(Behold the results of being wide awake at four in the morning!)
Blaise Zabini: The "Definitive" Guide
Throughout the centuries, many characters have burst forth from the pages of literature, imbued with such originality and depth that they have quite naturally become the subject of intense reader interest, but few have evoked such passionate responses as J.K. Rowling's Blaise Zabini.
However, just who is Blaise Zabini?
It is my hope that this guide will clear up some of the more insidious misconceptions about this most enigmatic man and provide a clear and honest portrait of the character some have called 'the true hero of the Harry Potter series."
As with so much related to the Zabini legend, the question of Blaise's family is mysterious and shadowy, as if hidden beneath the shimmering folds of an invisibility cloak. Rumours abound about Zabini's parentage, most notably related to the family surname, which has given rise to the belief that Blaise's father, at the very least, must be Italian.
However, not everyone is prepared to take this relationship between name and national origin at face value, for if Zabini's family are loyal to the cause of the Dark Lord, as so many believe to be the case, then it would seem far more likely that the Zabinis are as British as William the Conqueror. [1a] and [1b]
What is indisputable, however, is that the readers are introduced to neither Blaise's parents, nor to any siblings he might possess, thereby creating a nominal "orphan" status for him (a common occurrence for protagonists of coming-of-age tales) and thus lending support to the likelihood that Zabini will prove to be the ultimate hero of the seven book series,
One might assume that Zabini would find his closest alliances within Slytherin House, into which he is sorted (SS/PS), yet it should be noted that the first  mention of his name is separated by a mere two-letter word from "Harry," drawing an early relationship between these two pivotal characters.
It should also be noted that not once in the series do we see Zabini actually spending any time in the company of his fellow Slytherins. Could this be due to a fundamental antipathy between Zabini and his Housemates? An early rift engendered by Zabini's refusal to engage in the custom of looking exclusively toward one's own house for friends and allies, which many readers believe to be the natural state of affairs for those students sorted into Slytherin House? We may never know the whole truth, but what is clear is that Zabini is not in the forefront of that group of Slytherins who have positioned themselves in opposition to Harry Potter and his Gryffindors.
It would be reasonable to assume that, early on, the true hero of a series of novels set in a school would begin to display special qualities, both in and out of the classroom, but here Rowling surprises us by keeping Zabini's areas of academic expertise hidden from the eyes of the reader. Not unexpectedly, Zabini does not have notable difficulty in his first flying lesson as does Hermione Granger, nor does he demonstrate incompetence in Potions class, as Neville Longbottom is seen to do, but neither does he appear to shine in any of the academic disciplines taught within the stone walls of Hogwarts.
It must be emphasized, however, that there is no necessary relationship between the extent to which a character is seen to possess academic excellence and his/her true capacities. The late Cedric Diggory, for example, was a fine student and a Prefect, yet he had barely been heard of before GoF, and this should be kept in mind when you consider the question of Zabini's scholarly pursuits.
Physical Pursuits: Part One
While it is reasonable to suppose that Zabini is at least competent on the dance floor (support for this supposition can be found in the fact that no mention is made of Zabini and his partner disgracing themselves during the Yule Ball), we know little about his interest in and talent for that most popular sport: Quidditch.
As previously noted, Zabini is not seen to have any particular problem mounting his broom during Madame Hooch's first flying lesson, however there is no indication of whether Zabini chooses to pursue Quidditch as a leisure activity. We do know that Zabini is not on the Slytherin House Quidditch team, but whether that is due to a lack of talent (difficult to believe in such a multi-faceted character), lack of interest, or the result of House politics, we may never discover.
Physical Pursuits: Part Two
Overly sensitive sorts - or those below the age of majority in their locale - would do well to ignore this section, because mention must be made of that other most popular physical pursuit: sex.
One might question why the subject of sex is even being brought into this discussion given that the book series would seem, on the surface, to provide little in the way of support for any physical contact taking place between any characters beyond occasional hand-holding or stolen kisses. However, even the most cursory glance at the supplemental literature  will show a vast range of sexual encounters between many, if not all of the characters in the books, and Zabini's involvement in these often steamy engagements is no exception.
It is unsurprising, given Zabini's sexually ambiguous nature, that he should have such a wide-ranging assortment of bed partners. After all, until recently, not even Zabini's gender could be agreed upon. What is certain is that clear evidence exists to support Zabini's liaisons with characters ranging from Hermione Granger to Draco Malfoy and indeed all the way to his own Head of House, Severus Snape .
The Future of Blaise Zabini.
With the release of Half-Blood Prince just around the corner and a seventh book still on the way, there is equal evidence (see note ) to support Zabini ultimately taking the Dark Mark as a loyal Death Eater as there is to show why this could not possibly occur and how he will, instead, join the Order of the Phoenix before the final battle with Voldemort. 
Will he become an Auror? The new Potions master at Hogwarts? A prisoner in Azkaban? The indolent and pampered lover of Harry Potter?
Only time will tell what the future holds for Blaise Zabini, but whatever the final answer, there is no doubt but that it will enthrall readers just as much as his life has thus far.
[1a] Who wasn't, of course.
[1b] For a more in-depth examination of the correlation between names and nationality, see my earlier work "Lucius Malfoy: He Ain't No Frenchy."
 ...and only
 i.e., fanfiction
 Those who would question the idea of canonical support for such liaisons are asked to read my earlier essay "What Do you Mean Fanfic Writers Make This Shite Up?"
 "Don't use His name!"
Comments, critiques, chit chat: beth-h @ mrks.org