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This Love by randomwriter
Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
 
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This was written for LilyLou's Family Challenge, and though I didn't get this out on time, I had it ready, and didn't see any reason not to post it. As LilyLou did mention in the challenge brief, family plays a major role throughout the series. My main focus in this short story is Astoria's relationship with Draco. However I do mention a couple of other strong bonds she shares with other people.

Okay, enough rambling. Time to get on with the story.
As always, if you recognise something, note that it isn't mine.










This Love









When I first saw you, you were dueling Harry Potter. While all my friends laid their eyes on 'The Chosen One', I studied you; drank you in. Even my eleven year-old self couldn't deny the unsteady flutter of my pre-teen heart. I had a crush.

It was Autumn then. I have always felt that there's something about autumn, maybe it has do with how the leaves fall, or how the trees shed their covers, that makes everything seem so naked and bare. So utterly undisguised. It is, as if, with this lens called 'sheer clarity', that I viewed you and felt a sense of infatuation. You were my first crush, and boy did I giggle and gush when you smirked, or when you brushed by, or when... whenever I saw you, really.

Maybe you guessed that it was me who sent you all those anonymous letters asking if you would join me for a Hogsmeade visit. For one whole year, I sent you notes before every Hogsmeade visit, intimating you of the time and place where I would be eagerly awaiting your arrival. I'm ashamed to say that I never mustered up enough courage to actually make it to these meetings, but I feasted on the sight of you whenever you got back, buzzed from a day in the Hogsmeade-fresh air and butterbeer, or firewhiskey, when you were feeling particularly rebellious.

When I started my fourth year at Hogwarts, you were in your sixth. You were now a brooding, male version of a damsel in distress, and as much as I'd have liked to rescue you, your lack of life and rumoured inclusion into the exclusive group of Elite Death Eaters made me skeptical. It was as if someone had shoved a vacuum cleaner up your backside and sucked every bit of your soul from you (I learnt all about them in Muggle Studies and made several disgruntles analogies). Or worse, it was as if a Dementor had shown you a sample of its handiwork. As the days pressed on, it became clear to me that you barely noticed me. You were so consumed in yourself, and your own personal goals and agendas and I couldn't wait for a pretty boy simply because he was pretty. I couldn't wait for you. You probably didn't even know me well enough for it. So, I began dating boys in my year, even though you knocked the wind right out of my lungs every time you merely passed by me.

The next year, everything changed and our world as we know it, flipped one-eighty. We had been moving towards this state, slowly. Tantalizingly slowly. But suddenly everything tumbled and fell out of place. Very soon, we were staring right into the eyes of war. During these times, I remembered you occasionally.  You didn't attend classes regularly and the word around the Slytherin common room was that you were busy doing the Dark Lord's bidding. I came from a family that strayed away from the blood wars. Being a pure blood was obviously a major relief. It kept us all alive and out of harm's way to some extent. We weren't blood traitors either. But being neutral has other repercussions. Having Death Eaters knock on your door every night, trying to convince you to pledge your allegiance to the Dark Lord definitely wasn't ideal for us. And over time, I developed a sense of resentment and disdain for your kind. I stopped thinking about you. I thought I found love, and I moved on.

I would like to tell you that I stayed on and fought the war, but I didn't. I threw a couple of weak hexes at a few Death Eaters on my way out and that was it. Like the rest of Slytherin House, I was safely escorted out to Hogsmeade, from where my panic stricken parents picked me up and apparated home with me. We ran away. All four of us stayed huddled up in our living room, eagerly awaiting any news about the war. I had the gnawing fear in my heart that I had sold myself to cowardice. It was my one chance to take a stance and I realized that for all my talk, I had done nothing of value when it mattered. I sunk into a deep pit of filthy shame, from which I could not arise for three whole years.

For three years, I gave up magic. I lived amongst and as one of the muggles. I moved to a seaside village and did small jobs, making only enough to cover my arse. I ignored all the owls that dropped by letters containing a multitude of questions and explanations. The only connection that I didn't cut off was my subscription to 'The Daily prophet'.









 

One day, Daphne showed up at my doorstep. I respected my family greatly, but more-so my sister. She was like a second mother to me while growing up. Fiercely over-protective and opinionated, Daphne Greengrass was the first person I ever idolized. I hoped that I would grow up to be like her. However, we had few things in common. We were both tall, with dark hair and chocolate brown eyes. We were both confident and had clashing opinions, but where Daphne was accepting of social order, I wanted to defy it, challenge it. It made me feel heady with acceptance. And it made a world of a difference. I wanted to build something better, rather than just let things be. She wouldn't agree with me on this. Yet I loved her, and let her in.

Daphne didn't waste any breath in telling me why she was there.

'I'm getting married,' she told me, holding out her hand to reveal a diamond the size of a bloody continent.

'Who's the rich guy?' I asked her, smirking, as I set a kettle on the stove for tea.

'You remember Blaise Zabini?' She asked me tentatively, fully aware of my dislike for this arse of a wizard.

I looked at my sister, whom I still loved to the moon and back and just as I was about to question her, I realized that she really looked truly happy. Her pale skin had a rosy tint around the cheeks, that I know wasn't because of any makeup. Her eyes were alight and she showed no signs of even remote weariness, or else I would have been able to tell.

I handed her a cup of tea and smiled. 'I'm happy for you,' I told her, and I truly was.

'I have a favour to ask of you,' she told me slowly, as she sipped her tea. Both Daphne and I love our tea. We'd drink at least ten cups a day if we could.

'I should have known,' I smiled, and added dramatically-' Daphne Greengrass always has an ulterior motive.'

She laughed and it trailed beautifully across the room and hung in the air. I could see why men would be lining up to court her, though I couldn't decipher, for the love of Merlin, how Blaise Zabini, of all those men had won her heart.

'I want you to be my maid of honour. I know you haven't replied to any of my mail in two years, and you haven't really bothered to ask around about us. But I see that you've been reading The Prophet, so you have some idea of how things stand. You may act like you want nothing to do with our kind, but you and I know that it isn't so,' she sighed, and the added,  'I don't blame you, Astoria. I really don't. I know the war did something to all of us and we dealt with it in our own ways. It stirred something inside us. It made us act.  You moved away as soon as you were of age, and we can't blame you. I wish you'd stayed, but if going away has helped you, then I don't resent you for it. But please come back for my wedding, and stand with me as I say my vows. Remember how we used to play pretend when we were younger? can't do this without you. And frankly, I don't want to.'

There was never any thought involved. I said yes immediately, secretly bubbling with excitement. I was thankful to Daphne for giving me a legitimate excuse to come back into the magical world. I had missed it so so much.

'We go shopping for dresses next week,' was the last thing she said on the matter.

Three hours later, I waved goodbye to my sister and began to open all the letters I hadn't bothered to look at over the last few years.









 

The next week came incredibly soon, and I apparated to Diagon Alley where we were supposed to meet. I had apparated in so long. At first, I was nervous at the thought, but managed alright and it made me sort of proud.

With my new found sense of pride and happiness, I realized that I was skipping about Diagon Ally in a rather schoolgirl like fashion. Since I was early, I decided to drop by The Leaky Cauldron to grab a quick glass of wine.

Imagine my surprise when I saw you there, sitting and drinking Firewhiskey at 'The Leaky Cauldron'. I stopped for a second and spied on you from the dark shadows. You skin was pale and gaunt, and your hairline seemed to be receding even though you weren't really all that old. You ordered another bottle of the finest Firewhiskey. I concluded that you were probably throwing around money just because you had too much, but I couldn't just ignore you. Especially after seeing at least six bottles of the same brand of Firewhiskey littering your table.

It's funny how I never had the courage to approach you back when we were in school, but at that precise moment,  I'd suddenly amassed all the courage in the world to go and take a seat at his table, opposite you.

I asked you how things are going, and you squinted at me in confusion. 'Congratss, Daph,' you said after a few minutes of staring at my face. 'Zabini came 'roun, eh?' I smacked you on the head. 'No, Astoria,' I corrected you. I don't like how often people think I'm my sister. We may look alike, but not enough to confuse people this much. You just looked confused for a second, and then you seem to realize that Daphne did indeed have a younger sister.

Then you did the worst thing you possibly could have done to me.

You smirked. And as ridiculous as it may seem, I was reduced to a pile of mush. Oh, be still, my fluttering heart! Except, it wasn't fluttering lightly anymore. It was stronger, and I couldn't believe that my old crush was returning to haunt me. I resisted the urge to laugh aloud, because love does ridiculous things to you. The whole situation suddenly seemed a little funny to me, except I didn't have a clue why.









 

'Daph, could I bring a date to the wedding?'

She looked at me strangely. 'Er, I assumed it was implied?'

'What I mean is, may I bring a man you know really well to your wedding as my date?' I rephrased.

Her eyes were alight with curiosity and she began to pester me to tell her who, but I maintain that I want to keep it a mystery. Of course she agreed. She couldn't say no.

 

And so, I prepared. I probably got a better taste of wedding jitters that she did. But I decided that I would ask you out, because with you, whether there was any emotion or not, I would at least have a fun night. of that, I was certain.











Author's Note:

So here we see the foundations and the backstory, though admittedly there isn't too much of a backstory when it comes to their Hogwarts days. I know there isn't any real conversation between them here, but I mainly wanted to give the reader a look into Astoria's mind, and how she feels about Draco. I've never written about Astoria or Draco before and I would love some feedback! Do fill in your thoughts in the little box below.

Thank you :)

 

 

 




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