Disclaimer: We ALL know that VC doesn't own Harry Potter. (:

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And this is where our story starts …

Blaise sighed, tugging at his collar for the fifth time that minute and glancing around the packed ballroom of pureblooded aristocrats. His mother, Sofia, was chatting with some pudgy male, and her hand was on his forearm. Blaise supposed that by the end of the night, he'd be forced to refer to him as 'Daddy'.

Yes, Blaise Zabini wished he was somewhere else.

But don't let anyone else know that.

"Blaise?"

He turned to glare irritably at the tiny blonde who dared interrupt his inner musings. He really didn't want to dance with another of those prissy pureblood daddy's-girls.

"Yes?"

"Uhm… if you're not busy or anything, would you l—" she began.

"No … I really would not like to follow you to the bar for a glass of bubbly and then dance," he grumbled, turning very rudely and stomping his way across the dance floor, seething, to join a crowd of other guests who appeared to be having a far better time than he was—and were less likey to bother him.

"Careful, you might tread on my train," a flat, rather emotionless voice piped up and Blaise turned to glare at the girl.

She was miniscule—only a mere five feet or so, and only came up to about his shoulder, with bright blue eyes and long black hair which hung almost entirely over her left eye, which was heavily lined in black eyeliner, reminding Blaise of the pandas he'd seen once. She was wearing a short, black dress with red lace threaded through the loops at her waist, which lead him to believe she was making a joke; despite the monotonous voice.

"Was that supposed to be funny?" he demanded, his own nearly six feet towering above her.

"Nope …"

"Then why'd you say it?" he asked, bewildered by her curious insanity. Perhaps she required a trip to St. Mungo's.

She shrugged.

"Well … Well … Don't," he muttered, unsure of his words. "I've had a terrible day and an even more terrible night. Do you know my mother's planning on having me betrothed to some Italian countess named Vittoria!?"

"Was I supposed to..?" she asked after a sip of a dark red liquid in her glass.

"No … but I needed to get that out of my system." Blaise squinted into her glass—he couldn't exactly name the brand, but it was red wine, and very strong, "And what's that anyways? Are you old enough to drink that stuff here?"

"It's wine, duh. And who cares? No one's paying any attention to us; this is a party for adults… And we're barely seventeen."

"How do you know I'm not older?" he demanded, raising his chin indignantly.

"Because, Zabini, everyone in this room knows who you are … You're rather important to us Italians with no life, you see," she replied, carefully plucking another glass from the tray of a passing waiter—full of the same red wine. "Here. This is the only reason I come to these things anyways; to see how many glasses I can drink before I can't even stumble back to the Apparition points."

"Fun," Blaise drawled sarcastically, channelling his best friend, Draco Malfoy, who was presently in the Caribbean with his parents—scouting property investments. He took the glass nonetheless, taking a hearty swig and then choking.

The girl laughed boisterously, earning a rather dirty look from the couple nearest to them, but waved their criticism away with a lazy hand. "Practice makes perfect, Mr. Blaise," she laughed, her voice only a few tones more lively than before.

"T-this stuff…" he started, and then cleared his throat before trying again, "This stuff is strong."

"Not really," she replied, turning to eye the dancers as she downed the remaining contents of her glass. Removing it from her lips, she used the same movement to snatch another glass from a passing tray, downing that one as well.

"Quick, dance with me," Blaise yelped, catching his mother's eyes across the room only briefly. The look he saw there was murderous.

"What!?"

"Dance," Blaise said, holding out his arms and swaying violently in a pathetic charade, "You know, dancing?"

"Why?" she demanded, crossing her arms once she'd deposited of her second glass.

"My mother'll kill me," he hissed, before grabbing her forearm and tugging her impatiently onto the dance floor. "Gimme your hand," he ordered.

She rolled her eyes, put placed her hand in his palm. "I know how to dance you know, I am not retarded."

"I never said you were," Blaise grinned, relaxing slightly into the sway. "Let's speed it up, okay?"

"Whatever," she muttered, stepping back quickly and allowing him to turn her in dizzying circles.

After one song, and numerous sways, they were back in their corner, Sofia Basso (still under the name of her last husband) made her way to them.

"That was a beautiful dance, Blaise, darling … But you must come and meet my friend, Giovann," she said cheerfully, gesturing to the pudgy man Blaise had seen her talking with earlier.

"Mother, I'm with someone right now," Blaise sighed, rolling his eyes.

"She won't mind, will you, dear?" she asked, turning to the girl, who looked shocked at being addressed and almost choked on her mouthful of wine.

"Uh… nope. Go ahead," she replied, purposefully disregarding Blaise's frantic head shake over his mother's shoulder.

"See? Come along, Blaise…" Sofia chirped, her heels click-clacking along the wood as she headed back to her soon husband-to-be. "Blaise-y?" she called over her shoulder when she realised he wasn't following, his cheeking tingeing pink.

"Hey, thanks for selling me out, and what-not," he grumbled, shooting her a half hearted glare. "But, I've got to go meet Daddy."

"Have fun," she grinned, pressing a glass of red wine into his hand as he was about to leave. "And practice…"

"Sure…" Blaise mumbled, eyeing the glass warily. "Bye."

He'd reached halfway across the floor when he realised something important and turned around, to where she was about to turn on her heel and leave.

"Hey, wait, I don't know your name…" he said softly, scratching the back of his neck nervously. How could he have forgotten!?

"Marissa," she tossed over her shoulder, not turning around. But Blaise could see the slight upturn of her lips, coated in that thick layer of plum lipstick.

And, that was where it began … with a waltz.