Blaise Zabini had never been someone who “fit in.” That wasn’t exactly his forte. His mother went through husbands like other women went through favorite gowns, and everyone at Hogwarts knew it. On top of that, it was not easy being Black, transgender, American, and a Slytherin at Hogwarts. Any one of those things would have made his Hogwarts experience difficult, but he could have managed. Thank the gods he was a pureblood. That one bit of privilege was the only saving grace he was afforded. Anything else, and he was not certain he would have survived his first year. Not with Daphne being as distant as she had been back then.
He considered it a bit ungrateful of her, really. He went through all the trouble of getting sorted into Slytherin for her, just so that he could support her and continue their friendship, and she went ahead with her plan to ditch him and the others to increase her social status anyway. As though none of them meant anything. Sure, she kept him close in private. They were thick as thieves when no one was looking. But in Slytherin, it was a given that there was almost always someone looking.
Blaise would never give any of it up of course. He would never want to be white, or any other race than Black. He was not happy about the prejudice that he suffered from being transgender, but it had shaped him, and at seventeen, he did not think he would be the same person if he was cisgender, and so he would not change that either. He also would not have given up his experience in the United States for the world. Both the U.S. and the U.K. had their issues. Neither was perfect. Both were home. And he would never want to give either of them up.
So, no, Blaise would not change who he was. He was happy with where he had arrived in life. Even Slytherin was not so bad, once Daphne had gotten her head out of her arse and realized that being friends wasn’t so bad for her social status as she’d thought. Slytherin, in fact, had many advantages.
November 1st, 1991
After the troll incident, many of the first and second years were pretty shaken up. None of them had been in particular danger before, not even from classes, where the spells they had been learning were relatively harmless. Most of the older years were at least more familiar with danger, having been around magic for longer, and having more experience with magical accidents and happenstances. But for many of the first and second years, a troll was big news.
This wasn’t exactly the case for Blaise. After all, he was the son of a woman who was currently mourning her fourth husband by courting her fifth. His bar for scary was pretty high.
All the same, Blaise was a unique case, or at least many treated him as such. All of the gender non-conforming students at Hogwarts were affording special accomodations. Hogwarts was a castle that cared for all of her students, and was sensitive to their needs. Though she was also beholden to the wants of the headmaster and the staff, she always put the students first and foremost.
The rules of Hogwarts were simple. Students lived in their assigned rooms. Their rooms were assigned based on their house and their gender. Their house was decided by the Sorting Hat, their gender was decided by the student. The castle — or at least the sentient magical being that controlled its configuration — thought it very simple. Attuned to its magic, the house elves, Sorting Hat, and knights agreed, as well as most of the ghosts and portraits, though a few who were particularly stuck in their ways sometimes dissented, as did the occasional professor or headmaster. Ultimately, however, the castle configured itself and its rooms, and the professors could not actually do much to affect the sentient magic that was powered by over a millenia of magical energy drawn from hundreds of thousands of wixen and other magical flora, fauna, and relics.
Ultimately, all bowed to the will of the castle, who would create rooms fit for students who wished to stay with their cisgender classmates, or at times separate dormitories for students who wished to stay in a mixed dormitory with other gender non-conforming students.
As it happened, Blaise found himself sharing a dormitory not with the boys or the girls, for neither was he entirely comfortable with, but in a single room with a tiny common space that he shared with the over half a dozen other gender non-conforming students in Slytherin house.
It was here that he was called after the troll incident. The gender non-conforming students of Slytherin house were a close knit group. Often, even the students that initially chose to room with their cisgender fellows would soon join the gender non-conforming dorm, if for no other reason than to get the single room and to evade a roommate who snored.
They ranged across the years, with Blaise and Millicent Bulstrode being the only students from first year, and none from second. The older Slytherins were protective of the two first years, which was something both of them appreciated, Blaise in particular, considering how distant Daphne had been as of late.
He was not as scared now as many might have expected him to be, considering that there had been a troll loose in the dungeons and the Slytherins had been sent straight back to the common room just like all the other houses, as if their common room was not also in the dungeons. His mother was much scarier than any troll, though she was also beautiful, which made her all the more deadly, he thought.
Blaise was roused from his idle thoughts as Beatrice McKenzie, a sixth year and a prefect, brought the whole group in close and told them all what Professor Vector had informed her during the prefects’ debrief. Apparently Snape had been unavailable, which Blaise thought was strange. According to Professor Vector, Potter, Weasley, and Granger had gone off to fight the troll themselves, and had knocked it out, but destroyed the first year girls bathroom in the process. Gryffindors. Blaise sighed in disgust. These confirmed facts were the basis of the wild stories that had been floating around the school, but it was not lost on him that no one was protesting or at all upset about the fact that Weasley and Potter had been in a girls bathroom because it had been for a “noble cause.” Meanwhile, Blaise and his friends would frequently get strange looks no matter which bathroom they used if it was one outside of their shared common area. What absolute garbage. He was glad that the others in this part of his house agreed with him. At least they had each other.
December 25th, 1992
Blaise was disgruntled about the fact that he was at Hogwarts for Christmas. He wished that he could have gone home to see his mother, but she was on a cruise with husband number six, and from what he could tell based on the letter that he had received from her earlier in the month, she would be returning from the cruise as a widow. Blaise had become familiar with the phrase “plausible deniability” early in life, and at this point he realized that it was better for him to stay at Hogwarts than get involved in his mother’s affairs. He could have stayed with Jeremy — the only father he had ever known — but the man was spending Christmas with his other family, and Blaise did not want to intrude. Nor did he particularly want to spend it with Daphne and her family. Things were better between them now that she had mellowed out some, but still weren’t as good as they could be.
So, Blaise had elected to stay at Hogwarts. Many of the other students who lived in his dorm would be staying as well — a few of them did not have families that were quite as accepting as Blaise did, particularly the half-bloods among them. Still, Blaise was disgruntled to learn that Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle would also be staying. He did not particularly fancy having to deal with those three hanging around, even if he did not have to share a dormitory with them.
He was on his way to the Owlery to post a letter to his mother, idly wondering whether not addressing it to his soon-to-be-deceased stepfather was telling. Just as he decided that pretending it was because he hated the man was not really a lie, he noticed something odd in the main common room. Crabbe and Goyle were behaving weirdly. He was surprised Malfoy had not noticed, but then again the arrogant prick rarely noticed anything that was not his own ego. It was something about the way the two boys were sitting, the way they were carrying themselves. It was all wrong, like they were uncomfortable with their bodies and the shapes they were in.
Blaise was still too young to take any potions or use any spells that made permanent changes to his physiology, so while he could use the ones that put some of his body’s hormonal changes on pause, he could not change many of the aspects of it that he wanted to. He knew what it was like to feel unsettled in his own skin.
His eyes narrowed. What were they doing? Suddenly the two jumped up from the couch and hurried toward the door. Blaise followed at a quick pace, doing his best not to look as though he was following them. Once they reached the corridor they started to run, and Blaise followed, tapping the bracelet his mother had gifted him on his eighth birthday, which cast a nearly perfect disillusionment charm on his person. A device of her own creation and an unusual gift for an eight-year-old, perhaps, but she wanted him to always have a quick escape route, a way to stay safe. Why had she thought he needed it? He was not sure, he had always chalked it up to his mother being paranoid and almost definitely a murderer who had potentially committed other crimes. Either way, it came in handy as he used the thudding and labored breaths of the boys running ahead of him to cover up the whispered sound of him casting a silencing charm on his shoes, and he followed them through the castle. As they reached the second floor girls bathroom he realized to his frustration that he was not following Crabbe and Goyle, but Potter and Weasley who were again in a girls bathroom! Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom!
As he listened in, Blaise’s invisible eyes got wider and wider and he was certain that his eyebrows, were they not also invisible, might have indeed made contact with the fresh cut James Gonzales from Ravenclaw had given him two days earlier. These bloody Gryffindors had brewed Polyjuice Potion in a girls toilet in order to sneak into the Slytherin common room just to figure out who the Heir to Slytherin was? Because they thought a ponce like Draco Malfoy would know? Blaise was not sure who he was praying to, but he wanted them to fix this mess and help him mind his own business next time. And to also find a way to let trans kids go to the bathroom in peace if it was also going to let two wrecking ball boys brew an illicit potion for months in a girls bathroom with no repercussions. No one had found them in all this time, but neither he nor any of his other trans friends got to go to the bathroom in peace if another student objected to them being there. Sure the official policy protected them, but what did a 13-year-old bully care about policy? What did the prefects and professors who disagreed with it and looked the other way because they would rather he and the others conform, would rather the queer students were someone else’s problem and that they could ignore the laws that Hogwarts laid down to protect its students, even from those who were supposed to put them first?
End of Second Year
Blaise was in the hospital wing recovering from being hexed after a fight with Malfoy. He overheard the youngest Weasley telling her parents the story of what happened in the Chamber of Secrets, how a book that had belonged to Voldemort had ensnared her, how Harry Potter had almost died to save her. He was happy that everything was over, but upset that Hogwarts allowed a chamber with such a dangerous creature to exist in the first place. Once healed, he wandered the halls, stumbling upon a room he had never seen before, near one of the most ostentatious tapestries he had ever seen — and he went to Hogwarts. Opening the door, he found a room with a copy of a very old edition of Hogwarts, A History. It told a version of the myth of the founders where the basilisk was a protector of the school, and Blaise theorized that Voldemort must have corrupted her. He went to take the book out of the room, but as he left, the book vanished, along with the door to the room.
End of third year
Blaise was furious. He had always thought that people feeling an angry buzzing between their ears as an expression of anger was a euphemism for something, but he honestly could not hear, given how angry he was in that moment. He had missed breakfast due to oversleeping and apparently had missed quite a lot, because Millie filled him in as they relaxed together in the queer student common room. Both of them were skipping the day’s Hogsmeade visit, neither of them particularly interested in visiting the village, which was sure to be packed with students, and on such a hot day when neither of them had errands to run, or many friends outside of each other, they didn’t see the point. There was Daphne of course, but things were awkward between her and Blaise again. Blaise had started to notice Daphne in ways that he wasn’t sure Daphne would want to be noticed by him, and his fear at sabotaging their friendship was, in fact, somewhat sabotaging their friendship. Millie thought the whole thing was rather hilarious and a little bit sad, so for the most part she said nothing.
In the current situation, however, nothing was hilarious, as she told Blaise quite seriously what she knew about the previous night, based on what the Slytherins had been told at breakfast. Snape had been overheard arguing with Dumbledore in the entry hall by several students — most of them Slytherin.
“I won’t keep protecting your pet werewolf when he forgets himself and runs rabid on the grounds at night, putting every student and professor here at risk!” he’d shouted, just before the start of breakfast. Dumbledore then made an announcement at breakfast proper that yes, Professor Lupin was a werewolf and had been for a long time. He had been keeping himself safe all year by taking the Wolfsbane Potion, but had missed a dose last night and had been on the grounds. Apparently Sirius Black had also been on the grounds last night. Blaise could hardly make sense of it all, but more than anything, what he was upset about was how Professor Lupin had not told them any of this story himself.
Sure, he knew the man was a werewolf, but he was hardly dangerous. Blaise had been around plenty of dangerous men, women, and people who were between or neither. And Professor Lupin had never struck him as someone who would ever seek out to harm anyone, let alone a student. That Snape had implied he would set Blaise’s teeth on edge. That Snape and Dumbledore told Lupin’s story without Lupin around, and potentially (probably) without Lupin’s consent, made it even worse. The lack of agency was incredibly disheartening, and they would be losing one of the most excellent professors in a school that was sometimes lacking in terms of instructors who were skilled in their fields, good at imparting knowledge, and cared about their students as people. Lupin was one of the professors who contained all of those qualities, and in particular was one who had always been considerate to trans students where other professors who traditionally displayed those qualities were not. Blaise was dismayed to see him go, especially considering he had no idea who they would hire next for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position.
After Millie told him what happened, he decided to wander the grounds on his own, to collect his thoughts. He was surprised, after a time, to find himself quite close to the gates of Hogwarts themselves, and face to face with his now ex-professor.
“Mr. Zabini! What are you doing around here?” Lupin’s tone was not accusatory, only curious. He never was accusatory, that was one of the best things about the professor. With Lupin there was never a question of whether you belonged there or not, you were just where you were and who you were, and that was exactly how things were supposed to be.
“Just going for a walk, Professor,” Blaise answered, his hands in the pockets of his robes. Much of the anger had left him, really. He was mostly just tired.
“Ah, I’m not sure if you’ve heard —”
“I know you’re not our professor anymore, yes. But you know,” Blaise shrugged, “habit.”
“Yes, well. We all have those. You were always one of my favorite students Mr. Zabini. I know we’re not supposed to have favorites but —”
“I knew you were a werewolf,” he noticed how Lupin froze, and sighed. He had not wanted to do that. “Before, Snape and Dumbledore told us, I mean. And they shouldn’t have, it’s not right. It should have been your choice. But I knew you were a werewolf ages ago. I worked it out, easy,” Blaise shrugged again. “If you know what to look for.”
“Mr. Zabini —”
“I don’t think that you’re a bad person, Mr. Lupin. I don’t think you would have put all of the students at risk if it wasn’t worth something. And I know Sirius Black was on the grounds last night, too. Maybe I’ll never know the full story!” Blaise threw his hands up in the air. “And the gods know that will drive me mad. But I trust you. You were a good professor. The best. And I’ll miss having you at Hogwarts.”
And with that Blaise walked away, leaving a sadly smiling Remus Lupin behind him.
Blaise was nervous. He had no idea what had possessed him to ask Daphne to the Yule Ball. He had no idea what had possessed her to say yes. But Millie had been pressuring him to find a date (which was fine for her to say — she was secure after all with her boyfriend Geoff) and he had been so fed up with her pestering.
It could have been any afternoon in the library, Daphne looked so beautiful with her curls in tight twists that rolled over her shoulders and her eyes were gleaming in the afternoon sunlight and her thigh was pressed against his as she leaned over to look at his Transfiguration notes and he caught the scent of her hair butter and he temporarily lost control of his vocal chords.
“Will you go to the Yule Ball with me?” Blaise was as caught off guard as Daphne by the even nature of his tone, which was devoid of the utter panic that had immediately flooded his body after.
Daphne paused, seeming to evaluate him for a long moment, during which he held his breath with no small amount of anxiety. “Sure,” she shrugged. “My dress robes are blue. I’ll show you the shade later. We need to make sure we match.”
And now they were here, actually here, the two of them in dress robes, headed for the ball together. As friends, just friends, really. Though the thing was, they had not said that either. Was Blaise overthinking this? Was it a date? There was no way it was a date, Daphne would have said something if it were a date.
“Really Greengrass? This is your date? You would have been better off with the Mudblood Thomas, at least he’s a boy.” Blaise rolled his eyes and sighed. What he would not give to be in a different year, a different school, a different country from Pansy Parkinson.
“I would say that your lack of imagination was amazing, Parkinson, but that would imply that there was anything to say about you that was of note,” Daphne drawled. “Why don’t you go back to sniffing at Malfoy’s coattails so that the two of you can be unoriginal together?”
Aside from dealing with some of their unpleasant yearmates in the beginning, Blaise and Daphne managed to have rather a lot of fun. That was the thing about being friends for a long enough period of time — it was easy to have fun together. What was harder for Blaise was not falling in love with her for it.
“You know, I wouldn’t have pictured Granger and Potter coming together,” Tracy said as the four friends took a break from dancing to drink some butterbeer. She had lost her date, a Durmstrang boy, to another Hogwarts student, some Ravenclaw fifth year, but she didn’t really care. Millie’s shoes were too tight and she wanted a chance to gossip with her friends, so she waved Geoff away and told him to dance with his sister, whose own date was ignoring her.
“But of course they came together,” Daphne replied in surprise. “They’re always together. Do any of you really think Granger would go with Weasley? The girl has better taste than that.” If it were anyone other than Daphne who had made the statement Blaise would have expected them to snort, but that was not Daphne’s style. The smirk that graced her lips was, though. He wondered how they had stayed so glossy throughout the night. He bet his mum would know what spell it was. Oh no, I’ve been staring at her lips way too long.
“Who did Weasley end up coming with, anyway?” Blaise looked around the hall, ostensibly for Weasley and his date, but really so that he would not be accused of looking too closely at Daphne’s face, or any other part of her for that matter.
“One of the Patils, I think,” Millie replied, her face scrunched up like she was trying to remember. “Whichever one is in Gryffindor. I think Potter and Granger look nice together. Even if they are just going as friends.”
“What makes you think they’re just going as friends?” Daphne asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Well they certainly seem quite comfortable together, but you and Blaise came together too, didn’t you?” Tracy said pointedly.
“Yes, but Blaise and I are on a date!” Daphne huffed.
“We are?” said Blaise, with amazement.
“Aren’t we?” Daphne asked, and Blaise knew that he was probably one of the only people who could have sensed her uncertainty.
“Of course, definitely. 100% this is a date,” Blaise nodded firmly, the grin on his face a mile wide.
“Brilliant,” Daphne’s smile matched his perfectly.