Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

How Draco Met Astoria
By Silver Sailor Ganymede

In all honesty Draco wasn't at all surprised when he received the invitation to the engagement ball at the Zabinis' manor that Friday afternoon. Blaise Zabini and Daphne Greengrass had been BlaiseandDaphne (completely inseparable and completely insufferable) since fourth year after all, so it was high time that they actually got married.

Draco had always been certain that Blaise and Daphne would be the first Slytherins of their year to get married. After all, he'd probably kill Pansy sooner than actually marry her; she was the perfect type to have as a mistress, but she certainly did not have the qualities one wanted in a wife. And besides that, well, he simply had more important things on his mind at the moment than marriage; they were still only nineteen after all.

He cast his thoughts to the other Slytherins who had been in his year at school, and wondered to whom and how soon they'd end up getting married. He was quite convinced that Greg would marry Millicent Bullstrode eventually; just because all matchmaking attempts concerning those two had failed so far, it didn't mean that nothing would come of it.

Theodore, frankly, was probably never going to get married. He had always had far more time for books than people, and had told Draco a thousand times or more that having to keep a woman and children would only interfere with the things he wanted to achieve. Theodore Nott was, it seemed, the type of Slytherin to whom only the fulfilment of his ambitions mattered, nothing else.

If rumour was true, Lilith Moon was soon to be married off to Tarquin de Winter. Draco knew the other man from various social engagements, but due to the fact that de Winter had already begun a successful career at the ministry by the time Draco started Hogwarts, he certainly didn't know the other man well. Draco was only glad that he wasn't the one to whom Moon had been given; she looked rather too much like a Weasley for his liking.

Then there was the final Slytherin of their year, Tracy Davis, whom everyone knew was only a half-blood and who no one in the respectable pureblood circles would consider marrying. She had been seeing that Ravenclaw (what was his name? Goldsmith? Goldston? Goldstein? Draco honestly couldn't remember) since fifth year, but Draco didn't expect that many of her fellow Slytherins would be on the guest list when she did finally decide to announce her engagement. Anyway, for all that she was a half-blood, Draco had to admit that Tracy was ambitious; he wouldn't be at all surprised if she dropped the Ravenclaw as soon as she found someone with rather more power in his grasp.

Draco tried not to laugh as he thought about all of this. Not even two years had gone by since they had finished Hogwarts, yet here they were, all completely different to the naïve (well, as naïve as Slytherins ever could be, he supposed) children they had been. He didn't doubt that all his year-mates would be there this evening, and in all honesty he was rather looking forward to seeing how people had changed, and seeing how many new contacts he could make this evening in order to further his own plans to eventually become minister of magic.

Draco didn't know how he could have forgotten how dull formal pureblood balls were. While he adored the process of putting on his best dress robes and making himself look as dashing as possible (they all had to remember that he was probably the most eligible bachelor there, after all, even if he didn't intend on getting married anytime soon), he despised the actual balls themselves. They were so repetitive, so full of 'How's your youngest daughter finding Hogwarts, Mrs. Macmillan?' and 'I had the pleasure of reading your latest article in the Practical Potioneer, Mr. Belby' and all the usual dull small talk. His mother had tried to install a love of balls in Draco from a young age, but of course it hadn't worked; he loathed them as much now as he had when he was nine years old and had first been forced to go to one.

That being the case, Draco had stationed himself near the refreshments. He decided that eating pastries with the appetite of a blasé krup and pretending to enjoy the hideous wine Zabini had thought fit to serve to his guests would be the only way for him to survive such a situation. The only problem was that it invited vast amounts of the dreaded small talk.

Draco had just managed to get rid of Mrs. Parkinson (who for some reason still seemed intent on marrying him off to her daughter, even though he had made his intentions not to marry Pansy very clear from the age of seventeen onwards) when another person began talking to him.

"Oh I do hate balls, don't you? They're ever so repetitive."

Draco was startled at first; after all, it wasn't like Daphne Greengrass to ever complain about a ball. But then he realised that the girl who had spoken had much darker blonde hair than Daphne and was probably a good three inches shorter than her. Then there was the fact that Daphne's eyes were a dark green, almost black, whereas this girl's were bright green, even lighter than Potter's.

"You don't remember me, do you?" the girl said, twirling a glass of white wine between her fingers and smiling sadly.

"I'm afraid not," Draco replied. He felt rather embarrassed by this admission, for it felt that he really ought to have known this girl, but maybe that was only because she really did bare a striking resemblance to Daphne.

"Astoria Greengrass," she said, swapping her wine to her left hand and offering her right hand to Draco. "I just finished my final year at Hogwarts. I was a Slytherin, too. But it's probably not surprising that you don't remember me even though I know you; Daphne always had Blaise come to visit us during the summer, and Blaise would never shut up about you."

Draco felt a smug smile of satisfaction creep onto his face. Of course Blaise would have ranted about him; he was, after all, the Prince of Slytherins. And yet for some reason he was feeling rather, well, he would have said ashamed if Malfoys were actually capable of being ashamed, that he hadn't known who Astoria Greengrass was when he saw her. With every word she spoke he had the distinct impression that he had known her for a very, very long time.

He told himself he was being ridiculous; there was very little interaction between the different years in Slytherin, so almost no one knew anyone in other years unless they had siblings. Then again, he told himself, he had met Daphne's older sister, Leuce, and her brothers, Cratos and Bia, so why had he never come across Astoria before? It was probably because all the others had been introduced to him as soon as he started Hogwarts, whereas Astoria was younger.

"Are you alright?" Astoria asked, glancing up at him with a worried expression on her face.

"Yes, Miss. Greengrass, I'm perfectly well," Draco replied. "Would you care to dance?"

She took his hand and immediately he felt strangely at peace. Why was he reacting in such a strange way to someone he had really only just met? But then Astoria smiled warmly at him and Draco felt something inside of him melt away.

As he led Astoria onto the dance-floor, Draco had only one thing on his mind. He was going to make sure that Miss. Astoria Greengrass was Mrs. Astoria Malfoy before the year was ended.