Chapter 1 : Never Turning Back
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The door opened and Pansy turned, snapping out of her reverie.
Astoria Greengrass entered the room, her pale face set in a scowl. "Any moment now, Parkison," she spat, malice and contempt in her voice.
Pansy knew that she thought it should be her, standing here in this elaborate wedding dress, in this gorgeous church on this beautiful day in mid-May that had dawned bright and cold and cloudless.
"It should be her," Pansy thought bitterly.
She did not want to marry Draco. It had all happened so quickly.
It was early in the evening that February. Snow was still falling, coating the large, extravagant buildings in the downtown area and making it seem much more beautiful than it truly was. A large group of people were walking down the street lined with five-star restaurants on one side and flashy Muggle cars on the other. The people were not talking, but held their heads up high despite the frigid cold eating at their faces.
They passed a loud club, its neon sign glowing bright and the jet-setters of the rich city CEO's and Heads of Department children filed into a rowdy line waiting to flash their fake ID cards to the bouncers. A few of them whistled and cat-called as they walked by, but the group continued on.
They walked for only a few minutes longer, turning down a side street where a quiet and gorgeous restaurant stood. Stepping inside they were instantly warmed.
A small waitress came up to them at once. "Sorry, but we have no room, we're full." she said in a high voice.
Lucius Malfoy barely glanced at her as he said, "Malfoy reservation, table for thirteen."
The waitress looked startled. "Oh, my, I'm sorry sir!" she said, holding out her hand to hang up his jacket. "Right this way."
As they passed Pansy heard a waiter whispering to another, "They're the ones who ordered the engagement dinner, filthy rich-" he said a word that made her blush. She glanced nervously at her parents, but they didn't seem to have noticed.
They sat down at a long table in the middle of the banquet room, where it was easy for everyone in the entire restaurant to see them clearly. Blaise Zabini held out her chair and Narcissa Malfoy gave him a disdainful look. Pansy took her seat to the left of her mother and to the right of Draco, feeling slightly uncomfortable with the gazes everyone was shooting at her.
A waiter came by and took their orders, returning within minutes carrying the large plates with hardly any food on them at all.
Pansy stayed silent for the majority of the meal. Draco tried unsuccessfully to pull her into a conversation, but she could not focus. Her best friend, Daphne Greengrass, kept giving her dirty looks and glaring at her like she had wronged her severely.
The small talk was awkward and far too formal for people who had known each other for years and years.
Just as she was beginning to think it was about time to leave, Mr. Malfoy stood up. "I would like for Ms. Pansy Parkinson to please turn around and face my son, Draco." he said importantly, but rather like he wished this to get over with as soon as possible.
Pansy turned inquisitively towards Draco, and she suddenly realized why Daphne looked like she could kill her.
He was not sitting down on his chair, but kneeling on one knee at the foot of her chair. Pansy flattened the hem of her dress nervously. She wanted to pretend she didn't know what was happening, she wanted to disappear, to dissolve into the smooth fabric of chairs that probably cost more than the entire meal. She wouldn't look Draco in the eyes.
"Pansy, will you marry me?" Draco said without much conviction. He opened the box, but Pansy wouldn't look. She couldn't look. She felt sick; she did not want this.
Sure, it had always been Draco and Pansy. Together since second year, only apart when they had to be. Sure, she had followed him around like a love-sick puppy, done everything he'd ever asked her to... But that was then. After the War ended, she changed, Draco changed. Everyone changed.
This was supposed to be Astoria. Everyone thought so, everyone said it. Perfect Draco Malfoy was going to marry Perfect Astoria Greengrass and have an absolutely Perfect House and a Perfect Marriage with Perfect Children because they were so Perfect for each other. Everyone knew that when Pansy and Draco broke up that it should have been Astoria next in line.
Why wasn't it?
She knew she couldn't keep silent. She glanced at her parents, looking hopeful. If she didn't say yes... she couldn't bare to think of what her parents would say to her. They'd probably kick her out of the house, actually... call her a disgrace to the pure-blood line they carried.
But did she care enough to marry a man she didn't love?
Everyone was looking at her, waiting for her answer.
She hesitated for a moment longer and then breathed "Yes."
Pansy blinked, startled that Astoria was still there. "Oh, yes..."
"Your mother will be here in a few minutes, so wipe the damn tears out of your eyes."
Astoria turned and left, leaving an icy trail in her wake. Her soft blue bridesmaid dress looked unfitting. Astoria should never be a bridesmaid.
Pansy looked into the mirror again, trying to wipe the tears out of her eyes without damaging her make up. When did she start crying?
She got herself together just as her mother appeared in the doorway. "Sweetheart, are you ready?" she asked, ignoring the tracks through her daughters caked face.
Pansy stared into the mirror for a few seconds longer, then picked up her train. She stepped down from the steps and the three-way mirror, and with a passing sigh left the room that held her last single day.
The wedding room was beautiful, and the ceremony went off without an error. The vows were said - more like muttered- and the first kiss of holy matrimony took place in front of some 600 guests.
The first dance was too-rehearsed, and everyone knew. When they shared a slice of cake, everyone knew. When they began opening the wedding gifts, everyone knew.
No one said a word.
Several years later, looking back at that night, she never did notice when Draco disappeared for an hour and everyone asked where Astoria was. She never wondered why, in their wedding bed, Draco seemed tired and uninterested. Perhaps because she too was tired and uninterested.
But now she knew and she accepted it. She never questioned when Draco came home late, late at night, or maybe not even at all. He never asked about the smell of fire-whiskey on her breath or where she wandered to in the day time while he slept alone in their bed.
She could never stop herself from wanting something more, something real. But when she ever got the nerve to leave, to do something, her fear of judgement crept in and kept her back. She would have no where to go, no where to run. Nothing to fall back on.
She understood that when she nodded her head and said, "I do." there was no turning around, there would be no going back.