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Chapter 12 : Caught red-lipped
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Nights on Paradise Island were warm and peaceful. Though it was November, the island was shielded by spells from the harshly cold weather. Stars twinkled brightly in the black sky; a faint breeze rustled the leaves of the palm trees on the beach with the waves crashing against the sandy shores – Paradise Island was more breathtaking at night.
That was why Draco always went out for a stroll late at night. He’d wait until most of the witches and wizards had cleared the beach and then he’d walk along the shore, alone with his thoughts and enjoying the view.
Except tonight, he wasn’t alone.
“You were right. The beach is so much better at night,” said Astoria, her face upturned towards the sky illuminated by stars.
Draco smirked. “I’m always right.”
“Nope. Just smart.”
Astoria shook her head in amusement. She had been reluctant when he had asked her to go out walking with him but now she was grateful that he had brought her. Their day had been quite stressful with Daphne watching their every move. Astoria always felt like her older sister was out to get her, as if she was just waiting for the perfect moment to strike. It had put both her and Draco on edge.
This was why she liked these peaceful moments with Draco. Of course, she’d never admit that to him.
She watched him out of the corner of her eye, taking in his platinum-blonde hair, his strong, chiselled jaw and the confident manner in which he walked. If we do get married, she thought, we wouldn’t look too bad together.
Draco caught her staring at him and smirked. “Checking me out, Astoria?”
Astoria blushed and looked away, suddenly tongue-tied. Ever since that night, she found that she couldn’t hurl her usual insults at him. Just looking at him made her remember how his lips felt on hers.
Before Draco could comment on her speechlessness, Astoria stopped walking beside him and pointed at the sky. “Scorpius.”
Draco looked up. “My second favourite constellation,” he commented.
“What’s your first?”
“Draco,” he replied with a smirk.
Astoria rolled her eyes. “Obviously,” she muttered.
Draco traced the stars of the constellation with his eyes. “If I have a son,” he said, “I’ll name him Scorpius.”
Astoria raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think your wife’s going to agree with that?” she asked him.
He locked his grey eyes with her brown ones. “Would you agree to it?”
All the breath seemed to escape out of Astoria with a whoosh. “Wha – what?” she spluttered, looking at Draco with wide eyes.
He shrugged. “What do you think of the name? If your husband wanted to name your son, Scorpius, would you agree with him?” he asked in a seemingly casual tone, looking away from her.
Astoria took a deep breath. For a second, she had thought Draco was indirectly proposing her. “It’s an interesting name,” she commented. “Though, I always wanted to name my son after something strong. Like...one of the twelve Titans...Hyperion.” she added.
“That could be his middle name,” suggested Draco, turning his head to look at her intensely.
Astoria lost her breath again. She knew she wasn’t just imagining it. There was definitely something underlying that sentence. Before she could ask him though, Draco shrugged again and averted his eyes from hers.
“Hyperion sounds like a middle name,” he stated before she could open her mouth.
Astoria shot down the feeling of disappointment that was creeping up her heart. Clearing her throat she said, “Er...it’s getting late. I think I’ll head back and go to sleep.”
Draco nodded. “Goodnight,” he said, looking out towards the ocean.
She walked away, too wrapped up in her thoughts to spare a backward glance and notice the sadness in his eyes as he stared at her retreating form.
“I know your engagement to Draco is a farce.”
Morning found Astoria Greengrass calmly sipping her pumpkin juice and looking indifferently over her glass at her sister, Daphne. They were seated at a table near the window overlooking the swimming pool. Witches and wizards arrived for breakfast and the restaurant was a bustle of activity as plates full of food floated to them.
“Hmm. Interesting how just a few days ago you were planning my alleged pretend-wedding,” commented Astoria, cutting into her waffles with a fork and knife.
Daphne scoffed. “You can drop the act, little sister. I’m far smarter than you think I am.”
“That would hardly make a difference since I think your intelligence can be measured with a teaspoon.”
Daphne let out an irritated sigh. “Please, sister, I’m not trying to start an argument here. I’m simply looking out for you.”
Astoria’s eyebrows seemed to disappear into her hair. Before she could say anything, Daphne continued, “Contrary to what you may think, I am your older sister and my job is to keep you from making bad decisions in your life.”
Astoria snorted. “What do you really want, sister?” she asked, saying the word in a sarcastic tone. “We both know you can’t look past your own nose, so you can stop trying to butter me up.”
“Alright, alright,” Daphne relented, “I simply do not want to make a mockery out of the Greengrass name.”
“Now that makes more sense,” stated her younger sister. “And why do you think that that will happen?”
“Come on, Astoria. I thought you were more cunning than this. Can’t you see that Draco Malfoy is simply using you?”
“Using me for what?”
“For whatever this engagement charade is for!” exclaimed Daphne. “Do you think he actually likes you? Do you think he really wants to get married to you? We both know that this thing is going to end as soon as he gets what he wants.”
“For someone who had a crush on him for the past seven years, you certainly don’t think too highly of him.”
“For the last time, it was not I who had a crush on him, it’s Pansy who is still in love with him and who, I believe, will really marry Draco in the end.”
“Please,” scoffed Astoria. “Draco can’t stand Pansy.”
“Then why was she his girlfriend in Hogwarts? Why does he still hang around with her?” retorted Daphne.
“Because Pansy’s sticking to him like Spellotape.”
Daphne raised a perfectly trimmed eyebrow. “Why are you defending him, Astoria? Have you fallen in love with him?”
The knife in Astoria’s hand slipped on her plate with a clatter. Other than that, she showed no signs that that statement had affected her.
Daphne was silently impressed with her younger sister’s apparently nonchalant manner. But it still didn’t fool her.
“Oh, my dear, dear sister. You have, haven’t you?” said Daphne, shaking her head. “Well, I know I’m not in your good books, but I really am trying to look out for our family name. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when Draco leaves you and marries Pansy.”
With that, the slim, blonde-haired woman elegantly rose from her chair and walked away from her younger sister, leaving her staring at her plate in confusion.
“I love you, Astoria. Will you marry me?”
He was holding her hand, earnestly looking at her face, his heart beating wildly in his ribcage. For a second, she seemed to look surprised, but then her face contorted into a mask of anger. Before he could register what was happening, she slapped him across his face.
“How dare you ask me to marry you! You’re a conniving, heartless, Death Eater! How can you expect me to like someone like you? I was simply playing along with your idiotic game of pretend!”
“Astoria, I -”
But then her face changed and it was his father standing before him.
“You’re such a disappointment, Draco. You even fail at rebelling against me,” his father said, laughing bitterly.
And then it was the horrible face of Voldemort.
“Can’t even finish the simple task of killing a wizard, little boy? I have no more use of you. Avada -”
Draco jolted awake, drenched in sweat. Rubbing his eyes, he looked to the single bed beside his and found it empty. The clock in the room chimed noon. He sighed irritably. He didn’t like oversleeping.
He kicked the sheets away and strolled to the bathroom. Picking up a pink toothbrush, he stared at it in grim amusement for a few seconds before squeezing toothpaste on it. Astoria had made him take the pink one and she had taken the blue one. She even charmed it so that he couldn’t change its colour. He wondered if her sanity was intact.
Looking at his reflection in the mirror, Draco suppressed a shudder. Forehead lined with beads of sweat, face paler than usual...he looked a wreck. It had been a while since a nightmare had invaded his dreams. Ever since Astoria had come into his life, it seemed his past was just what it was – the past. With her, he was Draco Malfoy, the charming, handsome young man with a wit to match, not Draco Malfoy, the bullying, heartless, ex-Death Eater.
He still didn’t know what he felt for her. Attraction, yes. Love? How would he know what love is? The only love he’d ever known was from his mother. He knew his father loved him too, but he was more concerned with his reputation than showing his only son any form of affection.
Draco sighed as he remembered his walk with Astoria the night before. He had been trying to gauge Astoria’s feelings for him with his indirect questions. A part of him wanted to just ask her upfront, but that part was dampened by the fact that he might have to face rejection. Besides, what if she no longer puts up with their game of pretend and leaves him facing the disgusting plans of his father by himself? He couldn’t lose her now. They were in too deep.
A knock at the door roused Draco from his thoughts. He quickly donned his clothes as he rushed to it.
“Hello, darling – oh, it’s you.”
“I used to be your darling once too, Draco,” Pansy said as she strolled inside the room without an invitation.
“A long, long time ago, Pansy. Practically a lifetime,” said Draco.
“Oh, it’s only been three years or so.”
“Like I said, a lifetime,” Draco repeated, flashing a humourless smile at her.
Pansy pouted. “Why did you leave me, Draco? I loved you. I still do.”
“We’ve had this conversation before. I only dated you because you were someone my parents approved of and I didn’t exactly hate you either. It was just an infatuation,” Draco said, sighing irritably. He hated repeating himself.
“And how long until Astoria’s just an infatuation too?” Pansy asked him, a little bit too hopefully.
He glared at her. “Astoria’s different.”
“Of course she is,” Pansy said sarcastically. “Anyway, the real reason I’ve come here is to ask for something. If you give this to me and if I’m satisfied with it, I’ll never bother you again.”
Draco contemplated the offer. It seemed too good to be true. He was sure there was a catch there. “What is it?”
“Oh, nothing. Just a...kiss.” Pansy rested her hands on her hips and smirked.
Draco raised an eyebrow. “That’s it?” he asked her.
She sauntered towards him and looked up with half-lidded eyes. “Well, you have to make sure I like it,” she said in a low voice.
“That can be arranged.”
I’m not in love with Draco Malfoy. I’m not in love with Draco Malfoy. I’m in love with Draco Malfoy - oh dear Merlin.
Astoria sighed exasperatedly as she made her way towards the room she shared with Draco. After her conversation with her sister, she spent a good fifteen minutes trying to decode her feelings. She knew what it was now. Love. Or at least some other form of it. What else could explain why her heart beats faster around him or how she looked forward to spending time with him or even why she was putting up with him for so long? She felt like she was trapped in one of her cliché love-hate romance books which she would never admit reading to anyone. Except, she had never hated Draco Malfoy. She maybe disliked his arrogance at first, but it grew on her. Draco Malfoy had a right to be arrogant anyway. Silky blonde hair, gorgeous grey eyes, fit, muscular body –
What in the bloody hell? thought Astoria, shaking her head. I’m going insane!
Sighing in frustration for what seemed to be the zillionth time, Astoria opened the door to the room...and was met with a sight that changed her feelings about Draco completely.
The blonde-haired man was lying in Astoria’s bed with a black-haired woman, kissing her deeply. Neither of them heard Astoria’s soft gasp of surprise over the woman’s loud moans.
Astoria stepped back outside, closing the door softly behind her.
She felt like her heart had broken in two.
A/N: Comments? Suggestions? Please leave a review! =D
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