She lived like you do, a dozen slack rope-ends
in each dream hand, tugging uselessly on memory
or hope. Frayed.
- Liar, Carol Ann Duffy
He had a headache already. It was only nine o’clock. Pansy’s flat was stuffy, even in the cool September evening. The noise of the party in the flat was oppressive. He clutched onto the cold drink in his hands tighter as if the chill would spread through his body. Opposite him, Pansy was trying to force a window open, swearing fluently under her breath.
‘I might go home in a bit,’ Daphne said beside him. ‘I’m too tired to think properly.’
‘Yeah, you need the rest.’
They spoke without looking at each other these days. Side-by-side, they would sit in the park or in a friend’s flat and swap news, exchange updates. Nobody else was interested. Blaise tried his best, but he knew nothing of the accident or the days that followed and gave up, preferring to turn and talk to Pansy whenever Draco and Daphne began one of their other obsessive conversations about Ward forty eight on the fourth floor of St Mungo’s.
‘I might go home too,’ he said, after a silence. ‘Head hurts.’
‘I’m not surprised. How was your job interview, by the way?’
‘Oh, fine,’ he said, dismissively, although he felt sick at the thought of it. ‘It went really well until I had to bring up the whole criminal record thing. They were very polite. Said sorry but they can’t hire someone like me.’
‘That’s a shame,’ she said. ‘Better luck next time, I’m sure you’ll find someone to hire you. The Ministry are usually good, they’re into all these rehabilitation things, that’s what…well, Astoria got a job through that.’
A shadow crossed his face; he frowned at the mention of her. ‘I don’t want to work for the Ministry,’ he said, darkly, then added, ‘how is she?’
‘Getting there,’ Daphne sipped at her drink. ‘The Healers are doing a great job.’
Next he asked the question he always asked. Daphne seemed to anticipate it and answered before he was finished.
‘Not that much yet. She remembers who I am at least, but she thinks our parents are still alive and we still live in Cambridge.’
Pansy finally wrenched the window open with a loud snap. The chatter of the assembled guests around them faltered for a second, and then Pansy turned to face them with a wide grin and the party resumed.
‘How far back is that?’ he asked, tentatively. Daphne gave a weak smile.
‘Too far. We moved out of Cambridge when I was eight and she was six. Still, six years’ worth in only a couple of months is remarkable. Mind, she keeps forgetting things. They think that this bit,’ she lifted a hand and pointed to the nape of her neck, right at the base of her head, ‘was damaged, that bit of her mind, and that’s the bit you make new memories with.’
‘Oh,’ he said. ‘I see.’
‘They’re working on it though. They reckon in six months or so she’ll be able to move back in with me again, which is good news, I suppose.’
‘I’m hoping,’ Daphne said, ‘that she’ll start gathering all her old memories but she’ll be a different person, see, because she’s basically growing up again but in a completely different environment, we get on better this time and she doesn’t have my Dad spewing all of his anti-muggle stuff. So hopefully, maybe…’
‘You want her to change.’
‘Of course I do. She was a nightmare to deal with. I want to put the past behind us.’
The conversation died. Daphne stood, placing her half-empty glass on a nearby bookshelf. ‘Well. See you tomorrow,’ she said. ‘Good luck with the interview.’
At the mention of it he felt sick again. ‘Thanks,’ he said. ‘Goodnight.’
He watched as Daphne made her excuses to Pansy and left the party. Ten minutes later he followed, apparating home from the doorstep straight into his flat. The suspended sentence had only lifted a few weeks before; the first thing he’d done was take his apparition test. Inside the flat it was dark and cool, the sky outside a dusky royal blue mixed with the stale orange of street lights. Through the open window the sound of a car’s brakes screeching perforated the night air; he slammed it shut, pulling the curtain over it. A drawer in the desk stood open. He meant to shut it, but was caught remembering a night that felt like a century ago and was sure that if he opened the curtain again, he would catch sight of a girl in a tweed jacket dodging traffic to cross the road.
But that was an impossibility.
The darkness of the flat dimmed around him, his eyes growing used to the dark. He stood there for a while, thinking – it was hard not to get too caught up in thoughts. He thought of books, the box of maps that still sat unsold on the floor of the shop, a broken pair of spectacles Daphne kept secretly in her handbag (he’d caught sight of them when, quite by accident, Daphne stumbled and the contents of her bag went spilling to the pavement like a flood) – and something his mind often dwelled on: a single image. Her, sitting up in her hospital bed at St Mungo’s. Cross-legged. Noting things in a small book. Names of Healers. The date. The colour of the curtains. Trivial things that anchored her to the present, and not a hint of the past or him on her mind.
The thing about Astoria’s kind of memory loss, as Daphne had said, was that it was indiscriminate. Everything simply went. The healing process was no different; everything simply came back chronologically. You grew up all over again in a matter of months. And even then, when the past returned, they said she’d still have trouble. A short term memory shot to hell. The irony of a Muggle Liason worker being knocked down by a muggle was not lost on him. Nor was the irony of an Obliviator losing her own memory entirely.
Pansy had put it well, however. There was no real tragedy. Nobody died, nobody was hurt in a way that couldn’t be fixed. After all, Astoria would be Astoria again in a few decades’ time. An old saying came to him, one he’d heard repeated in songs and books alike over the years – If you love her, let her go
. It never seemed to apply more than now. She needed space to heal. He needed to find a job. He needed to find a life
. The world moved on, and he resolved to move with it.
It was an unseasonably cold day. February. The weatherwitch had promised sunny spells, but the sky outside glowered a moody grey, threatening rain. A bitter wind chased old newspapers up and down Diagon Alley; he had a perfect vantage point for watching them at his desk in the bookshop. It was his last day working there – the day after tomorrow he would start training as an archivist in the Department of Mysteries. He had sworn not to take a job at the Ministry, but job prospects were slim elsewhere. The Ministry were good at rehabilitation schemes. The general thinking was that if the Ministry were to keep tabs on ex-criminals, where else better than their own headquarters? Anyway, it was difficult to resist a salary so good when times were so hard.
He shivered, tugging his sleeves down over his hands. Try as hard as he might, he couldn’t quite find the perfect heating spell for the shop. He had a party to look forward to that night, though, an end-of-job celebration. He would meet Cathy at eight. Pansy had introduced them nearly a year ago; she was apparently a close friend of Theodore. Catherine March, although she preferred Cathy, just like he knew she preferred two sugars in her tea and staying in to going out, which is why he didn’t think he’d be staying at his own celebration party for too long. Pansy was already hinting marriage, but then again Pansy had been hinting at marriage between herself and her own partner, Tom, for over a year now and nothing had come good of it. She was one for reading a little deeply into things sometimes.
He was just pricing a new copy of The Passage to Dusk
when the door opened, the new bell over it ringing smartly in the silence. The girl who entered had her hood up, a shadow cast across her face, specks of rain on the shoulders of her jacket. She made her way straight to the back of the shop, disappearing behind a bookshelf stuffed with crime thrillers. Seeing he wasn’t needed, Draco turned back to the book in front of him, pencilling in the price of five sickles on the frontispiece. Then, as he usually did, he held the book up by a cover, waiting for a bookmark or forgotten slip of parchment to fall out – people always left them and they were bizarrely fascinating – but nothing fell. Waving his wand over it, the book rose into the air and drifted over to the fiction section, finding an empty space between two battered paperbacks.
He continued with his pricing duties, looking up every so often to check on the girl at the back of the shop. She seemed intent on studying the shelves, however, hood still up, hands tucked into her pockets. Five minutes had passed when he thought of clearing his throat and asking her if she needed any help – but then she stretched up to take a book from the top shelf and her hood fell back, exposing long, tangled black hair.
His breath caught in his throat. His hands tightened into fists on the desktop. There was something suddenly distinctive about her skinny wrists, something about the way she stood with her weight on one leg, head cocked to the side as she studied the blurb of the book. Something far too distinctive. At once he thought it had to be Astoria, it just had to be, memory back at last – but then the girl turned and he saw that her jaw was too square, her eyes were too narrow. Makeup caked her face so thick that he could see it from his position on the desk. She held up the book, calling in a heavily accented voice, ‘how much is this?’
He was too relieved to check. ‘Three sickles,’ he said, making up the price on the spot. The girl seemed satisfied, digging in her pockets and making her way to the door. As she passed, she dropped three silver coins on the counter. He bent his head back to the list of stock he was in the midst of checking through, heart in his throat. He was so sure, so certain it had been her…he didn’t know whether he should be upset or happy. He simply felt relieved.
The bell over the door rang again as the girl left. It was close to closing time, and he felt like turning the sign on the door over a little early, a sort of celebration for his final day – but then someone new stepped over the threshold. He ignored them, only registering a pair of feet as they went past on their way to the fiction section. His mind was buried in the stock list.
A minute or so passed. Absolute silence apart from the scratching of his quill on the parchment. Then, a shadow fell over him, a small voice said ‘excuse me’ – and he looked up and found himself looking at Astoria.
‘Just these, thanks,’ she said, putting a stack of books on the desk before him. She did not meet his eye. A little numb, he lifted the first book on the pile, mechanically checking for the price. He couldn’t look at her either. His mouth was suddenly dry.
‘It might take me a while to put these through,’ he said, aware of how monotonous his voice sounded.
Her fingers gripped at the strap of her bag as if scared it might be torn from her side. Every book she had chosen was a collection of short stories. He supposed she didn’t have the memory to read anything longer.
‘I’m sorry,’ she said, breaking the silence. ‘But could I trouble you for the date?’
‘The date?’ he echoed. ‘February twenty-seventh.’
Minutes passed in silence. She shifted from foot to foot uneasily, rubbing her eyes from time to time with an ink-stained finger. He looked up briefly; the back of her hand was almost blue with writing. An address. A date. A time. A name. Then, at the bottom of this collection of facts, a single word. Amnesia
, he thought. In case she gets lost
The thought of it made him strangely sad. Astoria didn’t notice him looking. She checked her watch, then seemed to freeze, staring at the clock face. After a moment her gaze flickered to the back of her hand, scanning the words. Tears were welling in her eyes; she looked like a little girl who’d lost a parent.
He couldn’t stop himself. He had to talk to her. ‘Are you alright?’
‘I’m fine,’ she said, sounding distant. Then, she shook her hair back and straightened up, wiping the tears from her eyes on the pretext of adjusting her glasses. ‘Sorry, I just…I’ve got memory loss, sometimes I forget where I am, but I remember now, it’s alright. I’m buying these books.’
She said the last sentence more like a question than a statement. He nodded, ringing up the price on the till. ‘A Galleon exactly,’ he said.
She reached into her pockets for the change, looking at him curiously. She drew out a single gold coin and held it with her hand drawn to her chest, as if reluctant to give it to him.
‘I hope you don’t mind me asking,’ she said. ‘But do I know you from somewhere?’
In that moment everything seemed to hang in the air, a wealth of memories between them that only one of them knew of. He thought of one answer, the truthful answer: yes.
Instead, he said ‘no…I don’t think so.’
‘I thought I recognised you…I just…saw something, I thought, but…it’s nothing,’ she trailed off, finally passing him the Galleon. He took his time dropping it into the till, unsure of what to say.
The till slammed shut; an audible punctuation mark. She put the books into her bag one by one, deliberately. They were both stalling.
Eventually, he spoke: ‘What did you see?’
‘It’s stupid,’ she permitted a small smile to cross her lips. ‘Nothing, really…just thought I remembered seeing you somewhere. The park. I don’t know, it’s silly, it’s probably someone who just looks a lot like you.’
She put the final book in her bag, but didn’t turn to leave.
‘It must be difficult,’ he said, finding it hard to keep his voice from breaking in the middle, knowing that somehow she had pinned down a vague memory of Hyde Park in the cage of her mind. ‘Having memory loss, I mean.’
‘It is, quite.’
‘How did it happen?’
He felt he could tell the story better than she could, but wanted to hear it anyway. ‘I was hit by a car, apparently,’ she said. ‘Not that I remember, of course. I get treatment at St Mungo’s…actually, I’m about to go now.’ She indicated the time and date on the back of her hand. ‘Top-ups.’
‘What’s it like?’
She thought about her answer for a minute. ‘What, having memory loss? It’s hard. The Healers do a great job, though, I do remember a lot now. It all comes back in little bits, I never get anything fully at once – just pieces of it. Like a puzzle. It takes a while for everything to connect. Honestly, I swear
I know you from somewhere.’
‘You’ve probably been in here before. I’ve worked here for ages.’
‘To tell the truth,’ she said, still gripping the strap of her bag. ‘I think I came in her because – well, apart from getting some more books – I’ve been coming past here most days, and…well, my memories, they come back in little pieces, like I said, and I swore I recognised you, when I kept seeing you through the window – just this memory, in a park somewhere, and I thought…well, I thought if I came in and talked to you the rest might come back, maybe I’d remember something else. I feel like I’m missing something…’
You’re missing you
, he was about to say. Also, seeing you again feels like watching you get hit by a car all over again.
Instead, he handed her the receipt. ‘Well. I hope you remember.’
‘Me too. Thanks anyway.’
With that she was gone. Still reeling a little from the shock of seeing her – and still, he thought, a little in love with her – he turned back to the bookshop; dusty shelves, frayed carpet, and a shelf of military history where a vague memory of her old self still lingered.
Outside she was stalking the shadows of Diagon Alley, head bent against the rain that now drummed on the streets. It caught her face anyway, soaking her fringe to her forehead, freezing cold, mixing with hot tears that leaked from the corners of her eyes. She couldn’t help it. It was a bit of a hazard of being her these days, not that she had the vaguest idea who she was supposed to be. Everything led to a dead end, just like the vague memory of a kiss in a park had led nowhere. She hadn’t bothered to tell the man in the bookshop that extra detail; it was probably nothing. She’d followed various leads, some to unsavoury parts of the city, some to places like that dusty bookshop – nothing seemed to work. The ink on her hand was bleeding with the rain, watery blue running into little tributaries over her wrist, over a tattoo she couldn’t recall the meaning or origin of. A bag that she couldn’t remember buying swung from her shoulder, full of books she would probably forget to read. It was worth a shot. Maybe she would walk past again tomorrow and see if anything-
A noise from up ahead distracted her. Blankness. Her thoughts vanished like candles that had been blown out. Dead ends. Her pace slowed. The rain soaked her hair. She knew this was Diagon Alley, but had no idea why she’d come there, no idea why her hand was covered in blue ink or why she was crying. Only the rain, only the bag at her shoulder. She rubbed her eyes and thought hard, harder, wishing her thoughts back into existence, wishing the rain to fall on someone else.
Memories came back in flashes, bursts of light, momentary illuminations. She took them in. Passed a man with blonde hair on the street and wondered if he was the one that eluded her thoughts. Visited a shop in Diagon Alley where a strange memory of pain made her wince. Asked her sister to take her to the country so that she might try skipping stones as she thought she’d once done, perhaps to unlock some further fleeting moment. She wondered, sitting at her desk with a blank page in front of her, who it was in her mind she could remember holding her hand, who it was who kissed her in the park. The pages tended to stay blank.
She passed him in the street once. They both turned back at the same time for a second glance. Her brow furrowed, but then she turned away again, muttering an apology below her breath. Cathy demanded to know who she was; he said nobody.
In April it rained for a week straight; she sat and thought at her desk with the radio on full blast, ignoring Daphne’s pleas to come out and be sociable. Another blank page lay before her. She headed it the facts
. Below: blonde. Kiss in the park
. It stayed like that for a week before she filed it away with all of her other papers, dismissing it as a false lead.
He turned twenty-four in June. Pansy warned him, a week later, about Cathy. ‘I think she wants to marry you,’ she said, ignoring his incredulous look.
‘First I’ve heard of it.’
‘It’s funny,’ Pansy said, cracking a smile. ‘When you’re not there, you should here her. Always talking about who’s getting engaged to who, who’s having kids – she even asked to try on my ring, did you know that?’ Her fingers twisted absently at the silver band with its single emerald she wore on her fourth finger. ‘And, well, I put her on the team to help me organise my
wedding, and she’s being a bit…well…over-enthusiastic. She came dress shopping with me last week, and it was
fun, but the more I think about it all…’
‘I dunno,’ Draco said, toying with an abandoned teaspoon on the table before them. ‘I’m only just twenty-four, it feels a bit soon or something.’
twenty-five. She has also casually hinted to me and Daphne a few times how cute she thinks babies are. I think, overall, the biggest hint was when we went to check out the venue for my wedding last week, and she stood there and sighed and said Oh, I wish Draco would hurry up and propose to me
‘You’re making that up.’
‘I absolutely am not.’
He didn’t saying anything, instead sipping at his tea.
‘I’m just saying, Draco, you should probably do something.’
‘I can’t marry her yet,’ he said, now folding up an empty sugar packet into a tiny square. ‘It’s far too soon. I mean, I do love Cathy, but I just…I don’t know, not that much.’
‘Fine by me,’ Pansy shrugged. ‘I’m just warning you. I put her as your plus one on the wedding guest list by the way, and at the actual reception you’re with Daphne and Blaise and their plus ones on the same table. I engineered it so Cathy can sit next to Daphne, so hopefully she won’t bring up the whole marriage thing too much…’
‘Thank you,’ he said, unfolding the sugar packet again, smoothing out the creases in the paper. ‘I can always count on you, honestly, you’re a great help.’
Pansy smiled. ‘I try my best.’
She was still sure there was a gap in her memory. On her request, Daphne took down a box of trinkets from the top of her wardrobe.
‘I don’t know how these could help,’ she said. ‘But I suppose we could try.’
The box was made of old tin. A jumble of objects had been tossed in carelessly. Astoria picked them out one by one – a thimble, an empty bottle of perfume, a crumpled ticket – but nothing brought her the promised flash of a memory returning. Then, at the bottom of the box, she found a scrap of fabric. Tweed.
‘It was yours,’ Daphne said, turning the fabric between her hands. ‘They had to cut the jacket off you when you had your accident, but I salvaged this bit. You used to wear it everywhere.’
He stood outside a jewellery shop in Diagon Alley, hands stuffed in his pockets to keep them warm, head still aching from a stag night of sorts the night before. A glance at the bookshop he used to work in made him smile. In reality, the ministry job was not much better – it paid a little more, but it was just as dusty and twice as monotonous. He was scanning the cheaper selection of rings, wondering idly how far he could stretch that month’s pay.
In November, Draco visited Daphne for the first time in months – partly to check up on her and see she was still alright in her job as resident carer for her sister, and also partly to ask her if he’d made the right decision in buying a ring that was silver, set with three tiny sapphires.
‘It’s lovely,’ Daphne said, turning it between her fingers. ‘Really lovely, but Cathy’s more of a ruby girl, I guess. She wears a lot of red.’
‘I guess I thought…I don’t know,’ he said, taking it back and placing it in the box. ‘Something different. I thought it looked the nicest. And, er, don’t tell her this, but my budget didn’t stretch as far as I hoped it would.’
‘I won’t,’ Daphne said, with a knowing smile. ‘When are you going to ask her?’
‘No idea. Absolutely no idea. I was kind of just going to spring it on her, maybe when we’re out for dinner together or something.’
‘Whatever the situation I guess she’ll be delighted, she’s always going on about-’
‘Yeah, Pansy told me.’
The front door slammed, interrupting them. Daphne’s hands tensed on her lap. Footsteps came down the hallway, then a pale half-moon of a face appeared at the door. A pair of blue eyes widened as they fell on Draco, then narrowed in disdain.
‘Hello, Astoria,’ Daphne said, sounding timid. But Astoria had already left the doorway; they heard her footsteps on the stairs, then a door above slamming. Daphne shrugged apologetically.
‘Probably just had a bad turn somewhere. It happens sometimes; she forgets where she is, and people don’t really understand.’
‘It’s a shame,’ Draco said, pocketing the ring.
He was halfway down the street when he heard a small popping noise from behind him, then footsteps drawing close at a quick pace. He stopped and turned, expecting it to be Daphne, chasing after him with something he’d forgotten, but instead it was Astoria, striding along the road, a tiny scrap of tweed fabric clutched in one hand.
‘You liar!’ she shouted. ‘You lied to me!’
He dug his hands into his pockets, standing his ground. ‘So did you.’
She reached him finally, out of breath, stuffing the tweed into her pocket. Her eyes glinted like ice. ‘In the bookshop,’ she said, her voice broken. ‘You lied to me, you said you didn’t recognise me, but you did, of course you did-’
He stared down at her. ‘What, do you remember now?’
‘Don’t be stupid, you knew I’d get it all back someday-’
‘I really don’t think I should be talking to you.’
‘Why not? You’re a complete-’
‘You’re forgetting that you lied to me too,’ he shot, refusing to look her in the eye. ‘Consider it an eye for an eye.’
She crossed her arms, staring up at him defiantly. ‘Really? Really
? What, you’d happily feed lies to a girl with memory loss just for – for what, revenge? You’re sick-’
‘And what about you? Covering up a whole criminal record and living a lie just so you could get-’
‘It’s not the same!’
‘But isn’t it obvious? What, would you rather remember me and all that horrible stuff that happened? I thought it’d be better if you didn’t remember-’
‘I was bound to remember some day, wasn’t I? You didn’t have to lie and set me back by, what, a year? I spent a whole year convinced I was going mad, chasing after bits of memories – you complete bastard, I can’t believe you’d-’
Somewhere further down the lane a front door slammed shut. Astoria’s head turned to the source of the noise, and then, at once, her face turned blank. Her eyes widened. After a moment she turned back to Draco, her expression hungry, as if searching for an answer that had eluded her for far too long – and then hardened again.
‘You liar!’ she spat. ‘You lied to me!’
‘I know,’ he said, turning on the spot and disapparating.
At Pansy’s wedding, he was embarrassed to find that Daphne had brought Astoria as her plus one. They sat on opposite sides of the table, fiddling with cutlery and trying not to make eye contact, both refusing to engage in conversation like the others. Cathy, sat on Draco’s left, seemed to take this as a deliberate snub and turned to talk to Blaise instead.
At dusk there were fireworks. They gathered outside, in the dark, faces lit up by the occasional flash of bright light from above. Clouds of breath hung in the air, frost coating the trees and grass around.
A bright green firework exploded above; Cathy squeezed his hand, forgetting her earlier frostiness. The ring in his pocket seemed to be burning. Pansy had hinted that this would be a prime time to pop the question, so to speak, but he wasn’t quite sure he could do it.
Another firework. Bright blue. The crowd cheered. His eye was caught by Astoria, further along, her pale face illuminated by the fireworks, clapping absently, Daphne at her side. As if she knew she was being watched Astoria turned and caught his eye with a blank, far-away look. Then Cathy stood on tip-toe to whisper something in his ear and he turned away.
He didn’t hear a word she said. He was thinking about the ring in his pocket. Sapphires for a girl who lived in red. Silver when the girl in question only wore gold.
It was snowing outside. Through the window she idly watched the street drown under a torrent of snowflakes, passers-by battling on with their robes soaked up to the knees. Her fingers drummed against the tabletop, lifted an empty packet of sugar from the bowl and began to fold it, almost without her looking. She folded it into eight then unfolded it again, smoothing out the creases in the waxy paper. Leftover granules of sugar coated her fingers. She was becoming tired of waiting. Absently, she brushed the sugar off her fingers and checked the clock on the wall again. Quarter past two. He was late.
He wasn’t sure how it had all progressed from the café – he was half an hour late to start with, too indecisive about whether to go or not – and then somehow it had gone from her obsessively folding empty sugar packets between her fingers to a walk in Hyde Park, then back to his new flat, where she spent a good ten minutes staring at the bookshelves trying to remember which books she’s actually read.
‘Definitely this one,’ she said, holding up Starlight
. ‘I remember the cover. I think it was pretty good.’
‘You hated it.’
‘One of the disadvantages of memory loss, of which there are many,’ she said, cramming the book back onto the shelf. ‘I know I’ve read it, but I can’t remember for the life of me what the plot was. I think-’
‘Centaurs and elves, kids’ stuff
– that’s what you said at the time, anyway.’
‘Couldn’t hurt to read it again.’
‘I think I’ll pass,’ she said. ‘I’ll get distracted halfway through and forget the plot.’
‘That’s why you read so many short stories.’
She nodded, head still tilted upwards towards the shelves. Her hair was obviously due for a cut; her heavy fringe hung into her eyes. She’d spent most of the day brushing it off of her face, only for it to fall again. This irritated him to the point that he was almost driven mad whenever she did it. As he expected, her nodding dislodged the fringe that was carefully tucked to one side, and it hung into her eyes again. Hardly thinking about what he was doing, he swept it back to the side for her.
It seemed like the perfect moment. The months apart, the lies, the accident – it all seemed to have vanished, brushed away as easily as if it were all dust. He took her pale face in his hands, ready to forget as she had and start afresh – but then saw that her eyes had gone blank, her brow furrowed with confusion. Distracted.
A January day, a frozen sky, the city beneath cloaked in grey fog-
-only ten minutes out of work, he stood against the cold stone of the Ministry walls. A confrontation with Cathy still stung in the bruise on his jaw. In his pocket, his fingers brushed against a small box. An engagement ring. For someone else.
a/n: funnily, I originally ended the story with Astoria leaving the shop all miserable. Then I thought that particualr ending probably wasn't definite enough, hence the new section. Probably fairly hastily written, but I hope it satisifes all the Draco/Astoria shippers (er...mostly including me.) The final section is written in a slightly different way for a reason; did it work? I'd love to hear what anyone thinks, so if you've got any comments please feel free to drop me a review. Otherwise, thank you for reading this to the end! I hope you enjoyed it (: