Unfortunately, my name ain't JK Rowling, but I do play in the universe she created from time to time. As such, Celeste Morreau and Khalid Zabini belong to me as much as any characters sprung from my head to play in another author's universe can be. I don't know if y'all remember the implosion that was the HP fandom when it was revealed hottie Slytherin Blaise Zabini was of the Negro persuasion. While I bounced with unadulterated glee, I had to know what was up with his mother's "Black Widow" status...and then the plot bunny bit. So, I hope y'all don't mind me indulging it for some one shots. All three are up at my journal, but I'm going to post them here also.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
She knew she shouldn’t be so calm given all that had happened that night. The Muggle authorities had questioned her, of course, asking if she’d seen her husband behaving strangely before his tumble out of their ninth-story hotel room. She had replied he’d been a little tipsy from the champagne they had at dinner, but otherwise no.
He had never been able to hold his liquor.
It was chilly out, thanks to the breeze from the ocean and the recent rain that had rolled through the city. She stared at the flashing red and blue lights in a puddle by her feet, only to be drawn by a quiet voice offering something she could smell to be coffee.
“Thank you,” she replied, giving the Muggle medic a small smile.
She blew into the cup, all the while feeling the medic’s eyes on her as she took a sip. Another medic came and draped a blanket over her shoulders, and she offered a soft thank you for his generosity. That Muggle was hesitant to leave, but a summons—most likely from a superior—compelled him to do so.
The first medic still stood there staring at her, and she was beginning to get irritated. Her husband just died, for Merlin’s sake, and this Muggle was ogling her!
Just as she was about to dismiss him he spoke, but unfortunately, her Arabic wasn’t that great.
“I’m sorry?” she asked, knowing the likelihood he understood was about the same as her understanding him.
“He says you’re very beautiful,” another voice said, a deep voice that must’ve be the sonic equivalent of silk. Even the harsh floodlights couldn’t detract from the sheer sexiness of the man. He was dressed in a pinstripe suit—an odd sight considering it was around two in the morning. It was clearly of immaculate quality and tailor-made; not one ounce of fabric was wasted and it molded against his lean frame. His full mouth was framed with a neatly trimmed goatee. His skin was the color of spun dark gold, and his eyes were dark and piercing. She met his eyes dead on, refusing to be intimidated...or aroused...
“Tell him my thanks.”
The man’s eyes slid over to the medic as he relayed the message, and the medic’s face bloomed. He began bowing incessantly, until the man gave him a clipped order and pointed towards an ambulance far away from them. The medic bowed deeply one last time before going away, and suddenly she was conspicuously aware she was dressed only in a sheer nightgown and blanket while he was fully clothed.
And she was alone.
“I need an owl,” she muttered absently, her mind on contacting her grandmere in Paris.
“Mine is at your disposal, Miss.”
He’d effectively commanded her attention again. “You are—?”
“And, of course, so are you,” he replied with a grin. “A woman of your beauty couldn’t possibly just be a Muggle.”
She frowned at him. “My husband just died!”
“An unfortunate accident, most assuredly, but I do wonder how someone so old and pale managed to woo a young, dark beauty such as yourself?”
She pulled the blanket tighter around herself and glared. “I do not believe that’s any of your business.”
He shrugged. “No, it’s not.” He held out a hand to her. “Come.”
“Back inside. It’s chilly...and I don’t think you want to go back to your room, no? Besides, I have an owl waiting for your use.”
He was right, but there was something strange about this entire ordeal. Nevertheless she followed him, allowing him to guide her by the elbow back into the immaculate hotel and go to his penthouse.
This was not the way she imagined spending her first night of her honeymoon. She and her husband had chosen Casablanca because she’d expressed interest in visiting Africa one day, and she found some aspects of it wasn’t so different from her native Haiti. Part of her wished her grandmere could’ve come with them, but she wasn’t fit to travel.
Her escort whispered something in Arabic, a spell no doubt, and the wall slid away to reveal a large, spacious room full of alabaster pillars and marble flooring. There was a fountain on one side of the room, full of jewels no doubt imported from South Africa and other mineral-rich countries. Curtains billowed from the breeze, and she caught a glimpse of the terrace and heard the gentle roar of the ocean. The blanket went tighter around her, her eyes wide from such obvious displays of wealth. She realized her husband’s fortune couldn’t even compare to this stranger's!
His fingers squeezed gently at her elbow and he led her to a chaise that, upon her touch, she realized was made of cashmere. He clicked his tongue against his teeth three times and a large, majestic pharaoh eagle owl flew into the room, landing on his shoulder and giving her a hoot for a greeting. She indulged the owl, giving it a smile as a parchment, quill, and inkwell appeared on the end table next to her.
“Radames is ready when you are,” the stranger said, his eyes watching her pick up the quill and dip it in the inkwell.
She did not respond, the sea breeze blowing her curly hair in her face as she began to write. She chose French, though she wasn’t sure if that would really make a difference. She’d heard much of the language in the city streets, and since he was familiar with English, she assumed he’d be familiar with French as well.
Grandmere would be...what would she be? Relieved? It was no secret she'd never liked the man, but she had made a deal with him—he’d pay for her granddaughter’s education at Beauxbatons in exchange for her hand when she turned eighteen. Her uncles and cousins had told Grandmere not to trust that white man who lived on the hill all alone, but Grandmere knew her granddaughter was different...and after that first magical showing (accidentally blowing up a chicken in their house after a tantrum), she secured her granddaughter’s safety and education by shipping her off to boarding school.
She kissed the parchment before folding and sealing it, then attached it to Radames’s leg. She rubbed the owl’s head and wished it a safe flight, hoping her Grandmere would come get her. Admittedly, she wasn’t too keen on returning to Haiti, not after living in Europe for all this time, but without her husband, she was pretty much alone.
The owl took off, and she glanced at the man who stared at her with a small grin.
“You’re from Haiti?”
“It is not polite to read letters not addressed to you.”
His grin widened. “I noticed the faint accent in your English...is there nothing about you that’s not beautiful?”
She rolled her eyes and settled on the chaise, well aware the nightgown dropped so it revealed a smooth thigh. It really got bothersome to be reminded of her looks; in fact, throughout school she purposefully put a glamour on so boys wouldn’t stare and girls would leave her alone. However, her husband didn’t want the glamour. “I didn’t pay for an ugly maid,” he would say softly as he undid the spell. Indeed, she knew that had she not been pretty, the man would not have offered to help her and her grandmere at all; in a way she was thankful to him, and appreciated his generosity...if it could be called that.
But if her looks would get her out of scrapes, then by all means she’d use the gifts Fate decided to give her.
“Do you usually do this?” she asked, raising an eyebrow, “come to the aid of a newly anointed widow whose husband mysteriously died?”
He coughed and clasped his hands behind his back. “Nothing mysterious about a man falling from a window.”
“He wasn’t that old to be that senile to fall accidentally,” she replied.
The man nodded. “This is true, but I’m used to getting what I want...and he had something I wanted very much.”
She gasped, her eyes growing wide as she sat up abruptly. “You—!”
“Got rid of him? Yes. You are too good for him, bellissima.” He stalked towards her, sitting down slowly at the foot of the chaise. His hand, that bronzed, masculine hand slid up her ankle and calf to settle on her knee underneath the slip of her gown, and her breath was sorely constricted by his revelation and nearness. “You are perfect for me.”
“You don’t even know me,” she whispered, licking her lips from the sudden dryness. His eyes honed into the action immediately, and with a low growl, he cupped her face with his free hand and placed his lips upon hers. It was a soft kiss, a kiss that perfectly capped off the most bizarre night of her life. Not even her first showing left her so bewildered.
He brushed his nose against hers and grinned. “Then why don’t we get introductions out of the way?” His hand slid from her cheek and hovered in parallel to her thigh. “Khalid Zabini.”
“Zabini?” She’d thought he was Moroccan...
“Father was a property owner from Salerno. Bought this hotel from my grandfather with every intention of going back to Italy...”
“But he remained...because of your mother?”
“Sí,” Khalid replied. “Up until now I thought my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world...but now that I see you, I know that is not true.”
This was insane! The man just killed her husband and here she was feeling flattered? “I need to go—”
“You can’t go, bellissima,” Khalid said, grasping her hand in his. “You still haven’t given me your name.”
She licked her lips again, tasting him and shivering because of it. Clearly this man was used to having his way, and she wouldn’t put it past him to come to Paris or even Haiti just to find out.
And to her dismay, the thought didn’t bother her as much as it should’ve.
She looked into his dark eyes, took in his dark, sable lashes, indulged in the feel of his thumb rubbing the back of her hand, and answered him. There was no way she couldn’t.
“Celeste,” she replied, her voice slightly raspy because of his lips now ghosting the backs of her fingers. “Celeste Morreau.”