|Title:||Blood Magic (A Prelude to Slytherin Solidarity)|
|Posted On:||2005-02-06 00:00:00|
A Prelude to Slytherin Solidarity
Summary: Nine year olds Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini are the best of friends, practically neighbours and share a bond that no one else can imagine. The year is 1989, the summer has laid its humid blanket over the grounds of the Nott estate, and two boys are just mucking about in a manner most appropriate for their age – until they find themselves bonded in an ancient magic so powerful it holds firm even through death.
Disclaimer: A non-profit adoration of J.K. Rowling’s characters
Author’s Notes: Nothing serious folks, I just wanted to step out of the impending sombreness of what’s to come in Slytherin Solidarity. So I thought I’d write a one-shot on the impromptu blood ritual mentioned early on in the Series. I think this constitutes PWP, just to be sure.
A Prelude to Slytherin Solidarity
“This is disgusting,” Ted moaned, sprawled over the granite ledge of the portico, his skinny, freckly arms and legs dangling languidly in the fierce July heat.
Even in the shade of the looming Nott Manor, it was sweltering.
Blaise extracted an arm from his already dirty tee-shirt, and used the hem to mop at his sweaty forehead.
“Nott, why don’t you have a moat?”
Ted snorted, not opening his eyes, he replied, “Because father believes that keeping a colony of kelpies on our property would call for too much upkeep.”
Blaise groaned and slumped forwards against the grey rock of the railing. At least the stone was cooler than the humid air. Gratefully, the nine year old pressed his cheek against the flat surface and hummed in content.
“Wish we could use magic already,” Blaise said languidly, his cherubim features distorted somewhat from where his olive-skinned face pressed against the rail. “We could transfigure a cooking pot into a fountain.”
“Or I could conjure you into a fan,” Ted said, sitting up, with a mischievous grin spreading across his narrow features.
“You couldn’t transfigure a hair pin, even if you tried,” Blaise muttered, sticking out his tongue comically.
“Oh yeah? Bet I could! Bet I could do it faster than you too!” the ashen hair boy exclaimed. Well, it wasn’t so much ashen any more as it was cruelly bleached by the sun.
The young Italian sat up and pursed his lips, narrowing his eyes at his friend he replied in a tone that he would later carry through life. “You can’t do anything faster than me, Theodore. Not even run!” Blaise bolted from the stair, cackling at the incensed expression on Ted’s face. He hated being called by his first name.
“Zabini, you great prat! Don’t call me that!” Ted shouted, leaping off the granite ledge and chasing after the black-haired-to-be-someday-wizard.
Blaise bolted down the long set of stairs leading to the gardens of the Nott estate. Blaise was tall for his age, and though his mother, aunt and grandmother kept feeding him continuously, his puppy fat had long since worn away – given the fact that most of what he consumed, he exerted later in these chases around the manor with his best friend.
The stringy wizard at his heels, Blaise leapt over several low hedges, two rows of rose bushes and was planning on making a spectacular dive over the marigolds, aiming for the maze, when over the chirping crickets and squawking garden gnomes, the shrill cry of Mrs. Nott rang out.
“Theodore Preston Nott!”
Blaise halted in his tracks. Ted, who had turned to look over his shoulder but had yet to stop running, crashed into Blaise at full force, and the pair went sprawling before the hydrangea.
Cackling gleefully, Blaise shoved Ted off him playfully. “Preston!” he howled, and doubled over in laughter on the earthen path that wove its way through the gardens.
“Shut up Blaise!” Ted scowled, rolling over and covering himself more thoroughly in the packed soil.
“THEODORE!” his mother shrieked from the portico. “Get up here this instant!”
“Oh hell,” Ted swore, bringing himself to his feet. Blaise, however, remained on the ground snickering into his fist.
“You too, Mr. Zabini! Don’t make me use your full name!” Mrs. Nott bellowed again, at least this time it sounded as if she was smiling.
Blaise stopped abruptly and stared dumbly at the sinewy, wan-faced boy beside him. “How did she know?”
Ted smirked and offered the Italian a hand up. “My mum,” he said with a distinctly haughty air, “knows everything about anything happening at anytime of the day, anywhere.”
“Cripes,” Blaise murmured as they headed back through the low rows of the garden. “She’s just like my Grandmother.”
“I’m telling you Blaisey, women have a sixth sense. Nutters, the lot of them,” Ted made a face. “Girls however –”
“Don’t go there,” Blaise scolded seriously. “Remember that time we got that Parkinson chit to eat slugs?”
“My sentiments exactly,” Ted responded with a grin. “Vile creatures they are.” Ted made a face, his freckled nose crinkling in disgust.
“Girls or slugs?” Blaise asked with feigned innocence.
The boys paused, a few feet beyond where Ted’s mother stood with her hands on her hips. “Both!” they cried together, laughing.
“Boys, really,” Ted’s mum scolded, a slight quirk to the corner of her mouth. “In three years you will both be singing a different tune altogether.”
“Oh? I wasn’t aware that it would be so soon Madam Nott,” Blaise said, folded his hands neatly behind his back and throwing an imperious look at his friend, who continued to stare at his mother with a dumbstruck expression. Bouncing on the balls of his feet, Blaise couldn’t help but feel slightly cleverer when he could wield a tantalizing morsel of information over his best friend’s head. Ted, obviously, had not had “The Talk” yet.
“Madam?” Elspeth Nott quirked an eyebrow. “Blaise Zabini for as long as I’ve known you, you have never once referred to me as ‘Madam’ anything. Kindly restrain yourself from making me appear a harlot.” She smiled at the boy dotingly. The two children spent so much time carousing around the Nott estate that she’d grown rather fond of her son’s choice of companion, even if his family didn’t share the same… world view… as the Notts.
“What’s a harlot?” Ted muttered through the corner of his thin lips.
“Now, Theodore,” she said sternly, appraising her son, who cringed at the use of his first name in its entirety. “Your father and several of his associates are coming round for tea this afternoon. I believe they would appreciate it if you were to steer clear of their business, is that understood?”
“Yes mother,” Ted nodded solemnly, though he cast a glance at Blaise which suggested he planned on doing precisely the opposite.
Ted cringed again, more visibly this time. Blaise bit his lower lip, suppressing a giggle.
Mrs. Nott wasn’t a very tall woman, in fact, she was rather petite, with delicate wrists and wispy honey blond hair that she kept pinned up demurely in a chignon. However, her demeanour sometimes could be frightening. Blaise thought at that very moment, with the woman at least six months pregnant with her third child, she was as imposing as a spiteful boggart hiding under the darkness of his bed – a boggart that only came out in the dead of the night and scared him witless. Blaise shuddered.
“You listen here, now, both of you! Today is an especially important day and neither of you will eavesdrop if you know what’s good for you. Theodore, your father’s colleagues will be arriving shortly. You two will remain outdoors and out of sight until they leave. When they do, and only when they do, I will fetch you to get scrubbed up for dinner – lest I shall inform both of your fathers of your misbehaviour. Do I make myself abundantly clear?”
Blaise and Ted nodded emphatically.
“Now, you may go outside and play,” Mrs. Nott stated firmly and folded her arms across her swollen bosom.
Without dallying, both boys turned heel and scuttled purposefully out of sight and back into the vast gardens of the estate.
“What do you reckon?” Blaise whispered once they were out of earshot. Ted stood on his toes and tried to gaze furtively back into the doors of the rear parlour.
“What’s today’s date Blaise?” Ted asked, still searching intently, with his pale hazel eyes narrowed.
“The thirty first I think, why?”
Ted’s eyes widened as he regarded his friend, “Really? Blimey!”
“Shh!” Blaise hissed, and dragged the ashen haired boy behind a nearby topiary. “Why? What’s so important about today?”
Ted poked his head around the large, sculpted hedge and smirked.
“Figures,” he said slyly, while ignoring Blaise’s question. “Look who my father ‘colleagues’ are.”
Blaise poked his head round. Over the distance, the two boys could see the distinctive long, white-blond hair of a man that no one in the wizarding world could fail to recognize, except for perhaps the Italian wizard himself, having only moved to England when he was four and just barely out of nappies. Blaise’s parents didn’t mingle too much with the wizarding aristocracy, though the Zabini’s were an old Italian family, dating back to the beginning of the Renaissance, England didn’t seem to have the same romance that their native land possessed, and periodically, Blaise’s father made that fact abundantly clear.
The only reason they had moved, as far as Blaise knew, was for their only son to attend the most prestigious school of magic in Europe when he turned eleven. Being traditional in every respect of the word, keeping the family close by was essential in his father’s opinion.
“Who’s that bloke?” Blaise murmured secretively, sizing up the imposing blond man.
Ted scoffed, “‘That bloke’ is one of the Dark Lord’s former greatest supporters. Lucius Malfoy,” Ted spat the name. “Right git, he is. Bullied my father for years, and Crabbe, and Goyle. They were all friends through Hogwarts, and after.” Ted nodded, a look of disgust affixing itself to his pale features. “Malfoy’s kid isn’t so bad actually, bit of a brat when he was younger but he’s gotten a bit better recently,” Ted added absently, before turning his attention back to the parlour and scrutinizing the guests. “And that,” Ted continued, pointing at a tall skinny man in a long black cloak despite the heat, “is Snape. Professor Snape, actually. He’ll be our Potions Master when we get to school.”
“Who’re the rest?” Blaise pressed, squinting through the glare of the parlour windows.
“Baddock, Bulstrode, and Montague by the looks of it,” Ted finished with a grimace. “Bulstrode’s daughter not too bad, either. If you’re on her good side.” He nodded at Blaise pointedly, and the ebony-haired child made a mental note of it.
“If you’re not?” Blaise asked with a slight frown.
“She’ll crush you if she sits on you.” Ted grinned wickedly.
Blaise rolled his eyes and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his slacks, and turned around to head into the hedge maze. It had been much too hot for robes that day, and in favour of the humid heat, both boys had discarded their proper robes long ago. Ted took once last glance at the chatting adults, and jogged to catch up.
“So what’s so important about today?” the Italian asked.
“Anniversary,” Ted replied dryly. “Apparently today’s the day that kid Harry Potter was born, defeated You-Know-Who without lifting a finger on All Soul’s Eve. Just like that!” Ted snapped his fingers for emphasis. “They get together every year to brood and be sullen. It’s a right party it is.”
Blaise faltered in his step and nearly stumbled into a nearby bush. “You mean all of those people were Death Eaters?”
“But your father, I mean was he -?”
Ted’s smile dropped and he looked at the ground. Beyond the tall hedges, the sun’s light grew dimmer as clouds began to roll in from the west.
“Yeah. He was,” Ted replied softly. Idly, the freckled youth began kicking at the small bits of slate and shale that dotted the ground of the maze’s interior. “Look Blaise,” Ted’s hazel eyes seemed to plead with him. “It’s not like you think.”
Zabini faltered, he’d heard the hand-me-down legends of course. In fact, it had been one of his favourite bedtime tales when he was younger. The story had spread round the world as far as he knew; You-Know-Who had collected an army of sorts to put an end to all wizarding lines that weren’t pure, and this infant, barely two years old, had destroyed him without so much as gurgling a curse around his pacifier. No one in the wizarding world, in as far as Italy or America, knew how the kid had done it, but he had. Harry Potter was famous, he was a hero!
The Dark Lord’s followers, however, were another matter entirely. His father used to use the stories of what they did to scare the young Italian when he misbehaved. In fact, many of the tales gave him nightmares still.
Seeing Blaise’s apprehension, Ted threw himself into his explanation. Dragging his friend to sit by a nearby rock, Ted began.
“The Dark Lord did many terrible things, Blaise. So many I can’t even count anymore. He forced a lot of people into doing what he wanted of them. I was never given many details, really. Mum never wanted me to know, so most of what I learned was from sneaking around and spying on them when they would come for tea – My father, well,” Ted looked at the ground again. “I’ve always thought he was forced into it, you know; I didn’t think he ever had a choice.”
“Do you still believe that, Ted?” Blaise pressed. The look on his friend’s face told him all that he needed to know. It was a glimmer of disappointment so deep that it made the otherwise cheery ashen-haired boy look almost like a complete stranger.
“I don’t want to not believe it,” Ted frowned.
Blaise reached out and patted his friend’s shoulder reassuringly. “It’s all right, mate. It’s not like Voldypoo is going to come back to life or anything. It’s all in the past.” Blaise grinned reassuringly, to which Ted gave a small smile before blanching three shades whiter beneath his minute tan.
“Do you just realize you called the darkest wizard of our age ‘Voldypoo’?”
Blaise grinned even more broadly and folded his legs. “Should I call him something else?”
Ted blanched. “Don’t say it!” he hissed, and Blaise snickered.
“Please, it’s not like he’s going to hear me beyond the grave! He’s well shot of it I’d think.”
Ted gulped and shook his head, the sweaty mess of his loose hair flipping about listlessly.
“Alright,” Blaise sighed, a hint of a grin playing around the corners of his mouth. “It’ll just be ickle Voldykins from now on.”
“Blaise!” Ted yelled, swatting at him roughly.
“Look,” Ted said, turning serious again. “It’s like this; they never found his body, right? He could still be out there.”
To make a point, Ted glanced around nervously. Remarkably, Blaise felt himself stiffen. There weren’t too many things that scared the young wizard-to-be, not if you counted his fear of finding a lethifold under his bed, or reaching out in a dark room while searching for a lamp, and having his hand touch the clammy skin and pulled-back lips of a thing with wet, dripping fangs. The idea of someone like You-Know-Who coming back to power was enough to scare him straight.
His grandmother called the times of his reign ‘The Second Dark Age’. Seeing as how the elder Zabini had practically lived through the first Dark Age herself, the comment wasn’t flippant coming from the matriarch. Blaise shuddered.
“Well if he does, we’ll be ready for him,” Blaise stated firmly with a nod.
Ted barked a laugh. “Speak for yourself you barmy Italian, I’m going to run if he comes back. Run and hide. Let Harry Potter take care of him.” Ted shuddered, and with a malicious grin he added, “I bet a galleon you’ll end up in Gryffindor if that’s how you keep thinking.”
Blaise rolled his eyes and tutted. “For one, Theodore, you don’t have a galleon to bet, and two,” Blaise paused, his brow furrowing. Could that be possible? Would Hogwarts separate him from his oldest friend? “Two…”
“Two – you’ll be with me in Slytherin you twit,” Ted finished grinning slyly.
Blaise, however, was not reassured. His lips pulled down in a small frown, he made certain to look anywhere but his friend’s face while he began tracing patters idly among the small sharp shards of stone that littered the interior of the Nott Maze.
“Zabini,” Ted urged. “Hellooooo, earth to Zabini! Come in Zabini, we seem to have lost contact. Your broom’s spun out of control and you’ve found yourself somewhere near Saturn, helloooo!”
“Shut it, Ted.” Blaise scowled. “What if you’re right?” The black-haired boy was worrying his lower lip and glancing at his best friend fearfully.
Blaise rolled over what he knew of Hogwarts’ four houses. He didn’t particularly care where he ended up as long as Ted wasn’t too far away, though if he had any say in the matter, it had always seemed to him that Slytherin was the best choice. They were ambitious, cunning, clever and witty, from what he understood. The green and silver graduates were shakers and movers; they had strong ties to the other members of their house and were for the most part, very well thought-out and well-spoken individuals.
Gryffindors were, well, blockheads, if Blaise understood correctly. They possessed the irrational desire to act before thinking frequently, they fought a lot and when they did, it usually occurred in front of the entire student body. Hufflepuffs were too soft for his liking, and though Blaise managed good marks with his tutor, he doubted he could relegate himself to studying all day everyday. Slytherin, he supposed, he could be quite content with.
Ted rolled his eyes and puffed dramatically in exasperation.
“Alright, Blaise, this is what we’re going to do.” Nott picked up a sharp piece of stone and waved it before Blaise’s nose.
“You’re going to thump me over the head with that? I rather like my face, Ted,” he murmured cautiously, watching the piece of shale apprehensively.
“No you twit,” Ted edged closer to where Blaise was seated. “We are going to do some magic.” The boy’s light brown eyes glittered in their mischievous manner.
Blaise took the opportunity to leer at his best friend. “We can’t! We don’t have wands yet!”
“Tosh, Zabini. I’m making this up as we go along,” he uttered impatiently. Blaise rolled his eyes, a gesture that was not entirely lost on Theodore, who smirked and gained a more superior tone. “It’s an ancient ritual, Blaise.” He gestured to himself imperiously, “I am making you my blood brother, so that, in the case that we are ever separated, we will always be bonded to one another as best friends.”
Blaise gulped. “Blood brother?”
As if on cue, a low rumble of thunder sounded in the north. Overhead, the clouds had changed pattern and were darkening steadily, signalling an oncoming storm. The humidity seemed to press down on the two boys as they sat face to face in the absolute center of the Nott maze.
“But Ted, that is magic! It’s ancient! My grandmother told me about the Eight Paths before, and blood magic is the strongest out of all of them.”
“It is not!” Ted grinned impishly. “Father told me the strongest out of all the old magics is,” he paused and looked around conspiratorially, and whispered, “sex magic.” Ted covered his mouth with his fist and giggled.
“We’re just playing Blaise, it’s not anything real could happen. I don’t know the actual ritual or anything, but really it’s all in jest. That is of course, unless you don’t want to –”
Seeing the saddened look on his friend’s face, Blaise sighed. “Ted, you know you’re already like a sibling to me – A very irritating, obnoxious, persuasive one at that,” he grumbled, and Ted beamed.
“All right Zabini, that’s what I’m talking about! Though you forgot to add that I’m a fantastic and compelling actor,” he waggled his thin eyebrows.
Blaise snorted. “Well blood magic’s probably better than sex magic anyway.” He sized his friend up disgustedly. “That’s just gross.”
“No, you’re just gross Zabini.”
Blaise stuck out his tongue and blew a loud raspberry, at which Ted grimaced and wiped his face comically. “Say it, don’t spray it.”
“The one who said the rhyme did the crime,” Blaise retorted, and added “Prat-heat.”
Both boys grinned at each other. Overhead the sky had been overtaken by gloomy grey and black thunderclouds, heavy and roiling in the summer heat.
“Alright, first, we need to make a protective space, so nothing bad can get in our out. I’ll draw a circle,” Ted stated assertively, standing up and beginning to stomp on the ground around Blaise loudly. “Well don’t just si