference. Shirking responsibility for something they should share blame. And she wants it silent.
'It's not my fault, is it, Allie? I can't help it if you weren't careful enough to avoid getting caught. Just—'
"Shut up! Shut-up-shut-up-shut-up-shut-up-shut-up!"
Blaise flinches back, his eyes wide and hurt, until he remembers himself and a coldness sweeps over his features. "So sorry, Mother. I should have realised I was babbling."
Alessandra touches her lower lip with two fingers and blinks, feeling just as startled as Blaise had, so momentarily, looked. "I..."
Blaise returns his attention to whatever he was doing before Alessandra entered the room, trying on again—hiding behind—the apathy boys his age often feign, but his pose is tense and angry. He never could hide it as well as Antonio Zabini could.
"Don't worry, Mother. You've done a fine job; put me in my place."
"Blaise." She walks closer to the settee, knowing from this classic reaction that now is no time to chastise. "What're you reading?"
"Nothing. Just a muggle romance novel."
Alessandra frowns delicately. She used to love those, used to read them ceaselessly when she was young, used to believe that the lies they were teeming with were truths. That the real life Chase would search for his Helen for years without ceasing hope. She is snapping before she can control the temper that rose whenever she thinks of it. "Where did you get that piece of trash?"
"Bookshelf. In your room."
"What were you doing in my room?"
Blaise looks up. "Getting a book," he says. His voice is dripping in sarcasm, but his eyes are as cold and harsh as before and Alessandra mentally retreats from something so familiar. Because Blaise may look every inch of his father, but she sees those eyes in the mirror.
Blaise grew up with her resentment of Antonio being constantly thrust upon him. It isn't just her life that's falling down around her ears. It isn't his fault and it isn't all Antonio's.
It's hers too. And that scares her so badly she can't stay near this boy who is hers, who she created. And who she ruined.
So she says, cruelly and to fend away this realisation, "Helen dies at the end," and Disapparates.