Chapter 3 : Traitors
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Astoria’s skin still tingled long after she had promptly wiped off the remains of Malfoy’s sensual kiss with her handkerchief, her fingers shaking just a bit.
Her reaction to him required further thought but she tried to tell herself that the shock and the fact that he had frightened and angered her had brought on the moment of complete and total weakness.
Of course, that wouldn’t explain how easy it had been for him to bring about such a delightful sensation in her body but she was willing to overlook that and put it in the back of her mind because she would not fall into desire.
It was foolish to think that anything could grow between herself and a pureblood such as Malfoy or anyone else in the dining room as they all ate together, her family of course being close to the end of the table.
Astoria had no interest to marry a pureblood and become thrust into an unhappy marriage to restore the family’s finances. She knew that it gave them protection from danger for all of them, but the thought sent her into a panic.
How could she be happy with such a life?
Filled with nothing but what might have been if she had done as she pleased?
Why did her parents have to put so much pressure on the three of them to attend to their own needs?
Her father’s business would never cease so long as he hated, deceived and kept his secrets from his fellow purebloods. Astoria felt, not for the first time, intense bitterness over the arrangement.
Scorpious and Emily received assignments from broken wizards and witches that insisted that some pureblood had done them terribly and that the only solution was for revenge.
Which her family excelled at supremely.
Some of the assignments, some of the people that they hunted and sometimes disposed of were very dangerous. Astoria had seen both of her siblings in dire straits, Emily having been abducted as collateral, Scorpious with his scars.
It angered her that their parents went to such lengths to soothe a client’s wounds.
But Astoria knew that her father merely wanted to enjoy the suffering, the pain and the humiliation to make the hole in his heart fill.
So much had transpired between him and many of the purebloods in this room but Astoria had no feelings of doubt and virtually no moral center when it came to revenge.
She only despised having her own life being tangled in with it.
An unhappy future awaited her with a sour faced pureblood and Astoria sat through most of her meal thinking and brooding unhappily about it all and her father’s work.
She kept wondering if he could somehow learn to read her more.
Her father loved her very much of course but he tended not to appreciate her rather radical views on the War, Muggles and other things.
That had always bothered her a bit, knowing that she and Scorpious were the odd balls in the family.
Emily kept her feelings muted but Astoria knew more from knowing her so well that she could care less about Muggles so long as she got a new pair of kid gloves or a ribbon or two.
She had never disliked her more for it. But it was the way that they had all been raised and while Astoria was truly the only half-blood in the house, they never mentioned her other side. The dirty blood or how it had come to be that she was what she was.
Those things were not to be spoken of, Astoria knew the full truth of course but they never discussed them out in the open.
Holding in the secrets were what the Greengrass family did best after all.
Her father hadn’t been the creator of the way that they ran their family, from as far as she knew; the business and their hatred for purebloods had gone on since Astoria’s great-grandfather, when the family’s fortune had started to fade.
It was a tad petty of course but there were other, darker things in the family history that made the business somewhat necessary, like the air in her lungs.
It would be hard to let go, no matter how often she dreamt it would end. No more blood on the floors, no more seeing Scorpious covered in scars and Emily working herself too hard and she wouldn’t have to be hidden.
Astoria inhaled a bit and thought that going back to Hogwarts would not be a pleasant affair. She had never liked school much and she hadn’t appreciated being stuck in a private dorm in the east of the school, all alone for her protection, for her family’s protection.
It was why she had no friends, no real concerns for her future because once she turned twenty, her father had hinted that she could become like Emily.
A temptress and a liar and whatever Astoria had dreamt of being meant nothing and she often worried that she were sinking further and further into a hole of nothing.
Gently, she tried to wipe at the well of tears that were welling in her eyes and chanced a glance at the head of the table and saw that she was being watched.
Astoria’s mind went into a bolt of shock and suspicion as Blaise Zabini studied her curiously, apparently not finding it peculiar that he had been caught, “I really think that he’s quite all right, Stori.” Emily said from beside her.
“He’s a pureblood,” Astoria whispered back while her sister looked down at Zabini as well, her face a mixture of curiosity and slyness. “And he’s odd.”
“But he did look after you when you fainted, Stori. You can’t be so ungrateful,” Emily replied sharply as she looked at her. “You should apologize for calling him a filthy you-know-what.”
Astoria didn’t want to but she knew that it would be the right thing to do to put him off their scent, though she had a feeling that Zabini found her curious. And not in a flattering way, “…Emily, do you promise not to tell Scorpious something?”
Emily was instantly intrigued and she turned her jade green eyes to her violet ones curiously. “Whatever happened in that room with Malfoy, Stori? Don’t tell me he hurt you?” she asked angrily, her cheeks turning pink with annoyance.
She may enjoy parties and fine gentleman but Emily was just as overprotective of Astoria as Scorpious and it did not bode well for anyone involved. “No, Emily. Keep your voice down!” she cried.
Scorpious was seated a few seats down with their parents and a round of their acquaintances, though Astoria knew that they had planned this.
One of their friends had three daughters and they were all very cute girls, though her older brother was looking as if he were slowly, painfully dying as they engaged him in flirtatious conversation.
“Oh, he’s too busy trying not to vomit. Honestly, you two have no fun!” Emily said happily.
Astoria sighed and rolled her eyes a bit before looking around to make sure that they weren’t being overheard.
No one was paying them any attention and she whispered to her sister, “Malfoy kissed me, Emily. A while before dinner started.”
Emily had been sipping her wine but she choked just a bit and politely tapped at the corners of her mouth. “No!” she said and Astoria wasn’t sure if she were surprised or upset, “no wonder the foul git looks so proud of himself.”
Astoria took her words with a bit of relief because if he had been some other pureblood flop, she might have been delighted.
“I didn’t ask for it, either.” She muttered while looking down at Malfoy with her sister as casually as they could.
He was sitting with the other members of the game, Parkinson on his left and Zabini ironically on his right.
It was more than apparent that the other boy loathed him but Malfoy ignored him and spoke to the girl at his side, a smug grin on his face that made her want to ram her wand into his eye.
“Was it a good kiss?” Emily asked in surprise. “He looks rather enchanted and I know it has nothing to do with Ms. Pug beside him.”
Astoria giggled and nudged her playfully in the arm until she grinned teasingly at her.
“I’m not sure if it was a good kiss or not. He just sort of rammed his lips on mine,” and had just been getting started when they’d been interrupted. “But it was obvious that he’d wanted to do it for some time, he’s quite mad.”
Emily looked very surprised by this but she caught onto her tone and gave her a tender smile that made Astoria frown at her.
“Oh, Stori, it’s nothing to be so ashamed of. I know that you detest purebloods as strongly as Scorpious does but a kiss from a boy isn’t anything to be so upset over, you’ll get many more and eventually one from someone you care for.”
“It’s Malfoy, I loathe him and I wish that he would leave me alone but he’s been stalking me since we were eleven!” Astoria snapped angrily and Emily grinned slyly at her. “Oh, Emily, don’t even begin to go on about how in love with me he is. You are such a ridiculous romantic,”
Emily laughed a bit and smiled fondly down at her until Astoria gave her a dark look that made her raise her brows. “Was it really so terrible?” she whispered.
Astoria couldn’t lie to her sister and she shook her head in a jerky sort of motion that made her feel sick. “No,” she admitted reluctantly. “But why did it have to be him? And dad plans on destroying his family so I felt especially revolted.”
“Daddy does have some plans on getting his father into the gutter one way or another but I despise working with those Order members. They’re so high and proud,” Emily said with an eye roll and Astoria didn’t necessarily agree with her on that.
The Order of the Phoenix consisted of people who were bent on fighting and destroying the Dark Lord and bringing his Death Eaters to justice.
Their father had worked alongside them for a few assignments here and there, trying to give himself a better image after their mother had expressed concerns but doing things by the law did not interest him.
Sly and dirty was the Greengrass motto and Astoria felt just the tad bit of shame and embarrassment at knowing that her father was the most stubborn person in the world.
And if she, his daughter, turned against the business, she would suffer.
Not that her father would kill her but Astoria knew that he would be very disappointed in her if he found out Muggle oriented she was and how much she longed to make a difference and have her own life, one not steeped in lies.
“They’re quite all right. They helped Dad for a while with a few cases but you know how he is when he’s being told how to run his business.”
“Scorpious gets that spark of stubbornness from him.”
Emily said while she nodded in agreement and cut up a slice of their dessert, some sort of fluffy white cake. Astoria hadn’t noticed that their meals had been whisked away by the servants, “but Stori, darling, you don’t have to force yourself into any relationship with anyone in this room if you don’t want to. Only, I’d like you to try and find someone at least, I worry.”
Astoria stared at her for a moment but she nodded and patted her hand gently and received a bit of a squeeze.
“I’m fine, Emily. But I don’t know what to do about Malfoy, I don’t think that he’ll stop stalking me, he’s already suspicious about everything we do.”
“Then I suppose he’ll have to be distracted. Why not ask that charming Zabini boy for dinner sometime and let the word spread that you’re courting? A spoiled brat like Malfoy might be so distracted by the fact that you don’t want him that he might leave our secrets to themselves.”
Emily said slyly and Astoria swallowed at her sister’s nerve, because it was a rather dangerous plan. Malfoy would do something foul to her if she did something so rude and that thought caused Astoria’s lips to twitch wryly.
He would find it the most disgusting insult if she went for Zabini or anyone else when he had enough arrogance to drown them all in, which was apparently supposed to interest her instead of do the opposite, “Zabini would never do something that bold.”
Emily pursed her lips and then nudged her in the arm a bit. “So you say but who does he have his eye on right now, dear?” she whispered cunningly.
Astoria happened to look and was surprised to see that her sister was right and that Zabini was looking at her again.
There wasn’t a smile on his face though and she shot him a challenging look and received a wink in return that caused a wild blush to break out over her cheeks, “Purebloods,” she snapped to Emily as she turned away. “I’m not interested.”
“For now,” Emily teased and Astoria stuffed a bit of cake into her mouth and was unable to say anything more.
Half and Half was blushing. Draco was unable not to notice this because he had been covertly scanning her throughout the entire meal. He had been wistfully drinking her in and running his tongue over his lower lip to preserve her taste just for a while longer.
He wasn’t sure why she had rejected him. What had disgusted her so deeply with what he had offered her? And why wasn’t she thinking of her family’s well-being?
Regardless, Draco found her to be the most fascinating woman on the planet.
And he wanted her.
Not just for a quick moment in his bedroom or in some corner, he wanted moments spent everywhere and anywhere with her, the only sounds being their breathing—her sighs.
These thoughts should have alarmed him at some point and cause a bit of a chill to descend to his skin but he found that the longer he thought about it, the more he craved.
And it wasn’t merely because she was pretty.
Or that that green gown of hers displayed what might be the most delicious body underneath layers of satin and silk but there was something else…she had steel.
A woman like her, with no grace or social standing and not to mention finanances had told him no for the first time in his life. It aroused him to no end and made him want to corner her and kiss her again, make her say please.
The thought formed a smile over his mouth and he thought of how easy it would be for him to convince her and change her mind for the better.
Becoming what he wanted her to be would be the only way for her to survive.
Draco could ruin her little pauper family if he chose to.
With the right rumors here and there they could be shunned forever so she really had no choice but to give in, let him run his tongue right between her— “Blaise, you look amused. Some lucky girl catch your eye, dear?” it was Blaise’s mother speaking.
Draco was forced out of his thoughts to look across at Helena Zabini and he felt that same amount of pity and curiosity at the sight of her.
She was a lovely woman of course but she had a certain frailty about her that made on ponder if she were ill, “No, Mother,” Blaise said wearily.
“I could have sworn that you had just winked at someone!” his mother said irritably and Draco was aware that he had a burst of suspicion at the thought of Blaise looking at Half and Half. “What am I to do with you? All the pretty young ladies will be taken if you don’t make a move and marry!”
Blaise hadn’t shown any interest in getting married and Draco couldn’t blame him for it when marrying was the most horrendous decision that had ever been thought of. “Mother, the day I marry will be the day that the sky turns green.”
“Don’t be so ridiculous, Blaise!” his mother chastised sharply while setting her knife and fork down and Draco had a feeling that they had had this conversation before. “What about that lovely Travers girl?”
Draco snorted with laughter into his cup because Samantha was the loosest girl that he knew and Pansy nudged him sharply in the ribs.
He reached down and grabbed her wrist gently and squeezed, which made her flush with pleasure, they had dated for a long time during fifth year and she still had her hopes but he was no longer interested.
“She’s going to bite him for sure later on,” he whispered in her ear.
Pansy laughed. “Maybe he’s thinking of taking a bite out of Half and Half instead. I still can’t believe that he was taking up for her! The nerve, I swear, he’s just been so strange since he broke up with his girlfriend.”
“He had a girlfriend?” Draco whispered back while trying not to think of how easy and tempting it would be to kill Blaise if he touched his prey. “I wasn’t aware of that sad fact.”
“You don’t remember Tricia Rowle? She’s a year younger than us, the same age as that Weasley girl that he thought was cute.” Pansy said with a disgusted eye roll and Draco was aware that Blaise was still chatting forcefully with his mother.
Draco thought of Patricia Rowle, whom everyone just called either Patty or Tricia since they had all been at Hogwarts together with a frown.
She was a talkative, flighty little thing and she had a lot of curly blonde hair, freckles and a gap between her two front teeth that made her look like a demented mouse of some kind, “He was dating that broomwreck?” he asked in surprise.
Blaise was known far and wide as being quite the snob, he rarely even looked at ugly women and he found this completely stunning.
“They met during the Yule Ball when she went with Theo’s older brother Jeremy, it was big news.” Pansy said with a laugh while giving him a look. “It was quite the shock for me and the others but they did date up until last term.”
“So what happened?” Draco asked and then he whispered in her ear. “Did she realize that he was a complete bore?” and Pansy gave him a playful look. “Tell me, it has to be funny.”
Pansy looked a bit uncomfortable but he supposed that it was only because Blaise was so close to her; he had never seen her give a care about who she gossiped about.
“She cheated on him actually. Samantha and I found out from her that she got drunk and you know how that is— but the guy won’t have anything to do with her.”
Draco snorted with cruel laughter and asked meanly. “Who was the bloke?”
Pansy shrugged. “She either didn’t remember or she didn’t know. Fact is that Blaise is in a terrible temper about it. But taking up for Half and Half? I don’t know what is going on in his mind, he must be temporarily bonkers.”
Draco laughed again but turned back to his dessert and took his hand from her wrist and saw her frown from the corner of his eye.
It wouldn’t do to lead her on into thinking that he wanted to start things up again when there was no way in hell that he would allow himself to be tortured for a second time, “Half and Half, that stinking breed.”
“You’re not really going to kiss her are you, Draco?” Pansy hissed into his ear.
Draco’s parents were talking to Helena Zabini now to spare her son from her wrath and he smirked a bit.
His father looked as confused by her as he felt and his mother had the utmost pity for her so she was being abnormally kind, “I’ll do a bit more than kiss her, just to teach her a lesson for running her smart mouth.” He said in a threatening whisper.
Pansy looked a bit startled but then pleased as she probably assumed that he would wring the girl’s neck.
That was far from his mind however but she didn’t need to know that, “She’s looking at you right now, of all the nerve!” she said while nudging him painfully in the ribs.
Draco gave her a look but angled his head down a bit to see that Emily Greengrass was whispering to her sister again, giggling.
Half and Half was blushing furiously but he felt a burst of pleasure at the sight before he noted that she wasn’t looking at him, “…She’s not looking at me. Apparently Blaise has found himself an eager breed,” he muttered.
He had probably said this a bit too loudly because Blasie stopped stabbing into his cake to angle his head at him darkly. “What was that, Draco? I’m sorry, you may have to speak up so that your insult can sink in clearer,” he said kindly.
Draco frowned furiously but his mother was giving them a curious look so he hastily smiled and muttered from the side of his mouth. “Do you have more than one issue tonight, Blaise? Aside from your usual charm?”
“I don’t have charm,” Blaise said and this was very true. “But I never asked or wanted to come to this blasted party in the first place. What’s got you in such a temper?” he asked curiously and in a very mean way.
Draco glared at him and he jerked his head a bit to dismiss him but Blaise was looking down at Half and Half, who fixated him without even trying.
She was saying something to her sister and frowning a bit but she had never looked more adorable for it, “Nothing that concerns you.”
Blaise pursed his lips a bit before eating the remnants of his cake, being very partial to sweets like the inner child that Draco doubted he had ever been.
“What a pretty little thing Ms. Greengrass is. I may have to become further acquainted, she does owe me an apology,” he said more to himself than to Draco, though there was a sneer in his voice.
“Keep your hands to yourself and find your own breed.” Draco hissed warningly to him but Blaise was looking down at Half and Half still, as if he found her troubling. “Did you hear me or not?” he demanded.
Blaise snapped out of his thoughts and then heaved a weary sort of sigh. “I heard you the first time, Draco. But it doesn’t change my mind,” he said with an expressionless look in his direction.
Draco’s fingers itched towards his dinner knife but his father stood up just then and tapped his wine glass and whatever conversation had been going on, ceased.
“I would like to thank you all for honoring me in my home to celebrate the second rise of the Dark Lord. Our hopes have been realized as we lead ourselves into a better Wizarding world, the Mudblood menace once more on the verge of becoming eradicated and forced back into the ground from whence it came.”
The guests were thrilled by this news and Draco sat up a bit straighter in his chair while Blaise discreetly rolled his eyes and fingered with his wine glass.
“My family and I could not be more proud to have him in our home and shall stand by his decisions on this War until our victory. Now,” his father said while holding up his glass. “To the Dark Lord and to Harry Potter’s demise,”
Guests stood up all around, chairs were pushed back and glasses were raised to the ceiling and catching on the lantern light.
Draco was brimming with pride at the honor but Blaise was still sitting stubbornly in his seat and he hissed, “Stand, you bloody fool.”
Instead, Blaise Zabini sat exactly where he was before rising, setting his fork down and walking calmly from the dining hall.
A gasp issued from many lips and someone started whispering, the sound echoing like flies over dead flesh, “What on earth has he just done?” Pansy cried to him, eyes wide.
Draco’s mouth had fallen open at his nerve and Helena Zabini burst into tears and crumbled into her seat.
The dinner was officially over and his mother calmly told everyone to resume the remainder of their meal before retiring for more entertainment, the men to the billiards room and the women to various sewing or watercolor areas.
That bastard had just ruined one of the most important moments in his father’s life and Draco felt his fingers shaking with anger and hate for him.
Blaise Zabini had just dramatically shown his true colors, displaying outright that he was a traitor and no supporter of the Dark Lord, the Mudblood problem and the thrill of Harry Potter’s eventual destruction.
Whispers and gossip was filtering through and Draco felt his ears burning with embarrassment as his father tried to compose himself as best he could, his mother going to console Helena Zabini along with a few other brave women.
As he was able to lower his glass, this of course not being filled with wine at all but ginger ale (His mother tended to keep her eyes on him a bit too often at dinner, though his father hardly cared) he caught sight of Half and Half again.
Emily Greengrass was glaring at that brother of theirs as his lips twitched a bit over the sickening silence and their parents were burning warning looks into his face.
But Half and Half had a look on her face that he had never seen before and it caused a sting to blossom into his stomach.
She looked impressed.
Astoria Greengrass looked impressed by what Blaise had done.
No amount of riches amazed her, the thought of Draco touching her caused her nothing but disgust but the sight of that stinking blood-traitor had caused a glow to her entire face. As if she had come alive on the inside.
Draco glowered and felt for the first time in his life, pure hot jealousy and then a hatred for them both. Traitors that were going to be thrown, mauled and booted out of his home didn’t deserve to live.
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