Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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She looked up at him and with a jolt he realised that she had realised he was staring at her the whole time. He glanced away but then resumed his staring. He couldn’t resist not looking at those cool, dark eyes that he was always captivated by – even at Hogwarts.
The left side of her lip quirked upwards and he was entranced at the way her nose scrunched up as she laughed.
She slowly got to her feet and walked towards him, a smile playing at her lips. He gulped nervously, fingers tapping the side of his leg and she walked past him, still smiling coyly.
He turned around and saw that she had been greeting someone else, another man.
He sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets, walking out the door. He put his head down and chastised himself for being so stupid.
He wasn’t watching where he was going and ran into something – no someone. He held his hand out and muttered an apology, looking forward to having a drink.
The hand grabbed his and to his immense surprise, it was soft and gentle. Draco looked at the young girl and those eyes that hadn’t been staring at him before were staring at him right now.
“Daphne?” he asked in shock.
She shook her head and pulled herself up. “Astoria, actually. Her younger sister.” She wiped dust off her dress and then brushed her hands together.
He blushed and murmured, “Sorry about that. I’ll be on my way now.” He gave her a tight smile and started walking off, feeling foolish and craving for that drink even more.
“Wait, Draco. I’m about to have lunch by myself, did you want to join me?” she asked, looking at him eagerly.
He looked behind him and then back at her. He shrugged. He only had a date with a Firewhiskey and there was no reason why he couldn’t cancel that. “Sure, why not? Not like I have any plans,” he lied.
She beamed at him and gestured for him to follow her. “Come on then. It’s a great place.”
He walked beside her, looking at her nervously. “So what have you been up to lately?” he asked. He hardly talked to Astoria back at school, but the rare times he did she was always very polite.
She waved a nonchalant hand. “Quite a lot actually. I’ve set up an organisation for the children who lost families. It’s amazing. What about you?”
He shrugged again. “Nothing really. What does the organisation do?” he asked, eager to get the attention away from him.
She frowned, her nose crinkling. He noticed with a pang that it was exactly like Daphne’s. “Oh nothing much, really. Just toys for the younger ones and activities for the older ones. Like… we have a cooking session, where we all cook like Muggles—” Draco felt the familiar feeling of disgust but firmly pushed it down. He needed to stop thinking like that. “—and we’ve got arts and crafts. A lot of people make their loved ones a gift and lay it on their grave,” she said looking down at the ground.
“That sounds…” He struggled for a word to use; “…nice,” he finished lamely.
Astoria smiled at him brightly. “It is. It’s lovely seeing the kids happy. A lot of them are going through depression or PTSD and this little organisation is for them to just be kids again, instead of orphans.”
“PTSD?” he asked curiously. She looked at him in surprise.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder,” she explained, “a lot of Muggles got it after wars, and now a lot of witches and wizards have developed it, especially the younger ones. There isn’t really a cure, as there isn’t for most mental disorders. There are all sorts of treatments, but there’s no cure, which is awful. They’ll probably live with it their whole life and it can really affect not only them, but their family members,” she said sadly. Draco could tell how much this all really meant to her and was moved that she could be so kind.
He nodded slowly. “You’re doing a great thing, Astoria, you really are,” he said honestly.
She grinned. “Thanks, Draco. Did you want to help out one day?” she asked, looking hopeful.
He hesitated and noticing the faltering look on her face, he quickly said, “Yeah, that’d be great.” Her worry lines smoothed out and another smile made its way onto her face.
“That’s amazing, thank you. It’s actually so much fun,” she insisted.
He smiled at her. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
She smiled even wider and walked into the café. Draco followed her and sat down opposite her, feeling oddly at ease.
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