Chapter 3 : The Boy She Misses
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Disclaimer: I don't own anything you can recognize from Harry Potter. Awesome! chapter image by kaylalay @ TDA
They put Astoria on the fourth floor – the floor for “spell damage”. I’ve never thought of Apparition as a spell, really. All the same, they tend her there.
When we’d arrived, the reception woman had taken one look at her and said something about a “stretcher, stat.” A pair of Healers came running and took her from me. They took her to an area reserved for emergencies only, and I was forced to wait in the room they said she’d be placed in when they were done with her.
They’d said she would live.
I’d almost fainted with relief.
Now, I’m sitting in her room, waiting for them to bring her in. But it’s taking so long… Worrying me. I begin to pace, and nothing but images of her come to mind. Astoria will live. I want to whoop. I want to celebrate.
But she’s not back yet. I can’t.
Impatience grates on my nerves. I take the stairs to the gift shop.
What would Astoria even want here?
There are cards, pillows, stuffed animals… I sigh and lean against a wall. Would she want something from here? I scan a rack of toys.
That’s when I see it – something glittery is hiding in the back, between a fluffy duck and a plush walrus. I reach for it and manage to pull it off the giraffe neck it’s been hooked on. When I pull my hand away from the shelf, a small ring sits in my palm. Trying not to draw too much attention to myself, I put it back on the tiny giraffe’s neck and take the giraffe with me to the counter. The clerk smiles at me and says I am clever for having put the ring on the gift – I suppose she assumes it’ll go to a special girl that I wish to marry. But she’s wrong – Astoria wouldn’t marry me, even if I felt good enough to ask her.
After paying for it, I hurry back down the stairs. Right before I reach Astoria’s room, I stop and look at the ring. It looks like a few simple bands of silver woven together – almost like threads loosely twined. I look at it for a moment, then take it off the giraffe’s neck and pocket it. I don’t need to give her the ring and the giraffe at the same time. The ring can wait.
She is there when I enter.
It takes all the strength I have not to run to her. Instead, I walk very slowly. She is asleep.
They’ve replaced her bloodstained clothes with a hospital gown, and her face is too pale beneath her dark hair. I sit on the edge of her bed, setting the giraffe plush on her blankets next to me. Taking one of her hands in both of mine, I attempt to warm it, to no avail.
I take a seat in the chair next to the bed, bringing the giraffe with me, and wait for her to wake up. Her small hand is in mine the entire time.
Eventually, I fall asleep.
I wake up with a start.
Astoria’s grip on my hand tightens. My grip on the little giraffe in my hand tightens.
Opening my eyes, I discover that she’s looking at me. Her blue eyes sparkle with a mischief I’ve seen in them too many times. “Thank you, Draco,” she whispers, and takes her hand from mine. She trails her now-free fingers down my cheek.
I probably turn bright red.
Trying to ignore that fact, I close my hand around the giraffe’s tiny legs and offer it to her. “I found this in the gift shop. I thought you might like it,” I say softly, looking at my shoes. They’re in need of a good shine.
She giggles a little, a sound I didn’t hear once from her while I was stuck in my old home. She was always just desperate to get me out.
Her hand moves from my cheek to ruffle my hair, and then to take the giraffe from me. “I like it,” she says. “It reminds me of a little blond boy I used to know. He was six or seven… Always wanted to play with me.” The fingers on her other hand find my chin and force me to look at her. “I think you knew him as well?”
Standing, I sigh and look away, shaking my head. “Not anymore,” I whisper, and avoid her gaze.
“Well, I guess I’ll just have to make do with this new Draco,” she says. The signature sad little smile is in her voice.
I glance back at her. Tears glitter in her eyes. I go to my knees next to her bed and wrap my fingers in her long, rich hair. “Astoria,” I murmur. She looks ready to break.
She does. The dam seems to buckle beneath the weight of everything that’s happened to her in the last few hours.
Tears pour from her eyes and trail down her cheeks, pooling in her hair and on her blankets and pillows before soaking in. She reaches and wraps one of her arms around my shoulders. The other holds the giraffe close to her, as if she’s trying to get warm. Not wanting her to be cold or lonely, I let go of her hair and embrace her.
She sighs and sniffles, then looks up at me with red-rimmed, puffy eyes. “I wish you could be carefree again, Drakey. I wish you could let go of Azkaban,” she mutters.
I smile at my childhood nickname. “I try,” I say. She’s so small in my arms. “But Azkaban haunts a memory like nothing else. You’ve heard stories… You lose all hope there; you lose everything.”
She nods and looks at her hand, which rests on my shoulder. She drums the fingers there and moves them to my neck. She smiles up at me, a sadness and a depth to her eyes I’ve rarely seen. Her fingers brush softly along my skin to cup my cheek. “Draco,” she whispers, leaning closer. I can feel her breath on my lips. “Don’t you know that now, my love, I won’t let you go until I have what I want – that boy that used to sneak across the road at night to bring me wildflowers?”
“You’ll have a hard time finding him,” I reply.
“No,” she says quietly. “I’ll never find him unless you want to be him. And you don’t want to be him. You want to be who you are now.” Her blue eyes search my gaze, and then she leans against my chest and closes her eyes.
I catch just a whisper before she falls asleep.
"Which means I never have to let you go..."