Party in the Garden
Blaise stood on the edge of the patio and looked out over the gardens. They were supposed to have their garden party in the spring, but because of the heating charms on the gardens, the winter chill never came close, so Hannah insisted they hold it early. He sighed. Normally, he would stick to the shadows and keep his back to the wall at parties, even the family ones. Now that the party was held in his home, he could do no such thing. Blaise wasn’t even allowed in the house because Hannah shut him out, saying he kept screwing with her concentration. He just wanted to know how everything was going.
The house elves were finishing putting up the fairy lights through the trees and bushes. All the extra furniture was already put out. Hannah was with his grandmother in the kitchen, although he knew Hannah was doing the cooking herself. She had insisted. His grandfather was talking with his father and stepmother close by one of the fountains. They were the only ones from the family he invited to come early.
He had also invited Draco and Pansy to come early, the latter of whom would show up fashionably late just to fuck with him. Draco would bring Pevensie and Hannah wanted Meredith to come as well. This was going to be a very interesting party.
Blaise motioned to a house elf as it walked past. “I want an update the moment family members arrive.” He still did not know which family members accepted his invitation. “And get me a damned drink.”
Draco arrived early with Pevensie and Meredith in his wake. Both girls were giggling already. He just hoped he made it through the night without Pevensie doing something crazy. How sad was it that he was the one worrying about such things now instead of the one being worried about?
He spotted Blaise’s grandfather, father and stepmother over by the fountain and headed that way.
“Gia,” he said, kissing her cheek.
She returned the kiss. “Hello, Draco. How have you been? And Pevensie, so wonderful to see you.”
“Hi,” Pevensie said loudly. “Everyone, this is Meredith. She’s also a vampire slayer. That’s Blaise’s grandpa, his dad and his mom.”
“Meredith Spencer Burrows Kensington,” Meredith said and then did a curtsey.
Draco blinked at her in shock.
“See,” Pevensie loud-whispered, elbowing Meredith. “I told you Blaise’s dad was good looking.”
Draco purse his lips together tightly while Meredith took that moment to blush.
“Where’s Blaise?” he asked, wanting to escape his slayer and her mouth.
“At the edge of the patio, I believe,” Alessandro said. “He is not allowed in the house because he...hovers, I believe was the word. You should find him there.”
Draco nodded politely then spun on his heel and all but ran towards his friend.
“Who’s idea was this again? To invite Pevensie, I mean? She thinks your father is handsome.”
Blaise just held out the second glass of alcohol he had already requested. “Who do you think? Who else would be holding a garden party? And is it so bad she thinks he is handsome? All Zabinis are,” he finished with a smirk.
“I hate to say it, but I wish the sodding mutt would come back from Ireland,” Draco said, snatching the glass from Blaise’s hand and taking a long pull.
He chuckled. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder. You’ll want to send him back the moment he arrives. You could have kept her home, you know.”
“Not when her bestie Meredith was all set to come, and had picked them both out ensembles and was planning Pevensie’s make-up and hair. She did a sodding curtsey at your father, Gia and grandfather.”
Blaise snorted. “I’m sure they got a kick out of that. She does realize this is just a casual thing, yes? We’re aren’t in ball gowns and formal dress robes, thank Salazar.”
“She’s nervous. Pevensie told me that she really wants you and Hannah to like her. I know Hannah already does, so... I suspect Meredith had an upbringing much like ours except without the torture.”
“Sounds rather boring.” Blaise took another drink and looked over to where the two girls were currently chatting with his family. “And why does she want me to like her? She’s Hannah’s girl, not mine.”
Draco gave him a look. “Surely you can’t be that stupid. You’re important to Hannah, your opinion matters to Hannah, so Meredith wants you to have a good opinion of her.”
Blaise snickered. “Like Hannah would let me say a bad word about her.”
A house elf popped in next to them to fill their drinks. “Mistress Cecelia and family is being here.”
“Oh joy,” Blaise said lightly. “She brought the brood. That’s just what I need. Children.”
He finished off the drink in a few long gulps and handed the glass back to the house elf. “It’s the choice between the lesser of two evils. My sister and her two children or the giggling slayers. I don’t know about you, but I plan on getting drunk after all this is over. I would like to forget it ever happened.”
“If I were you, I’d start getting used to this sort of thing,” Draco said.
Draco waved at Cecelia as he joined Meredith and Pevensie. “I hope you two are behaving.”
Pevensie snorted. “That’s hilarious coming from you.”
“She knows you well,” Cecelia said. She glanced over to where Blaise was speaking with her husband and her children were climbing all over him. “You are going to be on your best behavior, correct? There are children around and we already have enough bad behaviors in this family.”
Pevensie and Meredith were both pursing their lips together so not to laugh. Their eyes, however, showed all the amusement.
“Bloody hell, Celia, yes. Hannah’s already told me if I set anything on fire tonight the next thing to burn will be me.”
She laughed and kissed his cheek. “Just making sure you received the same warning Sofia received.”
“Oh, so the troublemakers shall be here then?” Blaise asked, trying to hold a struggling Cat while her brother clutched his pant leg. “Get the wriggleworm off me, I beg of you.”
“You do know Adelina is sending her children with Tio Luca, correct?”
Blaise turned to Draco. “AK me now and get it over with. It’s a mercy killing.”
Draco took Cat from Blaise. “At least she’s not going to be here herself.”
Matt tugged on Meredith’s skirt and said something to her in Italian. He seemed genuinely surprised when she laughed and responded.
“No fair talking in Italian,” Pevensie said.
“He asked who I was and I said I was Hannah’s ward.”
“He’s not used to his uncle Blaise’s friends responding to him,” Cecelia said with a grin before turning to Draco. “I’m going to say hello to my parents. Try not to set my children on fire.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Maybe I’ll just teach Cat to set things on fire. How’d that be?”
“Draco Malfoy, you will do no such thing,” Hannah snapped as she entered the garden carrying a tray loaded with various fingerfoods.
Blaise barely had time to lean down and grab his nephew before he shot off towards Hannah. “You’ll eat when your mother says you can eat.” Following Hannah, he saw his two aunts walk in and some more cousins. “Oh, it begins. Watch the children. I need to go welcome everyone.”
As he started walking to the newcomers, he was waylaid by his uncle Luca. “Blaise! I do enjoy what you’ve done with this place.”
He didn’t get a chance to reply before two of his cousin’s children were climbing all over him. He caught Hannah watching and glared at her. “Thank you, Tio Luca, but Hannah deserves most of the praise for the gardens.”
Suddenly, Draco was standing right next to Hannah and talking in her ear. “Go on, you know you’re thinking it. He looks well with children all over him.”
Hannah elbowed him roughly, but was grinning. Blaise did look nice with children. Not that she would ever say such a thing to him. It would scare him to death.
Blaise managed to nudge the rest of the simpering children off of him and headed to his aunts. After welcoming them, answering the obligatory questions about the garden, slumped back against a wall behind a pillar.
“They can still see you, you know.”
He jumped in surprise but glared when he saw who sneaked up on him. “Hello, Pansy. You’re a bit late.”
She grinned and crossed her arms. “I wanted to make sure everyone was settled before I arrived and firmly entrenched in conversation. That way, I can stay back.”
“Lucky woman. Come with me and bug Draco. I have to check in with Hannah.”
“Hi Pansy,” Pevensie and Meredith said in unison as she walked by.
“Hello, Pans,” Draco said moving in for a hug.
Pansy glared at him.
“She is not diseased!” Blaise hissed as he took Cat from Draco. “You’re prissier than I am.”
“And prettier, too.”
Blaise rolled his eyes.
“Pansy doesn’t like babies?” Pevensie said. “That’s awesome. Hey, Cat, Pansy wants to give you a big squishy hug.”
Meredith elbowed Pevensie at the look on Pansy’s face.
“Just because you are under Draco’s protection does not mean I will skip your retribution.”
“No hexing,” Blaise said firmly. “Hannah might kill you, not to mention my grandmother would raise her wand and pop us all on the arse.”
Meredith made an affronted noise and put her hands over Cat’s ears.
“Pansy, I hate to be indelicate,” Pevensie said. “But the Dark One used me for her personal puppet not too long ago. You’re scary, but that was way scarier.”
Blaise made a face at Meredith. “She’s heard worse and she doesn’t understand English, either. Relax.” He turned to Pansy. “Go talk to my aunts. The children won’t be over there.”
She raised an eyebrow but started heading toward Adrienne and Sabrina anyway. Blaise handed Cat back to Draco. “Where did Hannah go? She was right here.”
Draco nodded. “She’s walking up to your uncle Luca, looks like. And as irritated as Hannah is about your working in Italy, you might want to check on that.”
Draco then started chuckling. This made Cat giggle.
“You’re pretty good at that,” Pevensie said. “So maybe you want to seduce Luna a little faster, yeah?”
Draco actually sputtered.
Blaise laughed loudly as he started in his uncle’s direction, the laugh tapering off as he remembered Hannah’s earlier threats to blackmail the family to get him out of work.. He intercepted Hannah right before she got there.”Hello, darling. Isn’t there food you need to see to?”
Hannah narrowed her eyes at him. “Everything that needs to be set out is set. Didly is watching the oven. I was planning on socializing a bit. What’s the matter with you?”
“I just know how much you wanted this and I know you want it to be perfect. Let me handle the socializing.”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were deliberately trying to keep me from speaking to Tio Luca.”
She studied his face for a moment, then gasped.
“You are! Why?”
Blaise sighed. “Because of me working in Italy. Can you not bring up business at all? Especially don’t threaten or blackmail or any sort.”
Hannah reached out and pinched his nipple through his shirt. “I am not you or Draco. I don’t threaten everyone just because they do things I don’t like.”
He bit his tongue. “Can you refrain from abusing me in front of my family as well? Bloody hell, fine, say whatever you want.”
Hannah gave him a look before she stepped close and smoothed her hand over the abused part of his chest.
“But you like it when I abuse you,” she whispered.
“Not in the middle of a party surrounded by my relatives,” he whispered back.
“What? They don’t know that about you? Interesting.”
He had this look.
“Oh, I’ll behave. I swear it. You should at least know by now I would never intentionally embarrass you. I care about you too much.”
“It’s the intentionally part of that statement I’m worried about,” Blaise said dryly before gesturing to his uncle. “Shall we?”
Hannah slipped her hand into his and gave him a bright smile. “I promise not to talk about naked things.”
Blaise sighed loudly as they marched up to his uncle. “Afternoon, Tio Luca,” he said half-heartedly.
Luca chuckled. “You always did hate a good party.”
Hannah made a face at Blaise. “I don’t know why he’s so difficult. I didn’t invite anyone who dislikes him this time.”
Blaise made a face right back at her. “Considering what I could be doing in place of standing out here and talking, I think you can understand why I would not like a party.”
Luca laughed again and clapped Blaise on the shoulder. “And yet here you are. You’re a Zabini. We tough it out.”
Hannah was glaring. She was not allowed to allude to sex, but he could? How was that fair?
“Blaise tried to stop me from coming over and speaking to you, you know. He’s frightfully secretive. Afraid I’ll say something to make things awkward.”
Suddenly Draco was there and slung an arm around Hannah.
“But I could probably just leave that up to this one.”
Blaise narrowed his eyes at her. “We had a deal, didn’t we?” He pointed at Draco, who had deposited his niece with another relative. “And you are not allowed to talk.”
“This the dude that offered Blaise the job and made Hannah all weepy?” Pevensie asked. “What’s up? I’m Pevensie the Vampire Slayer.”
Hannah just pursed her lips together. Draco, on the other hand, started laughing loudly.
,” Blaise told his uncle as he pinched the bridge of his nose. ”Ignore them all and curse me while you’re at it.
,” Hannah said. “But we do like to torture Blaise.”
Draco did a ‘thumbs up’.
“What? Was I not supposed to say anything?” Pevensie asked. “Oh my bad. They’re all working it out and stuff, Signor Luca, and I happen to think it’s great that slacker boy has a real job now.”
“I had a real job before and no, it did not involve prostitution,” Blaise snapped at her. “Are you really so bored that you can only torment me?”
He groaned loudly. “I could be reading a book or taking a nap, but no, I get to experience a level of hell that I cannot avoid.”
Luca shook his head. “Go visit your father.”
Instantly, Blaise did not like that idea at all. “Tio Luca, I--”
“Not a request
With a loud sigh, Blaise stomped off, but grabbed Draco’s arm. “You are coming with me because you will only help fan the flames, not put them out.”
Pevensie was left standing there with Hannah and Luca who both looked at her.
“I’m going to go see... about the food or something.”
“That should occupy her for some time,” Hannah said dryly.
“I want to clear the air between us, not that there is bad feelings,” he quickly amended. “I believe I should explain that I never meant to remove Blaise from his life here. No one was so surprised he took the job than I was. It was a courtesy offer after his visit because he did seem so upset. Now, my brother has explained some of what transpired, but did not break your confidence.”
Luca looked over at Blaise, who was currently laughing at his sister Dona. “He needed structure and he is extremely loyal to family. It was better that he break down and try to find his way in Italy than in the dark shadows here, where his mother could reach him. Do you understand?”
“I do,” Hannah replied. “I want you to understand something also. Calanthe will never
reach him again. I won’t let her. He is a good man. He pretends he is not, but he is. He has a gentle heart once you win him over. I plan on winning.”
“Be true to family
. The part of our family motto that Blaise wears upon his skin. He is proud of it, but the motto continues. Ask him about the third line. Perhaps that will help you in the future.” Luca gave a slight bow. “The party is wonderful, Hannah.”
He started to walk off, but turned around. “Although, two days is as low as I’m willing to go on his work days. I do need him.”
“And two days is all I am willing to give you because I need him as well,” Hannah said with a bit of a grin.
Luca nodded and walked off. Blaise was immediately by her side. “Well, you’re both smiling. That is good. Anything I need to know about?”
“What’s the Zabini family motto again? I know you’ve told me, but I can’t recall. I might need you to write it down,” she said nonchalantly.
Blaise blinked. That was not what he was expecting. “What? Why? What?”
“I was just reminded about it, and I can’t recall it, and now it’s going to bug me that I can’t remember, so please?”
He sighed. “Be true to family. Be loyal to friends. Be honest to lovers. Be kind to acquaintances. Be merciless to enemies. And, depending on who you ask, the last line is either ‘be cautious to all others’ or ‘fuck everyone else’. Care to guess version Sofia got inked on her side?” He gave her a strange look. “Happy?”
“Right at this moment?” she said, stepping indecently close to him. “Yes. I am, but I’m almost always happy when I’m with you. I know the Slytherin in you hates such sap, but perhaps the man in you could revel in it just a little.”
“Almost always?” Blaise asked sarcastically, wrapping an arm around her waist. “And all
of me hates sap, but I might be inclined to bear it for longer with you around.”
He made a face. “You’re turning me into a right Hufflepuff.”
“You don’t have to say that like it’s such a horrid thing. I’m a Hufflepuff, and you think I’m all right, don’t you?”
“There are exceptions to every rule,” he replied firmly, leaning down to kiss her.
“Careful, now. Celia already got an eye-full. I don’t want the same,” Blaise’s cousin Sonia said perkily.
He glared at her. “Go. Away.”
“Not here for you,” she snipped back before turning to Hannah. “What are the fruit pastries called? They’re amazing.”
“Thank you, Sonia. Three berry tarts,” Hannah replied, not taking herself out of Blaise’s arms. “I use strawberries, cherries and raspberries. It was my mother’s recipe.”
Blaise motioned his cousin away. “Shoo.”
Sonia rolled her eyes but did leave, walking back to the serving tables where many of his family had gathered. “How much did you cook, exactly? I told you that you could have had help. You were up late last night going over details as it was.”
“I like to cook, Blaise. Didly and I have fun now that he knows I’m not barring him from the kitchen. I didn’t want help. Didly was all the help I needed.”
“Yes, well, only half my family showed up. Be grateful most of the significant others and some select cousins didn’t show up.”
Before he could continue, his grandmother yelled for him. He gave her his best do I have to
face and she glared at him. He was comfortable where he was...away from people. “I better get some damn good rewards out of this, you know.”
Hannah pulled him down and kissed him lightly. “I think that can be arranged.”
When it seemed as if he wasn’t going to move, Hannah pulled away and hooked her arm in his. They walked towards Nonna Desi. Hannah was smiling brightly.
“The gardens look beautiful, Hannah,” Desi said, looking around. “We have not been here in many years. The party is going very well.”
“If you want to just talk to her, I could have stayed over there,” Blaise muttered. A small stinging hex caught him in the side. Blaise looked around and caught his grandfather tucking his wand up his sleeve. “Apologies, Nonna Desi
She chuckled and patted his cheek. “This will be over in a few hours. Then you can have your home to yourself again, although you will not leave Hannah to clean this up by herself.”
“As if she’d let me.” He had a stinging hex catch his other side. “Ow! Nonno Cale!”
At his grandfather’s glare, he sighed. “Apologies, Hannah. Of course I’ll help you.” All that had been said with an expression that betrayed his true intentions.
“I was thinking of having Draco do it,” Hannah said with a Cheshire grin. “After all, he does owe me.”
Blaise snorted. “My kitchen has already been set fire to once. No thank you. Why does he owe you?”
“He just does,” Hannah replied cryptically.
She really didn’t want to say that she’d lit into Draco and gotten a favor out of him because he’d walked in on her and Blaise. She didn’t want his grandparents hearing that.
He just stared at her before shaking his head. “Speaking of Draco, he and Pansy look like they need to be rescued. Or should my family be rescued from them?” Blaise began looking around. “Where the hell did the slayers run off to?”
Suddenly Didly was right next to Hannah. “Miss Pevensie has Miss Hannah’s new crossbow.”
“Oh hell no,” Hannah said before scrambling to her feet and doing a simple locator spell to find Pevensie. “Draco!”
He jumped, startled, because that had sounded remarkably like the tone his mother used when he’d set fire to something she liked.
“She has your crossbow?” Blaise asked in shock as he rushed after her. “Wait, since when do you
have a crossbow? Why is it here? Where are you keeping it?”
“Did I just hear the words Pevensie and crossbow in the same sentence?” Draco snapped. “Why is there a crossbow?”
They came upon her and Meredith right as Pevensie was about to fire. Meredith was standing about twenty paces away with a piece of fruit on her head.
“Impedimenta!” Draco said. “Accio crossbow!”
The arrow fired up in the air as the weapon sailed into the hand not holding Draco’s wand.
“I’m going to kill one or both of you,” he said.
“In the sitting room? You couldn’t do it outside or in the grand parlor?” Blaise snapped. “No, you have to go trying to murder each other in the room with all the breakable antiques. You could have let the poltergeist loose!” he said, gesturing to an urn in the corner.
Both Draco and Hannah turned to look at Blaise.
“Why on earth would you keep a poltergeist?” Hannah asked.
“We weren’t trying to murder one another,” Pevensie said as if that shouldn’t have been obvious and Blaise was deeply stupid for not knowing such a thing.
“We couldn’t get through the wards on the dungeon,” Meredith offered.
Blaise’s eyes widened comically. All his less-than-legal items were stored down there. “You tried
“Outside. Now,” Draco snapped. “No weapons, just eating and socializing, and don’t think for one minute that Buffy is not going to hear about this. This, coming here tonight, was a privilege. I’m sure Hiran and Alice would have been happy to come and not have crossbow fun in the sitting room!”
“No, there would have been a crup who likes to piss on my furniture,” Blaise muttered. “Give me crossbows over that any day.” He looked around the room carefully, making sure nothing happened to any of the pieces.
Draco glared at Blaise in a way that clearly said you are not helping
. Then he looked at Hannah to see how upset she was. They both did. Draco very slowly handed her the crossbow in his hand. She looked at it and then busted out laughing.
Blaise blinked. “Um, Hannah? You all right, darling? Because you’re currently cackling like a mad woman.”
“This is your fault,” she said, laughing still and pointing at both Blaise and Draco. “I used to be a nice girl. Then I start hanging around Slytherins. Now I have parties where people fire crossbows.”
Then she dissolved into helpless giggles.
Draco gave Blaise a look. “I’ll just be outdoors then.”
He beat a hasty retreat leaving Blaise alone with the giggler.
Blaise tried to grab Draco, but he was a slippery thing and dashed out. He sighed and turned back to Hannah. “You’re not having a mental breakdown, are you? I’m not drunk enough for that.”
“I’m not having a meltdown. If I was, trust me, you would know. There would be more screeching and crying. You are not to get drunk tonight. No one is carrying up upstairs. If you get drunk, you can sleep out on the lawn.”
“It’s my bloody house! I can get drunk if I want to.” He inched forward toward her. “Why do you have a crossbow and why are you keeping it here
“Oh you can get drunk,” Hannah said. “But no one is carrying you up the stairs... just so you’re aware. And the crossbow is here because I bought it and keep forgetting to take it to my flat.”
His look clearly said that was not enough explanation for him.
“I know how to use it,” she said. “I’ve been practicing with Didly. Well, not with
Didly, but Didly’s been there, helping set up the targets and stuff.”
“You are practicing how to shoot a crossbow with my house elf,” he said dully. “I think I’m already drunk. Why the hell do you need
“Because I can stand at a nice, safe distance and make the vampires dusty with good aim. Or would you rather I go hand to hand about it? If I can keep about twenty paces between myself and vampires, I’ll take it.”
His look said he didn’t want her being around vampires at all.
“Eventually, Meredith will be patrolling, and I’ll be patrolling with her. The more weapons I know how to use, the better off I’ll be in my opinion. By the way, who charmed your throwing knives? I think I’d like a set.”
“No,” he said emphatically, turning on his heel and walking off. “Technically, I’m not supposed to have them and getting a second set is completely out of the question. Keep your crossbow.”
Hannah made an offended noise.
“Well, Shannon’s teaching me to throw a regular knife anyhow,” she said as she stalked past him in a bit of a huff.
He could be dangerous and she couldn’t? What was that? She was the one who his mother was going to try to kill several times. In Hannah’s opinion, she could not have enough survival skills and weapons knowledge given that scary fact.
“What?!” he asked loudly and caught up to her. “At least my knives are charmed! You could hurt yourself!”
Hannah gave him a pointed look and he sighed. “Look, the charms aren’t exactly legal in England. Only licensed potions masters are allowed to have them. Hence why I went elsewhere to get them charmed. I don’t want you getting trouble because of a charmed knife set. The Ministry hates the Council anyway.”
“The Ministry is finding out that the Council is an older institution with roots in every continent. As a watcher, I do not fall under the purview of the Ministry any longer, so neither do the charms on any of my weapons.”
Hannah just smiled at him.
“Have I mentioned Mr. Giles is paying me near double what I made at the Ministry. Really the only drawback I’m seeing is the possibility of death in the line of work, but given the Ministry’s track record, I don’t see that as having changed so much.”
“You are not helping your argument,” he said with a glare. They both stood and stared at each other until Blaise finally sighed. “I’ll go with you to pick out a set and then take them to be charmed. Fucking hell, this will end badly.”
“Only for your mother if she decides to come calling,” Hannah said then gave him a cheeky grin before heading back out into the garden.