Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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She had seen it all, done it all, she had seen the world and what it had to offer. She had felt the freedom. She had tasted it, loved it, and embraced it with open arms. She was a free spirit. She was not one to be tamed, to be put in a house, to simply do nothing but look pretty.
At a young age, she was determined not to let anyone stand in her way, no one could ever the stop her from doing what she wanted, from doing what she loved. So as soon as she felt the intoxicating feeling of adventure, when she felt the fresh air and cool sand beneath her feet, she knew it instantly… she had become addicted.
Addicted to the life on the road, addicted to the life of independence, she became addicted to life itself.
She drank cocktails at beaches, she hiked through jungles, and she climbed mountains and witnessed the beauty of nature. It was greatly underestimated, she found out, and so was life.
To live did not mean you were alive, she concluded. She only felt truly alive when she was deep in the action, adventure, and the thrills that made you feel scared and excited at the same time – so deep into your chest, you’d be feeling pain. A life confirming pain, a pain you’d appreciate in the quiet moments, when you relive your memories, and then you’d know for sure, that you’ve lived.
She knew she’d lived her life to the fullest, she had explored every corner of the world, outlived all her fantasies, her dreams and even more. The world was her stage, and when the light was lit it was her time to shine.
Yet, under these lights, it was not the stage she had wanted be on. This was no stage at all.
A gathering of hundreds of people, their chattering was loud and almost deafening, bringing her back to reality. A reality she had tried so hard to escape for so many years, but was forced to accept in the time of her beloved fathers’ untimely death, two years ago.
She stood there, silently watching the couples around her forming groups, in the great Ballroom of the mansion that the annual Valentine’s Day Gala host lived in.
She had never felt more out of place. She did not care for gossip as her old friends from Hogwarts did, she did not care for the dresses, for the champagnes and for the life in the higher society.
One might say she was trapped in the grey and rainy London, but this was not the case, although the thought had crossed her mind more than once. But this day, this night, she did feel trapped, a feeling of being caged crept upon her as she gazed around, standing with her friends that did nothing but gossip about who had cheated with whom.
Such a fitting choice of topic, on such a romantic day as Valentine’s Day she grumbly thought to herself.
Just as she felt the need to get away from the bad atmosphere, an arm crept around her waist, spinning her around.
She faced his chest, smiling, his intoxicating scent filling her lungs, making her body yearn for more than a touch on her hips from him.
He lifted her head gently with his finger under her chin, crushing his lips against hers. The force of his kiss was powerful, powerful enough to make her knees weak and her heart swell with bliss. She swore she would crumble and fall if it wasn't for his hands on her waist. With her hands on his chest, she could feel his raising heartbeat; undoubtedly because of their physical interaction.
His rough lips tasted like sweet champagne with a mix of strawberries, the feeling of arousal erupted inside of her and she slowly broke the kiss, reminded of their surroundings.
Their friends cheered and wooed as the kiss broke, laughing at their obvious desire to one another.
“Married for over a year and you’re still kissing like teenagers whenever you see each other,” Pansy Parkinson jealously noted, but hid it well with a broad fake smile, Astoria noticed.
She lifted her glass of champagne in acknowledgement.
Astoria smiled gently, her cheeks red and her face flushed from her kiss with her husband. She felt Draco’s chest vibrate as he chuckled.
“If you’ll excuse us, our wedding song is playing,” he told their friends and led Astoria to the dance floor, holding her hand.
“But this isn’t our wedding song,” she noted confusingly, as they stopped in the middle of all the dancing couples under the romantic light.
He only smiled and pointed his index finger up, indicating that she should wait. As if on cue, the song softly ended and their wedding song began.
She laughed as he took her hand and lifted their arms to the side, putting his hand around her waist and beginning to gently swing her around, quickly adjusting to the rhythm of their song.
They danced in silence, feeling each other’s heartbeats, his warm breath travelling down her neck, making her tingle with excitement. She smiled happily, closed her eyes and rested her head on his chest as they slowly danced in the crowd.
They continued to dance as their song ended and another began.
She watched the people on the side-lines as they swung around, noticing that most women grouped together to gossip – nothing had changed in the years she had been gone.
Doubt sprouted inside of her, as she recalled the stories of the men in their circle of friends, tended to cheat on their wives, their fiancés and their girlfriends, leaving them for younger women. You could add that she hated that the doubt began but it was because of the high society life that she loathed that it wouldn't seem to go away, even if Draco had never had his eyes on anyone but her. Something like that?
Beautiful, young women.
She gently pressed her head against his chest, feeling his heartbeat, hearing it throb faster as she caressed his hand with her thumb.
She was almost sure he loved her, with all of his heart, all he could ever muster. But she felt the doubt grow bigger with every moment, devouring her heart.
She had given up her adventurous life to be with him, to stay in London, near their families.
She had decided to settle, despite her plans to travel more after her fathers’ funeral.
Love had hit her, something she had never expected to happen due to her free spirited personality.
Yet she found herself, standing in the middle of a meadow, in the pouring rain, saying yes to Draco as he declared his undying love for her and kneeled.
She had run out in despair, unable to cope with her fathers’ death, unable to adjust to the life in the upper class again, feeling out of place. She had been scared of her feelings for him, what it meant. She had never allowed herself to fall for anyone, she protected her heart with strength she could muster, yet he managed to break through – something she had never predicted.
He was what she needed the most, she later admitted. He gave her strength when she had none; he gave her love when she needed it, he became her sun and he made her shine through the hard times.
She fell deeply in love with him; he made her crazy in love with him, loving his every feature, his every touch, his handsome face.
Their wild love never made her feel caged.
She gently touched his wrist, almost feeling the burned mark under his sleeve.
Would he love her forever? She thought to herself.
Would they grow old together?
As they danced, the song intensified, making him swing her around more passionately. Her chest pressing up against his torso, his body slightly trembling as he slowly let his hand glide down to her hips, his breathing shallow.
The song slowed down and they stopped dancing. He stood still in front of her, his hands still on her hips.
He leaned down and kissed her passionately, making every butterfly in her stomach flap their wings violently. Without knowing it, he kissed her doubt away, every piece of it.
He gently put his forehead against hers and sighed contently.
“Happy valentine’s day,” he whispered.
She smiled. “Happy valentine’s day.”
He kissed her lips gently. “I think it’s time to go home,” he said. She nodded in agreement.
“I really need to be alone with you right know,” he said, making her laugh.
They entered the almost dark bedroom, walking backwards, his hands around her waist and their lips locked together.
Her legs hit the wooden bedside, making her break their kiss as she cursed in pain. He chuckled as he gently pushed her onto the mattress and placed himself on top of her.
She couldn’t stop smiling as he watched her in the moonlight, cast through their big bedroom windows.
“You’re so beautiful,” he whispered, leaning in and kissed her once again.
Their kiss deepened, she felt his hands move underneath her dress, the touch of his hands on her skin made her desire burn even more. He moved his hips in between her legs, groaning doing so. After a few minutes, their kiss became sweeter and light and they eventually took a break.
He slowly lifted himself from her, moving to the side and she automatically pressed herself up against his chest.
He gently stroked her bare arm, feeling her steady breath through his shirt.
“You were quiet today, you didn’t even drink” he noted, kissing her forehead.
She turned her head slightly, her focus somewhere else, avoiding his curious gaze.
“Will you still love me, when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” she asked quietly, almost hopelessly. A side from her he had never seen and it surprised him to see his wife so vulnerable – the only time he had seen her fragile, was when she broke down after the funeral two years ago. But even then, she had remained strong despite her sorrows.
He was also surprised, that she would ask such a question.
“Of course,” he replied. He touched her chin to make her face him, her hazel eyes meeting his steely grey.
“Why would you ask such a question, Astoria?” he asked her seriously, he was without a doubt troubled by her sudden doubts of his love for her.
She remained silent, a small tear gliding down her cheek. The sight of her crying made his heart stop; he was suddenly concerned and confused.
“Astoria?” he said, his eyes serious and demanding answers.
She still remained silent.
“I will never leave your side, never in a million years, no matter what happens,” he spoke softly, kissing her cheek and felt her body become less tense.
He rose from the bed, wanting to get the white wine he bought for the occasion.
“I’ll be right back,” he smiled reassuringly and left the bedroom.
Astoria slowly moved around and let her bare feet touch the cold wooden floor. She walked to the windows, looking up to the sky, the moon shining, illuminating the fields and the forest around their mansion.
“If I go to heaven,” she whispered, holding her hands like a prayer. “Please let me take my man with me.”
She hoped to be heard, she hoped for it to be granted when the time came.
“Is that why you touched my wrist tonight?” His deep voice asked, startling her.
He stood by the door with the bottle of white wine in one hand and two wineglasses in the other, smiling and walked towards her, his eyes never leaving hers.
She felt her cheeks blush and looked down, ashamed of having said it out loud.
He chuckled and placed himself in front of her.
“Are you afraid we won’t be together after death?”
She looked up, meeting his eyes again.
“Aren’t you?” she asked.
“I don’t believe in heaven or in hell,” he told her softly as he slowly moved her long red brown hair, leaving her shoulder bare.
“I believe we live in a world of our creation,” he explained and kissed her neck gently, tracing kisses to her shoulder. “With our loved ones.”
She smiled thankfully, feeling her body tremble as a result from his intoxicating kisses.
“What I’ve done in my past, will not ruin our future” he told her. “If that’s what you’re afraid of.”
She watched him as he opened the bottle, pouring the wine into the two glasses. He was a very handsome man, tall, masculine and strong. His blonde hair making his steely grey eyes stand out. She felt lucky to have him as her husband, her lover, her soul mate.
What she heard tonight should not have affected her; she did not have to worry about his love for her. They were not like others; they married out of love and not out of duty. She needed to remind herself of that at times like these.
He handed her the glass, from the way he looked at her, she knew he was still thinking of why she had asked if he would love her when she wasn’t young and beautiful anymore.
“Let’s toast for a true love, for a long future together and let’s toast for a happy life,” he said, raising his glass, waiting for her to raise her glass as well.
Astoria slowly put the glass down, she had no intention of drinking alcohol tonight.
“I have a valentine’s day gift for you” she told him happily.
He grinned. “I didn’t expect that. I’m sorry I didn’t give you one, I’ll make it up to you.”
She smiled. “You don’t have to.”
Knowing that he loved her deeply, she knew it was the right choice to give him this present. A present she did not plan, a gift that made her doubt their future as they had attended the annual Valentine’s Day gala, the news of several couples splitting due to their brittle affections towards one another and their uncaring nature. But she now knew for sure, their love was true. She had never loved anyone more than she loved him, she realized she loved him even more than being free and to travel the world.
She loved him enough to settle down permanently.
She took his hands and slowly led them towards her stomach, almost trembling with nervousness.
She had waited for weeks to tell him the truth, to give him this present.
“Happy Valentine’s day,” she said, unable to stop smiling as she watched her husbands’ face expression change from confusion to astonishment and surprise.
“Are-Are you sure?” he exclaimed happily, his voice trembling and his hands shaking.
Astoria grinned, nodding as she laughed. “Yes I’m sure!”
He quickly lifted her up and spun her around as he laughed loudly, putting her down and kissed her hard on the lips.
“This is the best present anyone could every give me,” he laughed, hugging her.
With her arms around her neck, she dug her face into his neck, “I love you.”
“And I love you even more,” he said back.
Gorgeous CI by wonderful Alishya, Asphodelic @ TDA.
First place in Sarah The Ravenclaw's Valentine's Day Challenge @ The Forums.
Beta-Read by fairytalelover3 @ The Forums. Thank you so much for your help!
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