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Chapter 1 : Matters of the Heart
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He knew he loved her.
And after the wizarding war, the war that turned everything he understood about the world on its head and burned all his preconceived notions into ash, that was saying something.
Draco Malfoy didn’t know much, but he knew he loved Astoria Greengrass.
His heart was hammering in his chest, but he tried his best to look calm and collected as he walks into his coworker’s office.
Astoria was sitting at her desk, her dark brown hair pulled into a tight ponytail. She was biting her lip in concentration as she wrote on a piece of parchment, jumping when she notices Draco’s arrival.
She clutched her hand to her heart in surprise: something Draco now is tempted to do as well. If he thought his heart was pounding before, it was nothing compared to now, as he was standing right in front of her.
He had no idea why he was so nervous – he never had any problem asking Pansy out at Hogwarts, so why was this so different? A voice in the back of his head reminded him: this time you actually care if she says no.
Recollecting herself, Astoria asked in a professional manner, “Yes, Draco, how can I help you?”
Taking a deep breath, Draco forced out, “I was wondering if you would like to accompany me for drinks after work sometime this week.”
She pondered it for a moment – Draco wondered if she could hear his thumping heartbeat in the brief silence.
“Of course,” Astoria replied, absolving Draco’s fears of rejection. “How about Thursday?”
“Perfect,” he said, trying to remain stoic despite his inner joy.
It was only when he started to leave, and saw a smile creep across Astoria’s face as she returned to her work, that he allowed himself to show his happiness and calm the rapid pace of his heart.
If he thought asking Astoria out for the first time was hard, it was nothing compared to what he was feeling now.
He’d taken to keeping the ring – a Malfoy heirloom from the 16th century – in his pocket, but he could never muster up the courage to present it to Astoria.
It had been three years, and even Draco knew it was getting ridiculous. She was the mother of his son, for crying out loud.
His thoughts drifted to his baby boy – little Scorpius was almost two already. He was already walking around Draco and Astoria’s flat, and talking too. His first word was a shrieked “mum-mum,” but “da-da” came soon after.
Draco knew he needed to just muster up all his strength and get on one knee, but every time he thought he was close, he just couldn’t do it.
He needed courage to propose, and he knew exactly who he was going to get it from.
Draco had arrived home only moments ago, and had begun looking around the flat for his girlfriend only moments ago. She had stayed home from work that day because she felt ill, so Draco’s first thought was to check the bedroom they shared.
It was unconventional for an unmarried couple to live together, to say the least, but for Draco and Astoria, it made sense, for more reasons than one.
The bedroom was empty, and the rumpled sheets were the only sign that someone had been in the room recently.
Draco checked the living room, but that was also abandoned. It was only when he walked into the kitchen that he found his girlfriend, sitting on a counter with legs curled to her chest.
She wore one of Draco’s button-up shirts, and her hair fell in long waves down her back. When she was in the apartment, she looked the opposite of the professional woman she was in public, but if anything, Draco loved her even more this way.
Astoria jumped out of her reverie, turning her attention to the smartly-dressed man standing in the doorway to the kitchen. Her face fell slightly as she looked at him, and she instinctively started to bite her lip – a habit she couldn’t quite seem to break.
Draco knitted his eyebrows together; usually Astoria was much happier to see him. His heart began to beat faster, as he tried to figure out why she was so anxious-looking.
She slid off the countertop so that she was standing just a few feet from Draco. He stepped forward to kiss her, but she stuck her hand out before he had the chance to get close enough to her.
“Wait, Draco,” she said, “because you might not want to do that once I’ve told you this.”
Draco’s heartbeat sped up even more – what could Astoria have to say that would make him not want to kiss her? She was the love of his life – he was going to propose to her soon, once he got hold of the Malfoy ring.
“I don’t understand,” he replied, blood pounding in his ears.
“I – I took a test today,” she stammered, tears starting to fall down her cheeks. “Draco, I’m pregnant.”
His thumping heart stopped for a moment, the world plunged into silence. Talk about untraditional – a child out of wedlock was practically unheard of in the wizarding world, especially among pureblood families.
But as Draco looked at his girlfriend, all of those worries disappeared. Astoria was going to be his wife one day – maybe they were just getting a head start on these things.
A huge smile broke out across his face. “That’s great!”
Now Astoria was the one who looked confused. “Are you sure?”
“Of course I am,” he said, stepping towards her. “I couldn’t imagine anything I’d want more.”
She quickly closed the gap between them, wrapping her arms around him. And with her head against his chest, Draco’s heartbeat can finally return to normal.
Narcissa Malfoy sat in her customary armchair, sipping tea. Her once-blonde hair had faded to a pale white, but that was the only sign that she was over the age of fifty.
Draco sat across from her, and despite being a grown man, he felt ridiculously childish again.
She tapped her fingers against the arm of her seat. “You know I don’t approve some of the lifestyle choices you’ve made, Draco, but I’m still your mum. I can help you.”
Draco had been navigating around the subject he had been meaning to approach with his mother for the past half hour, and Narcissa had seen right through it.
He sighed, before admitting what he hadn’t told anyone. “I’m going to propose to Astoria – I’ve been meaning to for the last three years, in fact.”
Narcissa smiles slightly. “I figured that’s what you were so antsy about.”
After a brief pause, she added, “Well, why haven’t you? Three years is a long time to wait, especially considering you two have a son together.”
“I know,” Draco admitted abashedly, “but every time I get close, my heart starts pounding and I get so nervous I can’t do it.”
At this, Narcissa actually laughed, something that made her embarrassed son’s cheeks glow even redder.
“You and I are one and the same,” she said. “I used to get so nervous when your father wasn’t around, and I swear I could hear my own heartbeat.”
Draco’s shoulders relaxed a little, and he looked at his mother with interest. “Well, how did you fix it?”
“Usually, I didn’t,” she admitted. “Your father did. I’d just look into his eyes, and my heartbeat would calm down again.”
“I do have that effect on people.” Lucius entered the room, walking over to his wife and kissing her on the cheek. Narcissa giggled softly.
“So how does that help me?” Draco asked, too focused on his own problems to be disgusted by his parents’ romantic display.
Narcissa turned away from Lucius, returning her attention to her son. “When you start to think you can’t do it, just look her in the eyes. If you love her as much as I love your father, which I know you do, your heart will calm down and you’ll have the courage you need.”
Draco had always imagined that proposing would involve some immensely romantic gesture in front of a fountain with a string quartet in the background – but maybe he’d just been exposed to too much Celestina Warbeck as a child.
But when Astoria walked into their shared kitchen after putting Scorpius to bed, he knew there wasn’t a better time than now. He wanted to spend all of his life with this woman, and with the help of his mother’s advice, he was ready.
He walked up to Astoria, who looked slightly disheveled from bathing their rambunctious baby boy, and took hold of both of her hands. His heart was already pounding in his ears – he doesn’t remember ever being this nervous.
“I love you, Astoria, more than anything in the world. I know that. I love you, and that’s why it’s taken me so long to do this.”
His heart was beating so loudly he was sure Astoria can hear it. He wasn’t sure he could do this anymore – he wasn’t brave enough. What if she said no?
Just before he gave up on it, pushed it off for another time, he thought of his mother’s advice. He looked up into her eyes, the dark green eyes he’d fallen in love with five years ago, and he remembered why he was doing this.
He took a deep breath, and got down on one knee. His heart was still beating loudly, but all that mattered was the woman in front of him.
“Astoria Renée Greengrass, will you marry me?”
Her face broke out into a huge smile, one that calmed Draco and slowed his racing heart.
“It’s about time!”
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