Every Night I Burn
May 6, 2005 8:00 PM
Astoria placed herself in his path. She knew when Blaise would be walking by and fell into step with him.
"You've stopped. I hexed a man for talking trash about you. Then I heeled him in the bollocks."
Before he could protest, she slid an arm through his.
Blaise did a double take when he saw her and tried to wrench his arm away but she had a mighty grip on it and her nails dug into his arm. "What the bloody hell do you think you're doing?"
"My love life is going quite swimmingly at current, so I am going to help you. Buy me dinner."
This was one of the reasons he didn't like being around Astoria Greengrass. She threw him off his game too much. "Why?"
"Because I'm hungry."
"Not that," he snapped. "Why are you going to help and why are you even here, hanging on to my arm?"
"Because as much as I might like to, I can not have sex with Marcus all of the time. He has to work."
He stopped, regardless of the fact that they were in the middle of the walkway. "Straight answer now or I apparate to the Manor and you get to crisp up in my wards because I sure as hell haven't added you. What. Are. You. Doing?"
Astoria dug her nails into his arm some more and pulled him out of the main traffic. "Like it or not, you're my family. And I have seen how things are. I have to take care of you in my way. You matter to me. I can't stand you, but you matter."
"Then what the hell needs to be taken care of? I'm not dealing. I'm staying home like a good little boy," he hissed. "What the hell more do you people want from me?"
"Oh Blaise. I want you happy." She caressed his cheek with her gloved hand. "You're miserable without somewhere to direct your energies."
He rolled his eyes and leaned back away from her hand. "I'm not sure if this will get through your skull, but being dragged away from public and getting my arm skewered doesn't exactly make me happy."
"But the blonde does." Astoria sniffed him. "Hannah Abbott. Let go. Be yourself. She can take it. Moreover, she wants to."
Blaise took a step back. "If you want to talk about your romantic life all you want, preferably not near me, go for it, but stay away from mine."
"I'm not doing anything. I'm talking. You think you had sex with her. You did not. I met this delightful American who was also a Seer when she passed through my village. She had a word for too drunk to fuck. It was called whiskey dick."
It took a few moments for what she was saying to sink into his brain. The look he gave her was a cross between incredulous and exasperated. Blaise hated when she knew things like this when he didn't.
"You were both too drunk to have sex. Your penis was too drunk to be erect," she explained. "Now, I don't know how your underpants got off, but there was no sex. That's why you feel that way about her. Like things are unfinished. Frustrated. Tense. In need of a release."
Blaise shook his head in disbelief. "I don't even want to hear you talk about my dick again, especially whether or not it's been erect around anyone
. And I don't know why people insist on pushing us together."
"I don't know why you're resisting it. Is it because everyone wants it? Look deep within yourself. You wanted her even before anyone knew about her. What's changed? Nothing. She denied you in the beginning, but she still wanted you. She warred with herself. You seduced her. Not with any of your usual tricks, but by being yourself."
He was not discussing his love life with Greengrass in the middle of the alley. He just wasn't. "Well then good for me. Did Draco put you up to this? It's bad enough he crashed my date."
"No, but he is worried about you even though he is not asking questions."
She wasn't going to tell him why Draco had done that. Blaise wasn't ready to know. Hell, Draco had not figured it out yet.
He laughed dryly. "I did just fine on my own before everyone got so involved."
"Not really, darling, but it's nice that you thought you were doing so well before. I'm not involved. I'm just the messenger."
"Well take back a message. Fuck off."
"You're so cute when you swear in irritation," Astoria said, pinching one of his cheeks. "It's a terrible shame I find myself in complete adoration and lust with Marcus. You and I could have rattled some dresser drawers loose."
He lurched back, hating to find himself backed against a wall. Blaise wasn't sure why she liked to torment him, but it was damn irritating. "Will you stop it? You wanted dinner. Will dinner make you leave me the hell alone?"
"I'd love dinner, thanks."
She would never leave him alone.
Blaise huffed and started to walk again, not trying to dislodge her when she wrapped herself around his arm. "Never before have I been so glad that you and Draco didn't work out. I don't think I'd be able to come round if you lived together."
"Yes, you would," she replied, hugging his arm. "You love Draco too much."
"Then I would have timed it so you wouldn't be around," Blaise said through clenched teeth.
"You're very tense, Blaise. I think you need more sex."
He hauled her very roughly into a nearby cafe. Astoria giggled. She might have a bruise or two later, but she had never minded bruises. They reminded her that she was really here.
Blaise snapped out that they needed a table and they were quickly seated. After ordering drinks, during which Blaise found out they didn't serve alcohol, he crossed his arms and glared at her.
"Stop being such a baby. You get so fussy when you think you aren't in control of your life. Well, I've news for you, darling - you are always in control. You can decide not to follow your heart, but that will lead to misery. Who decided to stop living under his mother's thumb? That was you. Because Draco would have been angry had you kept dealing, but he wouldn't have stopped loving you. Just like with your mother. She is hateful, but casting her aside was in no way easy. She is still your mother. She has always been there in some fashion. I understand that. I despise Queenie Greengrass for what she put Daphne and I through, for what she allowed our father to do to us, but I still visit her. She's still my mother. We weren't lucky like Draco. I think Narcissa would even defy Lucius for him."
A waiter brought them water and took their orders. Astoria decided on light fare.
"But you do have your father. I would have given anything for a father like yours."
Blaise remained silent. He hadn't been to visit his father in a while, except for seeing him except for the few moments he had when he took Hannah riding. He needed to visit them more. "You think I don't know any of that?"
"No, I don't, but I think you get so involved in thinking about what's gone wrong in your life that you forget what's gone right. It's not your fault. I'm the same way. Draco's proud of you, though. He can't say it, being Draco Malfoy, but he is. He thinks very highly of you. He always has. Most of our fights were about my trying to tell him things about you that I would see. He'd get so angry. One time he even grabbed my arms and shook me. Until he discovered I liked that a little."
He made a face. Ignoring everything else she said was easier. "Can we not talk about your kinks in the bedroom? If you want to play the therapist, then fine, but let's keep those details out of it."
Astoria laughed. "Like you don't like it a little rough. I know more about you than you'd like. My divulging bits of myself is just to even the playing field."
The waiter set their plates before them and Astoria started in on her salad.
"What did Draco tell you?" he asked, narrowing his eyes.
"Draco doesn't have to tell me anything," Astoria said, pulling off a glove. "In fact, I know things about Draco he definitely wishes I didn't. He's very vulnerable when he sleeps. My skin on his would tell me more than enough."
Before he could protest, Astoria ran a finger up the back of his hand.
"You wish everyone would stop asking if you are all right. Even though you aren't exactly certain if you are all the time."
Blaise yanked his hand back. "No touching without permission, which will be never. Keep your damn hands to yourself."
"I'm just illustrating the fact that Draco would never betray you, and despite anything he might have said, he knows you'd never betray him."
Astoria put her glove back on and went back to her salad.
He'd lost all of his appetite, if he'd had any to begin with. Blaise didn't like that someone knew his thoughts, especially someone as annoying as her. "I didn't think he would betray me, but things slip out of his mouth that sometimes should not."
"Not the important things."
A funny feeling settled over Astoria as her fork slid from her hand. She knew her eyes went blank. She was not concerned with the fork or her eyes. She wanted to stop this from happening in a public place, but could not.
She was watching a man with three demons. She heard each demon chant a different part of the same spell then her arm burned. The mark. That's how. Demonic energy and each demon played its part. The man was the puppet master. Astoria stepped forward and reached for the mask on his face. She could see a dark mark glowing like an iron in a fire on her left arm, though she had no mark of her own. She reached for the Death Eater mask on the man's face.
Pain seared her, and Astoria start screaming.
Blaise had finally decided to eat some of the chicken he'd ordered when Astoria fell out of her chair and started screaming. He sat there for a few moments in shock before getting up and kneeling next to her.
"I'll floo a healer," someone said to his right.
"No!" he snapped. "She'll be fine. Mind your own business."
Blaise was careful not to touch her skin. Besides that, he didn't know what to do.
Astoria was shaking when she came back around. "I saw his face," she whispered to Blaise. "I saw the man manipulating the marks. I saw his face."
She was shivering and putting her hand over her left arm - where the mark would have been if she had one. Astoria shivered some more and pushed up her sleeve. There was a first degree burn on her skin now.
"Fucking hell," Blaise exclaimed when he saw the burns. "You are
going to need a healer."
Astoria shook her head 'no'. "Take me to Irulan. She's in Stygion."
"Who the bloody hell is that?" Blaise asked. "Where
the bloody hell is that? Can't I owl someone? Can't Draco or or Flint take you?"
"Take me to Willow. Willow knows."
That said, Astoria fainted.
His day was just getting worse and worse. There was no way he could floo with her, but he wasn't keen on carrying her through the Council since he had to apparate to the front of the grounds.
Blaise threw a few galleons on the table and wrapped an arm around Astoria's shoulders, apparating them to the front of the doors. Seeing no way around getting her inside without at least manhandling her inside, Blaise cast a lightening charm on her and picked her up. If he could have maneuvered her inside with a charm, he would have, but when he was stressed, his charms tended to go a bit haywire.
He didn't even ask if Willow was in her office, he just went in that direction.
Daisy had called Betsy to her post and went hurrying after Blaise Zabini. She was right behind him as he made it to Willow's office. She skidded in front of him and opened the door.
Willow looked up. "Oh my god! Tori? Blaise, what happened?"
He took her over to the couch in Willow's office. "She had a vision of the man who's controlling the marks." Blaise lifted up her arm to show the damage. "He gave her this. She said to bring her to you so she could get to whatever the name of that place is."
"Stygion, and no, we'll treat her here, and she'll just have to deal with it. Oh, Marcus is not going to be pleased. Daisy, floo Irulan Purecraft. Tell her what's happened. Blaise, help me get her to the infirmary."
"What about Flint?" Daisy asked.
"I'll take care of it," Willow replied.
If he hurt his back from carrying her, Blaise was going to make Astoria pay. Only grumbling a little bit about being ordered around, he followed Willow to the infirmary and placed her on a bed.
"Thank you," Willow said, reaching out and rubbing his arm. "Go down to the kitchen and get you some dinner if you like."
Blaise gave her a droll look. "I wasn't hungry when she demanded dinner out of me, and I'm not hungry now, but thank you for the offer. Am I done here? I've completed my manly hero of the year quota by this deed alone. I feel the need to kick puppies or hex an annoying child now."
"You don't kick puppies," Willow said, grinning at him. "And that was very wonderful of you to help her like that. How does it feel to probably have Marcus Flint in your debt?"
A slow smile spread over his before disappearing. "He still won't honor it. The bastard doesn't like me. And when I say he doesn't like me, he really
doesn't like me. Nice try though."
"Then I'm in your debt. Astoria is part of my coven."
"It's nice to hear you say that, Willow," another voice said.
Willow turned to see Irulan walking towards them. She held out a hand to Blaise.
"Irulan Purecraft. I've heard a lot a about you. It's nice to see Astoria was not exaggerating when she said you were quite handsome. Are you single? I have this daughter-"
"He's not," Willow snapped.
Blaise raised his eyebrow at Willow. "Changed your mind about my offer?" He turned to the woman before him. "I am, in fact, single, madam. Blaise Zabini. I just wish I could have done more to help."
"Irulan, no," Astoria said. "He's not for Brindelle. You'd hate one another, Blaise. She only wears cotton and all her clothing comes from a secondhand robe shop."
"Are you all right?" Willow asked.
Blaise glared at Astoria. "I'm so glad you've taken such an active interest in my love life. Between you and my grandmother nagging me, I'm going to run away and become a hermit, swearing off love all together."
Willow hooked her arm through Blaise's and pulled him out of the infirmary. "You don't know Brin. Astoria was just protecting you."
"I don't care if I would have liked her or not, I would at least like the chance to establish that for myself. I'm getting damn tired of people interfering."
"Fine," Willow snapped. "Would you like a date with her? Because we're friends. I can ask."
"No need to get touchy about it," Blaise defended. "Besides, if I've already been told I don't like her, then I'll go into any meeting thinking I won't like her and won't end up liking her. Might as well spare the poor girl's heart."
"Well, I just want you to have options," Willow snapped, still annoyed. "Wouldn't want you to miss out on a date."
He smirked at her, fully aware he was being truly annoying. "Now, if that were true, we would have gone out on a date a long while ago. You're just toying with my delicate emotions."
"No, we wouldn't have. I'm not ready. I don't date. I don't leave anymore. I'm going back to my office. You can show yourself out."
Willow was wringing her hands and turned away. She started walking quickly.
Blaise rolled his eyes. "Why yes, you're welcome for carrying your friend, who irritates the piss out of me greatly, all the way from the dinner she so rudely interrupted when she had a vision of the man causing the dark marks to flare."
"Just go. Since you're so annoyed, just go."
Willow was going to hide. The words were finally filtering in Astoria had seen who was doing this. And now Willow was having a panic attack.
"Well, I'm not really
annoyed. It wasn't much of a problem for me. I looked good caring for someone I'm not known to care for, so I don't really see the harm in it, except for the part where she informed me I didn't have sex with someone I thought I had sex with, and I'll have to address that later. Right now, it sounds like you're the annoyed one."
"I just need to be alone now," Willow said, her breathing speeding up. "She saw who it was. She knows it wasn't me."
Blaise slowly started walking towards her. "No, it was a man, and if I leave you alone, you're bound to hyperventilate and then pass out. If you do that, I lose all the good points I'm bound to earn, and that older bloke who works here already has plenty of reasons to kick my arse."
Willow let him lead her into her office. "I'm all right. I'm just... there's been nothing. I'm all right. I'm really all right. They'll all know it was not me."
"That's what you've been worried about?" he asked as they sat down on the same couch he'd just laid Astoria on. "There were many eyewitnesses that could say you weren't the one to control the marks. Who is accusing you of it?"
"Draco didn't tell you I got arrested? The Ministry has been pressuring Hannah for proof I am behind it? That she could be fired because she keeps defending me? Andromeda hired her lawyer Penshaw?"
Someone was going to get hexed. "No," Blaise replied dryly. "He forgot to mention that during one of our last chats."
Willow sat down next to him and moved in for a hug. He didn't like it, she knew this, but she wanted one.
"Are you angry because he did not tell you or because I was in peril and you did not know?"
"Both," he supplied reluctantly. "If you ever get into trouble again, I know plenty of higher up members on the Wizengamot with dirty little secrets. And if you ever need to flee the country, Italy will fully back you. My cousin is dating the Minister's daughter."
"You're a good friend, Blaise."