a/n: Because I asked for pairing suggestions for a beach fic and Tat asked for a Draco/Astoria at night. I hope you like this, love!
Disclaimer: HP isn't mine. Lyrics are from "We Belong" and "When Angels Come," both by Tom Felton
no one else was in that moment
because that moment was ours
The sky was an inky color, like someone had spilled their violet inkwell across the air. Astoria stood beside the bonfire, her arm linked with her sister's, watching her classmates writhe against each other through the spiraling green flames. She wondered whether onlookers – people who knew them, not those who didn't - would think they were holding a snakey sacrifice, performing a ritual Slytherin dance on the darkest night of the month.
"They probably would," she muttered, watching as Vaisey threw his arms into the air and waved them around, seizure-like.
"Probably would what?" Daphne released Astoria's arm and reached over to brush some of her sister's blonde hair from her eyes.
She glanced up, surprised, "Nothing. Sorry, I was just talking to myself."
Then Theo was there, capturing both Daphne's hands in his, "Come dance with me?"
Daphne turned to Astoria, her concerned eyes meeting the younger girl's. Astoria forced a smile to her lips. "Go ahead. We're here to celebrate your engagement, after all. You should dance with your fiancé."
"See, Story's fine." Theo grinned easily at the tiny blonde girl and tugged at Daphne's hand. As he led her away, Astoria heard him murmur softly, comfortingly, "She's seventeen; she can take care of herself."
"But she's…" Daphne glanced over her shoulder and Astoria tried to sink into the shadows, unwilling to let her sister see her standing alone among the one group of people she was supposed to feel comfortable around.
She didn't want to know what Daphne thought she was. She could guess, she was sure. Daphne thought she was damaged. Daphne thought she was too quiet, too withdrawn, too shy. Daphne thought a lot, and Daphne cared too much, but Astoria knew what she was. She knew that she was scared and scarred, that that awful year at school – her fifth year, her nightmare year – had left her as less than herself. But she also knew that she was stronger than Daph thought she was, that Theo was right, she could take care of herself.
She just preferred to take care of herself by herself. Not surrounded by these people, these adults and children and in-betweens, all of whom had witnessed her slow disintegration from the proud pureblood to the cowardly, hesitant youngest sister of a girl who had somehow grown up, found love, and triumphed over their history – that impenetrable enemy – during the nightmare year.
But Astoria had to be at this nighttime gathering, of course she did. Because it was expected, because people would whisper and glare and say horrible, untrue things about her if she missed her sister's engagement party. So she put on her favorite white dress with the silver belt, tied her hair back, and forced a pale smile to her lips. She had slipped into the crowd behind Theo and Daph and dug her bare toes into the warm sand and tried to focus on the beyond – on the gravel mixed into the sand beneath her feet and the rush of waves past the noise of the crowd and the glow of sunlight through the hazy summer air.
But it was easier to seem disinterested in the crowd with her sister beside her; when Daph joined the mass of ritualistic dancers – or what-the-fuck-ever – people kept inching into Astoria's personal space. Stupid boys, boys who had left Hogwarts before that year, slid their hands around her waist, whispered drunken pleas into her ear, breathed alcohol-tainted promise-lies against her pale cheeks.
"Go away, Bole." She grabbed his thick hands with slim fingers and dug her nails into his skin. He hissed in surprise.
"Why so bitchy, Greengrass?"
"Why such a bastard, Bole?"
His eyes narrowed as she stepped away from him, one hand gripping her wand and the other swinging a half-empty bottle of beer, her feet silent in the sand as she left the fire for the darker stretch of sand dropping to meet the waves.
"Someday somebody's gonna get you back, Ass-toria." Bole's voice was harsh in the night, but she knew that the dancers probably wouldn't have heard him. The only other person who might have heard sat by the water, his bare feet pale as the waves washed up over them; one white hand was absently tilting a bottle back and forth, the other was buried in his snow-blond hair.
She sat down next to him without really thinking about it, her bottle clinking against his as she settled in the sand, her feet just as pale as his in the half-darkness. He glanced over at her, his gray eyes shadowed, "You and Bole having a bit of a tiff?"
"Who says tiff?" Astoria stuck her wand tip down in the sand, "And no, we are not. I think he's an absolute tosser and he thinks I'd make a good shag."
"Tiff is a perfectly acceptable English word." Draco informed her, "And everyone ought to say it. It's respecting the English language to use words like tiff."
"Right. I'll keep that in mind next time I'm arguing with someone." She spoke in a high, squeaky voice, "'Oh, Daph, dear, it seems we're having a tiff! We must cease this nonsense immediately!' Yeah, that'd go over well."
Draco snorted, "I imagine it would. Daphne seems like the kind of girl who'd appreciate proper English."
Astoria rolled her eyes, "Let me let you in on a little secret, Malfoy. No girl appreciates a word like tiff. Girls appreciate words like love, gorgeous, smart, and jealousy."
"Oh, really?" He shook his head, "I don't know who your sources are, Greengrass, but I think you're a bit misinformed."
Astoria grinned, "And you're an expert on girls, Malfoy?"
He didn't respond. They sat in silence for a few minutes, neither of them glancing back at the party raging on fifty feet behind them, neither of them looking away from the beckoning line of the horizon.
"So are you?"
"Am I what?" Astoria tipped her head back and sipped one mouthful of beer, just to give her hands something to do. She hated sitting still, hated it almost more than she hated being surrounded by her classmates.
"A good shag?" His voice wasn't harsh, the way Bole's would have been when delivering that question, but it wasn't teasing, either, the way Theo's might have been if he had ever felt comfortable enough with her to ask it. He was curious, in that weighted way that meant that he could use whatever information she gave him, if he wanted to.
She tossed her head back and laughed, in a way she hadn't since forever, "Malfoy, come on now. I'm a Greengrass, we were bred for shagging."
Draco smirked, "Oh, right. I'd forgotten your family tree included Aphrodite and Eros both."
"Well, clearly." She arched her back slightly, tilting her head to look up at the orange-tinged-purple of the sky, "Merlin too, and we all know he was a magnificent shag."
"Ugh, I do not want to think about that old wizard doing anything. Have you seen his Chocolate Frog card? He looks like a cross between a troll and a grindylow. No, thank you."
Astoria grinned, "I'm sure he was hot stuff when he was alive."
"Oh, because all wizards used to find troll-grindylows unbelievably attractive. I'm starting to doubt you, Greengrass."
She shrugged, "I don't need you to trust me."
He tipped his head back and poured the rest of his drink in his mouth before he replied. "Well, that's good. I don't do trust."
"Does anyone, really?" She spoke more to herself than to him, and when he opened his mouth to respond she interrupted, "So why aren't you up at the party, hanging with all your old friends?"
"Why do you think?" He began digging a hole in the sand, his long fingers smoothing out the edges, "I'm a pariah."
"We're all pariahs, Draco. We're the undesirables."
"Not everyone. Not like me." His sandy fingers left light traces over the dark sleeve of his jumper as he self-consciously gripped his left arm for a moment, before returning to his curious hole in the sand.
"Why are you even here, then?" She watched the way his hands moved as he settled the empty bottle in the hole and began building a wall around it.
"Mother did not want me to draw any attention to our family by not coming. So here I am." He tugged his wand from his pocket and tapped it against the glass, and the bottle began glowing with a warm light. It didn't flicker like fire, but it lit up the area so she could make out his face clearly, could see the worry lines in his forehead and the coolness in his gray eyes – his failed attempt at appearing aloof, uncaring.
She wondered what he saw in her green eyes, whether he could see the scars she tried so hard to hide.
"What about you?" He asked after a few minutes of silence.
She moved her hands to the bottle, cupped them around the glowing amber glass and stared down into the light as if it could sink through her fingertips and spin glowing webs through her veins. "Why am I not up there?"
"Yeah. It's your sister's engagement party – aren't you supposed to be all…excited, and stuff?"
Her voice was soft, "Malfoy, you're not the only one who hasn't recovered from the war."
His tone was harsh, defensive, "I've recovered."
"Fine," she shrugged. "I haven't."
He stared at her in silence for a long moment, as if waiting for her to elaborate. When she didn't he sighed, and asked in a scornful voice, "So? What happened to you two years ago that was so horrible that you're still hung up over it?"
She shook her head, pressed her hands into the dirt and pushed herself up. "You know? I thought you would understand."
He laughed, tilting his head to look up at her, "Haven't you heard? I'm not the understanding type."
She scuffed her bare toe in the sand, "You just pretend a lot."
"What the fuck does that mean?"
"You act like you don't care, like you're fine, like you're distant because you choose to be. But it's all just an act. Maybe you don't want to be close with any of them," she jerked her head back at the party, her voice catching angrily, "but it's got to hurt you, the way they look at you, the way they treat you."
He shrugged, "I'm over it." He tugged the glowing bottle from the sand and swirled it around, so the lights pressed against the glass, "But you're not. You all went through the same things at school. Why're you still hung up over things that everyone else is has moved past?"
"Because they used me."
"The Carrows? They used everyone. And look who you're complaining to – the bloody Dark Lord used me."
"Voldemort, or Tom Riddle, not the 'Dark Lord.'" she spoke softly, and he might not have heard her or might have just decided not to respond. She continued, "I was their spy, Malfoy. My sister stuck up to them, and I spied for them. And it's almost worse, because I didn't agree with them, not at all, but I was too bloody afraid to say no to them."
"I'm not about to comfort you. We all did things we're not proud of during the war."
"But doesn't it make you hate yourself? Just a little, doesn't it make you wish you could take a time turner and go back and tell yourself to be brave, to be passionate, to not be such an unbearable coward?"
"What's the point, Greengrass?"
"I feel remorse. I don't wish that I could change my past." He stared up at her, "Are you saying that you would trade everything that's happened over the past two years just so you wouldn't have that on your conscience? You know, the Carrows could have seriously hurt you if you had refused them. Your life might be better, the way it is."
"I thought you weren't going to comfort me?"
"Fine. You suck, Greengrass. You're the worst person here, and you clearly don't deserve to be alive." And this was the first time that she heard a lilt of teasing in his voice, the first words he'd said that weren't brittle or bitter or simply curious.
"Thank you. That's exactly what I wanted to hear." She flopped back down, lying spread eagled on her back and staring up at the sky, where a few stars glowed with disastrous fortune telling beauty in the black.
"Oh, so because I've insulted you you'll stay? Would you go away if I started being nice to you?"
"Do you even know how to be nice, Malfoy?" She began dragging her arms and legs slowly through the sand.
"I've insulted you, you've insulted me, and I've met your house elves. I imagine you've earned the right to call me by my first name."
"Fine. Do you even know how to be nice, Draco?"
"I can be a downright darling, Story."
She stopped moving, "Please don't call me that. Call me Astoria or Greengrass or Tory, but not Story. I hate it."
"Why?" He stared at her, "I've heard your sister and Nott call you that thousands of times."
"Yeah, well, they don't listen to me when I tell them to stop. When are you even around us, anyway?"
She couldn't be sure, as she sat up and sprang away from her impression in the sand, but it looked as if his cheeks had gotten a bit pinker in the glow from the bottle he still held. "Never mind. I'll call you Astoria."
She snorted, and tried to meet his eyes, "No, I want to know."
He was looking down at the shape she had made. "A sand angel."
"Tell me, Draco. Come on, I haven't seen you in ages. When have you been around me and Daph and Theo?"
"I'm at all the parties. You just never pay attention." He stared down at the sand angel, "And I don't really like talking to anyone there, so I'm never really at the center."
She rolled her eyes, "Still, if you were close enough to hear our conversations, you should have come to say hi."
"I'd rather watch." He seemed to realize how creepy that sounded and rushed to change the subject, "This is perfect, you know."
"This, this sand angel thing."
"What do you mean?"
"It's real. It's you. It's perfect in an imperfect way. Snow angels are all angelic because they're white, they're pure. This," he picked up a handful of sand from the beach, let it fall from his fingers in a gritty dust, "It's glorified dirt. Your angel isn't angelic at all, it's dirty and ruined, but it's perfect in form, perfect in intent."
She stared at him, "What?"
"Oh, don't make me repeat that. I feel like I just recited bad poetry."
"That's because you did." She stared down at the angel for a moment, "Is that how you see us? Built out of dirt, but perfect despite what we're made of?"
He sighed, "Not exactly how I'd put it, but yeah. We're better than what our pasts say we are. We're more than the mistakes we've made."
For an instant Astoria saw that his shields were down, that he actually meant what he said. She dropped to her knees in front of him, in the middle of her imperfect angel, and reached her small hand behind his neck, drawing his face toward hers abruptly and pressing her lips against his before he could say anything.
The kiss was quick. It was hard and desperate and in the press of his lips against hers and the taste of expensive beer on his tongue Astoria believed him.
And then she heard Daphne's voice, Theo's a second behind, shouting, "Story! Astoria, where the fuck are you? Get your arse back here!"
She pulled away from him and left him sitting there alone; she sprinted back up the beach, a ghost in the night, to where her sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law stood on the edge of the dancers, both looking for her in the wrong direction.
"How many times have I told you not to call me that?" She asked when she reached them, and Daphne and Theo each took one of her hands without responding and dragged her into the crowd.
When she managed to get out from the middle of the dancers, she saw that Draco still sat on the beach, but that the lit bottle was bobbing restlessly in the waves, that it would soon be carried out to sea, taking all its unusual light with it.
when the angels flit my face from this planet,
they'll ask me where my heart is and I'll say,
she has it
He wrote her seven letters that night: the first four were sappy and horrible and made him thoroughly disgusted with himself, and the last three – written after the sky had begun to lighten and his head no longer swam blissfully with alcohol – took back everything he had said that night.
He didn't send any of them.
Maybe she hadn't intended to kiss him, or maybe the kiss hadn't meant anything, or maybe she had been more sloshed than she'd seemed. He couldn't very well show up at her parent's home and ask if they'd let him take their younger daughter out without being sure that she'd want to go out with him. And honestly, why would she? He wasn't too clear about what he had said the night before, although he felt the faint shame that meant he might have let slip that he'd been fascinated with her for ages, but he did know that he couldn't possibly have said anything charming enough to attract a Greengrass. Especially that Greengrass.
And then there was the fact that she had kissed him and then ran away. That certainly didn't seem promising.
He sat at his desk until daylight filled his room and a house elf tapped on his door, calling, "Darla is serving breakfast, Master Draco, sir."
"I'm skipping breakfast," he called through the door, collapsing on his bed and pulling a pillow over his face. "I'll be down for dinner."
When he finally fell asleep, his dreams were full of pale girls with blonde hair and angels built from rubbish.
Darla woke him up by apparating into the center of his room, "Master Draco, Mistress says you is to be coming to dinner now."
Draco rubbed sleep from his eyes and pushed himself up, stretching easily. "All right. I'll be down in a mo – Darla, what's that?"
He was staring at a clear glass bottle sitting on his desk, glowing with a light green light from within.
"Oh, a miss is bringing it by, Master Draco, sir. She is saying not to wake you."
"Tell Mother I went out." Draco rolled out of bed and grabbed the bottle and his wand, disapparating before Darla had an opportunity to respond.
He arrived at the front door of Greengrass Manor a split second later, where shouts resonated through the oak front door. He rapped against the wood hesitantly, and it swung open almost immediately, emitting the girl he most wanted to see.
She stood an inch away from him on the steps, her hair pulled back in a messy bun, her oversized shirt nearly concealing her shorts, and blinked up at him, "Oh, thank Merlin." She turned and shouted through the front door, "Sorry about Blast shitting on your dress, Daph! I'm going out" before grabbing Draco's hand and spinning him away from her house. When he opened his eyes, he saw that they were in the wizarding park on the outskirts of London that his parents had sometimes taken him to when he was a child.
"Your owl didn't actually shit on her wedding dress, did he?" Draco asked as soon as he regained his footing. He hated side-along apparition.
"I honestly don't get what she's so upset about. I mean, she can just scourgify the damn thing and it'll be fine." Astoria led him toward a bench, holding onto his hand even after they sat down. "Anyway, you came by at the perfect time, I think she was just about to murder me."
He grinned down at her, "How're you doing today, aside from almost dying?"
"Better, thanks." She eyed him critically, "Late night?"
"Not really, why?"
"You're still wearing the clothes you were wearing yesterday."
He glanced down at his rumpled shirt, "Oh, shit. You're right."
"So, what were you doing? Partying in Muggle London?"
"Not likely." He could feel his cursed cheeks heating up, "I was actually trying to figure something out."
"Oh? What's that?"
"You're a difficult one to understand, Astoria. But I think I've got an idea as to why you kissed me last night."
"Well, it's because you're so irresistible, obviously."
"No." He smiled, leaning toward her until his lips were nearly touching hers, "No. It's because you fancy me."
She blinked, "Don't know where you got that idea." But then she moved forward and he moved forward and what they said didn't matter so much as what they felt – and what they felt glowed bright enough to burn away their tragedies.
a/n: I've never read a Draco/Astoria, so I don't know the usual fandom way of writing this pairing. I reallyreallyreally hope this was okay.
Leave a review to let me know what you thought, and please don't fave without reviewing, thank you!