Disclaimer: All characters belong to J K Rowling, and I make no money by writing this story.

Like the summary says, Draco went back to Hogwarts after Voldemort's defeat and completed his 7th year. Now he has a job selling dress robes in his brand new shop. I hope you all like the story and take the time to review. Enjoy!

One: In Vain

Her littlest pale finger, coloured delicately in pastel pink and varnished in outmost precision, was raised high as she drew the opulent teacup closer to her lips. Her lips were outlined with the same precision, and the smile on these lips hid both pride and secret ambitions. Her robe was of a more subtle shade and covered the long legs crossed under the table. Not a single strand of hair was out of place; Pansy Parkinson looked prim and poised, yet also remarkably rigid.

For about the eleventh Sunday in a row, she was seated in the luscious gardens of the Malfoy Manor. Seated to her right was Mrs. Malfoy, who, with one quick glance at her puritanical posture and the tightness of her bun, could be mistaken for Pansy's mother. Sitting to Pansy's left, however, was Draco Malfoy; the only one of the three who looked severely out of place at this scene. Draco did not wear the ambiguous, polite smile of a poised aristocrat, but instead donned an irritated scowl on his face. The rugged locks of his bangs had not been carefully combed, but were messily strewed across his forehead. His own robes, though intrinsically expensive and grand, had not been ironed and displayed a copious amount of wrinkles. He did not hold his teacup with his little finger raised, but rather grasped the handle tightly with all five fingers and drank it hastily. The two ladies watched him with an eyebrow raised, but nothing was said. Lazily the party sat, as the sky's pinkish hue slowly descended and deepened into a dark blue.

"Draco, it is not decent to slurp," Narcissa Malfoy sharply scolded.

Draco shrugged, yet put his cup down on the table. "Isn't this just lovely?" Pansy broke in. "It's wonderful to spend the evening this way, don't you think, Draco? I'm so pleased that you've invited me again for tea with you and your mother."

"I don't exactly recall sending you any invitation to spend another day here," Draco muttered under his breath. Indeed, this tea party had not been any part of his plans for the day. Actually, he had distinctly promised Gregory Goyle, Ajax Bulstrode, and Adrian Pucey that he would join them at a favourite pub at Knockturn Alley this evening. He had also made plans to join the group for a Quidditch match prior to this, yet Pansy had found it fit to cancel those plans as well. She had evidently decided that Draco should accompany her while she ran a list of tedious errands, did her shopping, and then join her for tea in his own garden. Draco found it difficult to wipe the scowl off his face. The others must have finished their game by now and were likely heading for Willow's Tavern to finish off the night. His discontent, however, went unnoticed by the other two.

"See, isn't this much nicer than that silly Quidditch game you were going to go to?" Pansy squealed, locking her arm into Draco's and giving it a squeeze. "Besides, the weather was so distasteful. Your day would have been a waste, had I not brought you along to Hogsmede to help me pick out new handkerchiefs and doilies."

Draco didn't answer, but grumbled a few inaudible words. The weather had not at all been unpleasant; it had been typical early May weather with brilliant sunshine for the greater half of the day with a minimal amount of rain at sunset. Perfect Quidditch weather, in fact, Draco thought bitterly.

"Pansy dear, you do have the most exquisite taste," Narcissa remarked approvingly. "I hope you teach Draco a thing or two."

Pansy giggled and squeezed Draco again, trying to place her head on his shoulders. Draco pushed away in disinterest, which Pansy did not notice.

"Speaking of taste," Pansy spoke in a sing-song tone. "You must see the new set of earrings Elinore received for Easter. She's so lucky! If only I had a husband like her." She eyed Draco with a mischievous smile as she finished.

Draco ignored her. Pansy had taken to praising her sister's new husband at every opportunity she got. It was obvious that she was expecting a proposal, and found it necessary to remind Draco as much as possible. After all, why wouldn't she want Draco to marry her? She was treated as a daughter by the Malfoys, she was Pureblood, and Draco bought her everything she asked for. Lately though, Pansy had begun to severely irritate Draco with her numerous demands and high expectations, and he could not see himself proposing to her anytime soon.

Pansy moved her chair closer to Draco's and reached for his hair. "Drakie dear, why don't you keep your hair combed back?" she pouted, combing his bangs with her finger. "You look much neater and more handsome."

Draco gritted his teeth. Was Pansy deliberately trying to make Draco punch her? How many times had he explained to her that he did not like her giving him stupid nicknames? He decided that he had finally had enough rubbish for one night. "My name is Draco," he snapped. "I have to open the shop tomorrow morning, so I'll have to get up early. I'll see you ladies later."

With that, he stormed off. "Bye Drakie-poo," he heard Pansy purr after him. Resisting the urge to turn back and give her a hard blow to the mouth, Draco wandered off in the cool, moonlit night.

The sky was now a deep blue with bright, twinkling stars. The evening rain had made the ground damp, and the heavy scent of luscious flowers and grass of the Manor garden floated to Draco's nose. Draco savoured the succulent fragrance, breathing in the beauty of the damp, cool night. All around him the earth shone in the moonlight, looking fresh and clean. What a beautiful, spectacular show of nature.

Moreover, what a terrible waste of a night.