Disclaimer: All epic fails are mine. Everything else belongs to a certain genius who declined to tell us even Asteria Greengrass's name in the epilogue, let alone mention how, when, where, and why she met Draco Malfoy, or what happened in all those missing years that led them to where they stood together with their son at Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters.
On the Hogwarts Express with Dementors
September 1, 1993.
The first-year girl dragged her ridiculously heavy trunk and owl cage behind her at an excruciatingly slow pace. She paused momentarily in the gently swaying corridor of the Hogwarts Express, taking time to smooth out her pale blonde hair and catch her breath. "Where is she?" she complained unhappily, searching the various people in the compartment windows for her sister.
Asteria could see a group of Ravenclaw fifth-years gathered in one, exclaiming over a particularly difficult game of Exploding Snap. To her left, several Slytherin seventh-years were sprawled all over each other, filling up practically the entire compartment. The girl looked away, turning up her chin haughtily as she tried to ignore their jeering.
She finally managed to tug her things down to the next segment of compartments, exasperated at her older sister. Daphne had convinced an excited Asteria that she would take all her stuff down to where Mum was waiting by the train, but had accidentally forgotten her sister's new Great Gray owl, Morpheus. Then, as Asteria waited in anxiety while her parents searched all over the platform for Morpheus, Daphne had rushed onto the train to join friends, calling that she would find her sister when she came on.
"Liar," she said sullenly, unable to spot Daphne's tell-tale bright hair anywhere so far. "I bet you forgot Morpheus on purpose just so you could ditch me." Asteria gazed around a little helplessly, deciding to give up on finding Daphne and her friends. She started pulling her cargo again, this time only looking for a compartment that wasn't completely occupied.
There was one partially filled by a gang of madly giggling fourth-year girls, a half-empty one where several students screamed at each other at the top of their lungs, and another where a couple was pressed against the window, struggling to lick up the other's face.
Asteria was chilled by the thought of intruding on them, but her hands had begun to develop nasty red spots from clutching such heavy metal handles and her entire back was aching horribly. Hoping that they wouldn't noticed her quiet entrance, she slid open the compartment door as silently as it could (it squeaked, to her dismay) and slipped in as gracefully as she could, though she almost tripped over her over-heavy trunk. Morpheus gave a hoot of protest.
"Go on," she said courteously, when they stopped to stare at her accusingly. "I just came in because I couldn't find anywhere else, er, suitable enough." She tried to hide her awkwardness by smiling brightly and gazing at the monotonous landscape flying by outside.
The sixth-year boy glared at her nevertheless, with his girlfriend giving a sigh of irritation. "Do you mind?" he asked crossly. "That was rather rude, you know, just barging in on people like that. Just who do you think you are anyway?"
Asteria, flustered, tried to raise her chin up proudly. "I'm Asteria Greengrass," she informed him coldly, watching the couple for signs of recognition. When they did not react to her surname, she realized with a slight shock that they must be Muggle-borns; the Greengrass family was widely known to be one of the oldest and richest pure-blood lines in Britain…Obviously.
The boy gave a strangled yelp of helplessness and he rolled his eyes. "Don't tell me you're another one of those pure-blood bigots," he said disgustedly. "Always thinking that the sound of your name'll send people scurrying, aren't you? And that was a rhetorical question, by the way, since you obviously couldn't recognize it..."
Asteria flushed a little. "Well, apparently you didn't recognize my rhetorical answer to your rhetorical question, then," she responded in as a cool of a voice as she could manage. "But I guess if you don't understand the significance of my name, you should still remember that this compartment doesn't belong to you. This is a public train."
And you think I want to watch you two snog? she thought helplessly. I did try to be nice, didn't I?
"Damon, come on, let's just get out of here," snapped the sixth-year girl angrily. "We can find another compartment." Both shooting Asteria annoyed looks, they crossed out of the room and into the corridor.
As they left, she heard an unfamiliar drawling voice approaching outside. "Are you sure she didn't just fall off the train?" There was the sound of many footsteps drawing close, and suddenly, the compartment door slid open again.
Asteria jumped, feeling a little embarrassed when a large gang of third-year Slytherins strolled in, her sister Daphne among them. "Oh, hi, Daphne," she said, feeling heat rushing up to her face. "I couldn't find you. Mum told me that you'd find me, but when I looked through all the compartments, you weren't there in any of them."
The third-years all took a seat, and very soon the compartment was cozily filled. There was a pug-faced girl (who looked, from her dress, to come from a family at least as wealthy as Asteria's) sitting next to her sister, looking as if she was some beauty queen. Around her sat four other girls, including Asteria's tall, blonde-haired sister, a slim, distasteful-looking girl with shiny dark hair, someone else who was strong and forcefully built, and a simpering, rather plain-looking companion who was, Asteria noted anxiously, resting her feet on Morpheus's cage.
"So this is your sister, Greengrass?" questioned one of the boys who had just entered. Asteria recognized his voice as the one who spoke earlier about her falling off the train and nodded warily while Daphne replied in a cheerful voice, "Can't you see the resemblance, Malfoy?"
Malfoy shifted in his seat and spread himself out lazily over several seats, while the pug-faced girl gasped with delight at his forearm brushing hers in the process. Asteria tried to pretend she didn't see this, and instead focused on him and his company. Daphne had often written home about the people in her year, and it was no surprise that she had mentioned Draco Malfoy at least several times. His family, after all, was well-respected and probably bathed in Galleons each day, also being one of the most influential pure-blood families, one that could be traced back for ages.
Draco Malfoy had a thoughtful expression on his pale, pointed face, his cool gray eyes looking Asteria over in a manner that made her feel as if she was being appraised. His sleek white blonde hair was well groomed, and his robes looked more finely made than the boys' around him. Asteria had the impression that he was not really interested in her as a person, but merely curious to see his classmate's younger sister. "Asteria, is it?" he offered smoothly. "Nice to meet you. My father says that your family is a good friend of ours. But then again, all pure-blood families are associated with each other, aren't they?"
Another rhetorical question, Asteria realized shrewdly. Fishing for agreements…and she doubted that returning a "rhetorical answer" to Draco Malfoy would benefit her very well. Especially not if she was going to Sorted into Slytherin with him and his Housemates. Which she probably would be. "Pity there couldn't be more of them instead of all those Muggle-borns," she replied in what she hoped was a light voice, smiling anxiously.
There was a faint chorus of sniggers around the compartment, and Asteria took it, from Daphne's wink, that it was a good thing. She breathed out in relief, and saw her sister's pug-faced friend smirk in approval. The same girl also seemed to be leading the others.
"Well, I'll be off," announced Malfoy suddenly, standing up in a dramatic fashion. "Crabbe, Goyle?" He turned to two large, hulking boys besides him who were grinning a little stupidly. "Care to take a stroll outside?"
Crabbe and Goyle stood up as well, grunting, and clambered rather slowly after an impatiently waiting Malfoy. They pushed open the compartment door and disappeared outside.
"He's off to terrorize Potter again, then?" asked the dark-haired girl, peering towards the entrance curiously.
"Of course," said the pug-faced girl smugly, crossing her arms. "Draco told me he would. I wonder if he'll be okay," she added anxiously.
"He's got Crabbe and Goyle, hasn't he?" suggested Daphne, who motioned for Asteria to sit closer to her in Crabbe's recently vacated seat. "And knowing Potter, I doubt he'll try anything with Draco. You have to calm down, Pansy."
"Wait…" Asteria sat up straighter, feeling a disbelieving tingle of surprise. "Potter? You're talking about Harry Potter?" she asked, trying to conceal her excitement. She had grown up hearing his name nearly all her life and seen his name in textbooks about the Dark Arts, for Merlin's sake.
"Obviously." The girl who was Pansy was beginning to eye Asteria with disdain. "But I'd stay away from him. Haven't your parents told you how much of a prat he is? Or your sister?" She shot an interrogative and slightly accusing look at Daphne, who raised an eyebrow.
"He's not all that great, Asteria," she explained quickly, rolling her eyes and leaning forward. "We all know he's famous and all that, but do you know who he hangs out with? Mudbloods," she said firmly, causing Asteria to flick her eyes around the compartment warily. "No, they're not listening. Don't worry. And Ronald Weasley. You know Weasley?"
Of course she knew about the Weasleys. They were a common joke in the higher offices at the Ministry, from what Asteria had heard her father say at home. Arthur Weasley was somewhat of a Muggle-lover, and that hadn't helped his career very much. Or his salary. The Weasleys were pure-blood, of course, but from the way they lived –with seven children and a handful of Knuts in a rickety old house- they didn't get taken very seriously. Asteria was not surprised. She nodded, eyes gleaming.
"Oh, and he's in Gryffindor," delivered the plain-looking girl in the corner. Strangely enough, she glanced quickly at Pansy as she said this, as if seeking permission.
"I see," said Asteria slowly, who felt rather amused and disappointed at the same time. Gryffindor and Hufflepuff were her last choices. Obviously she wanted Slytherin. "So he's trying to show everyone how noble and good he is?" As soon as she said this, Asteria began to regret this. Realizing guiltily that since one couldn't choose his own House –as far as she knew- Asteria wondered if Potter had been thrown into Gryffindor against his wishes. Perhaps something like that could happen to her as well…
The girls all laughed at her comment, however, and in Pansy's case –Asteria winced- shrieked loudly. It was common knowledge that Slytherin House had a shadowy reputation for turning out shady figures and Dark wizards, but that hadn't stopped Asteria from placing it as her first choice for a House. It was where their entire family had been in, almost a proud tradition, and it certainly helped that Daphne was there as well.
The values prized by Slytherin appealed to Asteria as well –cool-headedness (she knew she had that), a thirst for success (she cringed just to remember the toothless old woman who had proudly proclaimed that her life ambition had been to produce as many children as possible…what was she? A Weasley?), cleverness (this worried her a little, but Mum had assured her that she would do fine), determination (Asteria was determined to make Slytherin, that was for sure), and perhaps even caution and subtlety. She fidgeted, wondering darkly what would happen if she ended up in some other House.
"All Gryffindors are like that," simpered Pansy now, as if addressing a two-year-old. "You won't be in that House, will you?"
Feeling that she would be shunned by all Slytherin society if she did not agree to Pansy's ridiculous question, Asteria inclined her head politely. "I hope I can be a Slytherin like you," she said half-heartedly, attempting flattery. She had the feeling that Pansy was a flattery-loving kind of person.
"Oh," she replied, drawing back a little surprised, but clearly pleased. "Thank you. That's nice." Then abruptly she paused, watching the thickset, stony-faced girl sitting next to Daphne. "Millicent, you wouldn't have a copy of Witch Weekly with you, would you?"
Millicent gave a noncommittal jerk of her head and produced a glossy, thin magazine that Asteria recognized as this week's issue; Daphne's room at home was littered with various witch's beauty and gossip magazines. She herself read them as well, but didn't like to make that public. It was a slightly embarrassing thing to be seen reading something as girly as Witch Weekly in front of even her parents, who considered Asteria to be more of an "observant and mature young lady".
The rest of the train ride passed more enjoyably for everyone, while Pansy and Daphne (mainly Pansy though) led a discussion on the beauty tricks the Weird Sisters (a band that the girls greatly appreciated) must have used on their last tour, which morphed into a giggling fit about the acne of a certain Eloise Midgen (Asteria gave a strained half-laugh and brushed her clear skin self-consciously), and then (to Asteria's great curiosity), as if it was inevitable, Draco Malfoy.
"And when is he coming back anyway? I thought he would," pressed the dark-haired girl eagerly, who had been introduced as Lilith Moon.
Pansy had begun to beam almost uncontrollably. "Oh, Draco?" she squealed excitedly, blushing a little. "I hope he does. He should," she added in a higher voice. "He told me that he, Crabbe, and Goyle would try to find Blaise and Theodore and come back with us to the castle."
"Blaise and Theo are coming?" questioned Daphne, looking slightly haughty that she had not been informed.
"Yes!" confirmed Pansy, very close to breaking in giggles. "Although Theo might not want to come. He always sulks up there alone, you know him. But I hope Draco can…"
And they rambled on about Draco. Within five minutes, Asteria's head was overflowing with the most flattering adjectives on earth, none of which she dared to take seriously in case she ended up forming a completely inaccurate impression of someone she had barely even met.
Later though, Asteria had different problems. "Is anyone hungry?" she asked as business-like as she could without sounding arrogant. As Mum had dryly pointed out, it was embarrassing enough to have to admit to hunger without further incriminating yourself with an overly devastated tone.
Five pairs of genuinely surprised eyes turned on her, with Daphne's being bright and wryly amused as well. "The witch pushing the food cart could be here any moment," she comforted her sister. "She always does when we're almost halfway there."
"But we can find her and buy stuff as she goes, can't we?" Asteria asked more desperately, trying to slide off the raised eyebrows of Pansy's gang of girls. When Daphne merely nodded an exasperated 'yes', Asteria immediately scooped some round, shiny Galleons from her trunk into her pockets and left the compartment, breathing more freely when her back was pressed against the closed door, and she could finally search the train on her own.
When she had scoured the corridors for Daphne earlier, it had been with an exceptionally heavy trunk and a piteously shrieking owl. Now, however, with her hands empty and a seat to return to, Asteria relished her freedom, seeing the trip to the snack cart almost as an adventure…or at a potentially exciting exploration of the Hogwarts Express, at least. Asteria couldn't resist the evil grin that she knew was spreading over her face, and saw a cluster of Prefects patrolling the corridors whisper behind their hands wryly at her approach; she knew she must look like an overenthusiastic first-year, but this was all very well.
Asteria sauntered through the train, occasionally beaming into compartments at random people. Thankfully, she did not encounter the vigorously kissing couple she had clashed with earlier. There were more people, she noticed with interest, towards the other end of the train. Swarms of students roamed the corridors here, but most returned to their compartments almost immediately and did not linger. These people were mainly from Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, from the looks of them. Despite what her sister had said before, Asteria briefly hoped to catch a glimpse of Harry Potter.
Though she did not see him, she did get a peek at some Weasleys. They looked quite obnoxious, she noted disdainfully. Two fourth-years with flaming red hair were seemingly taking turns tormenting a gradually reddening classmate, who was lunging for something. Asteria continued further down, and barely believing her luck, saw a friendly-looking, plump witch who was carefully wheeling a loaded cart of mouthwatering food between the compartments.
"Hello?" she said eagerly, lingering behind the cart. "Can I get something?"
"Of course, dear," replied the witch, looking shocked, as if this was the most obvious thing in the world. "Take what you'd like."
Asteria handed over four Galleons, and walked away happily with a Pumpkin Pastry, some Knuts for change, and a large stock of Chocolate Frogs, which she carried in a small bag the witch had kindly provided. She walked on unhurriedly through the train, enjoying the cold, bittersweet chocolate until she was accosted by the sight of several excited-looking first-years coming from the opposite direction.
She choked in her Chocolate Frog's head in her haste to swallow it, and managed to smile weakly at them. Asteria tried not to cough and stood aside to allow them to pass.
Instead of passing, they remained where they were and annoyingly enough, beamed at her brightly, while Asteria coughed and grimaced. "Oh, hello!" said a boy with mousy brown hair nervously, stepping forward.
Asteria forced the remaining Frog down her throat and pushed her shoulders back in an attempt to regain some elegance in her posture. "Hi," she said, gasping for air.
"Er, that boy that just passed along here, was he related to you?" asked the boy curiously.
"Who…?" It took Asteria a quick second to realize he had to be referring to Draco Malfoy. "Was he with two other big, bulky guys?"
There were a few chuckles from the first-years and a girl with loose pigtails giggled. "So he was?" she pressed. "Because the way you were walking, you looked just like he did." She paused for half a moment. "Plus, you don't find that many people with a complexion that pale."
Asteria flushed slightly and unconsciously cast her eyes around the corridors, but no one was listening to them. "No, he's not," she said coolly, folding her arms haughtily. "That was Draco Malfoy, and I'm Asteria Greengrass. And I don't see what you mean by saying we…we walk alike." She wondered with a growing horror if she really swaggered so arrogantly.
"Ah, I see," said the boy who had first spoken almost apologetically. "I'm sorry. I just thought I recognized you. Well, since you introduced yourself, my name's Taylor Evans, and you probably wouldn't know me since my parents are both Muggles… yeah, and we were all really happy when I learned I could go to Hogwarts. I don't know a lot of wizarding folk, so right now I'm trying to go and meet as many people in my year as possible." He smiled hopefully. "Pleasant to meet you, Asteria."
Muggle-born? Asteria widened her eyes slightly but otherwise did not comment on his parentage. "Oh, you too," she returned graciously. He won't be in Slytherin, she thought with a faint roll of her eyes. The thought, for some unthinkable reason, suddenly struck her as immensely sad. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the train had lurched to a halt as well…
Asteria felt like choking with misery…but not because of this. She drew in a shuddering breath that was tainted with something vaguely gray in the air; it seemed that the air had dropped by several tens of degrees over a matter of seconds.
In fact, everything seemed colder now. She clutched her own wrist, and found that it was chillingly cold. She tried to smile, to pass it all off and avoid the terrible embarrassment that would follow if she kept up this behavior, but found that her heart wasn't in it.
Not only that, but her lips seemed to have frosted. They were stuck in their position, and Asteria seemed to have become just as rooted to the spot. She thought it would make a ridiculous spectacle, but no one laughed. In fact, what her new companions were doing could only be understated as weeping.
Taylor Evans, the first boy who had spoken, had begun to shake uncontrollably, a frightened expression that wasn't in his eyes before suddenly present.
The girl with pigtails had become rigid, and she too, started to tremble violently. Their friends, including a round-faced boy with freckles and another with stringy black hair, had also been overcome with the same symptoms. The one with a frightened round face that had been previously rosy was now horribly ashen and blanched.
"In here, quick," the pigtailed girl was now croaking, feebly pulling at a latch on the nearest train compartment. "Before-before the d-dementors…" Her shaking fingers succeeded in freeing the handle, and almost instinctively, the entire group huddled inside, the door falling closed after them with a click.
Asteria saw a cluster of second-year friends seated towards the windows, some burying their faces in their arms and moaning horribly. She shivered, feeling very alone and abandoned despite the compacted company sitting in the room.
A definite unmistakable gloom was oozing itself into the atmosphere slowly, quite giving them the feeling of being suffocated while the cold chills racketed on. In a compartment several segments down, someone screamed twice. Several in their own began to follow suit, and the girl had a wild impulse to join them.
The entire train had turned yet colder. She could swear that there was ice clinging to the glass of the windows as moss might cling to a tree. The ground she sat on now seemed to turn to a frozen surface. The air became even harder to breathe, and the chill lacerated your throat when you would care to inhale.
Even her tongue was dried. Asteria swallowed, cradling her knees to her chest, licking up the chocolate that had become plastering and thirst-spearing in her mouth.
It was terribly dry, but most shockingly enough- the barest tingle of warmth spread through her throat, and within seconds, her breathing had become much more relaxed as well. She felt, for what seemed like the first time in years, a glimmer of hope. Was it the chocolate?
Feverishly, Asteria groped for the bag of Chocolate Frogs at her feet, and nearly laughed in shaky relief when she located them. She raised one to her lips, quickly devouring it down. Feeling much better, she started on a second one before being overcome by a wash of …guilt.
Guilt won't help you, Asteria thought as firmly as she could while her teeth chattered viciously. All the same, she tentatively held out a wrapped Frog to the person next to her. To her dismay, the boy she offered the sweet to didn't even see her, and continued to stare at the windows in torment, quavering and gasping. Every other inhabitant sat at the other end near the windows, which had become colored a cold, morbid gray.
Why had the train stopped? Asteria vaguely remembered the other girl speaking about dementors. Dementors…that sounded familiar. Then, it fit. Asteria recalled asking her father about Azkaban. He had looked miffed at being interrupted while working on a Ministry report, but had kindly explained to his daughter, all the same, about the dementors: lifeless, hooded creatures that preyed on happiness and hope feeding the despair, misery, and hollowness in an area.
Asteria was able to laugh splutteringly when she remembered how Mr. Greengrass had tried to demonstrate some highly advanced charm that would ward them off, and had only produced a wisp of unimpressive, silvery material shaped like a four-legged creature.
Suddenly in the present world, something wolf-shaped, silver, and luminous charged down the main corridor outside, trailing shimmers of blinding white as it did. The shot of the light forced itself through the length of the Hogwarts Express –they could feel it- before floating off somewhere further down, undoubtedly melting into the newly lifted afternoon sky outside.
The entire train seemed to sit still for a heartbeat after that. No one seemed to be able to bring themselves to breathe until it gave a grating shudder and began to rumble in the familiar way it had done before.
Then the sunshine seemed to return through the windows, the students in the compartment began to sit up cautiously, and best of all, the Hogwarts Express belched smoke and began to clunk rapidly once more, resuming its progress towards the school.
A/N: Yeah, indeed, this is supposed to be her first encounter with Malfoy as I imagine it...neither all that interested in the other, and an intro of what I think Daphne and co. must have been like, her thoughts on dementors, etc. And I'd also imagine you'd want to leave a review, eh?