Edit: (Dec. 29, 2012) I'm not sure when (or why, for that matter) this story got the attention that it did. I wasn't paying attention and then I saw it and I still don't really believe it. 100 reviews? I don't know if this is real or some kind of mean trick with the best intentions. Whichever, thank you for those who enjoyed this and left kind words. I don't know if I deserve it and I did not realize that this would get the response that it did, and I still don't think I understand. Nevertheless, thank you, thank you, infinitely.
i try for a smile / and i aim it at you
you must have missed it / you always do
— Ellie Goulding
She does this thing where, when she catches him looking at her, she turns away and blushes, deeply and darkly. Her eyes shine and her lips curve ever so slightly and, to stop them from revealing any more than she needs, her teeth come down on her bottom lip, and it's all just so —
Merlin, it makes his head spin.
He really, really doesn't want this to work.
(Denial is not just a river in Egypt.)
He turns swiftly at the sound of her voice because, well, it's her. "What do you want?" he asks, or more growls it, and she slows down, her face cautious.
She walks right up to him fearlessly without missing a step, however. "Who do you think you are, Zabini?" she cries, shoving her forefinger into his chest. He stumbles backward, more out of surprise than out of the force from her finger. "You're just such a — ugh! I can't even stand it. I really can't. Who do you think you are?"
Before she can bruise his solar plexus more, he catches her wrist in his hand, and she trembles at his touch. "I think I'm Blaise," he tells her, in that low, rumbling tone that makes her palms sweat and her vision blur. "Who do you think you are, Parvati?" he adds, and the way that he can feel every nerve tingling against his fingertips and somewhere along the way, she'd backed into him and he can feel her pressed up against him and her smell is overwhelming and he doesn't know what he's doing anymore.
There's a flicker of something in her brown eyes. "I saw you snogging Daphne Greengrass the other day," she mutters, ignoring the question. Her cheeks colour into a cold shade of rouge.
"Do you care?" he breathes, and his thoughts go wild as the surface doesn't even let a ripple through.
Please care. Please care.
It's a moment before he tightens his grip on her wrist. "Answer the question, Parvati," he pleads huskily. She yanks herself out of his hands and sends him a glare as harsh as the wind in the North. "Wait — I — "
"I don't care," she retorts curtly, "not about you, at least. And I might not care about Daphne — but I do care about Theo. Theo, of all people, Blaise. He's your best mate. Don't you feel any remorse at all?" She looks at him, really looks at him, with that penetrating, intense gaze that bores into him like no other pair of unblinking eyes and he knows, he knows that she'd picked this look up from him. It makes him want to laugh and cry and die, all at once.
His throat goes dry. "Theo — "
"Theo loves her," she finishes before he can. "He loves her and you're just…selfish. You want everything for yourself, Blaise, don't you?" His mouth falls open and he wants to say something so badly, but he seems to have lost his tongue. "Do you have a death wish, or something? Do you just want to alienate everyone and lose everything? Is that what you want? Loneliness?"
His hands ball into fists, but he restrains himself. He pictures the way she looks when she's asleep under moonlight, and imagines her lips against his collarbone, and it calms him down, keeps him from strangling her, reminds him why it is that he likes so much to stand next to her. "I — I don't want everything for myself, okay? I just — I just want — "
"What?" she screams at him. "What do you want so badly, Blaise, that you're willing to hurt everyone to get it?"
"Let me finish, god damn it, Patil!" he roars back, and she shrinks away. "It's you, all right? I want you."
And then there's nothing but silence.
And she's looking up at him with those round eyes, biting her lip, shaking. He realises how loud the echo of his bellow had been as they stand there in a melancholy, tense kind of quiet.
He realises how dangerous this has become when there's an unplaceable ache in his gut as he watches her walk away.
Theo shoves his shoulder playfully at breakfast.
"Mate, what's wrong?" he asks gently. "You look like shit."
He turns and glares, his thick eyebrows narrowed over his black eyes. "Thank you, Theodore, that was extremely helpful," he snarls, and his friend's hand retracts from his shoulder.
Running a hand through his light brown hair, Theo frowns. "Really, though, Blaise, what's wrong? Did something happen with you and Parvati?"
His tan knuckles clench his robes underneath the table until they're sore. "No," he says through gritted teeth, trying to keep his temper down. "Nothing." He snaps his neck toward his friend, his stare like knives. "And nothing ever happenedwith us. Nothing. Not ever."
Theo's forehead wrinkles. "Okay," he agrees doubtfully. Suddenly, his gaze lingers on something else, at the entrance of the Great Hall.
Blaise turns around to look at what's caught his attention, and there's Daphne, with that drop-dead figure and that heavenly blonde hair and those frosted blue eyes and Theo's completely far gone and Blaise —
Blaise feels sick to his stomach when he realises that nothing could compare.
They pass each other in the corridor and it's like there's a liquid sort of tension, drowning him.
He turns ever so slightly, to meet her eyes, but her face is decidedly frigid, looking ahead and not even wavering in its certainty.
He can't help himself. He stops in his tracks and watches her, walk down the hall, hips swaying.
Draco punches him. "What's wrong with you, Zabini?" he hisses haughtily.
Blaise shakes his head. "Sorry, sorry, I've just been, ah, distracted lately," he makes up quickly, and picks up the pace. "Maybe I'm getting ill, or something."
The blond eyes him suspiciously as they walk briskly. "Whatever," he mutters finally, but Blaise doesn't hear — only sees those hips, sashaying back and forth, back and forth, and how they'd felt once under his fingers.
"'Vati, 'Vati, I need you," he groans, and he's got her up against a corner with the smell of Firewhiskey on his breath.
She turns her face to the side so that his lips only catch her soft cheek. "You don't need anyone," she whispers, her breath hot against his ear and he kisses her jaw, and then the fleshy underside, and her dark neck, and her protruding collarbone.
"I lied, I lied," he repeats, slurring his words messily.
"You always lie."
He doesn't know if he imagines it, maybe it's the alcohol playing tricks on his mind, but — there's a glimmer of something, a tear or amusement or what, he doesn't know, but she stands up on her tiptoes and meets his lips, fiercely, and everything is burned away.
They end up in his bed — they always do.
"You make me feel like a fool," he breathes into her ear.
She's silent; she only wraps her arms around her neck and pulls him closer and presses a kiss to his lips. Not angry and quick and passionate like before, but —
soft and forgiving and sorry. Like when she hugs him around his waist, or when her tears slip underneath the collar of his shirt on accident, and the way her eyes twinkled sadly when he told her that he couldn't love her, couldn't ever, because.
He can't remember anymore.
That's what she does to him.
When they finish, they lie together in that blissful, lazy midnight hour. His arm's slung over her naked middle sloppily and his nose is buried in her wild, untamable black hair and it's just, he's never known perfection until her.
"If you could say anything," she says into the pregnant air, "without being afraid, what would you say?"
He doesn't answer — but as she slowly drifts off into sleep, he traces it into her right hip with the callused tip of his finger, wishing, hoping, dreaming.
I love you.
He wakes up jerkily, sometime around eight am, to cold, wrinkled sheets.
Not even a note, not even the linger of her scent in the fabric. He searches for a sign of her, so that he can reassure himself that it happened, that it hadn't just been one of those dreams as vivid as his nightmares.
There's nothing left of her.
As he gets up sorely, pulls on his pants and shirt and begins to make his bed wearily, he wishes he could've woken up first, just this once, if only to watch her sleep.
Daphne comes a few days later, her eyes panicked and her pale skin streaked with dirty tears, and she beats her fist against his chest, yelling obscenities and rambling on about something he can't make out.
"Calm down, Daph, calm down," he soothes calmly, his voice low and tired. He tries to stop her tiny hands from hitting him, but she's quick and when she's upset she's unflappable.
"Who told?" she shrieks in a pitch only comparable to bats and dolphins. "Who told, Blaise?" she repeats anxiously, on the verge of a breakdown.
He backs away finally, aching. "Told what?" he demands. "Told who?"
She wrenches her fingers into her thin blonde locks and clenches in frustration, maddened. "Us, us!" she screams. "Theo! Someone told Theo about us." She wails, almost inhumanly so. "Damn it, Blaise, God damn it, I knew that was a mistake, I knew it the moment that it happened that I was just going to regret it!"
Blaise closes his eyes, his breathing picking up. "Calm down, Daphne," he warns testily.
"Everything with you is a mistake, Zabini," she insults. "I'm surprised that your own mother doesn't regret giving birth to you — never mind that, I bet she does, because without you she wouldn't have trouble shagging her dozens of husbands and killing them whenever and wherever she wants, she wouldn't have to worry about poor little Blaise walking in and — "
"Shut up, Daphne!" he howls. "Just shut up all ready!"
She doesn't, though. "And that Patil girl, the Gryffindor — you think I don't know about her? Everyone does. Christ, Zabini, I can't see how she can stand to even touch you and not run away, because you're a monster, you know that? You break everything you touch and you're only going to break her soon enough, because you turn people to porcelain and then shatter them against concrete, that's what you do!"
"That's going too far," Blaise tells her, his voice level and his face expressionless and they stand there, her chest heaving and her face red and tears falling freely down her face, and him calm and gloomy and blank.
Suddenly she falls into his arms and she's all kinds of broken, because of him. "He — He's so angry, Blaise," she breathes out, voice cracking.
"He's got a right to be," Blaise returns coldly.
She swallows. "I'm sorry, about what I said. That was out of line. I'm just — angry, I suppose."
Blaise hides his face and takes a deep breath. "Okay."
Daphne's hand touches his chin and tips his face toward her. "When are you going to stop this façade?"
He stares at her stonily, wordlessly, and she stares back just as concentrated. "The day one of us dies."
He finds her sitting by the Black Lake, skipping stones, no one by her side.
"Why did you tell?" he asks, standing behind her. He doesn't need to show his face. He knows that she'll recognise him, just from the sound of his voice.
She pauses for a moment. Throws another stone. "I'm tired of you hurting people," she says after a while.
There's this weird sense of ending about them. He waits before he speaks again. "They said I'd only break you," he tells her unsurely.
The stone plops into the water. She laughs with an eerie detachment. "Don't you see, Blaise?" she asks, and he watches the waves of her hair, falling down to the middle of her back. "You all ready have."
He walks away.
The next day, he slides in next to Theo.
"Hey, mate," he says carefully.
But he won't look at him.
Eventually, after staring down at his plate without speaking, Theo gets up, slings his messenger bag over his shoulder, and leaves, walking briskly out of the Great Hall, staring down at the floor the whole way through.
Blaise doesn't dare look up, because he knows he'll only see her dark eyes out of the sea of houses, and that alone is enough to make him crack.
He doesn't talk to anyone for the rest of the year unless necessary.
It's a loneliness he's learned to accept that he deserves.
The next year, he finds Parvati in the grasp of the Carrows with her eyes closed and her fingers shaking with terror and her face as pale as he's ever seen it, with all the life gone from the glow he used to be enamoured with.
For a second, she opens her eyes, and she finds him, meets his stare ferociously, her eyes conveying emotions that neither of them had ever been able to express through words.
And for a second — he wants to forget all the things that happened, the things they'd said, the things they'd promised. He wants to say something and stop them and he wants to feel her under him again, bury his face in her neck and inhale her, and he wants to trace words deep into her skin as they fall asleep.
But instead she closes her eyes again and he turns his head and he has nightmares about her screams as they Crucio her.
He's the last person she sees before she's gone.
"'Vati, 'Vati," he says like he always used to, and everyone's fighting and she's slipping away, and he'd give anything — lives, hearts, words, souls — to stop time and save her, but he's never been a super hero, always more the villain.
She tries to smile but she only winces and it's like he can feel her pain. "I'm sorry," she whispers.
He blinks fast. "I'm sorry," he agrees, and he's never told such a truth in his life. He's sorry. He is sorry.
"Don't go," she requests weakly, her fingers interlacing in his. "Please, stay with me."
He lets go, and a tear falls onto her shoulder. "Okay," he swears. "Okay, 'Vati."
He does. He stays until he cries enough tears for a lifetime and he's memorised the colour of her irises and the life slowly fades away until her fingers fall away from his for the last time.
A year later, he sits by her grave, alone.
He's dropped the façade, like he'd promised, so long ago.
He traces it into the rough stone — I love you, I love you — and if he squeezes his eyes and remembers hard enough, he can almost pretend that it's his fingertip against her skin.