March 12, 2005 12:50 PM
Hannah was nervous as they entered her home. It wasn't much, but it worked for her. She was thankful the place was clean.
"The bedroom will be up stairs and on the left, second door. There's floo powder if you need to floo anyone to let them know where you are. Or we could send my owl. Whichever you prefer. Are you hungry then? Thirsty? Do you want to talk about it?"
Blaise just grinned at her as he looked around. It was... cozy. It reminded him a lot of his cousin Serena's flat in Athens, except this was a bit bigger. He hadn't gone past the front entry way and the living room. He stared at the fireplace before sighing.
"I guess I should floo and let Nora that I'm alive, at least, and also to get the things I didn't pack. I only grabbed a few clothes. She didn't seem all that worried when I suddenly disappeared." He looked over at her. "Floo powder?"
"It's in the pink flower pot on the mantle," Hannah said, pointing.
She moved into the kitchen and set the kettle on. She had a feeling she was going to need tea for this.
Blaise started a fire with his wand, picked up a handful of floo powder and threw it into the fire, shouting his sister's floo address. He wasn't all that surprised to see her sitting on the couch, facing the fire, with his leftover things at her feet. She stood and came to lean by the fire.
"Done pouting and ready to get your things?"
"Shut up. I'm staying with the Ministry Liaison assigned to the Council. I just need to get my things."
He knew he'd said the wrong thing when he could see his sister's eyes light up. "The Liaison? The mysterious Hannah? Move, brother, I'll bring your things to you."
With a groan, he gave her the floo address and stood back. Nora appeared a few moments later, handing him his shrunken bags. She looked around and smiled. "I like it."
"Good. Now that you've seen it, get out."
"I've Earl Grey and Darjeeling," Hannah said as she came out of the kitchen. "Which do you... oh. Hello then."
There was a strange woman in her living room. Hannah hoped an explanation would be forthcoming.
Blaise saw the smile grow on Nora's face. It left an unpleasant feeling in his stomach. He'd always said that sometimes she would have made a smashing Slytherin. "Fuck it, Nora, can't you just go?"
"No." She dropped the smile and glared at him. "Watch your mouth. I guess I don't have to wonder where Matthew learns his language."
She turned back to Hannah and walked over with her hand held out, making Blaise roll his eyes. She always was a perfect host.
"Since he's not liable to introduce me himself, I'll do it. Eleanora Zabini. I'm Blaise's half-sister."
"Oh," Hannah said nervously.
She set the box of tea down and took the offered hand.
"I'm Hannah Abbott. It's lovely to meet you. I'm afraid outside of Blaise the only Zabini family members I have met are Matthew and Caterina."
Nora grinned. "Lovely to meet you as well. So you've met my nephew and niece? They belong to my older sister, Cecelia. I do want to thank you for helping Blaise out while he cleans house."
Blaise sprawled himself out on one of the couches. "Shove off
Nora just kept smiling. "He's nervous because out of all his sisters, I'm the most like him. So I hear you're an excellent cook? Our family has certainly been abuzz about you."
Hannah's eyes went wide and she looked at Blaise. He'd been talking about her to his family?
"Why on earth for? I mean... we aren't... that is to say... I'm not..."
She was sputtering and unable to pick a sentence to finish.
"Oh it's nothing bad. And it's more Draco than Blaise. He's the bigger gossiper in the family. He just mentioned you, and his slayer mentioned you as well when they went to dinner with the family one night. Our grandmother is very interested in you. Blaise is her oldest grandson, you see, so she is more than put out that he hasn't supplied her with more great-grandchildren. Perhaps I should give her this address."
Blaise shot off the couch like it was on fire. "Like hell
you're giving nonna this address!"
Nora rolled her eyes. "You are far too easy to rile."
Hannah felt faint. Grandchildren? With him? She felt like one of those endangered animals at the muggle zoo that they placed in a cage with a male because they needed to repopulate the species.
"Who wants tea?"
Her voice sounded off even to her.
Blaise glared at Nora. "Tea can be served after
Nora leaves. She's being too much of a bitch to deserve it." He walked over and flicked her on the arm. "You know you're next for the great-grandchildren Miss 'I'm about to be married'. Nonna told me she doesn't care what I did as long as I got rid of Ella. And mother. But mostly Ella."
"Well who can blame her?" Nora said, rubbing her arm before turning back to Hannah. "Blaise wouldn't shut up about your biscuits last time I was near. Our grandmother loves cooks, and it irritates her that most of her grandchildren can't boil water. She also loves to garden. She looks after our vineyards. She also spoils Blaise more than any other grandchild. It's why he's so prissy all the time."
Blaise flicked her harder. "Shut up!"
Nora flicked him back. "Stop being so rude." She turned back to Hannah. "I don't know why you want to put up with this. I hope he stops moping about. He's been terrible to live with."
Hannah was just staring with wide eyes. She knew she should say something, but it was a lot to process. Blaise liked her baking? Also, his grandmother sounded like her kindred.
Funny she didn't know why she wanted to put up with it either. Hannah just knew she had been upset when Blaise was gone and had not wanted him to leave again.
"Great, you broke her
," Blaise said quickly in Italian, to which Nora rolled her eyes and turned back to Hannah.
"If you wouldn't mind, Darjeeling sounds lovely. Perhaps it will calm Blaise's nerves. I know he was upset with me when I all but kicked him out earlier."
Hannah snatched up her box of teas and hurried back into the kitchen muttering to herself. In retrospect, this might have been a bad idea. She was an unattached woman, and he was Blaise Zabini. Everyone would assume. Hannah leaned down and banged her head on the kitchen counter.
"Sounds like a woman housing Blaise Zabini," Nora muttered when she heard the banging, and Blaise glowered. She gripped his chin lightly. "You love me and you know it."
"I hate you," was his only reply before he went into the kitchen to check on her. "Everything okay in here? I apologize for Nora. She's a bitch."
Hannah rubbed her forehead. "Yes. I'm fine. Everything's just fine."
She started opening cabinets furiously to gather three cups for her tea tray. Hannah knocked the sugar bowl in her nervousness.
Then she dropped the milk carton on the floor, spilling half of it.
He paused in getting his wand out to get the milk cleaned up. "Tell me you did not just say 'fudgesickles'. I will now make it my mission to teach you proper swears while I am here."
"I am certainly not going to take up speaking like you," Hannah huffed. "You have some truly deplorable language. And don't think you are going to parade about my home naked either."
She was pointing at him.
"And don't you dare come in at all hours drunk and expect me to help you. And if you ever bring a woman home with you, you best be prepared to be tossed out on your bum so fast your head will spin."
She went back to her tea for a moment before turning back to him with her finger pointed again, cutting off whatever he had been about to retort with.
"And don't eat my beet crisps."
Blaise made a face. "I will fight you on all of those but the last one. How can you eat those? They're healthy
"I mean it, Blaise Zabini. I won't have you manwhoring it up in my home. You won't like my temper."
He grinned and leaned in close next to her on the counter. "Are you sure about that?" he purred.
Hannah glared at him. "I'm very serious. You will not bring women here to shag. I will hex your manparts."
Blaise noticed she said nothing about hexing his manparts if he shagged her
. Ah, the little things. "I concede then. You win... on that front."
"I don't want to come downstairs at any time and find you lounging naked. The downstairs is not a naked place. Restrict your nakedness to the bath or your room."
"Deal," he nodded. Blaise had plenty of pants he could wear around the place, plus he was sure she had towels strong enough to be walked around in.
Hannah eyed him suspiciously. He was agreeing to her demands far too easily.
"No coming home drunk."
Blaise couldn't keep the grin off of his face. No coming home drunk, but that didn't mean he couldn't bring home the alcohol. "Fair enough."
Hannah frowned. He was being so agreeable. The tea kettle whistled. It startled her so badly she jumped. Then her eyes widened. His sister was still here. Had she heard all of that?
Blaise reach across her and pulled the kettle off the stove burner, his grin set on his face. "Do I get to see if you can guess how I take my tea? We're flatmates now; we should know these things."
Hannah raised a brow. Now that was one of her specialties. She knew how people took their tea and what type of sweet they liked best. She poured his and added the proper amounts of things before handing it to him. She'd only seen him take tea at the Council once.
Now he was damned impressed. He'd been joking. "One sugar," he said, gesturing to the living room. "She only wants one."
"You know I like two!" Nora yelled from the living room.
"Bugger off!" Blaise shouted back.
"You really shouldn't speak to your sister like that," Hannah said, putting two sugars in his sister's cup before taking it, her own cup and the kettle out on a tray to the living room.
Blaise snorted as he sipped his tea.
Nora accepted hers with a smile. "This is actually very mild of him. When he's around our younger sister, it's worse. When he's around our cousin Adelina, there are usually hexes." She grinned as she stole a look at Blaise. "We're a very passionate bunch."
Hannah was once again shocked into silence. She probably wouldn't survive a day with his family.
She really couldn't think of anything to say.
"You should come to dinner some weekend," Nora said and Blaise nearly choked on his tea. "There's always a few of us around our grandparents. Maybe you could drag Draco again."
Hannah sputtered into her cup shooting tea up her nose. She started choking. Dinner with Blaise's family and Draco there as well? Thank you, no. Blaise had to clap her on the back.
"I don't... I mean... that is to say... we aren't... he and I... we don't... thank you. That would be lovely."
Hannah wanted to die. Could this possibly be more awkward?
"Excellent." Nora quickly finished her tea and stood, heading to the fireplace. "It was wonderful to meet you, Hannah, I'll make sure that nonna owls you with the next family dinner time. Ciao
With that, she threw a handful of floo powder into the fire and was gone. Blaise leaned back and groaned. "Out of all of them, I went to stay with her."
"Well she seemed rather nice, but what on earth has Draco Malfoy been saying? She all but insinuated that your family wants me to carry on the Zabini line."
Hannah's voice had gone a bit shrill, but she could not help it. She couldn't make a relationship last a year, and she was supposed to have someone's children? His children? Definitely not. He had just better correct this.
"For one, I didn't mention you at all. Blame it on Pevensie. Two, you're not Ella and are by far the most anti-Ella girl that has been mentioned to them in five years. Of course they've latched onto you."
"Oh well that's just perfect," Hannah snapped, getting up and going to the kitchen. "Well, you can just tell them it'll be a cold day in hell before I bear your children."
Blaise grinned, settling back into the couch. It was comfortable. If his bed was half as decent as this, he'd sleep well tonight. "All right by me. I know plenty of protection charms!" he yelled after her.
"I've already told you I am not having sex with you," she called from the kitchen. "The kissing was a mistake. It will not be repeated."
He chuckled. "I'm also pretty sure you told me you were going to stay away from, or some variant there of. Now I'm living with you. I don't think we can really go by your word, now can we?"
She stomped out of the kitchen. "I felt bad for you. I didn't want you to have nowhere to go. That's what friends do, you know. They help one another. I know that might be a foreign concept for you considering your friends. Look, you just fix this. You fix it with your family. I won't have them thinking I'm your latest... kept woman."
Blaise just glanced over at her. "Too late. If I know my sister, and I believe I do, she just flooed my cousin Sofia. Sofia will have then told her sisters, my two sisters, and all our cousins, aunts, uncles, my father, stepmother, and most importantly, my grandparents. Thankfully, she knows better than to give them this floo address or else they'd all be coming here."
He smirked, closing his eyes. "The only way to fix it now is to visit them and show them that you're not my latest... kept woman."
Hannah made a frustrated sound and stomped over to where he was. She snatched up his empty tea cup and went to the kitchen to wash it.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think you want them to think you want me to have your kids. Which isn't at all prudent in my line of work, you know."
"I've listened for three straight years about what a terrible woman I was dating. I think it's kind of nice to have some good things said about my tastes. At least you'll be able to visit. After the first time my nonna met Ella, she banned her from the wards."
Hannah stormed out of the kitchen with her dish scrubbing brush in hand and her pink rubber gloves on.
"We're not dating. We're not... anything. Ever."
Blaise chuckled when he saw her cleaning equipment. "All right then. We're not dating."
He waited until she had gone back in the kitchen before casting a charm to turn her gloves Slytherin green.
"Blaise Zabini," she shouted from the kitchen.
And to think she had just been telling her kneazle how dull and boring she was when at home.