Chapter 17 : Maturity
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“We’d be happy to publish this novel. It’s wonderfully written. I have to ask, what was the inspiration behind it?”
My new publisher, a woman by the name of Constance Jones surveyed me over her glasses, my manuscript sitting on her desk.
“Just…just a man I know.” I said softly, my cheeks colouring slightly.
“I’ll let you know when things progress.” She said with a warm smile, her attitude so different to that of Vine.
I was glad I’d taken the opportunity to find a different set of people to work with. Vine had been good for my first book, and he’d certainly done a good job with the book launch, but this manuscript, my first fiction novel, I wanted it to be treated better. Constance allowed me to have a say and do things my way, and I liked that.
I headed home from there, secure in the knowledge that I, for once, had food in the fridge, plenty in fact, and didn’t have to worry about money. My life had certainly moved far in the past few months.
I apparated directly into my kitchen to find Draco waiting for me. Lately he’d become obsessed with finding out who had leaked his mother’s illness to the papers. Narcissa wasn’t getting better, and things kept being spilled to reporters, but we couldn’t figure out how.
I looked at him, taking in his downtrodden look, and sighed, moving to place my hand on his arm.
“What is it?” I said gently, weaving my fingers through his.
“It’s Pansy.” He said bluntly, and I stiffened.
I didn’t like Pansy, and any mention of her caused me to balk a little.
“What about her?” I asked hesitantly, placing my bag on the table as I did so.
He looked into my eyes, a mixture of relief and sadness visible in his.
“She’s the one who’s been telling the Prophet about my mother.”
I closed my eyes briefly, understanding his actions now. It was good that he’d figured out who it was, but it must hurt to know someone he’d once dated had acted in such a way, had betrayed him and his family.
“She’s…” I trailed off, not really able to think of an appropriate way to put my feelings into words.
“A bitch.” Draco finished off for me with a smile, before moving to kiss me lightly, and the matter was forgotten for the moment.
It wasn’t that simple, of course. Pansy was a family friend, she’d visited Narcissa in hospital. There’d be repercussions there, but at least he’d found out who was responsible. It had taken long enough.
Nothing was ever that simple. The situation with Terry hadn’t been simple, though Draco had gotten the money back before he’d gambled it away and had returned it to his business associates. Everything had been resolved there, because he’d persisted. The same would go for Pansy and Narcissa.
Everything would be alright.
“Draco, I need to tell you something.”
I looked over at him, my gaze and tone serious. We were having a leisurely breakfast, as it was Sunday morning and neither of us had to work that day. I’d been working up the courage to tell him for weeks that I’d written a book about him. Now that Constance had gotten back to me saying that the deal was on its way to being done, and I’d soon be looking at a published novel, I had to tell him.
“Yes?” He said, looking up from the copy of the Daily Prophet he was reading.
I leaned forward, resting on my elbows on the edge of the table.
“I wrote another book.”
I wasn’t entirely sure how he hadn’t figured it out yet. I hadn’t told him about it, but I’d been disappearing off to meetings a lot. I’d passed off any money I got as coming from my first book, and he seemed to accept that. He was distracted with Narcissa, and rightfully so.
I suppose it was understandable.
“You…you wrote another book?” He gaped at me, his grey eyes incredulous.
“It’s about you.”
I didn’t see the point in delaying the inevitable. I just came straight out and told it, and told him the plot as he sat there staring at me. I grew steadily more uneasy as I continued on, and he hadn’t said a word or changed his expression.
“Draco?” I asked hesitantly once I’d finished, as he was still blinking at me.
“Are you ok?”
Slowly, he stood up, moving to stand in front of me. He took my face between his hands, and kissed me gently.
“You are amazing. Write as many books as you want about me, I don’t care. I’m sure it’s wonderful.” He said, a wide grin slowly spreading over his face.
“You’re ok with it? You’re ok with the fact that I didn’t tell you?” I said softly, not really processing his reaction.
He smiled slightly.
“Well, I would have preferred to know, but it’s alright. It was a shock to find out about my role in your first book, and you revealed that rather publicly. I prefer this way. Of course, in the future, feel free to tell me up front.” He said, and I smiled.
I was so lucky to have him, I really was. He’d changed so much, we both had.
“I love you.” I said softly, and I meant it, as I did every time I said it.
We’d been dating for a few months, and already I couldn’t imagine anything else.
The summer’s air was warm, but not too hot. I raised my hand over my eyes and squinted at the white house in front of me, the house that had first got me thinking about eighteenth century romances and Draco Malfoy.
I turned to him, smiling widely, and walked inside.
When he’d suggested we come out here to check on the condition of the house, I’d been reluctant to agree. Narcissa’s funeral had only been a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t sure what sort of memories this house would stir up.
However, it seemed to be fine.
“You love this house, don’t you.” He said quietly beside me as we stood in the entrance way.
I nodded, not needing to convey my feelings with words. I moved to the door to the ballroom, opening it up and stepping inside.
Just like it had been on the other occasion I’d been there, the sunlight was streaming in, and I could see the figures dancing in my mind, just as I had that day.
He moved up behind me, encircling my waist with his arms and resting his chin on the top of my head.
“This is our house now. We’re going to fix it up a bit, and then it’s ours.” He said softly, and I froze.
We had a house?
What did that mean?
Slowly, I turned around to face him, blinking up at him.
“We’re moving in here?” I said incredulously.
Did he really just ask me to move in with him? It was typical Draco to not ask in a direct way, but to just make a statement like that that implied it.
“If you want to.” He replied, and I grinned, hugging him, only just managing to refrain from squealing.
“Yes!” I said excitedly, and turned back around to survey the house that would eventually be mine.
We were moving in together. That was such a huge step, but it felt right. It was time. This house was absolutely perfect, and I adored the fact that he remembered how much it meant to me.
I sighed, content.
“Stop fretting.” Tabby said sensibly, from her position leaning in my doorway.
I glared at her.
“How can I not panic over this?” I said, running a hand through my hair anxiously.
This was quite possibly the most stressful situation I’d ever been in. I’d called Tabby because I couldn’t tell Draco, not at least until I was sure. Reno was too much of a gossip and would tell people.
I’d considered Daphne, but we weren’t close. She’d want to tell Father, and I couldn’t deal with that, not yet. It had taken me three weeks to work up the courage to tell both my father and Daphne that Draco and I were engaged, they wouldn’t take this news lightly.
The stick on the bathroom bench hadn’t changed colour yet, and both Tabby and I were watching it anxiously. The quickest way to finding out was to do a Muggle test first, and if it was positive, I’d head to St Mungo’s.
I’d have to tell Draco before then, however. We’d been living together for two years now, it wouldn’t really come as a surprise.
What was the issue, however, was that we’d only been engaged for a month. I’d only told my family last week, and now I might be…I might be…
I couldn’t bring myself to say it. It was terrifying. I knew others my age who were in the same situation, the Potters, for instance, but it was entirely new territory for me, and I wasn’t sure how Draco would react. Tabby certainly wasn’t up to that stage in her on again, off again relationship with Harley.
“Is it ready yet?” She said, and my eyes flicked down to the test.
“Yes.” I said meekly, picking up the stick with two fingers, almost afraid to look at it closely.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Would I be disappointed if it was negative?
Would I freak out if it was positive?
What would Draco say?
Merlin, it was scary to think about. I’d come so far, and now I might be a mother. I was an author, with six published books under my belt, and engaged to be married. Things were progressing at a comfortable speed, and I’d thought we had been careful.
Apparently, we hadn’t been.
Tabby moved to my side instantly when I said that, staring at the stick as well. She jumped, hugging me.
Was it congratulations? I wasn’t sure. I looked down at my stomach, flat now, but not for long. I was pregnant.
I was going to have a child.
Draco and I were going to be parents.
I smiled slowly, accepting it. Hopefully he would too. It was the next chapter of our lives, after all. We’d have a child soon, a child who would learn from our own mistakes, and who we could tell our own stories to one day.
I turned to smile at Tabby, already resolving to go visit Draco at work. This was something he needed to hear now.
“Here we go.” I muttered, heading to the fireplace, Tabby at my heels.
I wasn’t Astoria Greengrass, struggling author now. I was Astoria Greengrass, soon to be Astoria Malfoy, a successful, recognized author, and, in a few months, I'd be a mother.
Merlin, I was an adult. Somehow, in the past few years, I’d reached the point where I could really call myself mature.
Things had certainly changed.
Alright, I wrote this chapter in the middle of November, and since I'm doing NaNoWriMo, I wrote this in the middle of writing a 50,000 word novel. If it seems a little...different, that would be why. I had to wrap up certain plot lines, and I hope I succeeded in this chapter. I couldn't give you a straight happy ending, either, that would be boring :P
I'd like to thank louiseIShere, LovlyRita and StEpHM for their input over the course of this. I'd also like to thank all of you who've stayed with this the whole way through, it's been a lot of fun for me, and hopefully for you.