Chapter 2 : Long Walks And Oversharing Of Tales
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The ride was rather long, but it gave me the insight I required. Their names were Ana and John respectively. Their marriage was also arranged, yet they managed to fall in love, bear, and parent three children. They seemed to be kind and noble people despite being poor. That as a fact didn't seem to matter to them and why that didn’t matter to them seemed to matter to me. There is no life without money, not to me at least, but they looked genuinely happy, even after so many years. If these muggles can survive in an arranged marriage, I can too, or, I can try. This optimist approach that I live with sure does add to my identity. . . not.
The “oldies” drop me off in front of the manor. They are quite taken by the sight of it, but, isn't everyone? I don't invite them in because they aren’t magical, and I don’t want to have to explain how I got stranded in the middle of nowhere to my lovely, caring, and not at all self-centered parents. If you don’t understand my sarcasm, then I don’t really like you.
Ana and John don’t mind.
Neither should you!
I say my humble goodbyes knowing that I won’t see them after today.
I would love to describe how slow their automobile moved and how disgusting the noises it made were, but that's not of much importance.
I got what I wanted. Enough said.
As I stroll to the entrance of my manor, I think about how much I love magic. It makes me who I am. No way will I give it up, even if it means that I have to sell my life away to marriage.
There is no such thing as “love.” People who think that there is are just looking for an escape. They want to feel and believe that there is something like that to make their life less of a shit hole. It's pathetic. I don’t have time or energy to even bother about that kind of shit.
My thoughts drift back to Nicholas, the boy I have been commanded to commit to. Merlin, from what I remember, he's hot, but throughout all those family dinners, he never even hinted at the position we are in. The kid kept to himself. What a stupid prat!
Despite all that, I can't help but wonder how he looks now. . . Grandmother was very fond of him, but I remember him being very “stiff” about that. He was polite, but his politeness never seemed to be genuine.
I also remember Scorpius not liking him very much, which explains why he was so furious this morning. He would tell me about how boring, money oriented, and dark, Nicholas seemed to be after we returned from those dinner parties. I always believed Scorpius to be jealous, I mean, Nicholas is four years older than us.
Geez, I wonder how our age difference will affect everything, but I'm sure he's got some good aspects about himself. Well, at least I want to think that.
*Hint Optimist hint*
Another aspect about him that makes him so mysterious from the rest of the males I've had the honour to meet is that Nicholas didn't attend Hogwarts, he went to Durmstrang. Thus, I know even less about him. However, I know a little more about his family. They're very "prim and proper". They barely had any muggle technology, nor did they seem to support the use of muggle gadgets. You see, I don't recall them actually coming out and saying that they were against the use. It was just obvious from the way they talked, walked, and reacted to anything muggle oriented.
His mother was fond of mine, well, kind of. They had a distant sort of friendship where all the issues of society were discussed with personal opinions attached, but neither of them actually shared personal problems. Thus I label it, “distant.”
His father would always talk business with mine. They were always engrossed in a heated discussion about “who had the better business.” Both of them seemed to be very competitive, but by the end of the night, they would find a “truce,” so to speak, and move on to critique someone else. I guess that's how business men work.
Nicholas' young brother was rarely ever seen, because he was never available to attend these dinners. Every time any of us asked about him, we were told that was he off with his friends, or at some Quidditch training camp. I couldn't care less.
I now wish that I would have paid more attention to these dinners. I mean, I'm basically betrothed to Nick. Bloody Merlin, did I just nickname Nicholas?
Interesting, even the word nickname has a “nick” in it.
Nick, Nick, Nick!
You're bloody everywhere.
It’s beyond crazy. It's limitless crazy.
Or I'm just losing it.
I hope he's still good looking. . .I guess I could read the business section of The Daily Prophet to see pictures of the bloke, but, that's too much effort. I'm sure we'll be meeting shortly. I mean, we're supposed to get married.
I reach the entrance to the Manor and look up to observe the beautiful architecture.The fresh winds swiftly moved the trees. The sound was relaxing. The long grounds looked calm and quite. The grass was leveled; there were diversified types of flower buds on the sides on the passage away, in which there were mostly white roses which were my favorite along with daisies, red roses, daffodils and dog flowers. I could see them but more like smell them. The aroma also added to the feel of tranquility that I felt. I could hear the water splashing in the white stoned fountain in front of the porch. There were lights for the nights which were put all through the passage till the main door. The grounds were also fairly well lit. At dawn and dusk it made the whole manor look more beautiful than it already was. Who would have thought that this place I call my home actually catered to the Dark Lord? At this moment, the grand pillars and curves of the walls give the impression of beauty, but if you knew all that happened inside these walls, this place would never appeal to you again. I've heard whispers of people being tortured here. Many have screamed and begged for their lives, taking their last breaths against our tile floor. That just goes to show that physical characteristics don't necessarily matter. The past should be observed too. This manor has demons of its own just like Nicolas will.
I take a deep breath, turn the knob, and walk into my house. Funny how this place used to be my favorite place in the world.
Dora appears with a pop, “Miss, your mother wishes to see you,” she says. I jumped at her arrival. I literally jumped. I’m a bloody witch for Merlin’s sake and I got scared of a pop. Sodding hell!
I grumble my response, “Good God, Dora! You scared the living hell out of me. Don't do that again.” I immediately regret my tone after I snap at her. I honestly adore Dora. It’s not her fault I'm in this mess.
Dora opens her mouth to apologize, but I cut her off, “I'm sorry Dora, today was rough.” I attempt to give her a weak smile, but I can't get myself to do it.
“Dora understands,” she replies with watery eyes, “Dora wants to help but doesn't know what to do.”
I'm truly touched by her words. House elves are such innocent creatures, “You shouldn't worry about it, Dora, I can handle it,” I assure her. My own words echo in my mind. I seem to be trying to convince myself more than I'm trying to convince Dora.
“Dora will always be here, Miss.”
“I know,” I say to her softy and pat her head.
I take a deep sigh and walk further into the house. It looks abandoned.
Where is everyone else? I don't want to know. I'm usually the one who avoids confrontation, this is very strange.
I knock on the door that leads to the Master bedroom, but I don't wait for an answer as I open it. I walk into the large room, but ignore the familiar features as my mother scrambles to suffocate me, “Mikaela, you had me worried sick! I'm so glad you are back,” she embraces me in a tight hold. Did I mention that I hate being hugged?
Yes, humans like me exist.
“Er mother, yeah I'm fine. Just stop hugging me!” I choke out in between her small, yet powerful arms.
She lets me go and holds me out in front of her, “Oh yes, I apologize. You really had me worried, Mikaela. Don't you dare do that again,” she frowns at me.
I let my eyes roam the gorgeous master bedroom. I've had my eye on this room since I was a child, but my lousy parents didn’t want to exchange bedrooms with me. I mean why the hell not? They own a bloody manor they could just move to a different room on the other side of the house, but they stick to this one like a leech.
That is a very bad analogy. Oh well. . .
The room is twice the size of my own and covered in grey and silver colors. There is a separate sitting area with green comforters, a low table, and two huge vases. In this room contains a huge mirror that hangs opposite from the couches, so one can admire the view as they relax against the cushions. The bed, itself, is humongous and could probably hold our family of four. The wooden floor is covered with a silver carpet that match the curtains. There are pictures of the whole family every where in the room, four of which are more prominently hanging from a wall. Those were taken on Scorpius' and my fifteenth birthday. That day was one of the best days of my life. It contrasts greatly with today.
My mother watches me observe her room and smiles when I turn back to her, “I want to share something with you, Mikaela. It's private and I have never shared it with anyone else, understand?”
I nod, and she continues, “Your father was not my first love, but my last. I had obligations to my family like you do now,” she breaths in a breath and holds it in before breathing out, “When I was a student at Hogwarts there was a Ravenclaw boy in my year who absolutely despised Slytherins. He would pull really horrible pranks on us. One of those pranks was against me, and I was mortified by it. It the most humiliating day of my life, and even he felt bad afterward.”
I cringe at her words, but stare at her for her to continue. She pats my hand lovingly, “I was in the Astronomy tower crying when he sought me out to apologize. We sat and exchanged a few words, but it was his eyes that really struck me.”
“His eyes?” I question.
She nods, but doesn't explain, “The Slytherins narrowed in on this boy to taunt and tease after my humiliation. He took it all without complaint, but when the war ended, everything changed. At the end of our seventh year, he came up to me. The first time since that night in the tower. . .
"Astoria, I want to talk to you," he grabs my hand and drags me into a broom closet.
I stare at him in surprise, “What the bloody hell do you want?” I hiss.
“Astoria,” he frowns, “what I wouldn't do to kiss you right now. . .but I know that if I give into temptation, a lot of people will become hurt or upset. We come from different families,” he takes a deep breath and stares at the wall behind my head, “and I can't give you everything you truly desire. We'd be miserable together, fighting against our own families.”
I stare at him in bewilderment, but I don't interrupt. He continues, “Just. . .I don't know. Just try to remember me, okay? Remember how I felt about you, and,” he finally looks at me, his frown deepening, “be happy, okay?”
I nod my head, tears threatening to spill from my eyes, but I manage to say, “Why didn't you ever say anything before now?”
His eyes light up as he smiles a weak smile, “You know something funny? You charmed me.”
“What?” I demand, confused.
He laughs, “Your bloody good looks charmed me so that I couldn't even look at another girl without thinking of you.
My mouth falls open and he pulls me into an embrace, “Stay happy, Astoria,” he whispers and kisses into my hair, “Don't forget me.”
Tears were falling from my mother's eyes. She quickly wipes them away.
“Why didn't you try? Why did you give up?” I ask her.
She smiles and pats my hand, again, “As soon as I returned home, I was determined to get him for myself. I would have left the world behind for him, but your grandfather passed away and your grandmother became very ill. I couldn't hurt my family, Mikaela.”
“Draco's proposal was offered and everyone was just so happy. Your father and I. . . we matched. We were the the golden couple,” she shakes her head, but continues, “He had his miseries and I had mine. Within all that, we found some form of love. They are both very different men, Mikaela,” she frowns at this.
“Eventually our pain didn't feel like pain when we were together. Then we had two miracles in our lives. Yes, you and Scorpius. We've abandoned our past for our future. This is how the real world works, you make sacrifices.”
I am speechless.
What was I suppose to say to all this?
Other than criticize the “love” part.
So, I remained silent.
My mother hugs me, “I'll be here for you, Mikaela,” she says against my hair.
This hug felt different. It felt. . .warm. For the first time today, I smiled, “Mother, what was the prank this mysterious boy played on you?” I ask her.
She releases me from her grasp and turns pink. How cute! I can't help but laugh as she swats me away, “Not every secret should be told, Mikaela. Maybe some other day.”
I protest, but she shushes me and leaves. When she returns, she hands me a velvet box, “It's your birthday gift,” she smiles.
My eyes widen and I rip it open. Inside contained the most beautiful bracelet that I have ever seen. Square emeralds adorn a silver metal, sparkling in the light. I gasp and put it on, it fits perfectly, “I love it,” I whisper.
She stay silent for a moment before she clears her throat, “Come now, I'm sure your fathers wants to have a word with you before you run away again,” she teases.
I pout and shove her smirking face. It's silly how easily Slytherins can smirk at any situation.
We leave the big room and make the long journey to the main study. As soon as we enter, I see that we aren't alone.
We have visitors.
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