Chance Meeting

chapter 5

Astoria sat on the window sill in the observatory of the house, a book in her lap. Though one of her favorite books, she wasn't reading it. Her thoughts were consumed with her current situation. How could she possibly bring up her relationship with Draco to her mother? It needed to be done, that was certain, but it would be unpleasant- that aspect was unavoidable.

Voices began to echo outside in the hall. At first Astoria thought it must be her parents, but as they grew louder she realized that while her mother was indeed there, she was speaking much to formally for it to be words to her husband. Crawling down from the sill, Astoria crossed the room and peeked through the gap between the double doors. There were three people: her mother, a boy she recognized from school, and an older man she could only assume was his father.

"I assure you my son and I have discussed this, so there will be no objections from our side, but you must assure the same of your daughter" the older man said to .

What did he mean? Object to what? What was going on? Astoria leaned closer to the door to better eavesdrop on the conversation.

"I assure you Sir, my daughter will understand that this is for the best. It is important, given the events of the past few years, to be careful with whom we associate. My daughter will understand that." replied calmly.

Sir? Her mother was only ever that polite to people when they either had authority over her, or she wanted something. Giving the men a good look, Astoria realized the boy she recognized was a boy named Blaise, who had been part of Draco's social group at Hogwarts. While part of Draco's circle, he hadn't become a death eater during the war: and that's all she knew about him. So what were him and his father doing here? Astoria started to worry. Her mother had claimed "my daughter will understand", but not what it was she was supposed to understand.

"I realize the idea is not modern," continued, "but I think that in this case, necessity dictates an arranged marriage take place."

Astoria was frozen, her mother's words sending a chill to her very soul. It was clear now- her mother planned to marry her off. How could she do this? Astoria was too young to marry! Perhaps legally she could, but she was nowhere near ready to commit to marriage! Never mind the fact that arranged marriages were almost medieval and no one did them anymore. Astoria had heard enough: it was time to go. She decided to jump out the open window rather than face the visitors in the hall. Once on the lawn, she ran around to the main door of the house, making her way to the dining room without being seen. There was a fireplace in that room she could use to get away. Luckily, her mother had dispensed with the magical alarm, apparently deciding it didn't help. There was the usual flash of green, and Astoria was transported away.

"My mother is making me get married." Astoria stated abruptly. She had just ascended the steps of Flourish and Blotts, and upon seeing Draco sitting in his usual place, decided to just get the bad news over with.

Draco's head snapped upright, and he stared straight at her, as if the information had not yet processed. After a few painfully long seconds, he answered.

"What are you talking about?"

"I heard her talking to Blaise's father, they want to set me up with an arranged marriage!"

Draco looked utterly shocked. The shock, however, soon turned into anger.

"So your mother has a problem with me, but not Blaise Zabini? He was part of my circle! He did almost as many terrible things as I did!" Draco's voice sounded more angry than she had ever heard him.

"I know, but his family never openly supported Voldemort, and he was never a death eater." Astoria was trying her best to hold back tears. She was not one to cry often, but this was an exception.

"Are you sure that you didn't simply misunderstand?" Draco asked, trying his best to be calm.

"I heard mother say that her daughter would understand, and that arranged marriage was a necessity. I don't really think it's possible to misinterpret that."

"Did she say your name? Is it possible that she meant Daphne?"

"It's highly unlikely. Daphne is happy to flirt with any rich pure blood my mother pushes at her as long as he's good looking. There is no need for my mother to force her to early marriage. And we know she hasn't been pleased with my choice in men lately... no offense"

"None taken. Not from you anyways." Draco replied. Anger had now turned to sadness.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, fingers intertwined. Astoria would have liked to stay that way forever, but that would not be possible.

"What are we going to do?" She wanted more than anything not to have to ask that question, but it needed to be done.

"What can we do?" Draco said, sounding defeated. "We can't run away, we would be found. The only thing to do is for you to see if you can convince your mother to give up her plan."

"Yeah. Because that's going to happen. Have you met my mother? She's as stubborn as a mule and twice as vindictive."

"Well it's the only way I can think of at the moment. You have to try."

It will never work, Astoria thought to herself. She knew her mother too well. But here, now, looking at the depressed expression on Draco's face, she knew she had to try.

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