Blaise taps his fingers against the table, thick wood fighting back against each tap. With each loud rap, his classmates glance towards him. Malfoy’s mouth is slowly curving into a tight-lipped frown, Goyle beside him merely peering out every time. The poor boy is going to get a crick in his neck like that. Blaise doesn’t care. He never liked Goyle. He puts up with him because he enjoys Malfoy’s company. Most of the time, at least. Like this, with the blond on the very edge of suddenly hexing his fingers off - for once, Malfoy is trying to listen to what Professor Sprout is saying - he merely finds amusement in his dormmate.
The professor bounds over to them, interrupting any opportunity for hexing, and smiles brightly. “Any trouble, boys?” Each of the Slytherins paste on their own smiles, warm and incredibly forced, before replying in near-perfect unison: “None, Professor.”
Satisfied with the answer, she nods and strides back to where the Gryffindors are mostly failing at whatever it was they are all supposed to do - harvesting some kind of berry from a nasty little plant that threatens to take off Blaise’s fingers just as much as Malfoy is. He recalls something the professor mentioned earlier: that the berries are riper the closer to the harvest moon they got. He wonders half-heartedly when that is.
“Hey, you actually got one?” A surprised voice chimes in loudly from the Gryffindor table. Weasley looks shocked as he stares at Longbottom’s hand. Longbottom looks surprised himself, then grins around the table, straightening visibly. Blaise wonders when he came out of the shadows of those he calls friends. Malfoy sneers beside him, focusing his attention even more on the plant in front of him, leaning closer as if it will help him reach the tiny purple berries. He immediately draws away with a yelp as the plant nips at his hand, giving what feels like a grin towards Blaise. He grins back slyly.
“Yeah, I guess I did,” Longbottom replies, his voice almost lost in the sudden hubbub of conversation that crops up following his success. Professor Sprout beams, looking more excited than anyone in the room, excepting only Longbottom. Blaise pauses in his work, brows coming together curiously. Malfoy is speaking to him, but he neither listens nor cares; his attention is elsewhere.
He hears a murmur of “Well, we’ve lost Blaise. To the Gryffindorks, no less.” and barely stifles his amusement. Malfoy was always bizarrely focused. Perhaps there’s something to what he said, though - Blaise finds his scrutiny focused on only one person - Longbottom. To what end, he wonders.
He stares for perhaps far too long; Granger seems to notice him, and frowns, nudging Potter, who gives only a subtle, sideways glance towards Blaise. They murmur between them, until Potter just shakes his head and laughs. Blaise is once again safe.
Professor Sprout claps her hands together to draw everyone’s focus to her. “As I’m sure you’re all aware,” she begins, giving them all a long stare that betrays her smile, “Tonight is the harvest moon.” Almost immediately, there is soft conversation all around Blaise. The professor claps her hands again, slowly silencing the room. “If there is anyone who has nothing to do tonight, there will be extra credit for those who choose to join me in harvesting the remainder of these berries.”
There is another clamour while people stuff their notes and clippers alike back into bags. Professor Sprout looks slightly dismayed as she scans the room, searching for someone - anyone - willing to help her. She pauses when she spies Longbottom’s hand sticking out of the crowd; he is unmoving. Blaise notices as well.
They share a muted conversation, lost in the din; as Malfoy begins to slide out of the room, Crabbe and Goyle in tow, Blaise remains. “What’re you doing, Blaise?” Malfoy drawls. “Giving up your evening for some plant?”
“I hardly think what I do with my evening is your business, Draco,” he replies, raising a brow. Malfoy gives a delicate shrug, casting a knowing look between both henchmen. The three of them snigger as if sharing a private joke, and leave. Professor Sprout looks pleasantly surprised as she turns from Longbottom, spying his hand now as well.
“Mr Zabini, were you interested as well?”
“Of course, professor,” he tells her, the picture of perfection and ease as he leans against the table.
“Be here after dinner, then. Thank you for your time.” He nods, offering a demure smile before he gathers up his things and slowly heads to his next class. Longbottom and Finnegan are ahead of him, chattering about something. Blaise knows they all share Charms, and makes no effort to slide past them in an attempt to get there first. He is content with his place in line.
During Charms, a similar thing happens. Though Blaise no longer has Malfoy to distract or make inappropriate comments, he spends too much time staring at Longbottom. He knows from past years that Longbottom wasn’t that good at certain charms before; he now shows a strange amount of confidence in casting and the way he holds his wand. Blaise finds himself enthralled.
Dinner comes quickly; before long, Blaise finds himself back at the Slytherin table, caught between Parkinson babbling endlessly to Malfoy about her day and Crabbe discussing something inherently important with Goyle, their heads bowed. Blaise makes no effort to join either conversation, though he knows the solution to Goyle’s problem, and he knows precisely what to say to get Parkinson to shut up. Instead, he picks at his dinner, anticipating with a strange swell in his chest the evening in the greenhouses; he can see Longbottom from where he sits, already going over his notes while eating. His eyes never leave the parchment.
There is an announcement from the Headmaster, bright and almost ominous in his twinkling tones. Blaise only pays limited attention, even as Longbottom glances up from his parchment. He thinks that Longbottom’s eyes might have met his, if even for just a moment. He wonders if he’s right.
“As your professors may have told you, tonight is the night of the harvest moon. No, no, no need to stop eating on my account,” Dumbledore interrupts himself, shooing a number of nervous Hufflepuff first years back to their meals when they stare up at him intently. “What you may not know is that this night is steeped in magical potential.” The glimmer in his eyes is nervewracking and sends a murmur of wonder through the Great Hall. As if content with the vague announcement, Dumbledore settles himself back in for a feast.
Blaise arrives to the greenhouses first, setting up out of sight in a small corner. He already has his shears out and a small basket when Longbottom arrives. Professor Sprout has either forgotten them or hasn’t finished her meal yet. Longbottom sets himself up in the middle of the room, humming to himself - he looks far too happy to be here. Blaise wonders if Herbology isn’t his favourite class.
They both begin to work without the professor; they both know what to do. Blaise wonders if Longbottom even realises he’s there, hidden behind his own plants. He is silent, after all. But at the same time, he always assumed Longbottom to be somewhat observant, if not incredibly so. Far more observant than any of the other Gryffindors. Even as he works, Blaise is unable to keep his eyes off Longbottom, attention seemingly drawn. The light of the harvest moon shines down upon them both, filtered through slightly tinted glass and the forest surrounding them.
Blaise notices immediately when Longbottom’s plant nips him. Where he once grinned at Malfoy’s misfortune, and the consequential whinging that followed, he now frowns. Longbottom stuffs the bloody fingertip into his mouth immediately to stem the flow, digging through his bag for a bandage; Blaise knows he has one in his own bag, and finds it without much effort. He crosses the room, no thought given to precisely what he is doing. His own plant seems to follow him with unseen eyes, tipping its head curiously. Blaise doesn’t care what a plant thinks of him.
He pulls Longbottom’s finger from his mouth, muttering a quick cleaning spell. Longbottom stares at him in surprise, though the precise origin of the expression is beyond Blaise. It could be a number of things. He doesn’t pay attention to the look of casual shock he is being given, merely wrapping the small bite with the bandage. He holds Longbottom’s hand perhaps a bit longer than he otherwise might have. When Longbottom opens his mouth to thank him awkwardly, Blaise glances up, raising one brow.
“Um. Thanks, Zabini,” Longbottom tries. Blaise now knows, if not from tone alone, that Longbottom noticed him before. He offers a faint upward curving of the lips, as much a smile as he is so inclined to give, and decides in that moment to shock Longbottom again. He presses the tip of Longbottom’s bandaged finger to his lips.
He receives a surprise sputter in response, and lets Longbottom steal his hand away. “You should probably watch out for these plants. They bite,” Blaise offers, more devious amusement visible in his expression. Longbottom stares after him as he turns away, heading back to his own table. There is another soft sputter as Longbottom tries to fathom what just happened, if he perhaps hasn’t fallen asleep at the table and is now suffering from a dream induced by inhaling semi-toxic fumes.
Blaise just chuckles to himself as he returns to his work, periodically casting a glance towards Longbottom. This time, he catches Longbottom himself staring.