Harry turned, bleary eyed, from his empty plate to Ron's face. He'd had another nightmare last night. Nine months to the day since Cedric's death; he didn't think they would ever go away.
"I said that that Zabini chick is staring at you again," Ron repeated. "I tell you, you should really watch out, it's been what, three months-"
"I think she has a crush on you, Harry," Hermione interrupted. Both boys looked shocked, and somewhat repulsed.
"But -" Harry sputtered. "She-she's a Slytherin!"
"Yeah," added Ron. "And isn't she dating Malfoy?"
"No, they're just friends," Hermione said, with such confidence and conviction that Ron and Harry eyed her askance. She rolled her eyes. "You forget who I share a dorm with."
The boys turned to look over where Lavender and Pavarti, the biggest gossips in school, were flirting with Seamus and Dean.
"Yeah, normal girls," Ron said, watching them giggle stupidly at some joke Dean made. Harry felt more than saw Hermione's hurt expression and inwardly sighed as the trio stood, making their way to the Great Hall doors.
"Ron, two things," Harry yawned. "Open mouth. Insert foot." Harry stopped suddenly. The floor in front of him, which previously occupied nothing but a bit of spilled pumpkin juice, was now filled by something a bit larger. Ron and Hermione stopped a belated second later, and also looked confusedly at the abrupt apparition. Blaise Zabini had just materialized in front of him.
The girl stared at him. Harry's gaze, however, was no where near as stationary. His eyes snapped back and forth between the Slytherin girl and the Slytherin table. She must have near sprinted to reach the doors before him. His feelings of shock were steadily wearing off and being replaced by a much more uncomfortable nervousness as Blaise continued to stare at him. His mind flailed wildly for something to say. 'My, what green eyes you have,' No, idiot, that's completely inane. Of course she already knows she has eyes. He found himself wondering that it was rather odd how two people could both have green eyes, yet they both be so different. Hers were like olives; subdued and somehow less green than one thought they ought to be.
Hermione finally broke the silence with a studdered, fragmented trailing sentance."I, um, thought that ... Italian, er- people didn't ah, have red hair, I thought they...had...darker...hair..." She looked rather sheepish, as though she thought it an incredibly stupid thing to say. Granted, it was, but Harry sent her a silent Thanks anyway. At least it was a little better than 'You have eyes'.
"This isn't my natural color," Blaise replied politely, though she never took her eyes from Harry's face. "If you look very closely you can see the roots."
She took a step closer to the nervously twitching, bespectacled boy, so that they were only inches apart. Harry couldn't see any other color in her hair, however. He thought of Ginny's vibrantly red-orange locks, and wondered again how odd it was that two people could be similar, yet so different. Just like her eyes, her hair seemed repressed, more like copper or bronze than red, actually. He looked back down at her face when he heard her finally speaking.
It was barely more than a whisper, and Harry was taken aback. Not by the suddenness of the question after such a long silence, or the fact that he was expecting something entirely different. He was slightly surprised that it was He's back? and not Is he really back? or Are you sure he's back?; but the fear discernible in her voice, it was as though she was trying to fight it back, tooth and nail, but failing miserably. He found it unnerving how someone who could keep all other features controlled could have so much unmistakable terror in their voice. He suppressed the urge to give her a big hug in favor of the answer it seemed she knew would be given.
She took a step back, to her original position, and stared at him a moment more, as though searching for a lie hidden somewhere in his face. She seemed to find none, and resignation, cold and quiet, broke through her mask. But a second later she nodded at him, expression blank, and shook his hand. When she let go there was a piece of paper in Harry's hand. He unfolded it. Inside was a galleon and the words "Thank you."
"Slytherins are so weird." Ron shook his head as though he knew he would never understand said Slytherins, and for anyone to try was a lost cause. "But hey, at least you got a galleon out of it. And just the other day you said that telling the truth wasn't paying off..."
Harry forced a grin for Ron as they finished their path to the doors of the Great Hall. While Hermione was saying something about hair dye and Ron was accusing her of turning into a normal girl, Harry spied the Zabini girl leaning over the staff table, talking to Dumbledore. Harry's fixed smile grew into a real one.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to continue this, so um, yeah.