Title: Giving Up The Ghost
Sequel to: Cedric's Necklace
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairings: Blaise Zabini/Harry Potter, mentioned Draco/Hermione
Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter
Summary: After Hogwarts and after they won the war, Blaise still cannot move on, not realizing that Harry has fallen in love with him. Can he learn to let go of Cedric's memory and discover Harry's feelings before he loses him?
Note: Written for my Slash Jealousy Prompt Table at Livejournal. Prompt of the day #2: Ghost.
Blaise wasn’t exactly sure how it’d begun.
He had a feeling it might have started the day Harry found him by the lake in Hogwarts and gave him Cedric’s necklace, but he wasn’t exactly sure. The months after Ced’s murder were hard to remember and he tended to not even try, so to be truthful, Blaise didn’t exactly know when Harry Potter, the Savior of the Wizarding World, became his friend.
The only thing Blaise did remember was the Great Battle during their last year in Hogwarts, in which Harry Potter killed Voldemort, and Blaise Zabini tortured Peter Pettigrew to death for the murder of Cedric Diggory. It didn’t make Blaise feel the righteous vindication he’d thought he’d feel once he’d stolen the life out of the one who’d killed Cedric, but if Pettigrew had fallen by the hands of any other he’d never have forgiven himself.
“You’ve lost weight these last two weeks I’ve been in Poland for the Ministry.” Harry decided, making a face at Blaise and going towards the fridge, opening it as he sneered at the few amount of things inside. “No wonder. You haven’t gone to the market since the last time I did, have you, you bloody wanker?”
Blaise smirked as he shook his head and grabbed a beer, going to sit down by the kitchen table. “I usually eat out while at work during the day, and you know I’m bugger in the kitchen so I usually just order take-out or fast for the night.”
“Still, I’ve been telling you ever since fifth year, you need to take better care of yourself—or at least help me take care of you. How am I supposed to cook for you if I don’t have anything to cook?” Harry grumbled as he began to take out spoiled vegetables and dump them into the garbage. “Honestly, what would you do without me to nitpick and look after you like a mother hen all the bloody time?”
The Savior of the Wizarding World made up his nose with disgust at the moldy vegetables and food. “Thank God for Amos and Sylvia helping keep an eye on you. Otherwise you’d do something stupid like forget to eat and die of starvation. I was worried enough in Poland with them here, imagine if they hadn’t been? I wouldn’t have been able to do any bloody work!”
Blaise snorted into his beer before sobering up at the mention of Cedric’s parents.
He had a deep suspicion that Harry’s actions were funded on guilt. The caramel skinned young man remembered Harry’s deep guilt at not being able to save Cedric’s life, and he believed that Harry had tried to redeem himself by taking care of Blaise instead.
Blaise had told him before that it wasn’t Harry’s fault that Cedric was dead. No one blamed Harry for that, not him, not Amos or Sylvia. If anything they were grateful that Harry had risked his life to bring back Cedric’s body and not leave it in the hands of his murderers.
The once-Slytherin had always told Harry that he didn’t need to feel guilty, didn’t need to feel that he had to make up by overprotecting Blaise, but Harry hadn’t really paid any attention to those words, and in the end Blaise had been tired and lonely, had been in need of a friend.
“Why are you allowed to live by yourself again? It should be against the law. It’s as good as suicide.” Harry was now muttering to himself as he dumped more than half of the few things in the fridge. “You’re going to eat these things one day when I’m not around, and die of food poisoning.”
“Contrary to what you obviously believe, Potter, I’m just as intelligent as Granger. I won’t eat vegetables that have mold growing on them.” Blaise raised an eyebrow at Harry as he took a swig of his beer.
His intelligence was never truly in debate.
He had a good enough position in the Ministry of Magic and was working his way upwards. He didn’t think he would ever become the Minster, like his mother had always wanted for him, but he did want to have a say in what would happen in his world, and he was working towards that goal.
If anything, he believed his coworker, Harry, was the best candidate for future Minister. He was the Savior of the Wizards, a face they all knew and trusted, and Harry would always have the best interest of the people first and foremost in his mind.
“Yes, well, considering that she’s taken up with Malfoy I’ve begun questioning Mione’s supposed brilliance.” Harry snorted, despairing as he realized that there wasn’t one thing other than the beer that could be salvaged from the fridge. “Forget food poisoning, you’d actually need to havefood here to get that! You’re gonna die from alcohol poisoning!”
“Would you stop acting like such a wife?” Blaise laughed, getting up from his chair and going to the cupboards, looking through them before pulling out a small cardboard box. “See? Food.”
“One box of macaroni and cheese does not count as food.” Harry groused, hands on his narrow hips. “That’s it. We’re going to the market and we’re buying food. I’m cooking something that hasn’t been packaged and is going stale, and you’re gonna eat it all.”
Rolling his green eyes, Blaise smiled. “Yes ma’am.”
Harry threw the kitchen towel at him.
Blaise caught it with ease and didn’t complain as Harry dragged him off to the outdoors market, carrying their own baskets to put the fresh fruits and vegetables, and the meats, inside.
This was one thing that always intrigued Blaise about Harry.
Instead of going to a supermarket like most people did, the Boy Who Lived To Be A Man preferred the open, outdoors marketplaces, preferred dragging a large basket around than pushing a cart. He knew all the different stand owners by name, made small talk with them while picking which products he wished to purchase from them, and he did all this with a smile on his face that just lit up the whole place.
The Slytherin had to admit that he was always fascinated while on these sorts of outings with Harry. He doubted that other people saw this side of their savior, and he couldn’t help but feel both honored and humbled at the fact that he did. He also wondered why it was that he deserved this, why Harry spent so much time with him and not with his best mates, Ron and Hermione.
“Look over there, Blaise,” Harry announced, placing yet another purchase in the large basket. “Let’s get some apples. We haven’t had apples in the longest time.”
Blaise agreed with a nod of his head, already walking towards the stand, watching as Harry greeted the man polishing the apples by name, ask whether his niece was still ill, how his daughter was doing in her college, and if the wife was still nagging him about getting a Rememberall.
“Plan on making some tarts.” Harry admitted to the man as he chose the apples he wanted to buy. “This one here packs them all away in under an hour whenever I make them.”
The man’s gaze slid to Blaise and he smirked in amusement before talking to Harry once more.
Blaise shook his head.
It wasn’t his fault that despite them living in the Wizarding World Harry did most things the muggle way, thus cooking for hours, the scent torturing Blaise as he waited for the things to be ready for consumption. By the time Harry stopped flicking him away with the towel and finally allowed him to eat whatever marvel he’d cooked, Blaise had been viciously tempted by the scent for hours and was starving.
They continued purchasing in the marketplace before Apparating back to Blaise’s apartment. Blaise waved Harry off and the young man nodded in thanks as he went to his room to change into something more comfortable to cook in. When he’d returned from his room, he was changed into some knee-length Capri shorts and a hoodie shirt.
Despite the fact that Harry had his own home, Grimmauld Place, he spent most of his time over at Blaise’s apartment nagging him about this or that, or going over work together, so he’d somehow kinda moved in somewhat.
It still confused Blaise, but he didn’t mind having Harry over all the time, so he never questioned the once-Gryffindor about it.
“Thanks.” Harry smiled at Blaise, who’d put away all of the groceries while he’d been changing.
“Consider it an apology for making you worry so much.” Blaise ruffled Harry’s hair, something he enjoyed doing to the shorter man.
Harry ducked his gaze and mumbled something inaudible, a soft blush creeping up his neck and easily visible thanks to his pale skin.
Amused at how easily Harry blushed, Blaise snorted and turned away, going to the living room and leaving Harry in the kitchen, his domain.
Sitting down on his chair and going over the many documents he’d brought over with him from work that evening, Blaise lost himself in the text. He did some revisions, frowned as he found some discrepancies he was going to have checked out later, and looked up with a thankful smile when Harry put down a glass of ice water in front of him.
“Thanks.” He took a sip of the cooling liquid and returned his attention to the work at hand.
It occurred to him that he was getting far too used to both living more like a muggle than a wizard, and to Harry looking after him.
The Slytherin looked around from his work and his green gaze surveyed the living room. There wasn’t much in there despite his extreme wealth, but one of the few luxuries he could boast of was a large flat screen television that Granger had helped rewire so that it ran on magic and not what muggles called electricity.
The television was a muggle invention that showed moving pictures with sounds as stories, and despite the fact that he’d been dubious about it when Harry had first told him about the muggle thing, Blaise had become quite hooked on it ever since.
Also, instead of just using a spell to clean the place Harry had cleaning products and mops and brooms in the closet beneath the stairs. The savior of the Wizarding World actually got on his hands and knees and would scrub the tubs.
Blaise had once told him to just say a cleaning spell and get it over with, but Harry had given him and ugly look and he’d backed down from the argument in the making, as he usually did, and let Harry do whatever it was he wanted.
Even though he might think he was right.
Like the situation about the House Elf.
Blaise had considered bringing one of the House Elves that took care of Zabini Manor so that he could clean and do such so Harry wouldn’t have to do it. He’d offered the suggestion to Harry and the shorter man hadn’t talked to him for a whole week.
Once again, Blaise had given in first and backed down, letting Harry do as much cleaning as he wanted to without saying another word on the subject.
I really should be concentrating on my work right now instead of thinking about Harry.
Gaze returning to the documents in front of him, Blaise found his hand reaching for the necklace he never took off. It had once been Cedric’s necklace, the pendant similar to a Rememberall or a Pensieve in the sense that it recorded specific memories chosen by the owner.
All of the memories held within that pendant were of Blaise.
Tightening his hold on the pendant, Blaise closed his eyes, seeing Cedric in front of him as clear as day, laughing and caring, and smiling down at him with such love.
His heart hurt as he thought of the only person who’d ever truly loved him, of the only person who had truly known him, of the person who’s ghost he was unable to live without, to let go.
Because if he did he’d be truly alone.
“Hey Blaise, I was wondering if you wanted to go out with me to---.”
Wondering why Harry had stopped talking, Blaise opened his eyes and spotted the shorter man in the doorway, face emotionless, eyes on the pendant Blaise was nearly crushing in his tight grasp.
Something dark and unreadable crossed through Harry’s eyes before he turned around and walked back into the kitchen without another word.
Blaise frowned as he watched the retreating figure.
Lately he’d noticed the change in Harry whenever he’d see Blaise looking at Cedric’s picture, or caressing his necklace. It was confusing and Blaise wasn’t sure why those things affected Harry the way it did when they didn’t used to before.
He knew that he could sense a bit of guilt in Harry’s eyes whenever it happened, but there was another darker emotion in those green eyes that Blaise could never really read.
Getting up, Blaise followed Harry to the kitchen, leaning against the doorway, just admiring Harry. The shorter man had put on an apron and had his back to Blaise, slicing the meat into small cubes, his actions jerky and halting.
Blaise could feel the tension just rising from that smaller, more fragile, willowy body and he was surprised at the intense desire he felt to make it go away.
Harry was always taking care of him, and Blaise never could do enough to pay him back.
The Slytherin (for once a Slytherin always a Slytherin)stalked towards Harry and surprised them both by embracing him from behind, his arms going around his stomach and pulling him back into Blaise’s chest. He sighed and rested his chin on the top of Harry’s head. “What did I do this time?”
Harry tensed the moment Blaise’s arms went around him, but he’d relaxed almost immediately, ducking his gaze. “Nothing. You did nothing wrong. It’s just that---I forgot---I---you were thinking about him again, weren’t you?”
Blaise nodded. “Yeah.”
Harry sighed, hand trailing slowly up and down the arms linked around his waist. “It’s been what, nine years since fourth year?”
Blaise nodded silently, wondering where Harry was going with this.
“In all of this time, you---you haven’t once even looked at another person, have you?” Harry’s voice was soft and vulnerable for some reason. “In all this time, in almost a decade since his death, you’ve still held onto his ghost and you won’t let go.”
Blaise tensed, biting down on his lip to keep him from spewing something out defensively.
“It’s not that---not that I know you didn’t---don’t---love him.” He whispered the last two words. “It’s just that, don’t---don’t you think Cedric would have wanted you happy?”
“I am happy.” Blaise snapped.
“How can you be happy while you’re alone?” Harry wanted to know.
“I’m not alone, I have you.”
For some reason that made Harry whimper.
“Harry?” Blaise asked, having heard the sound and becoming worried.
“You won’t have anyone unless you stop living in your memories and start living life again!” Harry quickly turned and pushed him away, heading towards the chimney.
“Harry?” Blaise’s eyes widened, surprised at how his stomach went queasy and his heart clenched at the sight of Harry walking away from him.
“I can’t be here with you when all you do is think of him!” Harry snapped, grabbing some Floo powder and going to the fireplace.
Blaise didn’t reach him in time to stop him from Flooing away, leaving Blaise alone in the apartment, confused, and feeling sick at his stomach.
All of a sudden the apartment seemed cold and lonely, so silent.
Not exactly sure what had just happened, Blaise ran a shaky hand through his hair and went to sit down on the chair.
He felt so sick.
Why was Harry so angry?
Confused by Harry’s outburst and by his own body’s reaction to it, Blaise’s hand went to the pendant that’d started the whole argument in the first place, his fingers clasping around it.
He didn’t know how long he sat there, staring into the nothingness, but he was jolted out of his confusing thoughts by a clearing of a throat and he turned, eyes wide, hoping it was Harry.
Blaise stood up from his seat in surprise. “Ma? Pa?”
Amos and Sylvia Diggory stood in his living room, fresh from the Floo Channel.
“Oh honey,” Ma came forwards and embraced him, looking close to tears yet valiantly keeping them back. “We need to talk to you.”
Amos nodded. “Harry came to see us half an hour ago.”
Blaise’s eyes widened in shock. “Harry did what?”
“He should have come to us sooner.” Ma chided, pulling Blaise to the sofa and sitting him down, following him and placing her hand in his. “Baby, we know you loved Cedric, and we know that he loved you more than anything.”
Blaise looked away, unable to look into Sylvia’s eyes as she spoke. Tears came up unwillingly in his eyes and he cleared his throat.
“But, honey, Cedric died. He was killed.” Ma surprised him by whispering and tightening her hold on his hand. “He died. You’re alive.”
Blaise forced himself to look at her in confusion. How could she, of all people, tell him this? She should understand him! They both should!
“Son,” Amos sat down on Blaise’s other side. “You were good to our son during his life, and you have been good to this old man and woman after his death. You’ve become our son ever since Ced---ever since that horrible day.” He placed a hand on Blaise’s back and cleared his throat before continuing. “So we can’t just watch on the sidelines as you live your life like a ghost.”
“But Ced----.” Blaise began.
“He would want you to be happy, Blaise, as we both do.” Sylvia reassured him. “You have a chance at being happy again, you have someone who loves you immensely, who dedicates himself to you. Don’t let him slip through your fingers because you can’t let go of the ghost of Cedric’s love.”
Blaise looked back from Ma and Pa Diggory in confusion. “Who are you talking about?”
Sylvia gave him a tender smile while Amos looked at him with exasperation. “Harry, Blaise. We’re talking about Harry, the young man who has dedicated his life to taking care of you.”
Blaise was shocked. “You think---? Harry doesn’t love me!” He got up, unable to sit any longer. “He feels guilty. That’s the only reason why he does this. He feels guilty for Cedric’s death and is trying to make up for it by taking care of me.”
“It might have started out like that,” Amos agreed. “But he’s fallen in love with you, Blaise. It’s obvious to everyone but you.”
Blaise couldn’t believe it, his hands beginning to shake as he raked one through his dark hair. “Harry----?”
Sylvia nodded. “He’s been in love with you for a couple of years now. He told us, Amos and I, when his feelings changed, and asked for our forgiveness for not only not being able to save Ced, but for falling in love with you.”
Amos cleared his throat and looked away.
Blaise was frozen to the floor. “He----he said that?”
Sylvia nodded, standing and going to stand in front of Blaise. “He’s been suffering because no matter what he does you don’t see him, not really, you don’t see what he feels no matter how hard he tries to show you.” She reached forwards and pulled a strand of hair out of Blaise’s face behind his ear. “His jealousy got the better of him today and he exploded. He then came to look for Amos and I immediately after. We knew we had to talk to you.”
“Don’t be a fool, Blaise.” Amos stood as well, face pained yet serious. “You already lost the love of your life once. Don’t let the same thing happen to you twice in this lifetime. Don’t let Harry slip out of your life forever. You’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”
Blaise felt like he’d been knocked out, not only by Amos’ words, but by the thought of his life without Harry in it.
It hurt like a million Crucios all being cast at once.
Sylvia smiled and stepped backwards so that she was holding her husband’s hand. “I think he finally gets it.”
Amos tightened his hold on her hand. “About bloody time. And he was supposed to be one of the most intelligent students in Hogwarts too.”
Sylvia gave her husband a smile.
Blaise looked up at them as he suddenly realized something that should have been so clear to him for years now. “I’m in love with Harry Potter.”
“Well don’t tell us!” Amos seemed exasperated, motioning towards the Floo system. “Tell him!”
With a grin Blaise surged forwards and hugged them both before hurrying to the floo channel and grabbing some dust. “Grimmauld Place!” And with a flash of green he was gone.
In seconds he was in the fireplace at Grimmauld Place, and when he stepped out he was surprised to see Granger hurrying towards him.
“Thank Merlin it’s you.” She announced in relief, grabbing his arm and tugging him out of the living room and up the stairs. “I don’t know whyyou’re here or what exactly happened, but you’re going to go up to his room and you’re going to fix it.”
“What happened?” Blaise asked as they reached the top of the stairs and Hermione continued leading him down the hall towards Harry’s room.
“He owled me, saying that he had blown it, and that he didn’t think you were going to talk to him again and then he locked himself in that room and no matter what spell I use it won’t open.” She seemed obviously annoyed about the last fact.
Blaise stopped in front of the door to Harry’s bedroom. He ignored Hermione impatient gesture for him to do something immediately, and chose to clear his throat, gathering his courage, before speaking up. “Harry?”
There was silence.
“Harry,” he tried again, a little louder. “It’s me.”
Finally there was a sound of footsteps against the floor. “Blaise?” Harry’s voice was soft and surprised.
“Yeah Harry, it’s me.” Blaise nodded although he knew that Harry couldn’t see him. “Why don’t you open the door and let me in? Hermione’s worried sick about you and I’m beginning to worry too.”
“No.” Harry’s answer was swift. “I can’t see you right now.”
Blaise sighed and turned to Hermione. “Just leave me with him, this is going to take a while, and Malfoy isn’t exactly the most patient of men.”
Hermione bit her bottom lip, looking from the door to the stairs before nodding, mouthing ‘Good luck’, and left.
Blaise turned his attention back to the door, leaning his forehead against it tiredly.
“Blaise?” Harry asked softly. “You still there?”
“Yeah, I’m still here.” Blaise pressed his open hand against the carved wood. “I’m not going to go until you let me talk to you. We need to talk.”
“I’m sorry.” Harry’s voice was muffled, and Blaise wondered if he wasn’t leaning his forehead against the door as well. “I shouldn’t have said all those things in the apartment. You—you love Cedric and it wasn’t my business to---.”
“No, don’t stop me.” Harry persisted stubbornly. “It’s as if it’s not enough for me to nag you about everything in your life I have to nag about that too? Who do I think I am?”
“The most important person in my life.” Blaise answered. “And you should.”
There was silence.
Blaise was suddenly nervous again, closing his eyes to not lose his nerve. “You are, you know. The most important person in my life, I mean.”
“Really?” Harry whispered.
Blaise’s lips tilted in a crooked yet utterly tender smile. “Yeah Harry, you are.”
“You are too.” All of a sudden Harry sounded shy as he said that.
“Ma and Pa came to see me.” Blaise listened to the silence on the other side of the door. “They told me you’re in love with me.” More silence. He closed his eyes tightly, nervous as hell. “Is that true?”
“Yeah.” The whisper was so soft Blaise had to strain his hearing to understand it. “I—I love you. I—I’ve been in love with you for a while now.”
“Good.” Blaise sighed in relief. “’Cuz I feel the same. It’s just that I was too much of a fool to realize it. You’ve become the most important part of my life, Harry, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get my head out of my arse and realize it.”
There was silence.
Nothing but silence.
Blaise sighed. He didn’t blame Harry for not believing him.
“What about Cedric?” Came the uncertain voice on the other side of the door. “You love him.”
“Yeah, I always will love him, Harry.” Blaise agreed. “But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love you too, or that my life would be hell if you’re not in it. I---,” he closed his eyes tightly, voice wavering. “I only survived Cedric’s death because you were there for me…but I don’t think I could survive it if I lost you. I couldn’t. I can’t.”
Blaise wanted to pound on the door in his impotence.
And then the door was opening, and Blaise, not expecting it, fell forwards into Harry. They both crashed to the floor, with Blaise straddling the shorter male on the floor, faces a breath away from the other’s as they gazed into each other’s face.
Supporting most of his weight with one hand, Blaise raised the other and cupped Harry’s jaw, his thumb caressing the smooth, pale skin.
Eyes never leaving Blaise’s, Harry pressed into the touch.
All the permission needed, Blaise closed his eyes and lowered his lips to Harry’s in the first kiss he’d had since Cedric’s death. It was soft and probing, nervous yet determined, and then it grew with need as Harry arched under him and reached for him as well.
Blaise let his hand drop from Harry’s face as he pulled away and grabbed the other man’s hand, bringing it up to clasp his pendant their fingers intertwining.
Harry flinched for a moment, confused, waiting.
“I’m ready,” Blaise kept Harry’s gaze. “To start making new memories.”
For a moment there was nothing, and then Harry’s face lit up and he tightened his grasp on the pendant and used it to bring Blaise back down towards him.
“About bloody time.” He grumbled, smile still bright on his face.
Harry’s lips swallowed Blaise’s laugh, and then there were only groans.