Dose of Your Own
Chapter One: Medicine
"Did I ever tell you that your hair is beautiful, Astoria?" She slurred, tipping sideways in her barstool. I caught the her before she could slip off entirely. Her robes rode up her legs indecently. With a grimace, I yanked the skirt down. Daphne giggled incoherently. "Mum and Da will hate you for this, you know?" Oh, really, is that what she thought? "What with you kidnapping my fiancé and I?"
"I believe it's 'my fiancé and me' in that instance, Daphne." I corrected, shaking my head. She nodded docilely, taking another swig of Firewhiskey. "I think you've had enough." I really should have thought about taking the bottle from her, but I didn't. It was too much trouble.
"No! You don't understand, Astoria! You never understood!" Shushing her into silence, I felt my cheeks heating up in embarrassment. The whole bar seemed to go quiet as she shouted.
My tone was demeaning when I responded. "I never wanted to understand. Now, can we get out of here? You and Adrian have had enough to drink—"
She waved her hands in my face, a little dribble of the drink on the corner of her lips. I could barely see it in the dim light. "'Adrian and I', Tori!" I nearly laughed, if it wasn't for the arm that got slung around my shoulders. I nearly got sick right there from the smell of alcohol.
"Astoria, Astoria. Are you gonna to take us home?" Adrian held out his consonants longer than necessary, showcasing just how sloshed he really was. I struggled to rid myself of his arm, but he held tight. The force with which he gripped my shoulder made me wince.
I growled, slowly letting my irritation get the better of me. "Get off me, you great git!" With some amount of force, I shoved him into the bar. Leaning over the counter, I called out. "Milo! Here's the tab." I slammed a bag of galleons to the counter. "Now, both of you, let's get out of here." I took hold of Daphne's right elbow and Adrian's left, steering them toward the door of the pub. Bodies squeezed past me, some hands touching where they shouldn't have in the melee. I knew this would happen so I paid the feeling hands no mind. I was used to it by now.
The two drunkards on my sides swayed back and forth, to and fro, worrying me to no end that they would lay out in the floor. It had happened before and it wasn't a very pleasant experience then.
For a moment, I thought that we may just get out of the bar alive and in one piece. That was before Daphne let out a blood-curdling scream, falling to the floor. Adrian fell not seconds after her, doing the same. Monkey see, monkey do. They had done this before as well, except they were in the confines of the Greengrass mansion the previous times, where Mum and Da could help. This time, I was on my own.
I stood above them, staring down at the two imbeciles on the floor. I thought, momentarily, of course, about leaving them there at the pub. Surely they would sober up soon enough to find a way home before dawn. Mum and Da could take responsibility from there. It would be only too easy.
I could never do it. Crouching down, I pulled out my wand. I aimed it at Daphne's face. "If you don't pick yourself up off this floor, you will regret it."
"Having problems, Greengrass?" A voice said behind me, startling me a bit. I turned my head and peered into the sea of bodies. With the thumping of the bass, the crowd bopped to a Weird Sisters tune blaring from the ceiling. Theodore Nott stood just behind me, his hands on his knees as he leaned down. "They're a handful, aren't they?"
"Something like that." I sighed, glancing at his attire. I had never seen Nott outside of school four years ago. He had always been a lanky fellow back in school and remained so. Don't misunderstand, he was certainly good-looking in his own right, but his eyes were sunken and tired. "What are you doing here?"
His hand jerked over his shoulder to a half-awake face. I almost gasped. Almost. Laying on his shoulder was Draco Malfoy. Nott gave me a withering glance before shrugging. "We all do it, right?"
Nodding, I redirected my attention to my sister and her fiancé. They both had passed out cold. With each passing second the crowds were growing more and more impatient with the obstruction on the ground. I waved my wand tiredly. "Mobilicorpus." The bodies lifted off the hardwoods, floating just ahead of me.
"Follow me." I heard Nott say while passing me, pushing through the throng. "Come along."
The night had started innocently enough. I had been immersed in one of my favorite novels within the confines of my flat, just above Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, when Daphne had burst in. She said something about marriage and dragged me out of the room, out the door, and into the hallway. Adrian stood there waiting, his drinking attire on. I knew at once what they wanted: a 'dry'. They wanted me to make sure they did nothing too foolish while getting drunk off their arses.
When we reached the clear, beautiful night air outside the Jones Pub, I took a deep breath. It felt nice to fill my lungs with something other than the oppressive, heavy air within those walls. I felt a bit light headed from the overwhelming amounts of oxygen. Gently, I lowered the two to the cobblestone of the walk. "Thank you for that, Mr. Nott."
He nodded, setting Malfoy beside Adrian. "The three of them could out-drink our whole house, I believe."
Wrinkling my nose, I disagreed. "I know for a fact that Zabini can carry his liquor far better than all three of them. Combined."
To my surprise, my companion began laughing. "Yes, of course. Blaise surely would best them at drinking." He conjured a mat, settling on the ground beside the sleeping Malfoy. "What is your plan for getting them home?"
"I'll take them to my place for the night. It isn't too far from here. They can sleep it off in my den." I shrugged. It was what I always did, after all. At least, that was how it had been for the past two years since I had graduated. I nodded to Malfoy. "What is your plan?"
"I would take him to my house, but I think that may be unwise. I know that I cannot take him home. His mother would hang him from the banisters of the grand staircase if she saw him like this."
"You can bring him to my place." I wondered just what my process had been. Perhaps I was drunk by osmosis, but, no, that was impossible.
Theodore Nott simply stared at me for a moment before agreeing. "That is very nice of you, Greengrass. I'll take you up on that offer."
"Let's get going, shall we? Daphne is a right bitch when she wakes up with a hangover."
He grinned in a fashion that I had never seen him use before. It was as if he had stolen the smile straight from the blond at my feet. "I hope you have good morning-after potion."
We levitated the bodies up the staircase, accidently banging Malfoy's head against the wall at one point. I thought in the back of my mind that Nott didn't look too pleased for the incident to have been a true 'accident'. I could have sworn that I saw a smirk dawn on the lanky man's face when the sleeping blond cursed from the pain. As smoothly as I could manage, given my fatigue of the late evening, I lowered my sister and Adrian onto a transfigured couch. Almost instantly, they wound their limbs around each other.
For a moment, I simply stood there, staring. Daphne had never even hugged me so I found it rather shocking she would have such physical contact, even if she was in a drunken slumber.
"Everything alright there, Greengrass?" Nott's voice called from my study.
"Enough." I stated, leaning around the door. Nott had transfigured my desk into a quite comfortable looking bed. "You're welcome to stay. I doubt that Malfoy will take kindly to waking up in such a strange place alone."
Nott nodded, a serious look in his eyes. "I think I will. Is it possible to transfigure that large chair in the living room into a cot?"
"Sure. I don't believe that will be a problem." I couldn't understand why I kept agree so easily to everything this man asked me for. I hadn't seen him so long and yet, I wouldn't refuse him. Some part, deep inside of me, knew that he reminded me of myself, having to take care of those around you. He had the same rings around his eyes that I did. I knew those marks. I knew that feeling, the feeling of being used.
Later, in the middle of the night, which actually turned out to be around four in the morning, I lay awake still. Memories and nightmares played on the backs of my eyelids, inescapable. I wanted nothing more than to slip off into dreamless sleep, but it was impossible. The days from four years ago took the foreground in my mind. I blamed it on the occupants of the flat. As I lay there, immersed in fluffy pillows and expensive fabrics, I thought of the war.
I had been supportive of my family, not supportive of the Dark Lord. This is a common misconception among my fellow Ministry officials as many believe I believed in He Who Must Not Be Named. In Slytherin, I was not as much of an outcast as many seemed to believe. I was surrounded by good friends. That was until I had voiced my opinion one evening to the girls of my dorm room. Word spread like wildfire. A girl of Pureblood pedigree was not supportive of the Dark Lord? The whole of Slytherin found my audacity demeaning and of low class, even if I was among the purest of them.
Daphne had protected me all that she could. Maybe that is why I follow her like I do. She pulled rank several times, using her connections with Pansy Parkinson and Draco Malfoy to aid me. Until the middle of my fifth year, I kept my neck out of the noose. All of that changed in an instant.
Charon Van Cleef had been a seventh year of half-blood decent. On the day that I found her, she had been tortured to within an inch of her life, hanging inside of an abandoned classroom. On the wall beside her read: If one removes this girl, punishment will be in order. I got her down and levitated her to the hospital wing, sitting with her until she regained consciousness.
The same evening I returned to my dormitory. One of the Carrows stood within, waiting. Daphne was screaming from the corner of the room, being held back by Parkinson and Bulstrode. I knew what I had gotten myself into the moment I eased Van Cleef out of her bindings. Carrow smirked coldly. I can still remember the feeling pain with every nerve in my body. I screamed and screamed. No one was allowed to touch me. Alecto Carrow performed two Cruciatus Curses, giggling all the while. I had never felt anything like it in my life. "Mind your place, Greengrass." She whispered to me before leaving, casting a slashing curse over her shoulder, cutting into my exposed abdomen.
That experience changed me forever. At school, I became a withdrawn soul. Those within the Slytherin realm did not acknowledge my existence. Those outside did not trust me. Even through this, I never once regretted my actions. I wriggled my way through five detentions, receiving the curse every time. I earned a reputation of my own. "Muggle-sympathizer" and "Mudblood-lover" were fairly popular. Others abounded but I rather not remember those.
I had never known suffering like I had experienced that year.
Snapping out of my reverie, I pulled my legs from under the blankets and placed them over the side of the bed. I shivered, my bare feet touching the hardwood flooring. Quietly, I made my way to the kitchen. Tired, I closed my eyes as I turned the corner. When they opened again, I nearly screamed in shock.
Draco Malfoy sat at my table, his head in his hands. He did not seem to have realized that I stood in the doorway.
He spun quickly, pulling out his wand in the process. I held up my hands. "Who the hell are you?"
I wanted to laugh. "This is my flat. I'm Astoria Greengrass."
"Daphne's sister." He nodded, slowly letting the wand fall to his side. "Why am I in this hell hole?"
I held back a glare. "You got drunk off your gourd. Theodore Nott brought you here. He is in the den, asleep." His pale eyebrows shot up into his high hairline. The grey eyes that sat sunken into his face were only mildly interested. His hands came to his head once more. "Headache?"
He didn't bother to answer me rather he merely sent me a withering look.
Without realizing, I placed my hands on my hips and walked around the table to the sink. I proceeded to wash what dishes lay there by hand. Unaware that I was being watched, I continued to towel them dry before keeping two glasses out and putting the rest away. I filled both with water and set them on the table, one in front of the white haired gentleman with the sour expression.
"Do you have a problem with water?" I asked, with a slightly mocking tone in my voice.
Malfoy once more didn't bother to answer me. He simply took the glass in his hand, held it to his mouth and drank.
I had never had much interaction with Draco Malfoy before. Daphne had told me he was dangerous. "In too deep, that one." She told me this every other day. Parkinson had been hopelessly in love with him for years. She spoke of nothing more than their conquests within the darkened classrooms and dungeons. Those escapades lasted until seventh year, when every semblance of a normal life had died. When he was younger, I suppose the first time I had seen him was during my first year, his third, he strutted around like a rooster in a chicken yard.
I suppose that was another reason why I never fit in much. While the other girls flitted and gossiped about Draco Malfoy, I was more interested in whether or not I would get caught hanging out with my Ravenclaw friends. I had noticed by the end of my fourth year that he had become sickly looking, sunken eyes and thin as a scarecrow.
He looked no better as he sat across from me, studying me while I drank the iced water.
"You look nothing like your sister."
"So I'm told." I responded, deadpan.
We sat in odd silence, observing each other. He seemed to read everything about me, drawing his own conclusions. I wondered how he was able to focus instead of being sick in the bathroom. Perhaps he really did have high tolerance. I could only imagine how much drinking he had done in his time. I would bet he was a regular.
I knew that Malfoy's parents had to endure a stint in Azkaban. His father still remained within the walls while his mother had been released nearly a year ago now. Their punishment was much less than others. Nott's father received a Kiss. Parkinson's parents were going to remain in the prison until their ultimate deaths. My parents were not 'involved' though they had supported Voldemort in the background. They had incurred strong financial punishment. We were rich enough to come out unscathed. Daphne had told me of Malfoy's punishment only minutes after it had been given.
He was to help at St. Mungo's for a whole year and a grand amount of his inheritance would be taken as soon as he should get married to help those affected by the war.
Not all that bad of a sentence considering, I thought.
"Stop analyzing me."
I raised an eyebrow. "I'm not."
"You are staring me as if I am a textbook."
"I'm not because I would be more interested in a textbook." I smiled, standing. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see his shocked expression. He covered it quickly enough, but I still saw it. "Do you drink often?"
"Yes." He nodded once, finishing off his water. "Don't you have a house elf?"
"No, I'm the only one that lives here so I see no need for one. I can take care of myself just fine."
I thought I heard him say something to the effect of 'lowborn mongrel'. "Excuse me, but I am sure that my blood and upbringing is very similar to your own, Mister Malfoy. Now, I took you in, if you are going to be such a pain in the ass perhaps I should forgo my offer of taking you in for the evening and set you out in the street on your ungrateful arse." I kept my back turned to him the entire time. I almost wanted to hit myself for letting my mouth run away from me once more. I was nineteen! Surely to goodness I should have more self control.
He snorted, his lips curling into a sneer. "Who do you think you are?" I could have sworn I saw him reach for his wand.
I pulled mine out discreetly, holding it by my side. "I'm your hostess right now, but hear me now. I do not deal well with threats." I eyed his wand.
"Who does?" His smirk emerged at full force. "Can't take the pressure, Greengrass?"
"Can you, Malfoy?" I mimicked his grin, showing my wand at my side. His eyes widened. We stared at each other for a few long, lingering moments, his gaze burning a trail over my body. I had never felt so laid bare, so violated. It was as if he were seeing through my robes. Malfoy raised an eyebrow when his eyes finally landed on my chest. "You're a dog."
"Woof." He murmured, putting his wand away. "You're not worth my time."
I could see why everyone had a hard time putting up with him. No matter whom he was with or where he was, he still remained an insufferable prat. I ignored his roaming eyes while I placed my glass on a higher shelf. Before I could turn around, I felt arms on either side of me. I froze. Never in my years had anyone been so close to me! I could feel everything; his breath on my ear and the heat of him. His voice was gravelly and rough. "Why offer to take me in, eh, little girl? Do you have some sick motive?" It was then that I felt the wand under my chin. My heart jumped into my throat.
"Are you out of your mind? Let me go." I jerked my hand up to pull the wand away, but it was caught by his other hand.
"I trust no one, Greengrass. No one is kind enough to just let someone stay in their residence with no hidden motive." If I could have seen his eyes, I imagined they would have been crazed.
I was not new to crazed wizards. The key was to remain calm, to put my panic on the shelf. "Malfoy, you honestly think that a little thing like me could fool you? Do you believe Nott would put you in danger?"
"He was a Slytherin just as much as the rest of us. I trust him no more than anyone else."
"Well, I certainly hope that isn't the case, Draco." A voice said from the direction of the doorway. I thanked my lucky stars that Nott had woken up. Otherwise, I was unsure of my course of action. Malfoy did not move, but I could have sworn I heard him curse. "Leave the poor girl alone. She was kind enough to let us crash here. Stop playing with her."
Malfoy chuckled, releasing me. I clung to the counter for support. "I was bored and you left me in such a small flat with nothing to do."
"I figured you could entertain yourself like a normal person." Nott fired back, sitting at the table. His face was so calm and collected compared to my flustered state. He turned to me, his eyes sympathetic. "I apologize."
"Um, it's alright. He was just joking so I see no harm in it."
Malfoy smirked, falling into the chair beside Nott. "How do you know I was joking?"
"Only a fool would attack someone in this day and age. To be completely frank, you would not risk your own hide so blatantly. The wisest choice would be to hire a hit-wizard to handle something so simple. It wouldn't be too costly either considering I am not very high up in the Ministry. Really I am a no name with a good bloodline. The only wrath to be incurred would be that of the Greengrass clan." I folded my arms over my chest. "And let's be completely honest: everyone knows that the Greengrass family is not the most…aristocratic of them all."
Both men stared at me as if I had grown a second head. I grinned, shrugging. "You were thinking it, or would have eventually. I merely stated what would be coming."
Malfoy leaned toward the skinner of the two. "Right, well you know, there is this thing called self control." He motioned between the two of them. "We have it. You, however—"
"Yes, because you were very impressive with your amount of self control last night, Mister Malfoy."
He gave me a look that only a predator would give prey. For a moment, I felt my heart leap in fear, but I mastered it quickly, as I always did. In response, I raised my chin to watch him from down my nose. We kept eye contact for the longest of times, my blue eyes on his gray.
"Astoria, would you please explain why these two are here?"
I snapped out of my juvenile staring contest and glanced to my sister. "I—"
"I hired her for the evening." Malfoy said, smirking. "She was a good la–"
"Person! For allowing us to stay here for the night." I grinned over to Nott as he tried to distract my sister from the blond beside him. "How have you been, Queenie?" Cringing at the nickname, she pointed at Malfoy. He looked bored, permitting his head to roll limply to his shoulder.
"You are not permitted to be here. Get out!"
His eyebrows rose and he glanced my direction. "It may just be me, but I do believe this is your sister's flat, not yours."
Her jaw dropped, her mouth opened and closed like a carp.
"What, nothing to say, Queenie?" A rarity, I assure you.
"How dare you speak to me that way, Malfoy? In case you forget, I was the one that kept Pansy from disemboweling, beheading, and castrating you. I deserve some respect." She raised her chin defiantly, crossing her arms over her chest. I wondered somewhere in the back of my mind if she could get any shriller.
Malfoy laughed coldly, no humor in his voice at all. "Your way of helping was getting her drunk. We all know how well your ingenious plan ended or do I need to remind you?"
I was well aware of just what the consequences befalling all those connected with Parkinson when she was drunk. It took all of my self control to hold in my laughter at Daphne's shocked expression. "Of course, it probably didn't help that Daphne was drunk herself that night." I muttered, acting as if I hadn't said anything.
Daphne's head snapped around to glare at me. I shrugged while Nott snorted in laughter. "Dearest sister, I would that you kick these gentlemen out." Her version sounded a lot like 'smartass bastards' but to each his own.
"They're well enough. They can let themselves out." I said, giving her a withering look. She continued to glare impotently at me. "That brings me to that fiancé of yours. I would like it very much if he departs as soon as possible. He is never pleasant the morning after. The last time he broke my bookcase. Everyone leaving would be for the best. I have to be at work within the hour."
I could see the resentment on my sister's face, but I hardly cared as she departed the room to gather her things rather noisily in the living room. I had done my duty in taking care of them till morning. That was all that was required of me. Besides, I had to report in seeing as though it was already Monday. I hated kicking people out of my flat, but it seemed completely necessary at the time. I turned to look at Nott, silently pleading with him to help me out. I could feel Malfoy's eyes watching me as well, but I ignored him.
He kept his eyes on mind for a long moment. "Alright, well, I do have to go. I am expected at the Ministry Law Office later. I will need to freshen up a bit before then." That was an understatement as he looked a completely wreck. "Draco, don't you have an appointment?"
Malfoy's eyes remained on me. "I do. It's certainly time to get out of the seventh circle of hell." Shaking my head, I led Nott out of the room, not bothering with the blond as he followed.
Nott muttered a quick 'thank you', walking out just ahead of Malfoy. Whereas I had held the door open for the leaner of the two, I let go of the heavy wood fixture, allowing it to slam shut on the smarmy git. I heard a colorful swear, before the door shut completely. There was Nott's amused chuckle before a voice came through the door. "You'll regret that Greengrass."
No. No, I don't think I will.