An Unexpected Visit
March 19, 2005 7:43 PM
Hannah was a little tired when she entered her flat. Stitches did not run to greet her. She frowned.
"Blaise? Stitch? Hello?"
There was a strange woman in her living room holding her kneazle. Hannah gasped and drew her wand.
"Where's Blaise? What have you done with him?"
Desideria chuckled and slowly ran her hands over the kneazle's back. "If I wanted to do something to my grandson, he wouldn't object." She put the kneazle on the couch and slowly stood. "I'm Blaise's nonna Desi. I hope you don't mine that I've started dinner for you."
"Oh my goodness!" Hannah put her wand away quickly. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to... I..." Hannah walked forward with a hand out. "I'm so pleased to meet you. Blaise has told me so much about you, and knowing what I do, of course it's lovely that you started dinner."
She chuckled again and gripped Hannah's hand, patting it with her other hand. "I'd be worried if you weren't cautious. The dinner isn't finished yet though, come join me. I teach."
Hannah's smile nearly split her face. She loved learning in the kitchen, and had not had that since her mother had passed.
"Just let me get a bit comfortable. Please make yourself at home. I assume Nora is the one who told you Blaise was here? Or did he mention it himself?"
Hannah shrugged out of her suit jacket and kicked off her pumps, putting on her pink house slippers. She grabbed a scrunchy and pulled her hair into a ponytail as she entered the kitchen.
There were numerous pots full of food and all the counter space was occupied. "I heard through my granddaughter Sonia, who heard it from her cousin Vivienne, who heard from her sister Serena, who heard from her cousin Cecelia, who heard it from her sister Eleonora." Desideria smiled over at Hannah. "There are no secrets in our family, at least not until you. When the family got Draco's approval, everyone was curious. Now, have you ever worked with shrimp before?"
"I have not. I'm more a bread person. I love to bake."
Hannah's head was spinning. Draco approved of her? The whole family knew? She tried not to panic.
"Everyone does know that Blaise and I are just friends, yes?"
"Yes, and I admire your patience to put up with him for this time. I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did at Nora's. Those two tend to snip at each other a bit too much. Now, we peel and de-vein them first. I do things by hand in the kitchen."
"Well, that's the only way," Hannah agreed. "And did they tell you he was removed from Nora's against his will? I'm glad. He didn't need to run."
Desideria began to mix some spices for the shrimp. "Blaise is my oldest grandson but sometimes he acts like the youngest. I would like to say if he had stayed with us instead of living in England for half the years, he would not have such a problem, but then he would not be my grandson. Who knows what goes through that boy's head sometimes."
Hannah suspected that the head atop his shoulders was not the one that did all of Blaise's thinking either, but she was not about to say such a thing to Blaise's grandmother.
"Well, I suspect that's a Slytherin thing. Draco has the same affliction."
"I would agree."
Blaise groaned as he came into the flat through the floo, instantly tripping over the damn cat Hannah kept insisting loved him, but the furball always hissed at him. He took a deep breath but his brow furrowed when he smelled dinner cooking. "Hannah! What are you cooking? Smells wonderful!"
He rounded the corner but stopped short, his eyes widening. Before him, his grandmother and his flatmate were cooking dinner and it certainly was not a sight he expected to see when he came home. "Nonna? What the hell are you doing here?"
His grandmother turned on him with a scowl. "You watch your mouth Blaise Callisto Zabini, especially around a woman. I am cooking dinner for you and Hannah."
Blaise instantly turned to Hannah. "Did you owl her or something?"
"And how would I know where to owl? She was here when I came home. Apparently your entire family knows about this."
Blaise groaned and knocked his head against the wall. His grandmother snorted. "Sonia told me."
He looked at her incredulously. Of all people to gossip, his cousin Sonia was the last person he expected. "Sonia told you? Sonia?! Who told her?"
Desideria gave him a droll look. "I am cooking. I do not have time to give you names. I only have shrimp left. Help or leave."
Blaise's eyebrow went up. He was absolutely terrible in the kitchen and his grandmother knew it. "You really want me to help you cook?"
"Then at least give me a hug."
He almost hesitated, but it was his grandmother and he didn't care what Hannah thought of him. Blaise gave his grandmother a hug and stuck a finger into the spices she was mixing. When he pulled back he licked it off. "Good."
"Oh!" Desideria whipped out her wand and sent a hex to Blaise that emulated a wet towel snap. "Out! Get ready for dinner!"
Blaise chuckled and headed out of the kitchen.
"Boy always thinks he can sneak food."
Hannah giggled. She did not want to admit that seeing Blaise with his grandmother improved him even more.
"The shrimp is done? Excellent. We coat it in the spices and then cook it. The pasta should be done at the same time."
Desideria and Hannah finished making dinner. Blaise had come in once more, this time in jeans and a shirt, and tried to sample the pasta before getting smacked on the hand and shooed out of the kitchen by his grandmother.
After the table was set and the food on the plates, Desideria called out to Blaise. "It's finally finished, you impatient little boy."
"I'm your oldest grandson and you call me a little boy."
"You act like one, just like your father. Worse than children."
Hannah was smiling as she watched them. She wished her father would come out of the shell he was in and banter with her, but Henry Abbott had never really been a banterer, so Hannah wasn't holding her breath. Plus, he'd never gotten over her mother's death, and a part of Hannah worried that he blamed her in some way.
She caught herself frowning and stopped.
"This looks quite lovely. I do appreciate you doing this. There's nothing nicer than coming home after a busy day to a hot meal."
"Well I would insist Blaise do the same for you, but he has a terrible time of it in the kitchen, even from a young age."
Blaise let his fork clatter to the plate. "Can we not go into my younger years, please? She went to school with me, isn't that enough of an embarrassment?"
"Bu I didn't know you before you attended Hogwarts. I would like to hear more. Most grandmothers love to tell stories of their grandchildren. Don't be rude to yours, Blaise. The only embarrassing thing I know is that he's worn a gown before. I was assuming it was Draco's, but no one will confirm that."
Hannah gave him a smile that was equal parts wicked and sweet.
"To this day I do not know if Draco is a positive or a negative force on Blaise," Desideria said after taking a bite of pasta. "Blaise had quite a shock when he was young. When he came to us, he only had two sisters at the time, but plenty of female cousins. The only other boy was two years younger than Blaise so he felt completely left out. His fashion sense came from his cousins dressing him up and having tea parties."
Blaise buried his face in his hands. "Nonna, can you please be quiet?"
"When he refused to have the tea parties, he would go out either to the vineyards to play or to the stables with his aunt Sabrina, my oldest daughter. She taught him to ride a horse. He gained back some masculinity until the riding boots were acquired. I remember Draco laughing when he saw the heel."
"They were riding boots! They were supposed to have a heel!"
"Do your riding boots still have a heel? Because I could be persuaded to go riding if I get to see you in heels."
Hannah was greatly enjoying herself. The food was delicious, and the conversation very amusing.
Blaise glared at her. "It's maybe an inch if that. They're riding boots
He didn't address the possibility of her riding with him. Ella never wanted to be around horses, claiming they were filthy animals, but it was a passion that Blaise had.
"Do you wear the little pants that flare out on the thigh too?"
"If I wear the boots, I wear the pants. Normally, I wear normal clothes. My riding outfit makes me look like a ponce."
Hannah giggled. "Does your grandmother have pictures of you in the riding outfit? Because I'd really like to see those."
Blaise gave up all pretense of eating. He slouched in the chair and crossed his arms, looking at both women darkly. He was never ganged up on during family dinners. There was always some friendly teasing, but this was all out war that he didn't have enough ammunition for.
"Of course. Blaise's step-mother loves to take photographs and has numerous albums of him growing up. I'll have to borrow them."
"Remind me to pop over and relieve Gia of said albums then," Blaise muttered.
"You will do no such thing," Hannah said. "It's nice to see you so... uncertain. It makes you more relatable." She looked at Blaise's grandmother. "This is so fabulous. I don't know when I'd have time to cook it, but I would like the recipe."
Desideria smiled at Hannah. "Blaise knows it and will be more than happy to relate it to you, wouldn't you?"
He just raised an eyebrow at her.
"I will send over Serena and Sofia with photo albums."
Blaise winced. "I'd be more than happy to relate it to you. And you say I get my Slytherin traits from my mother. I get them from you."
"So we should try it on a weekend sometimes then," Hannah said, leaning towards him. "Be my kitchen helper? I'll let you wear the pink apron."
Blaise let out a loud laugh before he could help it. "I will do no such thing. I'll wear normal clothes and not an apron, and certainly nothing that's pink. I'll tell you the recipe, but I'm absolute shite at cooking." His head shot forward when his grandmother reached behind him to slap his head. "Ow! Nonna!"
He rubbed the now sore spot and made a face.
Hannah had to slap and hand over her mouth not to laugh out loud. She had wide eyes and was currently giggling behind her hand.
"Now you've got her thinking that I like getting slapped around."
Desideria smiled slowly and took a drink out of her glass. When she set it back on the table, she ate her last bite of shrimp. "Apparently I'm misinformed."
Blaise was going to kill Draco.
Hannah blushed. He liked to be... hit? She'd heard about that sort of thing, but she did not think she knew anyone who liked it or was into that.
Then she looked at his grandmother and blushed.
Blaise rolled his eyes and stood. "Can I go now?"
"No," his grandmother said. "Sit."
He wanted to say screw this and leave, but new that would get him in even more trouble, so he slowly sunk back into his seat. "I made your favorite dessert."
Blaise instantly grinned and leaned forward in anticipation. No matter what time of day or time of year he came to his grandmother's she always had baked, stuffed apples for him.
"This is one recipe I will gladly relay along."
"The apples you spoke of?" Hannah asked excitedly.
She loved learning new sweets to make, and if this was Blaise's favorite, then she needed to learn it. She refused to examine why this was important to her.
As Desideria brought them into the small eating area, she smiled. "It was the only way I could get him to eat anything healthy. He insisted that apples were terrible so I made these. He won't stop eating them now."
"You realize you're making me out to be a horrid little child. I was one of the best behaved back then."
"Only because you and the rest of the troublemakers hadn't figured out the strength in numbers."
Blaise couldn't retort because he was taking a large bite of the apple. "Delicious, as always, nonna
," he said in Italian.
Hannah took a bit then closed her eyes. She did not chew at first. She just let the taste melt over her tongue.
"See?" Blaise asked with a grin. "I know. I'm not always full of it. This is why Pevensie won't bloody well leave me alone when I mention I have something for Draco."
"Well, now you will have to show me how to make them so I can make them for her. You should be a bit nicer. She looks to the two of you like older brothers."
"And I think she's had a few too many hits round the head. One of the first times were in a room together she threw a drink at me."
Hannah raised a brow. "Did you startle her?"
"I learned that my first day there. Do not startle a slayer."
"In my defense, I was laying on the couch and she sat on me. I might have yelled, but I think it was understandable."
"Things jump out a grab her as part of her calling. I think I'd be a bit jumpy as well. You're just lucky it was her and not one of the older girls. Buffy or Vi could have killed you. Mac almost did already."
"Yes, let's do bring that up now. Please don't ruin our fabulous dessert." Blaise made a face.
"And has she bothered you since then? No. I think Willow would have her for lunch if she did. She's very fond of you, you know. If I did not know better, I'd be a bit jealous."
Hannah blushed. She had not just said that aloud.
Desideria floated the dishes away from the table into the kitchen and started cleaning them. He knew she was still listening, but it gave them a semblance of privacy.
Blaise grinned. "I've tried all my charms, but Willow is still more likely to snog you than me. Sadly, the only action I've gotten in the last few weeks has been from lesbians, and I just realized my life is very sad."
"Who else have you been kissing?" Hannah asked, unable to keep the snap from her voice.
"Who my mother dearly wanted to be my sister-in-law," Blaise said off-handedly before taking the last bite of his apple.
Hannah slapped her fork down on the table. "Who?"
Blaise had been scraping the crumbs of the fork when he stopped, his eyes wide when Hannah slammed the fork down. Slowly, he removed the fork and put it down. "Who is the sister-in-law or the sister I was supposed to marry?"
She did not know why she was so upset. It was not as if they were a couple. She had no right to behave this was, but Hannah could not help it.
"Well, and how is this for wonderful irony, I was supposed to marry Daphne Greengrass whose lesbian sister Astoria is the woman that Draco was supposed to marry and also the one I snogged rotten against a stone wall in Knockturn Alley a few weeks ago for a favor."
Hannah blinked repeatedly. Her brain didn't want to know this.
"Oh. Please give your grandmother my regrets. I'm not feeling well. I'm going to my room."
Blaise reached and grasped her arm as she walked past him. "I can't stand either one of them. Astoria's girlfriend was cheating on her. She used me to get the point across to the bitch that she was not one to be cheated on. She owes me a favor and you better damn well know I plan on cashing that in on something she will hate. I found no pleasure in the act itself."
He froze, wondering why in the hell he was explaining himself to Hannah of all people about the inner workings of his Slytherin mind. Blaise had to backtrack to save face. "So please don't get your knickers in a twist over something so trivial."
"Then why do it? It's no wonder you don't believe in love. You give the parts of yourself that should be reserved for someone special away so freely."
Hannah jerked her arm out of his and collected the final dishes before storming into the kitchen to help wash them. She did not say anything to his grandmother before grabbing her rubber gloves that he had once again charmed green.
"Make it pink," Hannah said, tapping them with her wand.
Blaise groaned and threw himself onto the couch, away from the kitchen.
Desideria kept washing dishes. "I will not dismiss the idea that Blaise gives something he should keep for others more special, but he was raised differently. A kiss is equal to monetary value. It is not something to share between some close; it is simply a form of currency." She shrugged. "I do not see it. I have kissed only one man in my life, and he has been my husband for nearly sixty years. But I will tell you something Blaise has not given out freely, and that is his trust."
She stopped washing, and put her hands on Hannah's shoulders. "Blaise does not trust women, and I blame that solely on his mother. I told you that Blaise would not eat the apples when he was young, and that is because he was convinced I poisoned them just like that woman poisoned his mind. It took many years, but now he trusts me, his aunts, his cousins, his sister, and his step mother. I think you can be added to that list because you already show more honest interest in him than any other woman in his life, because you play your value in him other than for pleasure."
"Well, he's not as horrible as even he likes to pretend he is. I misjudged him at first."
She did not know what else to say. She had just been lumped into the trust column with his family. That was humbling, but she supposed true. Blaise would not allow her to be near him when he slept, when he was vulnerable, if he did not trust her.
"He pretends often so he is not broken down later. He is misjudged because he wants to be. It is when he is irritated with you, like he was just now, that he becomes harsh. He does not tell about his personal life, so when he slips, he becomes harsh. Do not think badly of him for it."
"It's not that." Hannah lowered her voice. "I think I'm... well it's possible I am... jealous, but I've no right to be. We're only friends. He can just do so much better than he does for himself. I know it."
Desideria just chuckled and gave the young woman a kiss on the cheek. "It is your awareness that brings me hope. You know your emotions and you do not act on them. It throws him off balance, and any woman who can do that is worthy of him."
Hannah blinked. She could not really argue with his grandmother, tell her that she and Blaise couldn't be together because he would hurt her. His grandma didn't believe that.
And a greater part of her did not want to contradict it.
That frightened Hannah a lot.
"Now, I must return home. There is a time difference and I still have to feed my own husband. I am glad to have met you, Hannah. I think you are very good for Blaise. You must come to Italy and learn more recipes. Blaise will take you riding, and I will make sure he wears the pants."
Hannah could not help herself. She leaned over and hugged the tiny woman tightly.
"I'm very happy I got to meet you."
Desideria hugged her back. "The same to you. Don't let him walk all over you. Keep reminding him about your visit, and if I can, I'll owl Giannina to have her send over some books."
She walked out of the kitchen and loomed over Blaise on the couch. He opened an eye to glare up at her. "I do not appreciate this."
"You do not appreciate many things. I'm older, Blaise. I know better. I expect to see you more. Your visits are spaced too far." She leaned down to give him a kiss on the cheek. "You treat her right, Blaise," she whispered.
Blaise made a face but didn't remark. He sat up once his grandmother had gone through the floo. With a sigh, he fell back to the couch. "Hannah? You all right in there?"
"I am," Hannah said, walking out. "I fail to see why you're sulking. Your grandmother is wonderful. You're very lucky."
He wasn't about to explain that he was embarrassed about all the personal talk. "Whatever. She can be a pain in the arse sometimes with all that talk of photos." That was one problem he never had to worry about with Ella.
"Don't say that," Hannah said. "Do you know how much I would love it if I had a family member alive who cared enough to embarrass me? It's sort of refreshing to learn there is some awkwardness to you at times."
Blaise crossed his arms. "Then go for it. There's nothing refreshing about awkwardness. I'm not awkward."
Hannah rolled her eyes and sat next to him. "Why don't you want me to see you as a human being? Because you interacting with your grandmother tonight? That's as real as you've ever been to me."
He snorted. "She's my grandmother. Of course I don't act like a total bastard around her. But that's just around her. I'm me every other time too."
"That's you as well. Don't you see? That's how you treat people you respect and love. I like that part of you. That part of you makes me think that there may be hope for you yet."
Blaise finally looked at Hannah, frowning. "I'm many different parts, Hannah. If you don't like one, then I'm sorry."
He stood up in a huff and started towards the stairway.
"There you go again. Run away. I did not say I did not like the other parts, and that's half the problem, but the one that's not a total bastard opened my eyes to the rest."
He clenched his jaw in anger and spun around. "I'm not going to only be one part around you. I'm not built that way. And I'm not running away. I've had a tough day, and went through an emotional roller coaster the past hour, so excuse me for wanting to go to sleep!"
"I'm trying to be nice to you, to explain, but I feel like you want to pick a fight with me, and I don't understand, so I will just go to bed myself."
She stalked past him and half way up the stairs then suddenly stopped. She turned and walked back down. She was standing on step higher, so they were nearly eye to eye for once.
"I didn't ask you to be one way with me. I'm just saying that if I hadn't seen a softer side to you, I would not be overlooking certain things that kept me at a distance before. I hope you have a better day tomorrow."
She quickly kissed his cheek and moved up the stairs.
Blaise managed to grab her wrist to stop her, but sighed and let go. "Never mind. Have a nice night. I hope your enjoyed dinner."
"I did," she replied, looking over her should. "But I find myself having a nice time with you a lot lately."
He smirked, trying to gain back his confidence. "Then I must be doing something wrong."
Hannah rolled her eyes. "Do you want me to not like being with you?"
Blaise didn't answer. Instead, he passed her on the narrow stairway, getting very close to Hannah's personal space. "I never said that."
Hannah forgot to breathe. "You don't want it to be nice. You'd rather I enjoy it and it be wicked."
He gave her a look.
"See? I'm learning."
"Good girl. I'll have to reward you then."
This is what he was good at, and this is what he was going to stick to.
"Is that wise?" she asked nervously.
Hannah was concerned that if he did anything to her, she'd respond and just not stop.
"Who said anything about it being wise? Why do things have to be smart to be fun?"
"I forget," Hannah whispered.
She was tired and well-fed. Her resistance was down.
They were on the same step and Blaise leaned in, putting his hands on either side of her head. "No one did," he whispered back.
As Blaise leaned in and brought his lips to Hannah's he moved one of his hands to her hip to steady her. He was trying to make her forget all about dinner, and snogging was one of the best ways to make someone forget.
Hannah leaned into him and told that nagging voice in the back of her mind that was always telling her that he would hurt her, most assuredly break her heart, to sod the hell off for once.
Blaise deepened the kiss and moved up a step. If he could get them up the rest of the stairs, it would be a cinch to get Hannah into his bedroom.
Hannah's heel caught on a step and she stumbled. That brought her crashing back to reality.
"Oh my goodness. I'm terrible. I'm so sorry, Blaise. Here you are all broken up and just getting over things, and I'm taking advantage of you. Oh no."
She untangled herself and moved away quickly.
"I'm horrible. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to take advantage."
Hannah started blushing. She turned and bolted for her room.
Before he could even get a word out, she had dashed up the stairs and he heard the door of her room slam shut. He let out a loud groan and let his head fall forward and hit the wall.