Chapter 1 : Prologue
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Thanks so much for Isabelle for beta-reading and revising - you're the best!
Amantes Sunt Amentes: Prologue
The rain was pouring down that October night. People on the streets hurried inside shops or restaurants to hide themselves from the rain. It was awful; it hadn’t rained this much in a long time, and now, it seemed to do so constantly.
Inside a warm and cosy, yet very expensive restaurant, which was nicely set with wineglasses and white table-cloths, sat a young girl about twenty, with long blonde hair. She was looking out the window, having dinner with a white-blonde boy her age, but he showed no interest in her whatsoever. She appeared bored and kept casting sad glances at him. He paid no attention – just kept scanning the menu.
The girl, Astoria, now turned her gaze to another table in the restaurant, having heard a sound like a shattering glass. A girl with brown, very curly hair and glasses at a table on the other side of the restaurant had emptied her glass of champagne on her date. Or so it seemed, since his shirt was wet and he looked insulted and embarrassed. She still held the glass tightly in her hand and had risen from the table, looking furious.
“You bastard! She’s my best friend! How could you?!” the girl screamed at him, tears threatening to fall. The boy looked apologetic, and he looked around, obviously finding it embarrassing that people were looking. He lowered his voice a little, as he said, “keep it down, will you? You’re making a scene, Patricia!”
“Well- well then, I’m just bothering you! I’ll go then, and you can just… Piss off!”
The people around them gasped at the same time. The girl gave him one last murderous look, before stomping out of the restaurant, nearly knocking a passing waitress off her feet. The people in the restaurant watched her leave; then either cast glances at the embarrassed boy, or whispered something to another in their company.
Astoria studied the girl carefully as she left the restaurant and went out in the god-awful rain. She wished she had the nerve to do something like that to her date, who in fact was her husband.
Astoria sighed and looked down into her menu, trying to choose something to order but her mind was elsewhere. The low light along with the mild music was supposed to be cosy and comfortable but for Astoria it just felt empty and false. As a waiter passed their table, Astoria looked up and glanced at her husband who was sitting right across from her, still looking down at his menu. They hadn’t talked – not said a single word to each other – in several minutes. Or more.
Salad… or soup? The Thai-soup sounds delicious, Astoria pondered, but she couldn’t keep her mind focused.
She wondered if he was thinking about… her. If he was longing for her… She wondered if they were going to meet after they had finished dinner.
Astoria, and her husband, Draco Malfoy, were in an arranged marriage. Forced together, unwillingly, or at least, on his part they were. She, on the other hand, was in love with him. But that felt almost embarrassing to admit, even though loving your own husband shouldn’t have been a strange thing at all.
Then, they weren’t ordinary people, either.
It had all started back at a party in July nearly a year ago. Draco and Astoria had just gotten married – a week after she graduated from Hogwarts. Blaise Zabini – someone whom Draco had known from school – was having a party to celebrate his… birthday, promotion, something.
Draco had insisted on being there. Astoria had felt a funny feeling of foreboding, though at the time she had not known why. So Draco and Astoria had gone. She had been bored the whole night, just sitting beside Draco, and not talking to any of his friends when they came over.
Though Astoria had noticed someone. A dark haired, short girl with an upturned nose, who was sitting with the birthday boy. Or… promotion boy. Astoria couldn’t remember which. This girl in particular spent the evening giggling and shrieking with her friends a lot. She also kept on whispering things in Zabini’s ear, which made him grin slightly. Astoria made the mistake of looking over at her husband at that moment and she saw that he was looking the same way as she had been a second before. He was following the girl’s movements, not ever tearing his eyes away from her, and with a shock, Astoria realised that he was… jealous. He looked like he was boiling inside and Astoria saw his nostrils dilate slightly. He looked like he could kill one of them and Astoria didn’t think he’d go for the girl.
Draco had never been that close with Blaise Zabini anyway. Apparently, when they’d been at school, he’d always thought Zabini had been a little too much all over Draco’s then girlfriend.
However, this girl who was groping Zabini at the party seemed to interest Draco. Astoria had overheard Gregory Goyle making a snide remark about her being loose, and therefore it could hardly be serious, whatever was going on between her and Zabini. Goyle had sniggered at his own joke about this girl being cheap, but Astoria had noticed that Draco hadn’t curled his lip as he would have been characteristic of him.
Goyle had eventually left and Draco had kept looking at the girl who Astoria started to dislike more and more of as the moments passed. Astoria had noticed that this dark-haired girl had started looking back at Draco, at first surprised to see him, as if they’d met before. She had fleetingly looked sad, but then masking it with a smile. Astoria didn’t understand it.
Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore, so she grabbed Draco by the arm and turned her to him. He looked surprised first, looking back at her, meeting her gaze. She then kissed him, first tentatively pressing her lips against his, and then he did something that surprised her greatly. He kissed her back, with more gentleness, more love and more passion than he’d ever kissed her with before. And Astoria wasn’t dumb. Even though she had enjoyed that kiss, even tried to make it last for as long as she could, hoping and wishing that the black-haired girl was watching – Astoria knew that it wasn’t because Draco suddenly had fallen in love with her. She knew that Draco had just been watching that girl, and she knew that Draco was imagining Astoria to be… someone else. Astoria closed her eyes nonetheless and leaned into the kiss, yet she still felt the urge to cry.
After that day, Draco wasn’t present. Not that he ever had been. Well, he was there, but his mind was far away. Once when the two of them were walking down Diagon Alley, and she had insisted on holding his hand, he wasn’t there. His mind was constantly away.
”Sir – Ma’am – are you ready to order?”
Astoria was forced back to reality. Ugh, she really did hate being addressed to as “Ma’am”. It made her feel so old.
Draco ordered without even glancing at Astoria. His tone was emotionless when he said, “Yes, I’ll have the roasted chicken.”
Draco gave the waiter his menu as the waiter nodded, took it, and turned to Astoria, “And as for you, ma’am?”
Astoria found her voice, but it came out weak, “I’ll have the tomato soup, thank you.”
“And to drink? Share a bottle of our red, perhaps? We have a very fine, elf-made bottle that I’d highly recommend,” said the waiter in a polite tone. Astoria was half-way ashamed of herself, and of Draco. What a boring couple they must’ve been seen as. It was embarrassing being out with him, because she was constantly thinking about how other people saw them – as an unhappy couple stuck in a marriage. Astoria hated being judged. And that Draco couldn’t even try to be a little polite… The waiter hadn’t done him any harm. Astoria felt herself needing to answer.
“That- That’d be nice, thank you.”
The waiter nodded, flashed her a small smile and took Astoria’s menu back. He left. She wished she could say that the tension between her and Draco was horrible, but it was rather the lack of tension that was killing her. She could just feel all of the emotions he did not have for her. And it felt so forced, so cold. Yet, she was also slightly angry with him for just that. If he just tried, then maybe they could work it out all right. But he kept insisting on acting like a stubborn, little boy.
Soon enough, the waiter came back with their wine. Astoria lit up by the thought of it. The waiter poured them a glass each and then left. Draco kept looking out the window, his face cross. Astoria took up her wineglass and took, not a sip, but a big swig. She took another, and emptied her glass.
It was only later that she had remembered that her mind had been so off that she’d forgot to order the Thai-soup instead of the tomato one.
Later, when they actually left the Amortentic Foods who were said to have food as “captivating” as a love potion, Astoria felt exhausted. She didn’t know why, because she’d just spend the day shopping with her mother (Mrs Greengrass had so long wanted one of those new and exclusive magic-set for the kitchen, with knives, bread-boards, kettles and pans that did what you told them). But she wanted to get away from Draco, too. She couldn’t stand being in his presence, when all he did was sulk. She could hear what he was thinking then, and it hurt her more than he could imagine. Sometimes, he was like that. Stony, quiet and passive. He almost frightened her then. But sometimes he was nice – as nice as he could be towards her – and he could talk to her. A bit, at least. He just had… slight mood-changes. It really angered her, quite frankly, not that she could ever tell him to… to be nice. Pfft. Like she had any control over him.
She didn’t. He could do anything he wanted. She wouldn’t dare tell him off, anyway. But yet, she couldn’t seem to focus her anger on him. She was angry with her parents for putting her into this mess of a situation.
This scared her.