I own none of the settings, characters, etc, mentioned. JK Rowling does. This was written for two challenges on HPFC: Your Challenge and the I Love You challenge.
Astoria asked no questions.
That was the first thing he noticed about her. Not her smile, not her eyes, not the delicate waves of her light brown hair, not even her nice bum (though he did notice all of these later).
No, it was the way she stood there, smiling slightly, looking around as she mildly sipped on her champagne. A couple of people Draco didn't know came to talk to her and her expression remained the same; she was nodding, but saying few. She didn't bother them with useless questions about how they liked the party or what they thought about her dress or how they were feeling, as if she already knew the answers.
Draco hated being bothered with such questions. Hated answering to "What was Harry Potter like at school?", "How does it feel losing a war?", and even, sometimes, "Why on earth did you join Voldemort's side?". He was often astounded by the nerve some people had. And when it wasn't this, it was girls asking him stupid questions they didn't want him to answer anyway: "Why didn't you owl me back?", "Do you think I look good?" or - the worst one -, "Do you love me?".
That was what first drew him towards the mysterious Astoria Greengrass.
She was pretty, but she wasn't Draco's kind of girl. She wasn't attractive; she didn't look feisty or dangerous or anything that usually turned on Draco. She had a quiet sort of beauty, the kind of beauty Draco usually overlooked.
"Good evening," Draco said as he reached her.
Astoria, who had been alone for a couple of minutes, turned to him, not looking the slightest bit surprised.
"Good evening," Astoria said.
Her voice was musical and soft. For a reason he couldn't explain to himself, Draco felt a real, sincere smile tugging at the corner of his lips. As he stepped closer to her, he found that she smelt of orange and cinnamon. He wondered what her bittersweet perfume said about her.
"What's your name?" Draco asked.
Astoria smiled and Draco thought that perhaps saying that a single smile could lighten up a whole room wasn't just an image, after all.
"Well, that's certainly straight-forward! I'm Astoria Greengrass."
That name rung a bell… It took Draco a few seconds to remember - he knew the Greengrass family as famous pureblood, of course, but he couldn't place her at first. Daphne Greengrass had been in Slytherin, too, though they'd never been friends. That girl must have been her sister. Draco remembered Daphne had the same light brown hair, but Astoria looked less common and more refined. She didn't ask his name, so he told her, even though he was sure she knew it.
"I'm Draco Malfoy," he said. "I don't think we've met before."
"Oh, we did," Astoria contradicted him, mildly. "I was in Slytherin, two years younger than you. But you probably never really noticed me."
Their eyes locked and Draco was struck by their wisdom and calm. Her eyes hovered between green and grey, and Draco briefly wondered if they were this type of eyes that supposedly changed of colour with the weather. Draco had never seen one of those. He thought they were just the colour of the sea, though he had never seen the ocean except in pictures.
He felt strangely ashamed that he didn't remember her, therefore he blurted out the first thing that occurred to him.
"You've got eyes the colour of the sea," Draco said, feeling that it was probably the most stupid thing he had ever said.
Astoria laughed. It was a pleasant, feminine sound, devoid of any mockery. It enchanted Draco much more than the slow music played by the party's band.
"The sea has different colours, depending on which sea you're talking about, the English Channel or the Mediterranean, for instance," Astoria said. "But thank you."
Draco narrowed his eyes as he studied her, as though she had tricked him. Who was this girl? How dare she made him feel like this? He was used to being the dominant one.
"I'm not like that, usually," Draco said slowly. "I never blurt out stupid pick-up lines."
Astoria nodded. "Don't worry. I never judge on first impressions. And I try not to judge people at all."
She smiled at him and he got the strange impression that she knew exactly what he meant and what was going on in his mind. It was unnerving but, at the same time, it somehow reassured Draco. Having to explain himself all the time was getting tiring. He had never been one for dancing, but she seemed like the kind of girl who twirled with grace, so he asked anyway.
"Dance with me, Astoria?"
He took her hand in his; they both had pale, delicate, long-fingered hands, and he wondered if she played the piano like he did. He danced with his body closer to hers than necessary, and she raised a mocking eyebrow, but the next moment she seemed miles away, her eyes wandering around the room, and Draco found he wanted the eyes to look only at him.
He had been right about her; she was a very good dancer, and they got quite a few jealous glances from other couples. She was light and, at this point of his life, Draco knew that he needed light. The ghost of her smile haunted him that night and one week later, too long for his curiosity but long enough for him to swallow his pride, he was knocking on her door.
To his surprise, he'd had to court her.
Strangely enough, he had enjoyed it.
After he made love to her, Draco stared into Astoria's eyes, which looked more grey than green in the early morning's wintry light. But despite their colour, they were burning with passion. Draco felt his heart pounding faster as he realized this passion was for him. He had wondered if Astoria was always calm and collected, but it was now obvious she was able to feel passion, too. She gently disentangled herself from his embrace and he caressed the small of her back, longing for more. It was only now that he could see that Astoria was actually ten times more attractive than all those blonde girls with red lipstick and low-cut dresses. She wasn't vulgar; she was distinguished and mysterious, and this was so much more attractive.
"What is this?"
Draco frowned as he saw the tattoo on Astoria's back. It was a small, black scorpion, and looked quite incongruous on her indeed.
"That's a tattoo, Draco," Astoria said, her eyes gently mocking him.
"How come you've got one? I thought you weren't the kind of girl who… a scorpion?"
Draco ran a hand through his blonde hair, baffled, making them unusually messy.
"I like scorpions… you never know when they might bite you. And I think they're mysterious and fascinating creatures."
Astoria chuckled and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. Draco groaned when she pulled back; he really wouldn't mind spending a few minutes more in bed.
"You're kidding me, right?" Draco asked, bewildered.
But the tattoo proved him wrong. He frowned, and she didn't even need to say she was not kidding him. It was scaring and yet wonderful, the way they didn't even need to talk.
"Did you know the scorpion is a symbol of sex?" Draco asked, smirking.
Astoria returned his smirk.
"Of course, why do you think I got it?"
She laughed as he hit her playfully.
"Seriously," Astoria said, "it's also a symbol of passion and protection."
Draco drew closer to her, his hands reaching for her waist.
"I think I need to be protected," Draco whispered.
"Ha, you wish, Malfoy," Astoria said, the twinkle in her eyes teasing him as she drew away from him.
"You're unbelievable," Draco shook his head, trying to hide how much he wanted her.
Astoria smiled. "I know."
She rolled over, away from his wandering hands, and he instantly missed her soft, creamy skin. Her light brown hair was just long enough to cover her breasts as she turned to him, looking hesitant for the first time since he had met her.
"You're feeling this, too," Astoria said.
It wasn't a question. Draco's eyes locked with hers and he nodded.
"I've never felt like this before," Draco said. "It's… painful and annoying and unnerving."
Astoria nodded as if she knew exactly what he meant. He wondered if she had gone through the same phases as he had: curiosity, desire, proud restraint, and finally, surrender.
"But you like it," Astoria said.
Draco gave his silent agreement and turned his head to bury it into the pillow so that she wouldn't see his face. He never knew he could be like this. He never knew he could feel this, and actually like it. But he didn't want someone to change him, either. He still was the same, and he would always be a Malfoy. He would always carry his past with him, and even a woman as inspiring as Astoria couldn't change that.
"I don't want to change," Draco said.
Draco closed his eyes and was chilled by the long silence. He heard the January rain begin to pour outside. He hated how childish he sounded sometimes, especially compared to Astoria, with his fears of words like love and happiness and committment.
"At least, have the decency to speak to me and not to your pillow."
Her voice was still calm and gentle, but it was definitely cooler. Draco reluctantly turned; she was still sitting in the same position. He wondered why he had not realized before how beautiful she really was. She turned her back to him then, and he stared at her hair cascading in slight waves down her slender shoulders and her back.
"You don't want to change… but you're not really happy the way you are, either."
They had known each other for barely two months but she already knew him better than anybody who had ever called themselves his friends.
"I don't know what to do," Draco said, trying to keep his tone confident. "This is new to me and… I don't know if I really want it."
As soon as the words left his mouth, he knew he was just pretending; she had already won his heart, it was too late. Astoria nodded and looked at him thoughtfully for a while. Again, Draco was under the impression that she knew he was lying. He thought she would tell him she'd wait for him, or that she understood him, but she just smiled slightly and got dressed and left. He could never decipher her smiles; was this one sad, or knowing, or mocking? He wished he could find a way to understand her. He wished he had the key to her heart, because she definitely had the key to his already.
Draco's regrets burnt his stomach as soon as she closed the door behind her. She didn't slam it, and yet the sound seemed to shatter his ears.
He needed her.
Five years later, Astoria gave birth to their child. Draco took the baby in his arms without quite knowing how to do it, and he looked at his wife for support. Her sea-like eyes were smiling, and once again he marvelled at this marriage of gentleness and strength that were her eyes. He then turned his gaze back to his son. He was tiny and barely had hair on his head, but he was a part of Astoria and himself and, despite his fears, which were still there, he loved him already.
"I present you Scorpius Malfoy," Draco said as he handed the baby back to his wife.
"Scorpius," Astoria repeated in a whisper.
"Yes," Draco nodded, struggling not to laugh.
He thought of her tatoo that he had come to like, after all, especially since the memorable night after their wedding, and sudden flashes of taking off Astoria's wedding dress and almost ripping it in his haste came to him. He'd suggested to her, once, that she should get another tattoo, which would read 'Draco Forever', just to see the look she'd give him - they had laughed until their stomachs hurt and then it had been yet another memorable night. As he watched Astoria kissing Scorpius's forehead, he also thought of the way he had changed without really changing. He would never be one for roses and hugs, but they were both all right with that, and he thought he was probably as close to happiness as a Malfoy could ever get.
"How fitting," Astoria said, laughing softly.
Astoria asked no questions.
It was most fortunate, because Draco didn't always have the answers.
That was my first time writing Astoria, so please tell me if you liked my take on her. Also, I haven't written Draco in years, and at the time I wrote him I wasn't really concerned about characterization. Keeping in mind that he's, of course, older than in the books, did you think he was true to canon?