Blaise Zabini had enough of letters.
Ever since he was eleven a month before the end of summer a letter would arrive alongside an owl that belonged to a school he had waited to attend his whole life. Those letters had once been magical, once held a world of wonder, but now he ignored and refused to let any enter his home.
The first ten owls had only found their way in due to his habit of leaving the kitchen window open while he smoked. He hadn’t glanced at the letters before he threw them into one of the many fireplaces that covered the muggle mansion he currently claimed as his home.
Though, he didn’t have to look at the letters to know they were sent from Hogwarts.
He would never get a day of piece from that horrid place.
Sliding himself on the black marble island in the center of the kitchen, he let the sound of owls pecking at the walls and windows begging to enter distract him from his lease pleasant of thoughts.
It had been two months since he had to endure the post-war trials of his friends and a month since he had last seen them. In fact, since he last saw anyone.
His mother who was now on her eighth husband had escaped the war during the summer of his seventh year, the one, his mother had not let him attend. Having been locked away in his new step-fathers, Arthur’s, muggle mansion. The man was a rich squib whose wizard family had set him up with Mrs. Zabini. They were still on their honeymoon somewhere in Thailand and had left him in a house that was not connected to the floo system.
Blaise had spent many months locked away in what the muggles would call a modern-mansion and what wizards would call an attack to architecture-with very few visitors. Theo, Pansy and Draco had stopped visiting him in December of 1997 a few months before the war ended. They had sent him letters that were always tear-stained and in Draco’s state bloodstained. To distract himself from worrying too much about his friends he had taken the time to reflect and perfect himself and his magic.
During so, many things had dawned on him.
Harry Potter and his followers may have won the war, but they had left a storm in their wake. One that he had so desperately tried not to get caught up in. He wasn’t lucky enough to not get soaked by the rain and hear the thunder crackling every hour of the day.
Blaise had realized everything had been bullshit. Lavender Brown and Nymphadora Tonks had died for nothing. All of it, every last ounce of pain that was caused by a barbaric and downright disturbing prophecy that had targeted a child had cost countless lives and had taken pieces of everyone that had ever been touched by its words. A prophecy that had affected children who hardly even understood what being a wizard truly met and still many years later and after a bloody war still didn’t understand the meaning of it. All of it was bullshit in the end—blood purity, muggles, half-bloods, mudbloods— none of it had ever mattered.
When the most important of it all dawned on him he was too late to do anything. Everyone's blood ran red, and it was not enough to save anyone. By the end of the trials before he saw the last of Draco Malfoy did he realize the weight of his decisions.
A throbbing began in the front of his skull and finally having enough of the pecking Blaise allowed a single owl in, handing it a treat he traded for a letter.
Practically tearing it open he held it in shaking hands.
By the end of the letter, he stared at the new Headmistress’ signature—McGonagall’s signature as the clock clicked to another hour.
A feeling he had pushed away since the beginning of sixth year rose up again. His knees threatened to buckle as his mind fought against him.
The ministry was making them return to Hogwarts to finish their education.
His first thoughts were not of himself; they hadn’t been in months.
His first thoughts were ones of his friends. How would Draco be able to handle returning to the place that shunned him?—that hated him? How were Theo or Pansy?
Clutching his wand, he summoned three pieces of parchment and his quill and wrote. Not caring for ink stains or nice cursive.
A few minutes later his owl was sailing towards his friends.
This was an opportunity for Slytherins to redeem themselves to show themselves in a place where some had done wrongdoings and prove that they could be civil and well off as if many of them hadn’t been raised by pureblood families.
It was a horrible idea.
A redemption none of them would be able to willingly choose for themselves.
It had been a long time since Blaise had thought about school. His mind had been too occupied with the fates of his friends. All plans of completing his OWLS and getting a well to do job at the ministry had slipped from his mind and the sudden knowledge that perhaps those plans were attainable once more was too cruel to think of. To sudden a wound.
Now the letter that did not request but demanded him attend eighth year of Hogwarts to finish his education threatened to collapse the false sense of security he had built for himself among the cement and glass walls of his muggle mansion.
If his mother had allowed them to set up a floo system, he would have found his way to Malfoy Manor to comfort his friend. Narcissa and Draco’s house arrest be damned.
The Tuesday fell into Wednesday as Blaise slowed his racing heart and began his breath control.
His calming heart rate didn’t last as a tawny owl flew through his kitchen window.
A letter falling to his lap.
“Thanks,” he mumbled to the thing.
Blaise quickly read the letter.
Ted and Andromeda are allowing you to visit. Arrive at 12 pm.
Don’t be late.
He scanned Theo’s disgrace of the very word handwriting two more times until he deigned to relax on a leather chair in one the three living rooms in the house.
He knew before he sent the letters that he’d only receive a single response.
Draco hadn’t written to him since the end of the war or even tried reaching out and Pansy had locked herself away in the Lovegoods residence.
After the war many Slytherins had been left without families and homes to return to and of course Luna Lovegood the strangest witch of their generation had the brilliant idea of helping the new found orphaned and unwanted. Her father and the Tonks had opened their doors to his fellow housemates. Ted and Andromeda took the boys and Luna and her father took the girls.
Both Theo and Pansy had found themselves swept away to their homes after their trials.
The pain of the war and the pieces they all had lost during it haunted Blaise’s dreams.
Deciding he didn’t want to deal with any of the nightmares he summoned two bottles of whisky and drank them both to the drags.
His nightmares consisted too much of his life.
They always showed what the war had taken from his friends. Draco Malfoy no longer held his arrogant, prideful and snarky attitude, Theodore Nott’s smile no longer reached his eyes and his laugh lacked everything that had made him Theodore Nott and Pansy Parkinson the once confident girl who had sneered at anyone who dared look upon her had broken.
There was no escape from reality for Blaise.
He fell asleep the same way he did every night in a drunken haze whispering promises to return the pieces of his friends—to restore them to their glory even if it meant sacrificing himself in the process.
The crack of apparition stirred the birds from the forest trees that now surrounded Blaise.
Walking towards the clearing he had only seen once before he sipped on a potion that dulled his hangover.
The thrum of the wards that encompassed the Tonks home made it invisible to not only muggles who may stumble upon it, but to his own eyes. He had only been to the cottage once when he helped Theo move in. They had decided to place it in the middle of the forest that was on the outskirts of a large town that he knew the residence of the house ventured to with Ted Tonks who was more than willing to show them his world. The muggle world.
Now as he stood waiting, he could hear the faint distorted noises coming from the other side of the wards.
In a brilliant flash of green a hand shot out from the wards and grabbed his wrist pulling him forward. For a few seconds Blaise felt like he was stuck walking through honey then the next he was falling to the ground alongside a boy with brown curls and a face that he had once seen every day even during summer in the early midst of their teen years.
“Blaise,” Theo said, his eyes sparkling under the sun. “You smell nice.”
“It’s good to see you too, Theo.”
The boy leaped to his feet to lend him a hand.
Theo no longer had noticeable eyebags or the faint marks of bruises that had once covered his tan skin. He was still weedy, but now a leanness to him was present beneath his shirt. He looked better than he had in years even with a false smile that warped his handsome face into the semblance of his best friend.
Behind him was a boy with dirty blonde hair that had an incredulous look on his face.
"Adrian, nice to see you again." He offered a hand out to the older boy who took it.
The look on Adrian's face quickly dropped and was replaced with a smile much brighter than Theo's. "Supposed you got the same letter as the rest of the boys then.”
Adrian was a year older than them, but with his ties to the death eaters his trial consisted of many arguments on where to place him. He was much to young to land himself in Azkaban and his crimes weren’t bad enough to fill the already overflowing prison. The Tonks had offered to house him and reform him to hopefully one day be put back out into wizarding society. He'd be living among the heavily warded cottage for the formidable future.
“If I’m going to be honest, I wouldn’t mind heading back to good ol’ Hogwarts to see how the Slytherins handle the onslaught of sure-fire hate they will receive,” Adrian laughed, as he lead them towards the cottage.
The inside of the cottage smelled like fresh pastries and plants.
The very essence of the building was warm and welcoming. The furniture and decoration were muted tones of beige with faint hints of darks and bright colours.
“I made some bread for you, boys!”
An older woman who bore the beauty of aristocratic wizards appeared at the kitchens doorway. She had wild brown hair and kind eyes, though the toll of her daughter's death was prominent in her willowy frame.
“Oh, dear I nearly forgot you would be here,” she said more to herself than him. “I suppose I can make another loaf.”
“That’s quite alright Dromeda, Blaise isn’t fond of white bread.”
He knew that voice. That dreamy voice, that held the lilt of the very nature she cared so much about.
Luna Lovegood was here.
Theo tossed an arm around his shoulder pulling him towards the kitchen where Andromeda had disappeared into.
“Mmm, a hint of pine and whisky,” Luna mused, scrunching her nose up at him.
She grinned up at him and a weight that he had been holding for much to long lifted.