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A Force Of Wills by Gabriella Hunter
Chapter 5 : Revenge
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5

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A/N: Hello, all. Sorry that its taken so long, I know there are some people who read this whenever I post a fresh chapter is put up and I can't thank you all more for it! Anyway, please enjoy this and leave a review or check out my other work! Enjoy and much love.

Astoria still felt weak and it was hard for her to gather breath as her rage and shame took control of her; demanding that she attack Malfoy and rip his strapping body to bits.

Of course, this should have alarmed her to the unnerving fact that she was just like her father and brother when it came to physical violence but she was very tempted to chase after that boy and kill him. But after the thought surfaced, she dismissed it. Astoria Greengrass was no killer.

While her mind played about various ways of annihilating Malfoy, she could not force herself to actually go through with anything. It left her feeling weaker than she had when he’d kissed her.

The force of that kiss— his mouth and the brief press of his tongue against her own caused her cheeks to burn red and she was unable to block out his earlier comment. “….You can try and pretend that you hate me but I’m no fool, I can offer you much more than anyone else can, be aware of that the next time you turn so red.”

Astoria felt sick to her stomach. Could it be that underneath it all, she was attracted to Draco Malfoy? She refused to believe it.

He was vile, cruel and ignorant and the only thing he could offer her was distance and because that was how her life would end some way or another if she married a pureblood, she would not cave.

Desire was such a foolish thing and Malfoy would give her nothing.

He would treat her like a prized hen and she would never know what it would be like to be loved. Frustrated tears burned in her eyes and she hastily wiped at her trembling lips, trying to erase the stain of his kiss and then feeling her knees going weak as she heard sudden footsteps.

Had he come back for her? Was he going to forget about her refusal, take her into some dark corner and devour her properly?

Astoria’s breath was coming from between clenched teeth as she managed to push herself from the wall he’d slammed her against, looking for him down the darkened corridor. But she saw nothing and no sign of his tall, imposing form.

Relief sprang into her heart and was only taken from her as someone gently touched her shoulder from behind. Reeling around with a scream bubbling in her throat, Astoria saw Blaise Zabini staring at her again, this time looking worried, “Are you all right?” he asked.

Astoria tried not to recoil from his touch but she must have made some sort of face because Zabini allowed his hand to fall, apologizing immediately for offending her. “I…I’m fine.” She said tightly.

“You don’t look like it to me.” Zabini murmured while taking in her tear streaked face and ignoring the noise from guests and servants up ahead. For a while, Astoria tried to reign in her emotions but he simply pulled out a handkerchief from his robe pocket and handed it to her warily, “would you take this? I’m quite sure you won’t let me wipe your tears for you.”

Astoria warily accepted the offering, noticing that it was a deep green material, most likely some sort of silk and imprinted with his initials. When she pressed it to her face, she was able to detect a faint odor that made her heart pound a bit, “It smells like you,” she said after a while.

Zabini raised his eyebrows at that but he made no funny faces, merely allowed the comment to pass before he said. “I’d think so.” And when she said nothing to it, he asked. “You don’t like it?”

“Why would you need to know?” Astoria asked him suspiciously because she did like it. Whatever sort of cologne he wore smelt like sandalwood…crisp trees in spring, “why are you acting this way with me? First the comments in the pantry and now this—”

“You’re not accustomed to being flirted with, are you Greengrass? Though I wouldn’t necessarily call that flirting when I was making fun of you at the time,” Zabini said in a casual way and Astoria frowned at him in irritation, her cheeks flushing. “Such a prickly demeanor, it’s very fun to nitpick at.”

Astoria had been right in her assumption that he had been teasing her and she wasn’t certain why he would bother. “What do you want from me? I’m not stupid enough to think that you want to become friends just for the simple blessing of being in my company.”

Zabini burst out laughing and his smile was so wide and bright that Astoria reeled away from it in terror. “You and I are alike in some ways and you’re odd to me. I find it refreshing, as I explained to you earlier,” he said and then after a while he simply shrugged a bit before raking her, “and you may find this surprising but I wasn’t lying when I said that I liked you.”

“Do you think that I’m stupid?” Astoria asked furiously, flushing.

Zabini thought about it for a moment or two before shaking his head. “No, I don’t, actually. Not stupid mentally anyway,” he said dryly and Astoria glared at him. “Emotionally you’re very stupid. You have no guts Greengrass to do what you like. Your family is a real hindrance on you, aren’t they?”

Astoria felt a burst of irritation at this truth and she glared up at him warningly. “Don’t talk as if you know me Zabini or my family. I have reasons for the way that I have to behave and those are reasons that you shouldn’t concern yourself with.”

Zabini quirked his brow at that a bit but she could see his lips thinning before he took a step closer to her, until she was drenched in his scent.

Astoria felt a bit dizzy and wondered how she couldn’t have smelt it before in the pantry and then remembered that it had been full to the brim with herbs, spices and various other supplies, “I don’t know you at all but I’d like to. Honestly, and truly, Greengrass.”

“I’m not that stupid—”

“You need to learn that not everyone is trying to hurt you. You have some steel but the more you distrust, the lonelier you’ll be.” Zabini warned gravely and she felt her heart nearly stop with this truth. “If I had wanted to hurt you or…taste you by now, I assure that I would have.”

Astoria’s cheeks turned red and an image of Malfoy flew into her brain and she shook her head a bit before taking a step back. “Don’t say something like that, you sound like Malfoy.”

Zabini’s upper lip rose a bit and he glanced down to her hands and how she wrung his handkerchief in between her fingers nervously. “So he caught you? What did he offer you this time? Furs and jewels?” a dark look crossed his features. “A set of pearls perhaps?”

Astoria shook her head. “No, he—”

Zabini interrupted her with a sneer. “Threatened you, then? My, Greengrass, you have more courage than I would have thought. What’s he going to do? Spread lies about your family?”

“How do you know that?” Astoria demanded and she wondered for a brief moment if they were in leagues with one another. Never trust a pureblood after all, “did he tell you what he wanted out of me at some point?”

Zabini snorted bitterly and his dark eyes flickered with some emotion or another and Astoria wondered what was lurking beneath the surface. “I’ve known him far longer than you have, we grew up together at Hogwarts and I’ve engaged in quite a few…tricks of my own in the past.”

Astoria could believe that and she found herself wanting to be away from him but something was holding her back. This boy captivated her, “And?”

“And I’ve heard the same lines for years now when he wanted a girl, when he grew furious when they would tell him no. He usually became quite the charmer when they would fight him and they would always give in, but not you.” Zabini said in amazement and she saw that, perhaps, he might even respect her a bit. “Whatever he does to you, don’t give in.”

“I don’t plan to.” Astoria said bitterly and her mind wandered bleakly on how she would get her revenge on Malfoy for whatever treachery he would play on her. “I’m a Greengrass, after all.”

Zabini’s lips twitched a bit and he dipped his head at her before saying almost uncomfortably, “I would like to come for dinner. Or perhaps in the afternoon to chat more with you, but I’m aware that you may not want to be an acquaintance to a traitor.”

The fact that her parents would not be very pleased if she did become involved with a traitor did flash through her mind. It would bring unnecessary attention onto them but for a moment, a wild, impulsive thought escaped her, “But if you want…perhaps we can send letters?”

Zabini stared at her as if he found her perplexing. But Astoria wasn’t lying about keeping her eyes on him; there was something that he wasn’t revealing about his sudden interest in her, “Stop looking as if I’ll stab you in the back, Greengrass. Merlin, I’m a gentleman and I may be a filthy pureblood but I don’t harm women, at least, women that I actually would like to befriend,” he said evasively.

Astoria narrowed her eyes on him and wondered if Emily were right in trusting him just a bit and using him as a way to keep Malfoy away. “I won’t question your feelings on things that you would rather not say. You know that I would like to be a traitor so you have something against me and I could always say that you hurt me in that pantry.”

Zabini looked thunderstruck as he stared at her and Astoria waited for him to yell at her or to grab her, as Malfoy did but he simply stared until he burst out laughing again. “What are you?” he asked abruptly and she blinked in confusion. “Such a feisty little thing, it makes me curious…” he murmured to himself.

“What do you mean?’ Astoria asked him in confusion, unsettled.

You make me curious. If only had spoken to you sooner, I may have befriended you a lot earlier,” Zabini said with an odd expression on his face.

Astoria blushed. “Who says you’re my friend?”

Zabini laughed a bit. “Me,” he said with a shrug. “You threaten me as if you could really harm me when I’m sure that you’re much too gentle.”

Astoria was annoyed by that and she had a feeling that he was able to note a lot of things about her. “I will keep my eyes on you. This isn’t normal for me, going against my family or trusting a pureblood—”

“Aren’t everyone in your family purebloods?” Zabini asked curiously. Astoria nodded. “Then why the hatred?” when she didn’t answer, he simply logged the question away for later before bowing his head in acceptance of her wishes. “I’m without a quill and ink to give my address away.”

“…So…?” Astoria asked warily.

Zabini then reached inside of his robs and took out a red, leather-bound book and she reached for it automatically. “You dropped this but it’s not yours, is it? It has the luridly erotic flare of something that Malfoy would have in that den of his. I’ll take it back, you go to your family and I’ll nick some parchment and a quill from that prat.”

Astoria was surprised that he wouldn’t want her to come with him but she had a feeling that the servant’s gossip about them in that pantry would have spread by now.

A chill descended on her skin at what might happen if they were seen entering Malfoy’s lounge together….alone, “All right. This stays strictly between us.”

“Of course,” Zabini said lazily and he gave her an odd little expression that made him look like an old man and she laughed a bit, though it was uneasy. “So cute, Greengrass.” He said wistfully before he walked on without her.

Astoria felt a curious flush spread into her cheeks that was so very different from the ones that Malfoy gave her and she hurried along to the front of the manor, towards her parents.

There was a sea of black and rainbow dresses and she politely moved and excused herself around various couples and had a brief suspicion that Zabini had watched her interaction with Malfoy earlier simply for the perverse thought that she would give in.

He was an odd one and she would have to log that into the back of her mind for later, he was too much of a cynic to save her all the time.

Strange, boy…Astoria thought for a moment and she looked down at her hands and seeing that she still clutched his handkerchief that was riddled with his scent, “There she is. Look at her; you’d think she would have a bit of shame.”

The nasty words stung and Astoria, who was used to purebloods making a joke out of her for being half-blood, simply ignored the scathing woman who passed her by with one of her friends.

As she walked around looking for her family, she saw that quite a few women and lecherous men and boys were looking at her from corners, groups and even gawping at her rudely as they stood alone.

Servants were handing out last-minute drinks and offering many guests their coats and hats but Astoria saw no sign of her own things and looked her father’s gleaming black hair, the other’s blonde locks.

For a moment she was afraid that something had happened to them but after a moment she was able to spot out her mother and father speaking to…Merlin, no.

They were speaking in quiet tones to the Malfoy’s of all people, Draco Malfoy some feet away with Parkinson and Nott, snorting cruelly at the crestfallen expressions that were ranging from her parent’s faces.

“Stori!” Emily’s voice hissed from behind her and Astoria turned and saw her sister walking up to her with a very concerned expression. “Love, are you well?” she asked before taking in her face and raking her dress, hair and throat.

“Of course, I am. I fainted a while ago,” Astoria reminded worriedly as she heard the buzzing of cruel gossip and jeering laughter. “Emily, what’s wrong?”

Emily was looking around and she let out a foul curse. “Where on earth has Scorpious run off to now? I swear that that boy can just sleaze his way out of anything!” Astoria had a feeling that while their brother would come to their aid without fail, he would much rather be with his girlfriend.

Though she was a bit annoyed and angry with him for leaving when they needed to keep up appearances and she would have to fuss at him about it later. “I’m not sure,” Astoria said tightly.

But the words were barely out of her mouth when they both saw Scorpious strolling toward them through the thickness of the crowd. Many young girls watched him pass but he paid them no mind and Astoria knew from the look on his face that he was not pleased, “Oh, dear,” Emily said worriedly.

“Scorpious, what’s the matter?” Astoria asked him warily. Her brother’s blue eyes narrowed a bit on her as if she had disappointed him and she worried that whatever Malfoy had done to her had reached his ears. It would soon enough from the way their parents were behaving to his parents but she cared more for his and Emily’s opinions more than theirs, “what?”

“Are you involved with that Zabini boy, Stori? What have we always been taught? Never trust a pureblood.” Scorpious hissed down at her and Astoria frowned up at his anger. “I went back into that room of Malfoy’s lounge and he was there, and I confronted him on his intentions toward you.”

“Scorpious…” Emily said wearily. “Must you always be so overprotective?”

“You can be too but one of us has to keep an eye on her.” Scorpious spat back and Emily’s cheeks turned very pink. “How’d your assignment go? Fall in love with him?” he sneered a bit from under his breath.

Emily frowned at him and she looked as if she might take out her wand and hurt him but Astoria saw her say stiffly. “Why, he’s right over there and you’ll be quite surprised to see that he’s not that elderly.” She said while angling her head a bit.

Astoria and Scorpious turned and saw that she was indicating a tall, handsome man with dark brown hair. He was dressed very nicely in expensive robes and from here she could see the laugh lines around his eyes and had to admit reluctantly that he was dashing, “What’s his crime? He looks harmless enough, I suppose.”

Scorpious snorted nastily. “He’s a pureblood and if someone is paying dad to get rid of him, there’s more to his story than just a sunny disposition.” He mocked, his voice going girlishly high as he tried to mimic Emily’s.

Astoria was aware that he must not have gotten what he had wanted out of Zabini and she briefly wondered if he were still alive. “Scorpious, leave Emily alone.”

“Thank you, Stori. And it is a shame about Mr. Grant he doesn’t look as if he would murder his own wife.” Emily said with a sad sigh. “But the mother of the girl contacted Daddy some kind of way through our…back alley associates and what’s done is done. She’s paying us quite the weight in Galleons.” She said in a low whisper to her siblings.

Astoria knew that her father had man associates that lived deep in the underbelly of the Wizarding world and she sighed.

Their business of disposing of people for profit made them sound like horrible people but her father merely thought of it as cleaning up the mess of pureblood scum, his hatred for them too deeply engrained to be changed. “Were you able to speak with him?”

“Not really but I’ll have my chance. At least, I hope so.” Emily said worriedly while looking at her again. “Stori, I heard the most absurd rumor that you were in a pantry alone with that Zabini boy, don’t tell me that those servants were correct!”

Scorpious’s face turned red with fury and he made a jerking action as if he would go back and wring the boy’s neck but Astoria shot him a look. “It had better not be true. I wasn’t able to get a clear answer out of that oddity. He says that he has no intention of having an intention to press his intentions upon you or some shit.”

Astoria couldn’t help but giggle. Emily sent her a sly look, “Well, Scorpious. It seems as though someone owes me an apology. I told you he was quite charming, even if he is a pureblood.”

“Oh, Emily, stuff a hippogriff in your mouth,” Scorpious muttered before looking down at Astoria in heavy disappointment. “Tell me that you’re not falling in line with everyone else, Stori. I would hate to see you saddled with a pureblood who’s announced himself as a traitor,”

“I haven’t, Scorpious!” Astoria insisted firmly.

Emily asked her curiously. “But you were in a pantry with him?”

Astoria ignored her and watched as the Malfoy’s finally parted from their parents and when they walked up, her father looking quite furious, she moved toward Scorpious for protection. “I have never been more upset with you all than I am tonight!” their mother screeched in a low, menacing hiss.

Scorpious quirked his brow. “Not even for that time when I pushed Alexia Dolohov in horse shit?” he asked and Astoria roared with laughter at the memory before quickly reeling it in.

“This is no laughing matter you fools.” Their mother snapped and Astoria saw her eyes gleaming with concealed mirth before she said heatedly, “I have heard that you, Astoria were seen in a pantry with that Zabini boy. I will not have it!”

Astoria was more than unnerved that the rumor that she had suspected had occurred in just the way that she would have thought. “Mum,”

Her mother overrode her and her green eyes appeared very strained. She was humiliated and furious with them all, “And Emily, that young Malfoy swore that he saw you in the arms of some young man upstairs—”

Scorpious snorted loudly but there was a demonic cast to his face as he looked around for Draco Malfoy and Astoria sent him a warning glance. “That has to be a lie. Emily only has a fondness for older men.”

Emily shot him a look.

Their mother glared at him a bit too and she then turned her attention towards Astoria. She loved her very much of course but had her doubts that she would believe her when status and lies consumed her as deeply as her husband, “Scorpious, cease your teasing. I thought that you would have kept a better eye on your sister, her temper is just as frightening as your own.”

“True, but she gets it from dad as well.” Scorpious said and Astoria was annoyed that they both looked rather smug that Astoria had inherited the Greengrass fury.

It was not something that she liked about herself.

She wanted to be as distant from her family as possible when it came to their lies, traits and mannerisms but there were some things that she couldn’t fight and her temper was one of them, “And that is why I can’t believe that she would so something so foolish, she knows how we have to keep it a secret.” Their mother said simply, grudgingly.

Astoria was more than a bit relieved that she believed her but she saw that while she wouldn’t believe in her cavorting in a pantry, she did have some doubt as to what the real issue had been. “Mum, I didn’t do anything. What did the Malfoy’s say?"

“They told us about the rumors that were floating around from some of the other guests and they’re trying to save face.” Her father said suddenly and she saw that he was still furious but she detected that it wasn’t directed solely on her. “The nerve of them to actually assume that you would be in league with a traitor.” He said in disgust.

Astoria felt a guilty flush spreading into her cheeks and prayed that she appeared more mortified than shamed. “Dad, I wouldn’t do something like that, you don’t have to worry.” After a short moment, she asked the question for Emily’s sake, as she loved the life, “…are we barred from pureblood events?”

That had their mother looking quite humiliated but she straightened her shoulders a bit and said to them. “While the Malfoy’s may have ceased their invitations for the future, I’m sure that there will be more invitations from the acquaintances that we have made,” but she sounded doubtful and Astoria felt that this all was he fault.

If she had agreed with Malfoy in the first place then they wouldn’t have had to suffer and their father would be able to continue on with the business. “I have my doubts but the clients will continue and I will make the apologies to Lucius myself and we shall see how he takes it,” her father said just then with a calculating gleam.

“They won’t want you to continue coming to their parties and dances because of me so perhaps I should be excluded…” Astoria said hopefully but her parents shot her a look and she knew that her chances at marriage were too high to risk.

Scorpious looked just as irritated by it and asked. “Perhaps if we found that Zabini boy and had he and Stori explain the rumor to the Malfoy’s? I’m sure Stori isn’t fully to blame and I’ll be damned if he sleazes away without some sort of punishment.”

Emily gave him a look from underneath her lashes and their mother frowned in heavy disapproval for his overprotective nature. “That is true, Daddy. But I fear that the damage has already been done,” she said as many guests leered at them when Astoria dared to look at her surroundings.

“Not if I have my way.” Their father said with casual arrogance and Astoria swallowed a bit but knew that even if the Malfoy’s somehow accepted her apology for a transgression that had never happened, the rumor had taken root. “Come, darling, we’ll speak to Lucius and that horrid wife of his.”

Maximus!” Astoria heard her mother hiss.

Scorpious laughed a bit. “Should I go find that Zabini boy?”

“No need, Greengrass. I was just coming to you,” Zabini’s voice rang out and Astoria glanced over her father’s arm to see the boy strolling up. He found nothing unusual about the fact that many guests had parted from him as if he were contagious, “and I don’t appreciate you threatening me.”

Their mother swatted at Scorpious. “How many times have I told you?”

Scorpious snorted a bit but eyed Zabini in acute distrust, “Don’t you have anything to say for yourself in getting Stori into such a nasty situation?”

“I’m as confused as you are.” Zabini said calmly while glancing at Astoria. She sent him a confused look in return before he said, “I managed to get Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy interest about a concerning problem. If you would follow me?”

Astoria wondered what he had done as her father said to the others. “Stay here, please. We’ll be back shortly,” and they reluctantly stayed put.

From the corner of her eye, she was able to see Malfoy looking very confused and perhaps even worried as she and her father followed Zabini back into his lounge.

Once they got there, Astoria was surprised o see Helena Zabini and Malfoy’s parents standing in the room, the fireplace still blazing and that unnerving sense of sensuality still polluting the room, “What is all of this about, Blaise? Lucius and Narcissa have guests to see. You have upset me more than enough tonight.”

“Forgive me, Mother,” Zabini said dryly and Astoria could tell that he didn’t mean it for all the stars in the sky. “And please do forgive me for insisting that you see me Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy, as I’m sure that my presence here is still very unwanted.”

Mrs. Malfoy had folded her delicate arms a bit and was now considering him as if she were having some sort of doubt. “I would like to get to the bottom of this, Blaise.” Astoria was surprised that she had used his first name and then recalled that Zabini had said he’d been around Malfoy for a very long time, “We shouldn’t be speaking to you after such a rude action at dinner.”

Mr. Malfoy looked as if he wanted to kill Zabini and Astoria felt her father stiffen a bit in what might have been irritation. “You said that this concerned our son and anything that concerns Draco needs to be explained immediately.”

Astoria saw a grin flash across Zabini’s face in a sinister way and swallowed just as she heard Draco Malfoy’s voice. “Mother, Father, is there an issue?” he asked while strolling elegantly inside, all class and sophistication. “Why is he still here?” he jerked his head at Zabini.

When he passed by her, Astoria pressed herself to her father’s side more firmly but Malfoy, for all his arrogance, had the nerve to wink at her.

It was such a sly movement that she barely caught it and her hatred for him blossomed, “I was just going to send for you. Now, Blaise, what is this all about and make haste,” Mr. Malfoy said venomously.

“I was aware of all the rumors that were circulating from the servants that put both me and the lovely Ms. Greengrass in a rather negative light.” Zabini said while standing straight, as tall and haughty as the other purebloods in the room.

Astoria stared at him in confusion.

“I would like those rumors to be brought to a rest, as my daughter would never do something to dishonor your home, Lucius.” Her father said tightly, and when she looked up she saw that his blue eyes were narrowed into dangerous, cunning slits.

Mr. Malfoy and Mrs. Malfoy exchanged looks but there was no remorse in them and Astoria was reminded of strapping dead things. Beautifully sculpted on the outside but rotten and foul on the inside, “We are aware of the rumor, Maximus. And I can’t subject the other girls to your daughter’s…behavior,” Mr. Malfoy said thinly.

Astoria gripped her father’s arm to stop him from pulling out his wand, which had killed many a man in his lifetime.

Zabini smiled just then and she was so disarmed by it that she failed to notice that Malfoy was glaring furiously at her from underneath his blonde lashes, “I’m afraid that this is all some sort of big misunderstanding. I was hiding in the pantry with Ms. Greengrass,”

Helena Zabini snapped furiously. “Blaise Thaddeus Zabini, you fool!” and before she could go on in more of a rant, Mrs. Malfoy sent her a cold look and she silenced herself. The more powerful woman in the room obviously held the control over the fragile woman.

“Your middle name is Thaddeus?” Astoria asked Zabini unthinkingly.

“Astoria,” her father said with a barely controlled chuckle.

Zabini’s lips twitched a bit and Malfoy sneered at him a bit before going to his parents and standing beside his father.

They were very much alike, though his father was just an inch or so taller than his son and could probably devour a human village whole, “There was a reason for our hiding, I can assure you. Why, it may be shocking to say that the entire idea was a game that your son brought upon us earlier this evening.” Zabini said.

Astoria’s jaw dropped at his nerve and she hastily reigned in her surprise as Malfoy’s exterior faltered somewhat. His grey eyes were mere daggers, “You lie, Blaise. What sort of game would extend to you having such exotic tastes?” the other boy asked nastily.

“This game…” Zabini said as he turned his back and went to Malfoy’s bookshelf and after he moved aside the exact same books that Malfoy had earlier, he extracted the red bag. Astoria’s heart was pounding as he said with a sigh, “I’m not aware if you know that your son enjoys his little sex games but this is why we were hiding, as neither of us wanted to participate.”

There was a long silence after that and Malfoy’s entire face, if possible, turned grey and he stared at Zabini as if he would boil him in oil. Helena Zabini looked quite shocked as Mrs. Malfoy spluttered, “You lie! Draco would never do something like that—”

Zabini asked her dryly. “Then why was this found in his room? There are pieces inside and I can assure you that pulling out a piece that instructs you to suck on someone is exactly what it sounds like.”

Mr. Malfoy looked, for the first time, embarrassed and he shot his son a dark look that had Astoria wondering if this would be the last time that she would see him alive. Malfoy shrank back but he shot her a deadly look, “…The fact that you participated does not convince me, Blaise.” His father said after a moment.

“I can assure that I did not touch Ms. Greengrass but you may want to ask the others who participated in the game…how much they participated in the game,” Zabini said loftily and his dark eyes were gleaming.

Mrs. Malfoy was seething. “I’d like names of these children immediately and you have no way of proving that you and that girl were not…” she couldn’t say the words, as a gently bred older woman could never speak of such things. “I would like proof.”

Zabini smiled thinly. “Ms. Greengrass, did I lay my hand, my mouth or anything remotely interesting on you in that pantry?” he asked bluntly and Astoria’s face flamed.

“No,” Astoria said after a while and all eyes turned to her viciously. Her father didn’t seem at all surprised though and he sent her a beaming smile when she looked up at him, “I was hiding from Malfoy because he was intent on…doing the most horrid things to me.”

Malfoy stared at her for a long moment as if he couldn’t believe that he had been betrayed and his lips turned into a thin, foreboding line. “Like I would taint myself with a breed. You’re delusional Greengrass.”

Zabini watched as his parent’s faces became arrogantly relieved by the words, knowing their son’s ignorance better than anyone else’s. “As I can say that I saw you kissing Ms. Greengrass and against her will— I might add, I find that to be untrue.”

Malfoy must have made some sort of reaction to that, as Astoria had been staring at Blaise because Mr. Malfoy said in disgust. “I see. I want names as well, Blaise. Who else participated in this game?”

“Millicent and Mary Bulstrode. Pansy Parkinson, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, Theodore Nott and Samantha Travers.” Zabini said without hesitation and his effective slaying of the others would put him and Astoria in more danger than he might have thought but she saw that he hardly cared. “If you would like to ask them, perhaps give them Veritaserum to test their honesty…?”

“I’ll do no such thing.” Mr. Malfoy hissed furiously but Astoria could see his eyes flickering a bit as if he could prune the unworthy from his ancestral home with one little drop of the truth-telling potion. “And I’ll believe nothing of my son’s attraction to…Ms. Greengrass. I will put an end to this disgusting game at once. I do owe you that, Blaise.”

Zabini smiled charmingly. “Why, I’m honored.”

Astoria’s lips were twitching a bit and Malfoy shot her a look as Mrs. Malfoy simply looked as if she would rather believe nothing. “You present a daunting case Blaise but I don’t find myself becoming convinced of everything and I will not have that…girl in my home, or you.”

Astoria’s father stiffened. “Make no hasty assumptions about my daughter. If she says that nothing transpired, then nothing transpired but I don’t find your skepticism too far- fetched, though I believe that you should not place all the blame on their heads when they might have even been pressured by your son in playing such a…activity.”

The words might as well have slapped the Malfoy’s across the faces from the way they reeled back and Astoria had never been more proud of her father. And yet she knew that the business was his main concern.

Mr. Malfoy was trying to hold in his fury. His face was turning rather red, “Until I receive all the answers to this problem, I will allow you and your family to continue on here at the Manor. That is only until I discover the truth, though I will not have Blaise disgracing my home again.”

“You don’t have to worry. I don’t want to come back.” Zabini said calmly even as his mother burst into tears. “But at least spare my mother and allow her to suffer with your company.”

“You arrogant—” Mr. Malfoy began.

Mrs. Malfoy interrupted and said to Astoria and her father. “I won’t allow your daughter into my home; the rest of you are more than welcome.”

“My daughter was not involved in anything scandalous, I can assure you.” Astoria heard her father say furiously and she swallowed hard.

Zabini was giving her a concerned look from the corner of his eye before he said to Malfoy’s parents. “I thought we had already deduced that Ms. Greengrass and I were not fondling each other wildly in that pantry? Servant’s gossip shouldn’t even be taken into account.” He pointed out calmly and Astoria felt her heart do a lurch.

That little remark caused the Malfoy’s to flush with anger and Astoria was reminded of wolves ready to go in for the kill. “The rumor has spread,”

Malfoy finally spoke up and his voice was cold and controlled. “I can say that I saw the two of you coming out of the pantry. With my own two eyes, I must add,” he said and Astoria flushed in hatred. “You seemed awfully compatible to me.”

Zabini laughed mirthlessly. “Sleeping with someone and speaking to them are completely different things but you wouldn’t know anything about that, now would you?”

“Blaise!” his mother interrupted hotly, catching the look that passed over the Malfoy’s faces at the bold words. “Stop this at once!”

There was a silence and it appeared that Zabini would ignore his mother but Mrs. Malfoy finally found her voice again and it sounded clipped and cruel, “Whether you and the girl were involved with one another in that pantry or not does not mean still does not excuse the fact that she was with a blood traitor…now does it?”

Astoria’s father stiffened and he looked down at her sternly. “I will demand the truth once we arrive home.” He whispered darkly in her ear, “we are in a precarious situation and I will not allow the business to suffer.”

Zabini narrowed his eyes at the look that must have crossed her face and he gave her father a rather icy glare that he hid well behind his words. “You have known me for half of my life and to honestly accuse me of something so debase hurts me,” he said to Mrs. Malfoy and she had the audacity to flush. “My actions at the dinner table do not stop me from being a gentleman.”

“But they do mark you as a traitor. Or do you deny it?” Mr. Malfoy asked darkly.

Astoria couldn’t allow this to continue and for her family’s sake she said, before she could stop herself. “…Zabini is merely being misunderstood. He’s grown quite worried for his mother’s illness and told me that he was unable to take joy in the Dark Lord’s uprising as he was overcome with grief that his mother would not live long enough to glory in Harry Potter’s demise.”

Helena Zabini looked at her son as he sent Astoria a heavy look from under his lashes and she tried to send him an apology but he ignored her moments later. “Oh, Blaise, why didn’t you say?” his mother said tearfully.

Mr. Malfoy shot Zabini a look that was both menacing and cold satisfaction. “Is this the truth?” he asked sharply.

Astoria couldn’t have her family placed in a negative light and she chewed on her lower lip morosely, fearing that Zabini would deny everything. But after a short while, he said, “…I rarely get any sleep at night, worrying for you, Mother.”

Mrs. Malfoy narrowed her eyes on him suspiciously. “I expect better behavior from you in the future, Blaise.” Malfoy looked as if she had stabbed him and opened his mouth to say something but she sent him a look, “not now, Draco. There’s much to discuss between your father and I, concerning you.”

Astoria could barely hold in the grin that was blossoming along her face but she knew that it was far from over. Malfoy would kill her for certain now or molest her the instant he got a chance, “Yes, Mother,” he said slowly.

“Are we done?” Zabini asked dryly.

“There are still things to discuss but Maximus; I expect you and your…family here sometime in the future. I do apologize for the misunderstanding.” Mr. Malfoy said, overruling his wife swiftly and causing her to glare at him from under her lashes.

Astoria’s father smiled a bit and she could hear the lie in his voice. “It would be more than an honor.” He bowed a bit with her at them, “Say your apologies, to young Malfoy dear.”

Draco Malfoy looked as if he would peel her skin slowly and surely but Astoria bowed deeply and said in a soft tone. “Thank you for clearing up this misunderstanding. It couldn’t have been resolved without you,” she said sweetly.

Her father ignored the venomous glare in the boy’s eyes. Smirking, he nodded at Helena Zabini and then to the son and she swore that he sent him a little grin after he drew up and directed her from the room.

Before they walked fully out, however, Zabini walked up to them and said to her father as his dark hand briefly touched hers. “I am most sorry for the inconvenience, sir. But it had to be done,” he murmured and Astoria felt something slip between her fingers, her disgust reigned in.

“You’re a fine liar, Mr. Zabini. I expect great things from you in the future,” Astoria heard her father say slyly before he nodded his head at him and directed her away. Zabini went back into the lounge of demons. “We will be discussing this later tonight,” she heard her father warn to her.

 Astoria ignored him and cautiously opened her hand and saw a paper with Zabini’s address nearly written in fine script. Never in her life had her heart jumped so eagerly and she couldn’t suppress her smile.

And..there you go! Now, as I know some of you who read "This is Angelina" as well are furious with me for taking forever but rest assured and stop mentally strangling me because I'll be updating it as soon as this gets validated!

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