Author's Note: This story's non-HBP compliant, so there are no such thing as Horcruxes in this fic. Dumbledore's alive and Snape's still working with the Order, so there you go. In order for the plot I thought of to work, I had to set it in school, causing HBP and DH to be disregarded. If that's not your cup of tea...well, I hope you read anyway!

Disclaimer: The only thing that's mine is the plot. Everything else belongs to J.K.Rowling.

"Well, it's about time."

Blaise Zabini had been unusually anxious for his Hogwarts letter to arrive this summer.

He'd only ever been anxious about his letter once before – the summer before his fifth year. He had been expecting to be made prefect then, and had been sourly disappointed to discover that Draco Malfoy had received it.

This summer was similar in that Blaise was holding out hope for something more than just his book list. Sincerely hoping that this would be one of the unusual years in which the Head Boy picked was one who had not been a Prefect, Blaise was seriously expecting to receive the coveted badge.

Once again, he was disappointed.

Blaise scowled down at his book list. How could he have not been made Head Boy? Yeah, he hadn't been a prefect, but he had been so sure that he was going to do what few Head Boy's before had done and been selected despite not having been a prefect.

It really just came down to unfairness, Blaise fumed inwardly as he strode from the kitchen towards his room. He had consistently had the second best grades in his class. Other than the Mudblood Granger, no one else had ever gotten better grades or more O.W.L.s than he had, including the prefects. Malfoy got decent grades, but they didn't even come close to Blaise's. If Malfoy was made Head Boy it would undoubtedly be due to his family's influence; but on the other hand, his family's connections to the Dark Lord could work against him. Weasley's grades were so mediocre that it would be positively insulting if he had been made Head Boy, although the fact that he was best friends with Potter probably didn't hurt him. Anthony Goldstein's grades were almost as good as Blaise's, though, and Ernie Macmillan's were also right up there. If either of them were made Head Boy it would be down to their squeaky-clean record and the fact that they were definitely supporters of Harry Potter.

Blaise, now scowling from the comfort of his bed, felt the anger starting to wear off and give way to annoyed curiosity. He supposed he would be the least insulted if Macmillan or Goldstein got Head Boy. Their grades, records, and affiliations to Potter just made them natural choices. Malfoy, on the other hand, had decent grades but a spotty record; Weasley just had spotty everything.

But Blaise had near perfect grades and a spotless record. Unlike some of the other Slytherins in his class, he preferred to keep a low profile. He hadn't gotten so much as a reprimand in his previous six years. He may hang around those with connections to the Dark Lord, but he didn't have any himself. His mother, who was too concerned with her image to risk damaging it by joining the Death Eaters, had instructed him to stay close with the students who had parents in the Death Eaters; she sympathized with their cause – as did Blaise – but drew the line there. It was essential, she always told him, to not actually be on a side, because then they wouldn't be on the losing side.

Of course, his below-the-radar persona probably didn't help him either. He may get some of the best grades, but his lack of class participation made this a little-known fact. Blaise doubted whether any other students even realized that he was second in their class. And it wasn't like he was involved in anything, which also most likely worked against him. He had never been interested in joining any clubs, and he had never been that interested in Quidditch.

When it came down to it, Blaise was low-key in just about every respect. He was even reserved outside of class around other students. He wasn't one for attention, although he had the looks for it. In fact, he used to get a fair amount of attention from the female population of the school, but his lack of interest in any of the girls who'd so ostentatiously thrown themselves at him had led many to believe that he swung the other way. It was untrue, of course. He just didn't think them worthy of his attention. Blaise would be the first to admit that when it came to girls, his standards were ridiculously high.

Yes, Hogwarts girls were rather second-rate, Blaise thought vaguely. And which one to be Head Girl?

It was so obvious that they might as well have announced it in first year. The Mudblood Hermione Granger may have had a few marks on her record, but her grades were almost ridiculously perfect. The other prefects didn't have a chance in hell, Blaise thought, somewhat bitterly. He'd always been seriously annoyed by Granger, and would have fervently hoped that another girl snagged the title of Head Girl if it hadn't been for the fact that Granger would have to drop out of school in order for that to happen.

Well, on the plus side, at least he wouldn't have to spend a year working with Hermione Granger.

"How can you even be surprised?"

Hermione didn't even answer Ron as she stared in shock at her new Head Girl's badge. In reality, part of her had been expecting it. But another, much more insecure part of her knew that there was a chance she wouldn't get it. Her grades were fantastic, but her record definitely had some serious flaws.

"It really was sort of given, Hermione," Harry told her, exchanging an amused glance with Ron.

"Almost as much of a given as the fact that you wouldn't be made Head Boy," Ginny said, grinning at her brother, who scowled back at her.

"I wonder who it was," Hermione mused, finally drawing her gaze away from the Head Girl badge. "I thought for sure it would be one of you two."

"But I wasn't even a prefect," Harry said, confused.

"Neither was your dad, but he was made Head Boy," Hermione pointed out.

"Yeah, well…never mind then," Harry conceded.

"Well, just as long as it's not Malfoy," Ron said. "God knows what the rest of the school would have to put up with if he got it. The bastard's ego would need its own House."