One week had passed since the Parkinson Party. Astoria had been trapped in her house like a prisoner of Azkaban after her supposed "unacceptable behavior", as her mother called it. Mrs. Greengrass had spared no time reprimanding Astoria for dancing with a Malfoy in front of a room full of important people, and had been giving her dirty looks all week. Unfortunately for her mother, Astoria didn't care. All she wanted was to go see Draco again. She hadn't seen him since that evening, and very much wanted to speak with him about certain events that had transpired. The "going to work" excuse no longer worked; her mother still had no idea why any wealthy witch would choose to have such a mundane job, so Astoria's house arrest took precedence.
However, that windy afternoon, Astoria had had enough. She was going to get out of this house if it killed her. She closed the book she was reading, left her room and descended quietly down the stairs. Luckily, it appeared her mother was outside attending to the shrubbery using her new spell book. As she reached the large marble fireplace in the living room, she heard her sister coming. Astoria crouched behind a potted plant at the bottom of the stairs, pressing herself against the wall.
"I don't know what she was thinking. Astoria can be so strange sometimes" Daphne was not alone. She was talking to someone Astoria could not see from behind the plant.
"I wish she would keep her filthy paws off my boyfriend" came a shrill voice. Pansy. What was she doing here?
It didn't matter. The two girls had rounded the corner, and Astoria emerged from her hiding place. "My boyfriend" Astoria muttered with disgust. As if Draco would want to be bear her after her pathetic drunken behavior at the party. She crossed over to the fireplace, grabbed a handful of floo powder, and stepped in just as an alarm went off. Her mother had not been kidding about the house arrest thing. The magical alarm was deafeningly loud. Her mother would be there any second. Acting quickly, Astoria threw the powder and yelled "Diagaon Alley!".
She was almost at Flourish and Blotts. This was the first place she could think of to look for Draco, especially since they had never met anywhere else and he had said he went there almost every day.
It was a good place to look. Draco was in his normal spot on the dusty second floor of the shop, hunched over in a chair reading something he appeared to have very little interest in. As he turned and saw her, his expression became joyful, but also surprised.
"Astoria? What are you doing here?"
"What do you mean? I know I haven't been around... er... at all, this week, but that's only because my mother told me I wasn't allowed to leave!" Did he think she was never coming to see him again? Why would he think that? Almost as if he read her mind, he answered her question.
"I just assumed, after your mother's reaction to us dancing, that she would ban you from seeing me."
"She did" Astoria replied. "But since when do I listen to everything my mother says? She's just worried about our reputation"
"As she should be" Draco replied coldly, standing up from the chair.
This statement confused Astoria. She had never given Draco any reason to believe she cared about that sort of thing. If she did, she wouldn't be here now.
"My mother cares, I don't. Maybe I used to, but so much has happened the past few years a golden reputation just doesn't seem important. Or likely. If I cared what everyone thought, I wouldn't have danced with you at the party, and I wouldn't be here talking to you now" she pointed out in a matter- of- fact tone. Reputation? As if her family was unscathed by the rumors which circulated about almost all the rich purebood families.
"I used to care" Draco said, a defensive tone to his voice. "My image used to mean everything to me. It still would if it weren't damaged beyond repair. If the positions were reversed, I would not be here with you. In fact, I would probably be the first to start the rumors"
"I'm not you." Astoria had begun to go on the defensive herself. She didn't like what he was saying, even though in the back of her mind she knew it was true. "You may be a pompous ass at heart, but I am not."
Draco looked slightly taken aback, as if he had expected her to run and cry but instead she had punched him square in the jaw. The two stood in silence for the next few minutes, waiting for one of them to break the silence. Being a little sister, Astoria could play the silent game all day. Draco couldn't.
"So you really don't mind being associated with a former death eater?" he asked incredulously.
"I don't mind. I only care about the person, not the reputation, as cliché and fake as that sounds."
He was smiling now. Astoria felt the anger in the room dissipate, and she let out an internal sigh of relief. She hated getting into fights with the people she cared about, even her mother whom she was always at odds with. She walked forward a few paces until there was less than a foot between them. It was her turn to make the move. Astoria leaned forward and kissed him, and in no time at all he was kissing her back. If this didn't make him believe her, nothing would.
They spent the next few hours together, talking and enjoying each other's company. They were sitting against a wall behind a bookshelf, Astoria leaned up against his shoulder, her hand in his. It was getting late, and she would have to leave soon, never mind the fact the shop was going to close at some point. If only the moment could go on forever.
"Won't your family want to know where you are?" Draco asked.
"Yes, Perhaps I should go" Astoria wanted so badly to say she could stay. "I may not always see eye to eye with mother but I don't want to worry her beyond reason".
Both of them got up and started towards the stairs. Just before they reached anywhere people could see, Draco leaned in and gave her a goodbye kiss.
"We won't have to meet in secret forever you know. I will find a way to convince my mother and we can have a normal, non- secret relationship." Astoria knew as soon as she said the words she was one hundred percent serious.
"I hope not. And maybe having a beautiful girlfriend will help me get some friends" he added jokingly.
Once out on the street by herself, Astoria let her thoughts consume her. She felt such a strong connection to Draco, to the point where she might even love him. But what about her family? Contrary to appearances, she did love them, and wasn't ready to cut them off entirely if they refused to let her be with Draco. So many decisions. For now, first things first: talk to mother, convince her it would not ruin the family to date a Malfoy. Of course, Astoria wasn't sure what would happen if she went into society on the arm of a former death eater; it was a risk she would gladly take, if only she were the only one effected.