They never loved each other. Not really.
Who could ever love Draco Malfoy? Bitter, blonde, conceited and terribly rich; a man broken by the war. A man who had lost all the innocence he had once had.
And who could ever love Astoria Greengrass? Cold, cunning, heartless and arrogant, she was a woman feared, but not feared enough to give her any real power.
They met on a winter night, two years after the war, in a party held in the Zabini's mansion. It was one of the few families that had kept their status untouched after the Dark Lord's defeat. Draco had met her there, among the gossiping older women, standing proud yet bored as she maintained a forced conversation with a rather unpleasant man. She had seized the chance to pretend that she knew him, and slung her arm through his, making him walk away as he was shocked in the moment.
His mother, having quickly grown grayer ever since his father had been imprisoned, had spotted them and found them the perfect match. She had forced him to talk to her and get to know her, while all their pureblood ancestors watched them, be they in flesh and blood or watching from rich paintings.
He found her a total bitch.
They got married four months later, he dressed in a dark suit lined with silver, and she in a white dress that her grandmother had worn, the rubies around her throat shining brightly like blood drops and reminding him of things that made him shudder. They spoke their vows to a silent audience, their stares hard and unfeeling. They kissed with cold lips.
The best man gave a speech at dinner, uttering words of praise and good intentions, telling the story of how they had met and become friends instantly. Astoria could only hear the inhales and exhales of breath from everyone around the table, and feel Draco's fingers around hers, loose and emotionless. She stayed silent.
Their wedding night was very peaceful. They slept on opposite sides of the bed, Draco's hands clenched at his sides and her arms around herself, lying with their eyes open into the dead of the night.
He learned to talk to her. To really talk to her, have conversations about things. He learned what subjects to avoid so as to not get her angry, and the kind of presents she liked. He learned what it was like to see her cry.
She learned to talk to him. To really talk to him, and find the things they had in common. She learned his habits, and what to do about them. She learned his likes and dislikes. And she learned what it was like to hold him.
They stood together through the chaos of a life full of prejudices, both on their part and on others', and they lived together in relative peace.
The first time they really kissed was the most wondrous thing they could remember. Draco often wondered afterwards why he had not done it earlier. Overcome by desire, they spent the entire night in that manner, and it was one of the best nights ever.
He awoke the next morning to find her raven locks spread across his chest. He grinned and pushed her off him gently, got dressed, and left for work.
She never questioned his not awakening her. That was just the way it was.
Astoria told him she was pregnant two months after she found out. She claimed she had only done it because she could sense that he would make some scathing comment about her being overweight first, but he knew she was excited.
Frankly, though, Draco felt fear more than anything when she announced the news. And he worried more about the costs of the pregnancy than what to name the child, but when Scorpius Malfoy was born it was one of the most nerve-wrecking and beautiful days of his life.
"Beat her in every class," he murmured to his son as they both stared through the mist at Rose Weasley. Despite his assurances to Astoria that he was well over the rivalry between him and Granger, something inside him awoke at King's Cross; a reminder of all those years he had spent in the castle. Some things never died.
They both hugged Scorpius before he disappeared into one of the carriages of the Hogwarts Express. And as it pulled away from the platform, he could feel Astoria's fingers around his, cold but strangely comforting. He imitated her movement.
Then they let go and disapparated towards different places.
The day his mother died was a silent one. Draco could only remember the silence, afterwards, and he vaguely knew that he had not gone to work that day. Later, Astoria told him that he had stayed in his study, sitting at the desk, for the entire day, his eyes still fastened on the letter that lay in front of him. He had memories of her touching his hair, his arms, his face, in what he supposed was a comforting manner, but he never knew if it was true or if it was a dream.
Secretly, he was afraid it might have been just him.
She never knew she was pregnant a second time until the Healers were telling her she had had a miscarriage. And she never knew whether it was the fact that her baby had died or that she had never known he was there that saddened her most. Astoria had arrived home with tears streaming down her face, locking herself up in the bedroom until the house elf got so frightened that he called Draco.
She had no idea how he managed to enter the room, but the next thing she knew was that she was in his arms, and despite the pain of the moment, she had never felt so safe in her life.
When he saw a flash of red hair outside the window, Draco thought he was in a nightmare, but when he saw Scorpius standing with his hand fastened around that of the girl with the red hair, he was convinced that he had died and gone to hell. It was Astoria that managed to talk throughout the entire conversation, even looking happy when their son announced his engagement.
To none other than Rose Weasley.
Frankly, Draco had his suspicions that Astoria had confounded him, because before he knew it he had given his consent. What Draco never knew was that his wife had actually been more opposed to the marriage than he had, though in the end she had easily relented.
Scorpius and Rose married that spring. Draco didn't know how he lived through it.
Astoria Greengrass barely said a word since the moment she got the news. All she could do was stare at her husband's dead body with a blank look in her eyes. Draco Malfoy lay still, eyes closed, on the bedcovers, as if he were only sleeping.
She had known this was coming for a long time already. Draco had not been well. But it still did not take away the shock and the numbness that had come with his death.
Absentmindedly, she fingered the red hair of her granddaughter as the girl leaned against her legs. The mini-Malfoys (as Weasley liked to call them) had always loved Draco, despite all their pretending they didn't.
The days passed in a blur for her, and she barely kept count of the days, knowing only how many days it had been since she had lost him to disease.
Scorpius came to stand beside her as she stared imperturbably at the tombstone. His face was just as dry and still as hers, and he stared at her in silent understanding.
"We cared about each other. But we never loved each other," said Astoria. "Not really."
"I know," said Scorpius.
A tear rolled off Astoria's cheek and came to land on the tombstone.
Who could ever love Draco Malfoy or Astoria Greengrass?
Nobody. But they still cared for each other.