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Chasing Ghosts by Jchrissy
Chapter 1 : Tonight, It Would End
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 16


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Music filled her body. The hot, pounding sensation of it grabbed hold of her soul and forced her attention to it. She leaned her head back just a fraction, causing the base of her skull to rest on the black leather chair. Her ocean eyes closed ever so slightly as she became immersed in the words of the song. Those eyes could, and had, haunted many people. They were the color of purity, of rebirth, yet the looks that simmered through them were that of only sin. But now, those torturing eyes were simply resting. The crowded, smoky bar was one where very few witches or wizards would recognize her, which was exactly the reason she chose it.

Her legs were lightly crossed, the simple, white cotton dress falling just over them. Her foot slowly dangled as a heel that was laced up her ankle tapped the metal bar of the table. She was debating whether to slip outside, craving just a few puffs of the fag that she was halfheartedly trying to avoid. The memory of her fiance’s voice echoed into her ears, causing her blood red lips to form a smirk.

Smoking is forbidden! It is not a proper thing for my future wife to do, no, that is a man’s hobby. No witch of mine will be seen with one of those things hanging between her fingers.

She shook his words from her, not in the mood to dwell on him just yet. Her eyes fluttered open, the feeling of being stared at had her looking around the bar; after barely a second of searching, her blue sin found a pair of hazel that sat across the room, taking in the sight of her. She picked her glass up and swirled the nearly empty contents of it. Yes, she could use a refill, why shouldn’t he be the lucky one to buy it?

Her eyes lingered on him as he moved across the floor towards her. Sandy blonde hair, an easy appearance, one of those people that wasn't a shame to look at but didn’t dominate nor require undivided attention. That should mean he would be simple enough to shake once she had something fresh to sip on.

“What are you drinking there, luv?” he asked with a smile after finally reaching her, flashing blinding white teeth.

“What is important, luv, is what will I be drinking?” She almost laughed as the sound of her voice had him all but drooling. Each one of her words were coated with lust. How easy it was to play with these simple creatures, so much amusement with such little effort.

“And what would you prefer, darling?” he asked, after being sure his voice wouldn’t shake.

She stood to her full height, which was only just above five feet, with shoes bringing her a few inches over that. Her mind was already playing wicked games, and she couldn’t help but have a bit more fun with such an easy target.

Her creamy, slender hand reached behind her neck and fanned out her raven colored hair. The strands dipped over her shoulders and curtained her face. Fantasies had been conjured up, dreamed into the minds of millions, from women that looked the way she did: of that she was well aware.

She moved closer to his frozen body and was prepared to continue her game, until a deep voice broke through her thoughts.

ASTORIA GREENGRASS, Get your arse over here this instance!” She turned her head with a snap, her hair hitting the face of her prey. The blue eyes, now somewhat darker with anger, met a pair of steel grey. Draco.

“I am going to have to excuse myself, luv.” she whispered into the man’s ear, making sure her lips were close enough to have Draco steaming with fury. She turned on a heel and began to saunter towards the entrance.

She moved slowly, deliberately, catching the eye of every man near her. She knew how desperately Draco despised the idea of men longing for her, imaging her without the fabric that clung to her soft flesh. What better way to start the pending confrontation then by rubbing salt into his wounds?

“So happy you could join me darling, your timing is impeccable, as I had just began feeling parched.” Sarcasm was her new tone of choice, if there was one person that could out smirk a Malfoy, it was Astoria Greengrass. She was inches away from her fiance, not the least bit intimidated by the rage that she could feel vibrating from him. “So, shall we head to the bar, or would you prefer we make a scene right here?” Her eyebrow was raised as she stared into him, daring him to challenge her.

He didn’t answer, but moved his hand to clench her wrist and began dragging her from their spot near the door to the high, shiny black table of the bar. She let him pull her along, willing herself not to start the fight just yet. It had to be approached on her terms. Her thoughts drifted, causing her to wonder for a moment how he found her, but she wasn’t overly concerned. If he wanted to do this here and now, fine, they would. The next time she walked from this bar, it would be without the weight of the two carat diamond on her left hand.

“So, you come here often, lover?” Her question had his anger reaching a new height, perfect, exactly what she wanted. Anger. She had come this far, she wouldn’t back down. Tonight, it would end. His anger would catch fire and light hers, she would use it like a perfectly welded weapon, use it against him, against herself, until none of the love and pain ebbing through her heart remained. She would need every ounce of vexation they could produce between the two of them to make it out that door alone.

Draco was about to speak when the bartender walked over to them and asked for their orders. Astoria used this as another way to add gasoline to their simmering fire.

“What is it you recommend? I’d love to know exactly what you like,” she asked the man, bringing the sound of lust back into her voice. She felt Draco tense beside her, felt his fury add new layers, new fuel. Yes, this would work.

“Er, well, I suppose-”

“Just bring us something strong!” Draco snapped. Astoria smirked, he was so predictable. She was letting her eyes roam around the patrons while her mind worked up the best way to begin its next attack. She would need to protect herself first, fight second. They had been down this road many times and she was always thrown back to the same spot. Back into his arms where everything seemed to be perfect; but that pleasure faded and the raw, open, bleeding ache of her heart returned. She would play this game no longer. Tonight, it would end.

“I don’t know what the hell you think you’re doing, Astoria. Besides getting ready to shag a man right there at that table when I walked in.” Astoria had already calculated his first blow. She knew it would be that, and was prepared. Defense in place.

“Oh, darling, I wasn’t aware that you would see a problem with me having a simple conversation?” Yes, playing innocent would intensify his rage. She watched the emotions sweep across his face for a split second until he was able to conceal them with his deadly calm facade.

“I suppose I have been communicating incorrectly my whole life, then. Maybe I should try to strike up a conversation the way you do, Astoria.” Check. His rage was taking control of everything else, falling perfectly into her plan. It would work. She could win. Tonight, it would end.

“Well, I do suggest if you choose to do that, you try your luck at a blonde. The one I was speaking with earlier seemed rather accommodating.” The poisonous words dripped from her thick lips, making sure to insert themselves into Draco and twist, mercilessly.

She was already preparing her second attack, then it flashed across his face. Everything she was terrified of. Pain.

So real and alive that she could practically reach out and touch it. No, no, this wasn’t right. Anger had been her aim, hurt had not. Hurt would hold her prisoner, it would keep her locked into the constant mixture of Heaven and Hell that she currently resided.

She went to her next step to get them back on track, to sway from the heartbreaking emotions playing so deeply into her Draco’s eyes. Her slim fingers edged into the purse that sat on her lap. She calculated her movements carefully, being sure to move slow, waiting for his eyes to supervise her. She wrapped her hands around the slim box and pulled from it a long, white stick. The aroma of tobacco filled her, she typically excused herself to a more private location when indulging, but here would have to do. She moved the fag to her lips, letting them gently cradle the fragile vise.

“Light me, will you?”

The anger was back in his face. Yes, she could do this. He despised it when she even thought about smoking, let alone carried out the act in front of him. Still, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his wand, muttering a spell that caused the tip to glow hot, and placed it to touch her fag.

“Here you folks are,” the bartender muttered while placing two glasses of an amber liquid in front of them. Astoria’s fingertips played over the glass, its cold surface was moist with condensation. She picked up the drink and raised it to her lips, it was time to move to the next stage of her plan.

“Cheers, darling,” she muttered. Her wrist tipped back and let the contents drain into her throat, burning it on the way down.

It was now or never. The game was tiring her, eating at her emotions. She needed to put her cards on the table and force him to fold. Tonight, it would end.

“Let’s get to the reason you’re here, shall we? You searched me out, so I assume you wanted to speak with me?” Her eyes gauged his.

“Next time you decide to run away, I would appreciate it if you at least notify your parents so I wouldn’t be forced to look through half of Britain for you.” The calm exterior was slowly cracking, she could see the grey ice of his eyes melting with the rage. Now, it had to be now.

“Forced to? That’s rich, darling. Since you’re here, we might as well have out with it. I had hoped to spend the evening away from you until I was sloshed enough to say this at home. This engagement is over, our relationship is over.” The people sitting near them all went silent, their hushed attitude spreading rapidly through the bar. At least ten heads now turned to watch the couple. This would be remembered as the only Friday night that Jax’s Pub was quiet enough to hear a pin drop.

“Astoria,” his voice was shaking.

Leave, get out! She screamed the words over and over in her head, his pain would kill her, she had to be free before it came completely to the surface. 

The slim fingers of her right hand moved to her left, dropping the fag into an ashtray and pulling off the white gold band decked with diamonds. She lifted it to his hands, forcing her eyes to meet his, not letting her nerves show nor pride falter. The fear embedded in them had her insides trembling. Her breath was caught deep inside her chest, unable to get past the swell of regret already building. Leave, now. She had to, it was her only chance to escape, before his grief consumed her and had her taking back every word. She would leave. Tonight, it would end.

Her feet found the solid ground and she let her body slip from the seat, Draco’s voice began making some sort of sentence but her ears were too full of pounding blood to hear. Run. She did just that, carrying her body from the silent bar out into the warm July night.

She kept her dainty heels moving, not caring about the burning that was inflicted by their thin straps against her tender skin. His footsteps echoed behind her, he was catching up, he had always been faster. She had to find the rest of her courage, to make him so angry that every bit of the misery would disappear from his eyes and she could finally let this die.

“Astoria, please!” he called after her. She slowed her body and let it come to a halt against an old, brick building, using the wall to steady herself.

“Astoria,” he pleaded after catching up to her. “Just talk to me, what did I do? What can I do?” he asked, throwing his arms up in frustration.

Draco was weak. Draco had always been weak. It was one of the first things she had fallen in love with. The way he controlled himself, conducted himself to seem as if nothing could ever penetrate that marble hard exterior. Oh, what an act it was. He was as fragile as a frightened child, needing to be cared for in such a way that had Astoria striving to give him everything. She loved strengthening him, bringing to life his own self assurance and casting away the fear and trauma that the years of his childhood had caused. She gave him that chance to be whole, she had spent the last three years after the Battle of Hogwarts nurturing him, healing him, saving him. She tried to help him move past the horrors he had suffered, but there was one thing he had never been able to get over. That very same thing was tearing apart the seams of their relationship, it had always been there, slowly infecting and poisoning them. But now, after all the agony they suffered, after believing they truly could move past it, she realized that it was all simply a wish twisted up by her own desire to have him all to herself. He would never be completely hers, the truth of that was too much to handle.

“I just can’t do it anymore Draco. I don’t love you.” Check. They were back on track as she spoke her first lie, forcing the anger back into him.

“So that’s what you were doing tonight, was it? Out finding someone else you can use to help yourself forget about me?” he spat the words at her. To her own surprise, they hurt. They hurt nearly as much as watching him break. No Draco, no one could ever help her to forget. She hoped to hide her own emotion quickly, but it wasn’t enough. He had spotted the weakness of her defense.

“So that isn’t it? You can’t tell me you don’t love me, Astoria! We know that’s a lie!” His hand lifted to her cheek, tracing the bones of her face while the other rested on the wall beside her head. “I can see it in your eyes, you still love me. Please, let’s just figure this out. Why did you leave me tonight?” The desperation in his voice had tears swelling to the surface of her eyes.

“It isn’t going to work Draco, I can’t change that. It’s better off this way.” The words were so bitter against her tongue, their taste mixing with the salt water that fled from her eyes and hit her lips before dropping a thousand feet to the ground. “I’m sorry,” she sobbed.

“No, no Astoria, don’t be sorry, there’s nothing to be sorry for! We’ll fix whatever it is, I know we can.” He leaned into her and let his chin rest on her shoulder, putting his forehead against the brick and bringing their bodies as close together as possible. She needed to push him away, to make him angry again and force him to leave, but she was too broken. She wanted to run, to hide. She wanted to fall into him, to let him sooth away her pain. She wanted to escape, she wanted to remain prisoner in the tower. What did she want? This would kill her. Deep down inside she knew that this love would be her suicide. She couldn’t let that happen. Tonight, it would end.

“No,” her hands pushed into his chest as she shoved him off of her. “No Draco I can’t! We can’t go back home and pretend to fix what both of us know isn’t reparable! It’s done. You still love her, I know that.” The words came out in a mixture of misery and fury, he started to speak, to argue, she cut him off. “It doesn’t matter what you say! Don’t you understand? I can see it, Draco. I can see it every time memories of the war, of the past, are brought up. I saw the way you looked at her at Hogwarts, and I can see the way you still think of her. You want to love me, you probably even do. But not the way you loved her,” the pain was taking over, she let her fragile body slide down the wall and collapse onto the concrete ground. “You’ll never love me the way you loved her.” Her cries were too much for him to bear, and they brought his knees down to her, his arms reaching out to try and pull her into him.

“Astoria, no. That isn’t true. She’s gone, it’s just us. It will always be just us.”

“No! That’s a lie! I loved her too, Draco. I understand just how easy it was to love everything about her. I loved her more than anyone, and I can see better than anyone what that love looks like. You can lie to both of us all you want, but I know the truth, and I can’t live with it.” She tried to stand, tried to pull her broken body from the ground and find a place to hide away until the pain subsided enough to let her breathe again.

“Astoria, don’t do this. You can’t leave me, please,” he clung to her dress, forcing her to steady them against the wall.

“If I stay with you, it will kill me. Loving you the way I do, and knowing it’s the same way you loved her, still love her, I can’t survive that Draco. You’ll kill me.” The finality in her voice shook them both. The terrifying truth of it sunk them deeper into the smothering fire.

“I love you so much, Draco. I will forever. But you’ll always love her, and I can’t change that. Daphne was your everything, she was every secret, every hope, every good thing you ever needed.”

“She’s dead, Astoria. She isn't coming back. It’s just us now, you’re the one I love, you-”

“No. It isn’t enough. It wont ever be enough. I can’t compete with a ghost, Draco! You’ll never love me the way you loved my sister, and you’ll never stop blaming yourself for her death during the battle." She moved away from him, crossing her arms tightly around her heart, trying to hold the bleeding pieces of it in place.

"Goodbye, Draco.”

A sickening pop echoed after her words, with one last look, she was gone.




AN:

This is my first Draco/Astoria, opinions are greatly appreciated!
The characters belong to JKR!




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