With the Stars as Our Witness
A Harry Potter Fan-fiction
I do not own Harry Potter nor am I affiliated with J. K. Rowling, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros., etc. This story is non-profit and purely for entertainment value.
As a warning: This story contains slash, otherwise known as homosexual pairings, i.e. romantic liaisons between two men.
This is a Blaise Zabini/Harry Potter story.
It started with a late night visit to the kitchens. If Harry didn't know better, he'd say that the House Elves were playing matchmaker. But, he came to realize that true Slytherins always get what they want.
Harry sniffled quietly as he turned another page. He was curled in an isolated corner of the Hogwarts kitchens, a plate of sweets on the nearby tabletop and a book in his hands. He'd developed a habit of sneaking into the low-ceilinged room almost daily, the last few weeks.
"Master Harry! Yous is crying, is everything being alright?" Winky, bless her soul, had taken it upon herself to look after him, perhaps to distract herself from her own lack of a bound family. He wasn't fond of being called "Master" but she was stubborn and set in her ways.
Instead of the white, toga-like garb of the other house-elves employed at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Winky had donned a simple pink dress that was most likely made for a young girl. She was barefoot, like the other elves, and had a frilly white apron draped over her neck and tied around her waist. It was an amusing sight, but Harry wouldn't do her the dishonor of laughing at her.
He looked up at her with watery eyes. He was crying? Harry lifted a hand and rubbed at his eyes furiously. Winky graciously held out a tissue for him and he used it to blow his nose. "No, I'm fine, Winky," he reassured her. "I just got a sad part, that's all."
And sad it was. Terence, the main character Nora's lover, was on his deathbed. The young couple had been so in love, so happy, in the beginning. To have their relationship cut short on such awful terms was certainly tragic.
Winky eyed the tome in his hands warily. "Is Master Harry sure he wants to read a book that is making him cry?" she asked, as if afraid to upset him.
The teen sighed. The house-elf had a point, really. Somewhere along the line he'd become addicted to these ten-cent stories. It'd started as a way to stave off boredom while locked in his small room at Privet Drive. He'd nicked one of his Aunt Petunia's books, only to find out later that it was a romance novel—and a rather raunchy one, at that.
He'd had every intention of burning the book, but somehow, some way, he'd been sucked into the story. The plot sucked, the characters were shallow, and the author had obviously never put a ruler up against anyone's assets, but he couldn't find the will to put it down.
Harry had gone back for another one, and then another. He'd systematically devoured Petunia's entire collection of trashy books within a single summer, and found himself hungering for more.
He ran a hand down his face in aggravation. Even now he was sneaking out of the dorms on sleepless nights to enjoy the quiet bustle of the kitchens, soak in the warmth of the stoves, and curl up with his cheap romances. These moments of silence had become his refuge, a way to cleanse himself from the stresses of each day.
The house-elves were excitable creatures and they weren't all that bright, but they were powerful and had such a capacity for loyalty and compassion that Harry was often left stunned by their caring gestures. They allowed him free access to the kitchen equipment and plied him with as many treats as he could possibly consume.
"It's fine, Winky. You're supposed to cry at this point. It's not a bad cry though; I'm enjoying the story. I promise."
After studying him for a moment longer, Winky's head bobbed in acceptance. "Master Harry is knowing best. If Master Harry is enjoying tacky romance novel, then Winky is not protesting." With that, she turned and wandered deeper into the kitchens to continue her duties.
Harry gaped after her.
Somehow, word had circulated among the house-elves that Harry enjoyed romance novels. Come morning, he found himself buried under a pile of books. Some were dusty and worn, with bent pages and cracked spines—obvious signs of being old and well-read—while others looked relatively new. Thankfully, none had questionable substances gluing the pages together.
He appreciated the sentiment, really, and it was nice to know that they cared enough about him to go to the trouble of scrounging up these copies for him, but he wished they did it out of the boy's dorm, away from a place where his masculinity wasn't in danger of being shredded to pieces. He was perfectly fine skulking around after midnight, thank you very much.
Harry froze as Ron let out a particularly loud snore, followed by aggravated shifting. Oh Merlin, if they found him like this, covered in books with pink flowers and men with long, flowing hair, and titles like "Lover's Kiss," he'd never live it down. The entirety of Hogwarts would know within hours.
Harry sent a silent thank you to whatever deity was looking out for him when Ron finally settled back to sleep. He still had a bit of time before Dean, the early riser of the dorm, woke up—long enough to gather up each tome and hide them.
No one would ever find out.
"Interesting read, Potter?"
Harry jumped in the air like a startled cat, shoving the book in his hand under one of his legs, praying that his visitor hadn't been able to glimpse the title. He didn't recognize their voice so he peeked up through his lashes to identify the newcomer and blanched upon seeing the green, coiling snake-covered crest of Slytherin.
Hufflepuffs he could deal with. Maybe he'd threaten the little buggers into silence, or guilt them into it—something. Ravenclaws—he didn't know; maybe he'd loan them a book from the restricted section. Gryffindors—he might have had to beg them to keep quiet, but Slytherins... he had nothing to persuade Slytherins to keep mum.
He couldn't bring himself to meet the gaze of his fellow curfew-breaker. "Um, I didn't get far in," he squeaked. True... somewhat. "It was a dare," he quickly amended. Lie.
There was only one good thing about this: it wasn't Malfoy.
A quiet chuckle reached his ears and his eyes flew up to lock with a dark-eyed gaze. Oh, he thought. It was Blaise Zabini. The one Slytherin he knew nothing about.
"From what I saw, you were half-way through." There was a small smile playing on Zabini's full lips as he leaned forward, placing his arms on the table-top. The kitchens' low light highlighted his sharp features and broad figure.
A flush bled into Harry's cheeks as he found himself admiring the teen's muscled forearms and large hands. Merlin, he was spending too much time reading those books. Didn't they have any from the male point of view? Oh right, they did. Porn.
"Yeah, well, I meant they weren't erm, far into their—" He interrupted himself with a cough. "I didn't mean, um—" Why did he keep freezing up? Harry was sure that his face was flaming by now; he was positive that he'd burst into flames any second. At least it would be a welcome relief from his embarrassment.
Zabini's smile only widened at his fumbling, showing a thin line of brilliant white teeth that contrasted with his dark skin tone. His eyes hadn't moved from Harry's face and there was a glint in the young man's eyes that made Harry want to blush and stammer like a schoolgirl.
Well, you've already done that, you idiot, he growled to himself, scowling.
He would have kissed Winky when she interrupted the awkward silence with a tray of diced fruit and turkey sandwiches that were cut into little triangles, except for the fact for the fact that she was wrinkly, green, and so obviously another species that the thought was painful. Very painful.
Harry snatched the bowl of fruit and a fork, determined to keep his mouth busy so it wouldn't spew anything else embarrassing. Zabini, on the other hand, placidly munched on the sandwiches as if he hadn't a care in the world.
"So, what brings you here?" Harry eventually asked. He'd gotten half-way through the fruit and found himself unable to eat anymore and thus unable to control his embarrassing case of verbal diarrhea. "Usually I'm the only one in here this late—or, um, early."
Zabini raised his eyebrows slightly, and Harry got the feeling that every muscle in his face was carefully controlled. "You come here often, then?" Harry noticed that there was a slight accent to his words and that he spoke with a flowing, musical lilt that native English speakers—and Harry especially—lacked.
Harry nodded slowly, warily. "Um, most nights, and I tend to study in here."
Zabini's eyes zeroed in on his face and he slowly put down his sandwich. "Are you not sleeping well?"
The green-eyed teen shifted uncomfortably. Why did Zabini even care? "Um, I don't—I don't sleep very well." That was an understatement. He was lucky if he got four hours a night. He'd gotten used to listlessly going through his classes, though.
"Why?" Zabini asked, his voice oddly short.
Harry snorted and looked down at his lap. Maybe because Voldemort is a night owl and he likes to hold his little goth parties and torture his toadies while I'm sleeping so I can see and hear every single one of their screams. Right, like he'd ever say that.
He was startled from his thoughts by the feel of Zabini's calloused hand against his cheek. The dark thumb brushed against the blue-black circles under his eyes tenderly while the rest of his fingers others curled underneath his chin, gently forcing Harry to look him in the eye.
Harry resisted gaping at Zabini and ruthlessly squashed the niggling urge to lean into the warm hand. He couldn't, however, help the small sigh that escaped his lips or the way his eyelids drooped contentedly. No one had ever touched him like this, so carefully, as if Harry were made of glass.
There were days that he felt just as fragile; like the lightest push would topple him and he'd break into a thousand, million little pieces, never to be put back together again.
"You're tired," Zabini murmured, his voice quiet enough to be a whisper. Harry made a small noise of agreement. His muscles felt like mush; Harry doubted he'd be able to even walk back to the tower. "Sleep, then. I'll be here when you wake up."
Harry didn't know what was so comforting about those words, but he found himself nodding off within seconds, weeks of little to no rest catching up to him. The last thing he remembered was being pulled into warm arms before he surrendered to the embrace of sleep.
Morning arrived all too quickly. He could hear the distant hum of the kitchens as the elves prepared the castle's morning meal. Harry snuffled quietly, snuggling deeper into the soft fleece blanket wrapped around him. He was laying on something soft—a couch maybe, as it was too narrow to be a bed—and there was a warmth against his cheek and another buried into his hair, rubbing small circles on his scalp.
He hadn't felt so brilliant in ages. His muscles ached from little rest and he had a crick in his neck, but he still felt brilliant.
"You're awake," said a quiet voice from above him. Harry hummed quietly in assent, refusing to move just yet. He let out a grateful sigh when the hand in his hair dropped to his neck and dug into the sore muscles there. The grip was firm and reassuring, and the fingers never pressed too harshly.
Harry's mind automatically categorized the touch as "safe," and he melted into the strong caress. "Z'bini," he mumbled as his brain inched toward lucidity, realizing just who was massaging his neck.
He heard the young man's quiet chuckle and shuddered as deft fingers brushed over a particularly sensitive spot on his neck. Zabini must have noticed because he circled the area with his thumb and Harry let out a hitching moan as the tenseness in his muscles evaporated. "'S nice," the raven slurred. "Like your hands, they're nice—'n your laugh's nice too. Should laugh more, 'cause it's nice."
Had he been more awake, Harry would have been mortified at his words and proceeded to bury himself in a very deep hole, but Zabini only whispered an amused thanks and continued his ministrations.
Minutes of quiet lethargy passed before Harry's stomach reminded him that he'd had very little to eat the last few days, barring the fruit the night before. He groaned quietly, reluctant to move from his cocoon.
"Breakfast will start soon," Blaise stated, his hand moving to card through Harry's thick hair. He absently twirled a few of the longer pieces around his fingers, marveling at the silky texture. He watched as Harry shifted onto his back and glared up at him blearily. The way the teen's little pink mouth shifted into a pout made his lips twitch in restrained humor. He put aside the charms text in his hand to focus his entire attention on the drowsy teen in his lap.
"Don' wanna'," Harry disagreed. He hadn't slept so well in a very long time, and Zabini was nice—he definitely needed to get his hands on a thesaurus—and he didn't act like any of the other Slytherins at all, pompous asses that they were, and Harry really, really liked the way the other seemed unafraid to touch him.
Blaise ran his index finger down Harry's nose, and held back a laugh when Harry went cross-eyed trying to follow it. He traced slightly chapped, but startlingly soft lips, his finger dipping between the seam teasingly, before drifting to the gentle slope of Harry's jaw.
Harry watched him with wide eyes as Blaise traced his ear, his eyebrow, the apple of his cheek. Harry's face was smooth for his age, and his features grudgingly masculine. Without his glasses, Harry's large, amazingly green eyes were exposed, lined with full, dark lashes; eyes that transformed his face from attractive to... breathtaking. Blaise lips curved into a smile. Who would have thought the Golden Boy was so pretty?
"Zabini?" Harry asked, his brow wrinkled in confusion. Why was Zabini so kind to him? Here he was, his head pillowed on the tall teen's thigh, with Zabini's hand touching his face, and their wands were nowhere in sight and Harry was... content.
Zabini made a sound low in his throat before speaking. "You really do need to get up. It's almost seven and I'm sure Weasley and Granger will be worried that you're not in your dorm." He gently smoothed out the small pucker of skin between Harry's eyes, forcing his face to relax.
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but paused when he realized that Zabini was right. He sighed in defeat and grumpily untangled himself from the thick blanket before standing on shaky legs.
"You need to eat something," Zabini said.
Harry nodded, "I usually eat in here; the food they serve at breakfast is too heavy for me." Typically, his breakfasts consisted of small portions of fruit, porridge, toast, tea, and orange juice. He didn't mention the fact that the smell of bacon made him queasy; he'd prepared it every morning for six cumulative years at the Dursleys and he was utterly sick of it.
Zabini leaned back into the couch, one arm lazily resting on the armrest and the other flung over the top edge. The Slytherin's robes were discarded and he was clad in black slacks and a white dress shirt with the first two buttons undone. Harry had to admit that he looked good like that; relaxed and his mind at ease.
The question popped out Harry's mouth before he could stop it. "Is it hard, living in Slytherin?" He had the sudden urge to ask the house-elves for a muzzle—or maybe a large sock.
Zabini eyed him speculatively, as if weighing his answer. "It depends," he said, his left leg moving up until his ankle rested on his right knee. "The majority of the house is filled with sniveling idiots intent on riding on their parent's coattails. People like Malfoy, for instance, haven't a lick of sense. It's always, 'my Father' this and, 'my Father' that." He stopped to roll his eyes and grin at Harry's quiet snicker before continuing, "But there are some—usually those who don't come from the more prominent families—that want to move up in the world, and would do almost anything to make sure that happens."
Harry nodded thoughtfully. "Your house traits are cunning and ambition, I understand that. But, it's not always like that is it? Not always about power plays and family standing, yeah? They're still just teenagers, you know—kids; I can't imagine that they always think about what they say before they actually say it."
Zabini chuckled knowingly. "There are those of us who take it a bit more seriously, but we're more like the other houses than you'd believe. Most of the Slytherins were first considered for other houses. Many of us are smart enough for Ravenclaw," he said, "and you'll seldom find a Slytherin that isn't loyal, whether it's to their family, their beliefs, or those that they deem important."
Harry wandered back over to the couch and sat down, enthralled by the house that he had very nearly been sorted in. "And what about Gryffindor?" he asked.
Zabini smirked at him. "What would our cunning and ambition be worth if we did not have the courage to enact our plans? Or the bravery to step outside our comfort zone and make connections or carry out our duties to our families? Nothing."
Harry looked at him with large eyes. He bit his lip as absently fiddled with a loose string on his wrinkled school robe. "I was almost sorted into Slytherin," he whispered, not meeting Zabini's eyes. It was a secret he'd never told anyone—not even Ron or Hermione. But to learn that there was more to the House of the Snakes than he'd ever thought... He found himself wondering what he would have been like, had he accepted the Sorting Hat's first decision all those years ago.
"It doesn't surprise me," Zabini finally said, shocking Harry from his thoughts. The emerald-eyed teen's head whipped up to face him, features slack in disbelief. He spared the surprised Gryffindor a small smile before gently teasing, "Hufflepuff wouldn't surprise me either, given how absorbed you were with that book of yours. Darkest Embrace, was it?"
Harry's cheeks flooded with color and he scowled good-naturedly at his companion. "Yeah, well, it's a good book!" he argued, crossing his arms huffily.
Zabini shocked Harry by letting out a deep laugh. The sound washed over him like thick molasses and he found his spine tingling with a shiver of delight. How odd to think that just minutes ago, he had been snuggled up to this person, this stranger, and more content that he'd ever remembered being. What was it about Blaise Zabini that made his stomach flutter with butterflies and his pulse race?
"Would you indulge me and tell me why you like reading such stories?" Harry narrowed his eyes at Zabini's smirking face. He made it sound so... wrong, what he was doing. But there was nothing wrong with it, and he didn't care what any stuffy Slytherins with nice laughs and gentle hands thought. Not at all.
"If I must," Harry sniffed, trying to recover some of his lost dignity. He held the expression for a moment before the crick in his neck protested. He nearly groaned; how did Malfoy deal with having his nose so high in the air, all day, every day? "It started out as a way to alleviate boredom, really. I had no idea what I was getting into at first. I just nicked a book from my aunt so I'd have something to do during the summer when I was, um, put in my room."
He didn't notice the way Zabini's eyes narrowed at his awkward description. He speaks as if they treat him like a pet. Honestly, put in his room? The words themselves weren't enough to garner suspicion, but the way that Harry stumbled over them certainly was.
"Believe me; I was horrified when I found out just what my aunt had been reading. But next to staring at the wall, even a bodice-ripper novel was an... acceptable alternative." Harry met Zabini's eyes for a second and shrugged before glancing away. His cheeks were still glowing faintly and he wondered why he was even bothering to tell Zabini this. "But even though it wasn't the greatest writing... I kind of liked it. The characters were... happy. They found each other and stayed together, even though there were people trying to tear them apart for whatever reason. They took care of each other." He swallowed past a developing lump in his throat, "I just—I guess I kind of want something like that. I don't want to be treated like a porcelain doll all the time, and I can think for myself, and I'm not a bad shot with a wand, and all that, but... I want to be taken care of."
Blaise watched as Harry's eyes dimmed ever so slightly. The teen looked distraught at his words, and he refused to lift his head as he ploughed on. "I know that life isn't simple like that, and that people fall out of love, and things happen—but it just sounds nice, you know? To have someone to love you for who you are, no matter what—to desire you and want you and face whatever trials they have to just to keep you." He sniffed and rubbed at his eyes, "Ugh, I sound like a girl. Stupid books always make me weepy."
Blaise frowned for a moment before reaching out and gripping Harry's chin, pulling his downturned face upward. "There's nothing wrong with wanting that, Harry," he said seriously. Harry shivered under his gaze but nodded faintly.
"Blaise," he whispered, as if testing the name on his lips. "Thanks, Blaise."
Blaise granted him a small smile. "Now, it's time for you to eat. Breakfast is almost over, and while it's the weekend, I'm sure that you'd like a shower and a change of clothes before long."
Harry mustered up a grin, rubbed at his reddened eyes once more, and stood. "Yeah, I'm kind of hungry, and a shower sounds good." He toed the stone floors for a second as Blaise got to his feet gracefully. "Thanks," he said again, leaning in to steal a hug from the tall Slytherin, "for everything."
Blaise hummed quietly and dropped his forehead to rest against Harry's. "You're welcome," he whispered, smoothing a line across Harry's flushed cheek with his nose. "You're very welcome."