Chance Meeting

chapter 3

For the next month, Astoria visited Flourish and Blotts as often as she could. Her parents had started to wonder why on earth she would need so many books, so she pretended she had gotten a job at Madam Malkin's robe store. Her parents had scoffed at the idea, of course. In their eyes, Astoria was destined to become high up in the Ministry of Magic; Astoria had considered this, but wasn't willing to decide her future based on consideration. Having the fake job allowed her to visit Draco nearly every day. The two had become quite good friends, and Draco had lost his superior and off-putting manners, at least where Astoria was concerned. So naturally, she had planned to visit him today, until her mother had barged into her room early this morning and shouted:

"We are going to Diagon Alley to shop for dresses for the Parkinson party"

"Mother, I have work today!" Astoria protested, earning her a sharp glare and a "When I say all of us, I mean all of us."

Draco would just have to entertain himself today. Mrs. Greengrass was not a particularly gifted which, but she didn't need spells to teach people a lesson when they disobeyed her.

After nearly four hours, all three women had found dresses for the party that was to be held later that evening at the dreadful Parkinson's. Astoria had only met the senior Parkinsons in passing, however she knew Pansy from school and had always found her insufferable. It was not surprising to anyone that Daphne and Pansy were friends. While her sister and mother decided on extravagant dresses that cost more than anything else in the store, Astoria finally decided on a simple floor length red silk dress with a few jewels on the top; showing off was not something she enjoyed, especially since the war. It took all her power not to run from her mother and sister and go visit Draco when they walked past Flourish and Blotts, but she restrained herself. Draco had asked that she not tell anyone of their meetings; he didn't want Astoria's parent's judgment. Astoria was completely fine with this arrangement; she knew her parents would in fact judge him for his role as a death eater and see nothing else. It was a shame really, because socially they were in the same class, something her parents would have valued above all else… except being a death eater.

As the Greengrass family ascended the marble steps into the house of Prissy Pansy (as Astoria called her), they were greeted by a number of important witches and wizards, many of whom Astoria recognized but couldn't name. The main hall of the house was a large one, not as large or stunning as the Greengrass', but still quite nice. They moved through the crowd, greeting and curtsying, being complemented on their appearance. Astoria received a few infatuated looks from young men she used to know at Hogwarts but had never fancied. Daphne received those same looks from almost all the single men in the room, as usual. The evening drew on, she was asked to dance, her mother attempted to force suitors on her, and she felt bored as she always was at these parties. The people were dull. Daphne made Astoria want to throw a shoe at her as she danced and flirted with all the young men. At long last, Astoria indulged her mother and agreed to dance with a young man whose name she had already forgotten. All she could say for certain was that he came from an old pureblood family and was rich, as were all the boys she was paired with. It wasn't that Astoria hated all such boys, she had just found that every time she wanted to start an intelligent conversation, they would just look at her as if she were supposed to just stand there and look pretty, not talk.

Just as her mother had sent her onto the floor with another prospective suitor, someone sauntered over to the couple.

"Mind if I cut in?"

Astoria couldn't believe it. A sudden feeling of joy swept over her as a familiar face looked down at her.

"Draco! What are you doing here?" she asked, surprised.

"My parents decided it was time to leave the house. Dance with me?" He asked mischievously, making Astoria laugh.

"Excuse me, I believe that lady was about to dance with me" Her partner spoke up, almost as if trying to seem tough.

"Well, you believe wrong" Draco said in a matter of fact voice, without even looking at the boy. When he didn't move, Draco gave him a glare and he took off.

"Thanks for that. I've been paired with him for two dances already, he's a complete bore."

"My pleasure" Draco looked at her, and she looked back, so glad that he was there she couldn't put her feelings into words.

They danced happily for the next few minutes, sometimes talking and sometimes just in comfortable silence. Unfortunately, the song ended and Astoria's mother, now almost foaming at the mouth, grabbed Astoria's arm the second she and Draco were off the floor and wrenched her into a private corner nearby.

"What do you think you're doing, young lady?" Mrs. Greengrass was furious, so Astoria decided to play innocent.

"Dancing, like you wanted me to do"

"Don't give me that rubbish! You know full well how I feel about the Malfoys! They're traitors! Cowards! Why can't you just be content dancing with the lovely young men I chose for you?" Mrs. Greengrass said, regaining some of her composure at the end.

At this Astoria cracked.

"They are all the same! Rich purebloods who are boring and rude and only want me for my looks and my surname! They could care less if I had a brain in my head or not!"

Astoria turned from her shocked mother and stormed off. Heading back to where she had last seen Draco, she scanned the room, easily finding his white blonde hair amongst the crowd. There was one problem: Pansy. Everyone knew she had had a crush on Draco in all their years at school together, and it seemed she still did. He had dated her for a while in his earlier years at Hogwarts, but he had long since lost interest in her. Except now she appeared very drunk. She was quite obviously attempting to flirt with him, despite his obvious efforts to get her to leave. As Astoria grew closer, she heard Pansy ask him to go outside with her, and Draco telling her to go sit down before he told her parents she was highly intoxicated.

"Get out of here Pansy." Astoria commanded as she reached the spot where they were standing. She must have looked quite menacing, because Pansy simply turned –unsteadily- and left without a single argument.

"Are you alright?" Draco asked, confirming her suspicions.

"I need to get away from here. Can you come with me?"

"Of course" he said, looking confused.

The two of them walked quickly out the main doors, people looking at them with confused expressions. They kept going until they reached the gardens, still in view of the house, but far away. Astoria would have to face her mother later, but for now all she wanted was to run away.

They had reached a large tree about fifty feet from the house before she finally stopped, sinking onto the ground and leaning up against the tree. Draco sat down next to her and silently waited for her to speak.

"I'm sorry to pull you away" Astoria said after a few minutes. "I didn't want to be out here in the dark alone, and the only other person I could ask was Daphne, and I can't stand her tonight … or most nights, actually"

At this Draco let out a snicker. "She always was annoying".

Astoria then proceeded to rant for a few minutes about how irritating most purebloods were, and how she hated these parties and the manner in which her mother treated her at them, like a precious artifact to auction off to the highest bidder. Draco remained silent, listening to her every word. Sometimes it seemed as if he were the only person who ever listened to her these days. It was then she realized how much he had changed since being at school. One of her friends from gryffindoor house had always described him as cruel. Astoria had seen him order his accomplices, Crabbe and Goyle, to bludgeon unsuspecting students a few times, but she had been too young to feel she had the right to interfere. Then there was of course Potter and his friends, who had been Draco's arch enemies since the first time they met- it was well known that they (Ron Weasley in particular) often spoke ill of the Malfoys.

Now, it seemed, Draco had grown up. He was not as snobbish and rude as everyone had claimed he was before the war. He was still snobbish and rude sometimes, but not very often towards Astoria. In fact, he hadn't said a harsh word to her for quite some time.

"What are you thinking about?" Draco was looking at Astoria now; she had been so lost in thought she had stopped talking and was simply staring into space.

"Nothing important" she lied. "We should get back. The longer I wait, the worse it'll be" she added grudgingly.

The two stood up and began to walk- slowly- towards the house. The guests were all inside mingling. All except one: Pansy. Astoria groaned inwardly. Was she always going to be lurking around? Draco had noticed her too. Pansy was leaning against the stair railing, staring right at them. She looked as if Astoria had walked off wearing her favorite pair of shoes and was coming to return them.

"Does she have nothing better to do than follow you around?"

"Apparently not" Draco replied, obviously as annoyed as she was. "But I know something that might scare her off" he smiled, the mischievous note back in his voice.

Before she even had a chance to ask what he meant, he leaned down and kissed her. Just like that. And not just a peck on the cheek either. Despite being unprepared, Astoria realized she was not at all uncomfortable with this. She had never been one to publicly display romantic gestures, but this kiss felt right. And it seemed to have scared Pansy off- an added bonus.

"It worked" Astoria said, glancing at the place Pansy had been, "she's gone"

"Good. But that's not the only reason I did it" Draco smiled at her, and she smiled back. He took her hand, leading her back to the house. As they neared the house, they let go of each other; neither wanted to face the wrath of Mrs. Greengrass at this time. But for the rest of the evening, Astoria could not think about anything else but that kiss.

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