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Chapter 1 : Say Them, and I'm Yours.
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Random one-shot I've had in my files for about two weeks now? I don't know what that's all about. I'm stashing it from you guys! But I'm so excited about Ladylike. The support I'm getting is incredible. So this is a reward. :) I love you, whomever is reading this.
Three words. Eight letters. Three syllables. Say them, and I’m yours.
-Gossip Girl (as said by Blair Waldorf)
“One of these days, I might get sick of you always leaving. You’re gone more than you’re home, have you realized that? If you hate being with me so much, stay gone.”
He did not mean that. He would never want her to leave and never return to him. It would destroy him, and he knew that. No matter how many times she decided to leave, only coming back the next day, he would never grow tired of it. As long as she always came back, he would never grow tired. He never really understood why she left him; he only knew that there were things he said that infuriated her, making her think that staying around was useless. Something kept bringing her back to him the morning after and he liked to think it was because she knew how much he loved her. Of course, he knew this could never be the case; those three words had never once left his lips. He did not know if he was strong enough to say them.
“I’m starting to consider it,” she retorted. He knew she probably had considered permanently leaving him. He was just hoping she would not change her mind anytime soon. He could not handle her leaving again this week. She had just returned to him that morning, after a rather vicious argument from the night before left them furious with each other. “You make things so bloody difficult for me, do you know that?”
“I don’t see how.”
That was a lie. It was one of the biggest lies he had ever told. Of course, he was aware of how difficult he made things for her. They had been together for five years, at least. Over that time, the three words he would never speak left her lips daily, and the silence afterwards was usually the cause of her leaving almost every other night. He knew it was nearly impossible for her to stay with him. How could he expect such a beautiful witch to spend one second around a man whose love for her she could not prove was there? It was unrealistic to think anyone would do such a thing, especially someone like her.
She was an independent spirit, he knew. It took effort for her to allow herself to belong to him. It was hard for her to give herself to him repeatedly, to tell him how she loved him more than anything and anyone else in her world. It was something she never planned to do. Being free, being one person without another attached to her, was her original plan. When she met him, it all changed. She fell in love, and while it was hard for her to every day lose another piece of her independence as she fell farther and deeper, she did it for him. It was nearly impossible for her to continue to belong to him and to lose the independence she once held so dear when he could never return those three simple words to her.
“You don’t see how?” she looked as if she could hardly believe that. It made sense, of course. She knew him far too well to fall for such a fallacy. “You are not daft. You know exactly how.”
His expression was blank. Yes, he knew exactly how. But he could not tell her that. Just as he could never tell her those three words she waited so impatiently to hear. It was not a lack of their truth that kept him from uttering them. He knew he loved her. Was it so hard for him to say it? Possibly the hardest thing he had ever been asked to do. It was merely fear that stopped him. It was always fear. Fear of saying the words he had never said before, words that would release the emotions he carefully chained away. It was an irrational fear; a fear of change, a fear of admitting the truth, a fear of loving and letting love take over. His family did not raise him on those words. Love was not something he heard about daily, although he knew, at least near the end of the war, that his parents did love him. It was something he grew up without, and the unknown and new territory scared him thoroughly. He was a coward. They both knew it, and he would admit it loudly before he would finally tell the beautiful woman in front of him how much he loved her. He would rather be a coward than admit something of such importance, no matter how true he knew it was.
“Do you want me to leave, Draco?”
He would never lie and tell her yes. “Of course not,” he replied honestly, although he knew the answer was truly selfish. He gave her millions upon millions of reasons to leave him forever, and if she ever did it, he knew it would have a plethora of evidence to back it up. “I would never want you to leave.”
“You give me no reasons to stay.”
He knew this far too well.
“In fact, if I were half as intelligent of a witch as you claim me to be, I would have already left you,” she informed him, her warm brown eyes set on him as if they were begging him to finally fight for her.
It would not surprise him if she left. She should have gone already. He deserved to lose her, although losing her would thoroughly devastate him. It was what an utter coward like himself truly deserved. Losing the best thing that had happened and would ever happen to him would kill him, and yet, he would accept that as his fate.
“Do you want me to stay?”
She spoke those words so often. It was her own way of asking him, “Do you love me?” It was his answer to the question that would always be the final blow, before she would leave. It was always the last shot she took before simply Disapparating, leaving him behind to sulk in the dark parlor on the first floor of the manor in which he lived. It was all she could do. It was the only way she knew to get through to him, although so far, it had failed miserably. She knew him too well to be like a normal woman.
Draco did not speak. He could not speak. It felt like his lips were attached to each other, chaining back the words he desperately knew were true but feared so much to say.
For once, she did not promptly Disapparate. She should have. He expected her to. She stared at him, her smoldering brown eyes filled with thousands of emotions while his remained blank. Almost in tears, she took one step towards him. Her dark hair fell like a curtain around her, and she leaned her head upward to face him, letting the black sheath fall back and reveal her broken expression. “Draco, I’m begging you.”
Silence followed her words.
“Draco,” her voice strained as she took another step towards him, only a few centimeters away from him now. She looked up at him, searching desperately for any sign of a response. “Draco, I love you.” She no longer expected any response from him. Tears spilled down her pale face, streaking along with them trails of the makeup that had once surrounded her warm brown eyes. She never cried during those moments. The tears were the true sign that she was preparing herself to give up, for the last time. It was her final attempt to hear those three words leave his mouth.
He did not reply again. Draco saw the tears. He knew she was going to leave him now. There was no point in trying; he knew he could not say the words she so desperately yearned to hear. He had never said them before, nor had he heard them from anyone but her. It was almost as if his mind was unable to wrap around those three words, only because of their absence in earlier years. Surely, he knew the importance of them. He knew the meaning, and he understood the meaning. There was nothing about those three words he feared, other than the three words themselves and the impact they would have on the person he had grown to be. Draco Malfoy, the stupidly cowardly man everyone still talked in hushed tones about, was afraid of saying three simple words to save the one thing he held dearest to his heart.
He loved Astoria. Oh, he knew it. There was no one in this world for him, no one but Astoria. He loved her. Of that, he had no doubt. It was saying it to her, opening up the part of him that his parents preferred to keep tightly shut, that he truly feared.
“Can you say it, Draco?” Astoria pleaded, reaching out to cling to his arm. She looked truly pathetic then. She was not that kind of woman. Her facial features screamed of aristocratic breeding. She was a strong, beautiful woman. Nothing tore her to pieces, except for Draco and his cowardice. It shredded her; it knocked her down to her knees before him. Tears spilled freely down her cheeks and onto her dark satin robes, and Draco yearned even more to be capable of saying those words to her. He longed to stop those tears, to bring the power back into Astoria’s posture. “I know you do- I know you love me. Please, just say it. I just need to hear it, Draco.”
He could not. He longed to, but it was not a part of him he knew. He feared that. He feared becoming something he did not know.
“Do you want me?”
“Of course I do.”
Astoria brushed away a few tears that lingered on her pale, makeup-streaked cheeks. “Three words. Eight letters. Three syllables,” she practically whispered, clutching his arm tightly in her hand. “Say them, and I’m yours.”
Draco stepped back, pulling his arm away. “Just go,” he pointed to the doorway. He tried his hardest to make his voice seem cold and heartless. He could not speak to her that way.
“No.” She wanted her answer. She wanted a reply. She either wanted to hear him say those words, or say that he did not mean them. She would not leave without that. That, he knew very well. She was stubborn- incredibly so. “Three words, Draco. Three.”
“You can, Draco. I know you love me. You do, you do. You… you just have to say it.”
Astoria let out a strangled wail, one of aggravation and one of pain. It was if she could not decide whether she was angry with him or hurt from his indifference and lack of effort. “Three words,” she repeated.
She would wait no longer. Quickly, she found her wand amongst the dark satin folds of her robes. “Pack,” she murmured with a gentle wave, watching as her things flew from all ends of the manor into the open trunk at her feet.
He watched wordlessly. Emptiness consumed him. She was packing. She was leaving. Permanently. It was his entire fault. He could not do the one thing she asked for. He could not do it. He was a coward, and it was that that would cause him to lose her. He would lose his beautiful, magnificent, intelligent, perfect Astoria.
“Only three words,” she muttered to herself, silently levitating her trunk towards the doorway. “Only three.”
As she disappeared from the room, he felt his entire body clench up. Here it comes, he thought. She was preparing to leave. He would never be able to live without her. He was doing such a horrid job of living as it was, and now he would lose her. The only reason he had to live was leaving. Because of him.
“I love you,” he cried out as he heard a loud crack. It took everything in him to say those words. But he did not care how much energy was given forth for such an act. It was all for her. It was all to bring her back, to keep her. He could never lose her. But he had. She was gone. He could have choked. She was gone. He had said the three words she had waited so long for, and she was gone. It was too late. It was too late to save her, to bring her back. He had lost her. Forever.
“I love you, I love you, I love you,” he continued to say, feeling much like a fool without her there. The words that had chained him down for years were falling freely now. Ironic, he thought. This would happen to someone like him- only to someone like him.
There was another crack. In two seconds flat, Astoria launched herself through the doorway into the room, throwing herself into his arms. She had heard him. She had heard him, and she was back. Breathless, she pressed her lips against his hastily, and then kissed his cheeks, his nose, his forehead. She could barely see past the happy tears that flowed from her eyes and mingled with his own.
Pulling her face back to his again, before he pressed his lips against hers, he whispered, “Astoria, marry me.”
“Three words,” she responded, smiling against his lips as he kissed her again.
“I love you.”
/Sigh. Fluff, fluff, fluff. I love it.
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