Disclaimer: I own Nathan and Aviva, but no one else.
How to make 'I don't want to marry your daughter' sound nice was hard for any normal guy, but for Draco Malfoy? It was torture.
Daphne was sitting across from him with her bouncy, gelled-up curls and grin of delight and glittery green robes, and on either side of her were her parents, Nathan and Aviva, part of his own parents' exclusive social group. Nathan was tall, broad-shouldered, with silvering hair and intense eyes that stared Draco down through fancy, gilded reading glasses and made him feel about as small as a mouse, and as courageous besides.
"So, Draco," said Aviva brightly, reaching across the olivewood table to take his hand, a bright smile painted on her perfectly-glossed lips. She reminded him of his mother, only less regal. "Would you like to jump straight to the engagement, or would you like to get to know Daphne a little more? Although, you already know her very well from Hogwarts, of course."
Not for the first time, Draco wished that he hadn't broken up with Pansy. Her parents were far easier to deal with, and much less intimidating, too.
"Um, ma'm," he began carefully, "I don't really think—"
"Of course, I would be perfectly willing to employ you before the wedding, Draco," said Nathan, an odd little half-smile on his face. "But I would much prefer introducing you as my daughter's husband."
"Er," Draco said, for lack of anything better to say. Nathan Greengrass ran a very successful company that made and sold school supplies to the shopkeepers at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, as well as all over the rest of Europe. Since the Ministry was very unlikely to hire him, former Death Eater ties and all, Nathan was quite possibly the best shot he had at making a good, honest living.
"I was thinking we could honeymoon in Italy," said Daphne thoughtfully, twirling one dark gold curl around her finger. "I've always wanted to visit; it seems so romantic!" she gushed.
Draco coughed. He rather liked Greece better—no Juliet's Wall around for girls like Daphne to swoon and giggle over. "Well, um," he began helplessly, sending a prayer up to deities he didn't believe in for help.
"Also," Aviva started, but stopped short when someone entered the little office from the door behind Draco. "Astoria," she said in surprise at the presence of her younger daughter. "What are you doing here?"
Draco twisted in his seat and found himself staring at a slender girl, a fair few years younger than him, who looked like the perfect mixture of both her parents in terms of looks. She sent him a look that wasn't friendly, but not hostile either, which he was glad for.
"I thought you all would like some drinks," she said quietly, and Draco noticed the tray of glasses filled with blood-red wine in her hands. There were four glasses—apparently, one of them didn't drink.
Astoria set the tray down on the table and carefully handed one to Draco, one each to her parents, and one to Daphne. Draco smiled in thanks at her and took a sip, savoring the flavor before he had to return to this entirely unpleasant conversation.
"Why don't you take a seat?" he asked impulsively. "One more opinion is always better." Especially if it's an opinion that doesn't want me married to Daphne, he added silently, hoping against hope that she could help him, somehow.
"All right," Astoria met his eyes with her apple-green ones, inherited from her father, Draco noticed, only hers were lighter and less harsh. "What were we talking about?"
"My wedding," Daphne answered, smiling bright enough to blind him. "To Draco," she added, as if it weren't obvious. "His father's agreed."
Draco cursed mentally. Of course, his father had agreed to this marriage without consulting him. It was the perfect way to salvage their family's good name—not that there was much left to salvage, anyway.
"Oh?" Astoria glanced around the table. "Has Draco agreed?"
Silence. Draco tried not to smirk. This girl was a life saver!
"Has he?" Nathan asked, lowering his glasses and peering darkly at Draco. "Draco?"
"Um." Draco steeled himself. "No, sir, I haven't."
Nathan adjusted his glasses again. "No?" he asked slowly, his voice echoing in the eerily silent and too-small room. "You don't wish to marry my daughter?"
"I…well, not exactly," Draco floundered, glancing at Astoria and then doing a double-take. Come to think of it, she was very pretty, and not too giggly or talkative, like her elder sister. Perhaps he could salvage his family name, after all.
"Not Daphne, anyway," he said, pleased when the elder Greengrasses looked bemused. Daphne looked furious, but her, he could handle. It was her father he couldn't.
"What do you mean, not Daphne?" Aviva inquired, half-curious, half-annoyed that he was refusing her beloved daughter (from the looks she was giving Astoria, Draco garnered those two weren't too close).
"Well, I wouldn't mind marrying…Astoria," he said, and chanced another glance at Astoria. She was staring at the table, so he couldn't read her expression, but surely she was glad, right? He wasn't that bad a bloke to marry, and she would be winning him over Daphne.
"I see," said Nathan, looking over at Astoria. "Astoria? Sweetheart, what do you think?"
Astoria looked up at her father. "No."
Draco's heart sank like lead into his stomach. She was his only escape path! If she wouldn't marry him, he'd be forced to marry Daphne!
"I don't believe Astoria is an option, Draco," Nathan told him in a voice that wasn't cold, but certainly wasn't very warm either. "Will you consent to marry Daphne?"
Draco sent Astoria a helpless look. "Um…" No, he most certainly would not consent to marry their precious heiress, but that probably wasn't wise to say in front of her parents.
"You don't want to marry me," said Daphne, frowning. "Do you?"
"I—I'm sorry," said Draco, not completely sincerely. "It's just, well…I'm not in love with you."
"Yet, you wish to marry Astoria, despite having only just met her today," Nathan mused, raising an eyebrow at him. "Interesting."
Draco flushed. "Well, uh…"
Astoria cleared her throat. "Father," she said formally, gaining everyone's attention. "I've told you before that I will marry only for love."
Nathan nodded, ignoring his wife's scoff. "Yes, dear, you have. Why?"
She caught Draco's gaze and held it for a moment. "I will not marry someone I hardly know. But if he were willing to go to the effort of courting me, I would consider it."
Draco stared, dumbfounded. "Court?" he repeated, as though it were a foreign word. Merlin, why had he broken up with Pansy? She was nowhere near as difficult as these two sisters! "I don't court."
Astoria blinked at him. "That's too bad," she said in a tone that made him wonder if she was friends with Luna Lovegood. "Well, then, I suppose I have no reason to stay. Have a good day." She rose to her feet, gathered the tray, and began to leave.
"Wait!" It took him half a moment to realize the word had come out of his mouth. "I—I'll court you."
Astoria stopped, half-way to the door. "Honestly?"
"Honestly," he promised; anything to get out of marrying Daphne.
"Are you serious?" Daphne demanded, narrowing her eyes at him. "You're willing to court her, but you don't want to marry me?"
Draco offered her what he hoped was a winning smile. "Daph, look, you're one of my friends, you know that, right? I just…don't want to marry you."
Daphne's eyes softened, just a little. "Will you do me a favor, then?"
"Sure," Draco said hesitantly, hoping it wasn't anything too dramatic. Daphne had a flair for theatrics, after all.
Daphne grinned. "Invite Blaise to the wedding. I haven't seen him in a long time."
Draco opened his mouth to answer, but Astoria coughed, interrupting his train of thought. "What wedding?" she asked innocently. "I haven't agreed to anything yet."
Nathan was chuckling, Draco realized, but he was staring at Astoria. A girl this hard to get might just be worth the effort.
Author's Notes: And then she married him and they named their son Scorpius like good little Slytherins and they lived happily ever after… All right, this is useless fluff, designed solely for my own twisted amusement and to make Draco squirm while I work on the next chapter of Chronicles of Craziness. If you, for some strange reason, liked it anyway, please review and tell me so! Thanks!