AU: Blaise Zabini was the Black King, just as his mother had been the Black Widow; behind his back they called him Black Death. But he may have finally met his match. Warnings for slash. Blaise/Harry.
NOTE: NO VOLDEMORT, SLTHERIN!HARRY, BLAISE/HARRY, WARNINGS FOR SLASH.
For my 200th reviewer of 'World Enough and Time', Dreamers0rule0the0earth, who requested a Slytherin!Harry and this fantabulous pairing (o: Hope you enjoy!
If yesterday's attention was terrible, today's was ridiculou.
Word had gone round, of course, as it always had, that the Black King had a new acquisition trapped in checkmate. The ghastlier ones told of Black Death having entrapped a new victim within his merciless tendrils. Blaise wanted to snort when he first heard those rumours. As much as he'd hate to admit it, it had been Harry, not him, who'd instigated this inexorable flame.
It was interesting to watch the man ignore all the stares and whispers, even as Blaise had known that just ten minutes ago, he had blushed at the very thought. Now he strutted down the main street of Diagon Alley with all the careless ease of a true born-and-bred aristocrat. They spent a good three hours with a vintage wine-seller, debating the merits of sangria and claret. They were truly horribly common wines, but the well-juiced ones were to be hoarded and treasured like none other on this earth. They left two thousand galleons lighter with four bottles of three hundred-year-old claret. Harry, naturally, had won the debate.
"Proud of yourself now, are we?" he murmured. Harry merely preened.
Blaise was almost mortified when he was suddenly pulled into an alley that was, at least, cleaner than most, but then Harry started snogging him, and he was stunned to realise that he didn't mind the dinginess as long as it was that familiar firm body pressing against him, muscled thigh parting his legs, and the scent of peach blossoms filling his lungs. Chapped lips massaged his, and a sweet tongue scraped the top of his palate. It was like Harry's entire form enveloped him, blocking out the world, blocking out reality and his future, and his inevitable fate.
But fate hated his ancestor and every single one of her descendants. They would never leave him alone, and constantly sought out new measures with which to taunt him. The Fates may have granted his ancestor's wish, but that didn't make him any less of an abomination in their eye.
After all, he'd had to, out of all the pathetic miserable sycophants in the world, run into Malfoy.
The prick had become insufferable after his parents had died under suspicious circumstances- which basically meant he'd offed them and simply poured sufficient gold down the right gullets to overlook it. Of course, he'd inherited the entire Malfoy fortune and spent his days squandering it in the most useless ways he could possibly conceive.
His wife, Pansy, was a hideous creature, entirely unchanged from her days at Hogwarts, and completely unremarkable. Draco himself should've been attractive, having been the offspring of two undeniably beautiful people, but the insipid inbreeding had finally surfaced in him, giving him a weak chin and seedy eyes that ruined any natural bearing he might've had. And thus he had sought to overcompensate with crude posturing and a banal wit. Blaise actually pitied any child the two cretins might bear together, although the Fates might decide to be kinder and have it die in childbirth while rendering her barren.
Malfoy, with Malfoy-Parkinson on his arm, had seen them from across the atrium, and had to comment.
"So it's true, then?" Even his voice was grating, whiny and somewhat nasal. It suited him for the miserable cretin that he was. For someone who had spent seven years of his life belittling the Weasleys, Malfoy was incredibly similar to them.
"All this while, everyone's been wondering what it'd take to hook the Black King? And all it took was the right stick up-"
He had a wand in his face before he even finished the sentence. Blaise had to admit he was mildly impressed; Harry had managed to draw his wand and cross the atrium between the words 'stick' and 'up'.
Then the brunet backhanded Malfoy almost casually, sending him spiralling from his wife's arm and sprawling across the pavement. Everyone in the vicinity was shocked into stone.
"I believe that was a challenge, Malfoy," Blaise drawled, idly shifting his weight. At once everyone's attentions snapped back to him, and Harry was grinning viciously. "So get off your sorry arse and let's see what your inbred wand can do."
Malfoy scrambled to his feet, red with anger. The splotches on his face and neck did nothing for his appearance. "I'll see your dick-whore in Azkaban for this!" he spat.
Blaise threw his head back and laughed.
Around him, eyes widened as the unease grew. Of all the responses he could've had, that certainly wasn't one of them. Blaise, although a continental lord of insatiable repute, was of lower standing on the island than Malfoy. He should have at least abided by the social hierarchy, despite his companion having been insulted-
"Do you even know who you're talking to, Malfoy?" Blaise asked, dark eyes sparkling with cruel mirth. He cocked his head questioningly at Harry. "Would you like to sue him for slander and deliberate disrespect?"
Wide eyes widened even further. Harry looked amused at the game he was playing. "I'd really rather just have the challenge-duel and be done with it. The galleons I have to press suit; it's the time that I don't want to waste, especially not on this."
Blaise could barely hold back his chortles at Malfoy's bulging eyes. Oh, what a shame Lucius and Narcissa had died before they could teach their ill-tempered whelp the decorum of a true lord! Or maybe it was better that they'd died and not seen the disgrace to their name. As it was, they were probably rolling over in what miserable grave their ingrate of a son had deigned to give them.
"Do you think he couldn't understand my challenge?" Harry asked, continuing to talk around the irate blond. "I thought I'd used fairly simple language-"
He hummed thoughtfully in the back of his throat. "You could always use the old method- it was dismissed only a decade ago, and you don't have to speak a word. If I'm not mistaken, it allowed you a free shot with a sword-"
"I do have Godric's," Harry said, eyeing Malfoy critically. Blaise nearly choked on his laughter. Only Harry would refer to the legendary sword of Godric Gryffindor, wielded once by both Arthur and Merlin himself, in such an offhand manner. "I might want to do the humane thing and strike off his-"
Draco interrupted with an absolutely filthy thing that had his wife's ears burning and nearly all the pedestrians of Diagon Alley glaring at him in outrage. If he had any sympathisers among them before, they were now all lost.
Blaise whipped out his wand and shot a spell that had the blond crashing to his knees before them. He swiftly marched up to Harry's side, placing himself in an adjacent position that clearly informed of his status as Harry's second.
"Kneel," he snarled. "You are addressing the Lord Potter-Black."
Jaws were hitting the floor. Malfoy-Parkinson looked ready to bawl her beetle eyes out, while Malfoy gaped at them in an unseemly fashion.
"This is pathetic," Blaise sneered, whirling away in disgust.
Harry sighed, touching his arm in a sign of unconscious, but clear intimacy. "I would love to pursue this challenge, but it clearly isn't worth it when the opponent is so mentally challenged. I could almost forgive him his stupidity."
"It would prove your magnanimity," Blaise murmured, the beginnings of a smile growing on his lips.
"And your grace, of course," Harry added, "in letting such blatant foolishness slide." He looked down his nose at Malfoy. "Very well then, Malfoy. You are forgiven your transgression this time, but be warned: the next time I will be out for blood," he cautioned. His deep bass resonated in every inch of Diagon Alley. Then his voice abruptly softened.
"Blaise, if you would?" He gestured for the other man to precede him in a show of obvious deference.
What happened next took only seven seconds.
Malfoy overcame his stupidity with sheer idiocy and snarled a Dark cutting spell at Harry's back. That took five seconds.
Harry pushed Blaise behind him. That took another second. He then cast a wandless blasting spell at Draco's head. It exploded like a pumpkin.
Blaise looked at the blood-spattered Malfoy-Parkinson critically. "If there was an Heir Clause in the contract," he said, "I do hope Malfoy's done his half of the agreement. Otherwise-" He was interrupted by a choked gurgle from her closing throat as the Malfoy family magics caught her in the breach of contract. What they did to her was particularly grotesque, considering her and her husband's folly had concluded in the end of the Malfoy line. Blaise, personally, wouldn't miss them, and there would be no political repercussions. Harry had been well within his right as a Lord not only of a higher social standing, but greater financial power. Then a thought occurred to him.
"With the end of a dynasty line, the personal fortunes will be assigned to whatever the will dictates, but the family vaults will go to the Lord's next-of-kin," he remarked. "And you, as the Black Lord-"
Harry burst out laughing, and took his arm. "Oh, Blaise," he sighed, burying his nose in dark waves. "Why couldn't I have known you earlier?"
There was a woman following him. It wasn't them she was following, merely him. This was no statement of arrogance, mere truth; he had long learnt how to identify the stalkers from the mere watchers. His mother had made sure to train him in the ways, steep him in the knowledge. This woman was good, and very discreet, but he had known her intentions the moment they locked eyes in the reflection of a window sill, even if she'd glanced away bare moments later.
It wasn't an unfamiliar situation to him. Many women, and the occasional man, had also fancied themselves infatuated with him, and had gone to great lengths to persuade him of their inclination. But there was something different about this woman, something dangerous, something other. He carried up his half of the conversation admirably, barely slipping, while making sure to have one eye on her at all times. He doubted Harry noticed, and if he did, he said nothing.
They were in Holwe and Lawrence- the upper-class version of Borgin and Burke's- when she made her move. It was subtle, just the slightest brushing of her sleeve against his bare arm, but Blaise felt something in his chest seize up. He stared after her, taking in the luscious strawberry-blond curls and dimpled cheeks, the round blue eyes watching him with an unreadable expression, and felt his his loins tighten in response. He knew those eyes. He'd known them ever since he was old enough to be aware.
They were the same eyes that had watched over her descendants for thousands of years, promising retribution to anyone who stood in the way of her intentions. She would not see it all go to waste because of the newest one's folly. Blaise wanted to laugh. Apparently he and Malfoy had something in common as well: they were both to be the end of their dynasties. He could only hope Harry would fall outside her circle of revenge.
The very thought made him want to choke out his mirth. He and Harry had met only yesterday, and yet she had already deemed him a certain enough threat to intervene like this. He'd heard stories, of course, whispered in his ears by caring portraits, of the ones before him who had tried to love, and love for their own sakes, not hers, but had never succeeded.
Sophonisba had been one, the child bride tragically culled before her true love for a young handmaiden could be culminated. The stories never spoke of a child, but there had been a rape before their common ancestor had spirited the boy away, raising him for yet another generation.
And then there was the beautiful nubile Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Despite her youth, she had fought the Erinyes' hand and taken her father's name rather than her mother's. But her lover, who had also doubled as her chaperone, was ripped from her and she too, was raped, before being dragged through a mockery of a trial and then hastily married off to a second-rate cock at its conclusion. All her life Artemisia had fought, and the Fates admired anyone who would stand against that Erinyes, so they had aided her. Four sons she had born, although all four had succumbed to the River Styx, leaving only a single daughter, Prudenzia, to survive. She, weary of all the death that had surrounded her childhood, once again took up the Zabini mantle.
As vengeful as his ancestor was, the manor's cthonic magic was as old as hers, and had a will just as obdurate as her own. The manor would not let any of the Zabini be forgot just because the first held a grudge against them. Sophonisba's story adorned one of the sitting rooms, while many of Artemisia's paintings hung unforgotten about the manor. One of them was of a female martyr, a rose knot on her shoulder, and a painfully weary look in her eyes. She never spoke her secrets, had always held her council. Blaise had recognised the look in her eyes, had seen the same in his mother's eyes and the many generations before, and dreaded the day words would finally fall from her lips.
And now he, like each of them before, was caught, captured by his ancestor's magic shooting straight to his thighs, nearly physically dragging him forward. He would be used, his seed deposited in her vessel, while he was quietly disposed of. It was all he had ever been guaranteed, of course. He could ask for nothing more.
Blaise held his tongue, trying not to scream as two opposing magics tore him two separate ways. He couldn't quite think of what it meant that Harry could hold his own against his ancestor's millennia-old magics. The other man stepped up in front of him, his arm barring across his chest to keep him from moving.
"I won't let you kill him."
When had the store emptied? There was no one left to stare at this awful confrontation, and Blaise was pointlessly grateful for that one small mercy.
His ancestor was looking at Harry now, smiling in her own way, as though daring him to show her just what he could do. Blaise gulped at the surging tide of magic raging through his body. Harry just sneered at her.
"How many of your own blood have you murdered already?" he demanded. "Do their cries haunt you at night?" The woman's perfect face turned ashen. "Do your brethren come and breathe at the glass while you sleep, hoping to haunt you to true death?"
All at once she bared her illusions and revealed herself in her true form, baring inhuman fangs, claws, and scaled shoulders. Blaise turned away. He couldn't stand to look at her in the knowledge that her blood ran through his veins, had run through his beloved mother's, and so many others before.
"You know nothing!" she hissed angrily. Her wings flared to their full span and shimmered in an array of blood-spattered feathers.
"I know he wants to love," Harry insisted, "as those who came before him. None of them chose to lose that chance at love. You should know the pain of losing; you hunted those who caused others to lose unjustly before their time!"'
Of course Harry was referring to the myth of Orestes, among so many others, but Blaise couldn't help but think of Artemisia, and the martyr with her sad eyes. He'd wondered if that had been her poor lost lover, forever trapped in the house of her beloved with her lover nowhere in sight. There wasn't a single self-portrait of Artemisia in the manor.
And of course, in the myth of Orestes, Harry knew very well the Erinyes had been denied their revenge. They would have gone berserk, had Athena not placated them with offerings of worship and prosperity.
"I want a child," his ancestor sniped, her claws growing into talons.
Harry pointed at Blaise. "Is he not your child? They all have to grow sometime."
She shook her head, scattering her wild locks. "There will only ever be one at any time. That was the deal. Once the child is born, he dies."
Harry's eyes were hard. "And what if he doesn't die?"
The two stared at him, eyes revealing their disbelief.
"He can't have children. Neither can I. If we bond- swear an oath that is immortal and unbreakable- they have to keep him alive. Any child born out of wedlock will be killed by the magic. He would be yours, forever."
Blaise could almost hear the Fates shrieking at this solution.
His ancestor narrowed her eyes at him. "Was that your wish all along? Immortality?"
Harry snorted. "Hardly. I think one life is hard enough to live by itself."
She looked curious. "Then why?"
"Because he doesn't deserve what's been dealt to him," he said fiercely. "I'll do anything I can to prevent it."
Against all odds, she actually seemed to be considering it. "And the immortality?"
Harry softened abruptly, looking at Blaise with pleading green eyes. "I think I could be amenable to the situation," he whispered, "given the right companion."
"Then it is done," she declared, folding her wings back and abruptly sweeping into flight. Once the words were said, they both felt the magical bonds snap into place.
Blaise wanted to gripe at the indignity of it all, being bartered over like a piece of chattel, but he fainted before he could get a word in edgewise. His last thought was that he hoped he fell with a little dignity, at least.
He awoke to the bare Spartan walls of his room. The shepherdesses and their stable boys in the relief peered over at him worriedly, but then let out a cheer when they saw he was awake. Suddenly, he was aware of another presence in the room, and whipped his head around to look at Harry James Potter.
He wasn't resting on the bed, but seated in a chair beside it. The man had the actual gall to smile at him like he woke up to this everyday.
"I thought you'd be more comfortable if you woke up to your own space."
Blaise wanted to snarl at him. Or at least throw something at him. He'd never have his own space again. What in Merlin had he been thinking? Oh, wait, obviously he hadn't-
Instead what came out was, "Two days. After seven years of less than nothing, and not even a full two days later. Potter, are you mad?" Blaise was upset that all he could manage was worry. He tried to slam his fist against the mattress to bring his point across, but he was still painfully weak.
Harry was by his side in a flash. "Hush," he whispered, settling Blaise back among the pillows and covers. He could pretend to hate it, but he was actually quite comfortable. He hated to think that he'd be more comfortable if Harr- Potter- were in bed right next to him.
"The bond caused our magic to even out. I'm afraid that's what's making you weak. You were a powerful wizard, but I have some pretty ridiculous reserves from that event in my infancy everyone likes to not talk about, so it'll take your body some time to adjust."
Blaise frowned at him. "If the disparity was that great, shouldn't that mean bed rest for you, too?" He grimaced when he realised just how concerned he sounded.
Harry smiled gently, and kissed him softly on the lips. "Thank you. But I did have my rest. It was all I could manage to bring us back to the manor. Luckily she decided to bring us in without waiting for you to wake up, else we'd still be stuck on the grounds. I just woke up yesterday, and found out we'd been asleep for five days already."
"…five days!" he exclaimed, eyes wild.
Harry nodded. "My reaction exactly. Although yours would be six, I suppose." The other man smiled again at the disgruntled look on his face.
They fell into an easy sort of silence, broken only by the soft chatter of the shepherdesses with their stable-boys. Although their relief was the only decoration in the entire room, they were also the most active ornamentation in the whole manor, if only because they'd been made in the image of mere mortals. Blaise sometimes wondered if he hadn't chosen this room for that very same reason, if he'd been truly, much, much, lonelier than even he himself had admitted.
"I owe you my life, and more," he said.
Harry shook his head. "You don't owe me anything."
Blaise narrowed his eyes. "There must've been something you wanted. Did you get it?"
"Would you believe it if I told you everything I said to your ancestor was the absolute truth?" he asked instead.
"Of course not!" Blaise scoffed. "That sort of sentimentality doesn't exist in Slytherins!"
Harry smiled faintly. "Well, then it's good, then, since the Sorting Hat told me I would've done well in Gryffindor."
Blaise recoiled in horror, which made Harry tsk irritably.
"Don't be a prat, Blaise, it was only a scrap of rag. Besides, I managed to talk it out of that absurd idea, didn't I? I spent all seven years in Slytherin instead."
Blaise looked at him cautiously, but said nothing.
"That just gives me license to go about saving people without asking for anything in return," Harry said blithely. "After all, I'd started a trend when I was a year old in that whole matter no one can ever bring themselves to talk about, so I thought I'd just go with tradition."
The words were so absurd that they startled him into laughing. Harry looked glad that he'd had some humour restored, at least.
"But I meant every word I said, Blaise. We're stuck together now, and I want to make it work. I want- well, I want you."
"You make no sense at all."
"I know I don't. But- please. Let me stay."
Blaise was struck by the odd feeling that he was in control here. It didn't make sense; he was physically exhausted, and had obviously been the much weaker magic-wise of the two. In all reality, he probably owed the man a life debt on top of everything else. Not to mention how they were both pretty much immortal now. And yet Harry looked at him with such openness and vulnerability, that he didn't doubt a single word could break the man in front of him.
He took a breath.
"I...find myself…amenable to the situation."
Emerald eyes brightened and cleared, and he bowed his head against Blaise's side to hide the beginnings of a beatific smile. His fingers waffled, and then Blaise gave into the temptation and buried his hand into wild black strands. Harry made a pitiful noise as the fingers slowly scritched his scalp, and he burrowed deeper into the covers lathering Blaise's lap. The man wrapped his arms about the slim waist, cool hands bleeding into colder skin, causing Blaise to inwardly wonder if love was meant to feel like this. And then it struck Blaise that never once before had he given that word even a thought within the context of a relationship involving someone not blood-related to himself, and he inevitably knew, and surrendered himself to the feeling, embedded within a green-eyed black-haired man.
Around them, the manor resounded with a contentment that had never been before felt on the grounds. And two floors above them, in the furthest right wing, in a guest room that had never been used, sat a painting of a young woman holding a palm frond across her rose-clad shoulder. For the first time in the centuries since she'd been painted, her tired and wane face finally broke into a smile, and she closed her eyes in contentment.
I would apologise for the copious references to Greek mythology, but I honestly don't regret it, so… (o: For more information on the Furies, try the Wikipedia page of Aeschylus's 'Eumenides'. As for Artemisia Gentileschi and Sophonisba, I have taken several- all right, a lot- of liberties with their known biographies to fit the purposes of this piece.
I don't know when I'll be next posting anything, as I'd like to complete some of those projects I have listed on my profile. It might take a while, so I'll just have to ask you guys to bear with me. Till then, do review, and cheers.