Position: Prefect 1 stand-in
Category: Themed 2
Prompt: [First Line] It felt good to be lost in the right
direction for once in his/her/their/my life.
Word Count: 2900 words, excluding header, author notes, and title.
Beta: CK and Tigger
A/N: This was written for The Houses Competition, Y2R7. AU, Set in Ireland and Narcissa Malfoy approves of Astoria.
It felt good to be lost in the right direction for once in his life.
He stood on top of a grassy hill and stared at the rolling plains laid out before him. He took deep breaths of the fresh, crisp air that cleansed his soul. Looking out at the majestic hills and the flowers dancing in the wind made him glad he had decided to take this holiday.
He had chosen to go to Ireland, a place his father had always deemed below them.
"That place is filled with nothing but drunkards and inns. We are Malfoys; we stay at more respectable places than inns and don't associate with drunkards!" his father had shouted at him the one time he had expressed interest in visiting there.
He hadn't brought it up since then, but that didn't stop him from wanting to visit and now with his father in Azkaban, he didn't need his approval and could do what he wanted.
This was the first decision that Draco had made once he was cleared of his crimes after the war. He had wanted to get as far away as he could from the horrors of the manor and as far away as he could from the judging eyes of the wizarding community. So he had packed some things, grabbed his mother, and portkeyed to Ireland.
While he was here, the beautiful scenery inspired him to do some soul-searching. He may not have any idea what he was doing with his life anymore, but he did know that it wouldn't be anything like the previous vision of his life. He was being handed a second chance, a new life, and he was determined it was going to be a good life, one he was actually proud of.
"Draco, dear," his mother called after him, struggling to catch up.
He paused on the trail to wait for her. They were currently hiking their way down the Galtee Mountains to their next inn location, something his father would definitely not have approved of.
His mother scurried next to him and still looked impeccable. Her blonde hair, the same exact shade as Draco's, was still knotted tightly in her signature hairdo, not a hair out of place. She had no sweat on her brows and her breathing maintained its normal pace. Her normally pale face was slightly pinkened, the only sign of her exertion.
"Draco, darling, you know I will support you and stand beside you in anything that you do, but next time I am going to get one of those Muggle taxzies to get to our next destination. While I applaud you for being able to continue this trek, I am not as young as I used to be."
"Mother," Draco feigned, "how is it possible that you are feeling the strain of old age when you don't look a day over twenty-five?"
She smiled down at him and raised a hand against his cheek. "What did I do to deserve you?"
"No, Mother, what did I do deserve you? You have always done what you could to protect me, from Father, from the Dark Lord, and you did everything in your power to stop me from becoming as corrupted as my father. I must thank you for that, Mother."
She dropped her hand from his cheek and smiled at him sadly.
"He wasn't always like that. He once was charming and sweet… I hope that you find a girl who makes you as happy as your father made me, and I hope you never lose that love like we did."
Draco and his mother had just seated themselves at a table, when their waitress came up to get their order.
"What can I get you?" a sing-song voice asked.
Draco, who was looking at the menu, immediately whipped his head around at the sound of the familiar voice. He never would have been able to forget the sound of this honey-sweet voice. It was like music to his ears.
"Astoria?!" he asked incredulously.
Her eyes widened and she began to shift nervously.
"Draco, Mrs. Malfoy, what are you doing here?" Her voice rose with desperation.
"We are on holiday," Draco responded. "What are you doing here?"
"We, my sister and I, have family here and after the… after the trial we needed a place to stay."
Draco nodded in understanding and his mother reached out to squeeze the woman's shoulders comfortingly.
"I'm sorry," Draco said. "We should catch up; you work here?"
"What time do you get off?"
"In four hours," she responded nervously, her face flushed.
"Please, allow me to take you out dinner after your shift is over to… catch up?" Draco asked nervously.
Mrs. Malfoy quirked an eyebrow at him but he ignored her.
Astoria agreed and quickly left the table, mumbling under her breathe about needing a break, and another server replaced her.
"Sooo…" Mrs. Malfoy said suspiciously, "What was that?"
"I am just catching up with an old friend, Mother." Draco sighed. "Don't make this a bigger deal than it is."
"That is not what it looked like to me, Draco." His mother smiled mischievously.
"Well, that is what it is. I am surprised she even agreed to it," he huffed.
"Who would turn down the chance to have dinner with my charming son?"
"She would, Mother," he answered solemnly.
"I think there is more to the story that you aren't telling me, Draco." She arched her eyebrows at him. "It isn't nice to keep secrets from your dear, old mother."
He rolled his eyes at her but gave in to her prodding.
"We got into a disagreement at school and she hasn't talked to me since."
"I wasn't aware that you and the youngest Miss Greengrass spoke in school. What was the disagreement about?"
"My father, her father, the whole ordeal."
"Ahh… she didn't agree. She didn't believe in blood supremacy. That takes a strong woman to voice her disagreements against her house and against her family."
"Yes, well, she told me to never talk to her again if I still supported the pureblood 'propaganda.'"
"Well, do you?" his mother asked.
"No… not anymore. I can see now that everything Father spouted to me was complete bullshite. He would support any idea if it gave him power."
"Well then, if you are no longer supporting those ideals, what's the problem?"
"It's not that simple, Mother." His eyes were pleading at her to stop questioning him.
"Ahh," she said again with a soft smile. "You like her."
His ears turned pink and he quickly looked away from her. He rubbed his palm against the rough surface of the table trying to calm his racing heart. He was going to try and deny it, but his mother had always seen straight through his lies and she already knew the answer. She hadn't questioned if he liked her; she had stated it.
He nodded before slouching back in defeat. He avoided looking at his mother's twinkling eyes and instead decided to focus on the wooden rafters of the pub. The crisscrossing beams created many niches for bird nests. He tried to guess what type of birds were nestled in the crooks of the rafters before his mother's hand on his forced him to look at her again.
"Draco, I know you think that you may have ruined any chance you had with her because of your previous misgivings, but let her see what a changed man you are. Show her the man you want become and woo her. I do want grandbabies, after all."
He swatted her hand away and blushed a bright crimson before nodding his head. He could show her he was different.
Draco was wearing his favorite black dress robes. They were fresh and ironed. He was nervously running one hand through his hair as he paced behind the pub. He was muttering to himself, talking himself into going inside, when a voice startled him.
"Are you making sure you are getting your exercise in or something with all that pacing? There are walking trails, ya know, much prettier than the backside of the pub."
He started and spun to see Astoria in the same dirty, brown work robes she had been wearing earlier. Her dark brown hair was framing her face and her lips were pulled tight in a smile. She was quirking an eyebrow in amusement and her eyes traveled down his appearance.
"My, my, my, Malfoy. I feel underdressed."
She gave a mock curtsey.
Draco could feel his heart pounding in his ears. He opened his mouth several times before he was able to form enough words to speak.
"You look beautiful," he answered breathlessly. "Here," he said, bringing his other hand from behind his back and presenting a bouquet of tulips to her. "These are for you, although they don't compare to your beauty."
She rolled her eyes and giggled at him but took the bouquet from him anyway.
"Quite the charmer; some things never change," she finished sadly.
"But, I have changed! Please, let me show you? Please give me the chance to prove to you that I am different?" he pleaded.
He grabbed her hand and dropped to his knees disregarding the dirt and mud that surely stained his robes.
"Please, Astoria. I am so sorry that I didn't stand up for you at Hogwarts. I am so sorry I let the other Slytherins bully you, but please, please, give me a chance? I have… always admired your strength, your beauty, and your courage. Please just give me this one date, this one chance?"
She looked down at him with a blank face and studied him. Her dark, brown eyes bore into his and for once in his life, Draco let her see into his soul. He didn't want to turn away from her. He wanted her to see the truth, to see that he was a changed man.
She turned away and worried her lip. He stayed poised on the ground afraid to move, waiting to hear if she would give him a chance. She finally turned back, a small smile gracing her face, and she nodded.
He jumped up and hugged her close to him.
"Thank you! Thank you!" he cried. "You won't regret this."
"I thought you were just taking me out to dinner to 'catch up'," she teased.
He shrugged but laughed along with her.
They had dinner together every night that week and he was determined to win her over. He brought her flowers, each bouquet bigger than the last. He brought her to the best restaurants in the surrounding villages and even packed a romantic candlelight picnic that they could share under the stars.
Each night when he entered their tiny suite at the inn, his mother would be waiting up for him, eager to hear how his date went. She would tease him and cause him to blush all the way down to the roots of his hair.
He loved the relationship he had with his mother. Their bond only grew stronger and more loving without the constant disapproval of his father, but at times like these he wished they weren't so comfortable with each other and had a tiny sliver of privacy between them still.
"Did you kiss her?" his mother teased.
"Mo-ther!" he groaned as he flopped down onto his bed.
She winked at him before adding, "You are lucky I am only asking if you kissed her and not anything else; like I said I want grandbabies!"
"MO-THER!" Draco whined, quickly getting to his feet and shoving her out the door. The thin wooden door did nothing to block out her laughter.
"All I am saying, Draco, is you need to lock a girl like that down!"
"Mother…" he sighed, "it was our tenth date!"
This caused her to laugh louder. Her giggles were only silenced when she entered her own room.
He sighed as he sat on his bed. When had his mother become such a nosey school girl? He rolled his eyes but a smile was plastered on his face as he thought about how happy she was now. He think he heard her joy and laughter more on this holiday, particularly this week, than he had his whole life. It was amazing how freeing being away from his father had been for the both of them. They were both happier, relaxed, and were enjoying life, which was vastly different than how they were living a year and a half ago.
His mind began to shift as he sank into his bed and images of Astoria replaced the bitter thoughts that were racing through his head.
She was perfect. Smart, forgiving, kind, and beautiful. Draco had always noticed her, even in school. She was younger than him by two years, so he didn't pursue anything with her, but that didn't stop him from noticing her. She always sat in the big arm chair by the window in the library. She drank warmed milk with honey right before bed and only drank tea with lemon at meals. Her favorite class had been Charms and she was friends with many students outside of the Slytherin house.
He had been too shy in school, but nothing was going to stop him from pursuing her this time—not even himself.
Draco was trying to calm his breathing. This was it, he was going to tell her.
They were currently sitting side by side in a small wooden row-boat that Draco had rented for the evening. The calming sway of the lake and the gentle laps of water hitting the boat soothed Draco.
He took one last breath and turned towards her. She was facing the sunset and the fading golden rays of the sun illuminated her like an angel. She caught him staring at her and smiled at him before snuggling into his side.
"Draco, this is so romantic. I wish I could capture this moment and live it forever. The sky doesn't even look real. The purples and oranges look like a painting."
She sighed contently and rubbed his hand that was laced with hers. They sat in silence watching the sun fade. The last light of the sun was just about to go out when the lake lit up with fairies.
"Oh Draco, did you do this?" Astoria asked, awe lacing her words.
He just nodded silently not wanting to take his eyes off her face. Her eyes were twinkling and she was smiling from ear to ear. She caught him staring at her again and leaned in to kiss his lips.
"Draco, can we talk about something, real quick?"
His heart dropped. He thought this was going to be the day. He had planned for everything to be perfect and as romantic as he could make it. He cursed himself. He knew he should have hired the quartet to play on the shore, but he had wanted to be alone when he finally told her.
"I think, no, I know, that I love you!" she blurted out.
"What?" he asked, his mouth hanging open in disbelief.
"I said I love you," Astoria stammered. "I know, maybe it's too soon. Maybe, I shouldn't have said anything, but well… I just… I thought you should know. It's fine," she added, "you don't have to say it back or anything. I understand. It doesn't change how I feel. I just wanted you to know, I guess."
She turned away, her red cheeks glowing in the fairy light.
Draco burst out laughing, causing the boat to rock and send out little ripples of waves in the water.
"What is so funny?" Astoria demanded. "I knew it! I knew you hadn't changed! This was all some elaborate scheme wasn't it? Take me home this instant!"
She went to smack his shoulders but he caught her hand and pulled her onto his lap, hugging her tightly to still her.
"I'm sorry," he choked out, "It's just… it's just I was so worried. That's why I brought you here. I was working up the courage and you just beat me to it!"
"What?" she asked.
"Astoria, what I am trying to say is, I love you too." Draco tightened his embrace on her and nuzzled into her neck. "You are always one step ahead of me."
He turned her in his lap and fiercely kissed her lips.
"Promise me," he said between kisses, "Promise me. That. You. Won't. Leave. Me. Behind."
She pulled away from him and stared deeply into his eyes.
"Never!" she promised.
They stood hand in hand looking out over that same lake. She was wearing a short white dress and her hair was adorned with flowers, and Draco swore he had never seen a more beautiful bride. All the guests were making their way to the pub where they had met again and been granted this second chance to be together. Draco knew it had to be the workings of fate that brought them together.
He clutched his bride closer to him and felt the most happiness he had ever felt in his life. He had no idea where his life was going, but with Astoria by his side, he knew that wherever they went, they were headed in the right direction together.