Disclaimer: JKR owns HP.
A/N: I felt in a Dramione mood, and over the past couple of days, I've really wanted to sit down and write something, but I haven't had the inspiration. Also, as of late, it seems I've only been writing for challenges - I wanted to write something without guidelines and prompts and demands for a change. And so I brainstormed, and this was born. Yay?
As Draco stood beside Astoria, the woman who claimed to be the love of his life, he knew he was making a mistake. He'd known for some time, actually, that he was wasn't doing the right thing – it was only now that the reality of this situation hit him.
He loved Astoria, he really did. She was the best friend a man could ask for, and she would make a fantastic wife, amazing mother – but in cold, hard reality, Draco didn't want to spend the rest of his life with her. No. The woman he wanted sat quietly at the back of the room beside one Harry Potter. It shocked Draco that they'd even turned up. The invitation, though unofficial, had been given, but Draco had never imagined they'd come.
Especially not after the hell he'd created.
As he looked Astoria in the eye, as he listened to her making her heartfelt vows, he had to force himself not to let his gaze slip towards her, the woman he'd tried so hard to get over, the woman he broke up with just a year before. Instead, he took in everything he could about Astoria's eyes. The emotion, the colour, the tears of joy. And then she finished, and it was his turn.
"The love of my life is here today, and you have no idea how grateful I am for that. We've been through a lot together, we've had our ups and downs. Our relationship has been one hell of a roller-coaster, but I don't regret a single thing. Maybe I regret letting you go in the past, but in certain aspects, I believe it's only made our relationship stronger, and for that reason, I know what I did back then was right. All I want is for us to become one. I want to hold you, to cherish you, to love you … and if you let me do that, you'll make me the happiest man alive. I love you, Astoria."
"Oh, Draco," she whispered, dabbing her eyes and laughing breathlessly.
And then the vicar was talking, and Draco risked a glance at her. She sat with her hands in her lap, and Harry's arm stretched across, holding her hands in his. She seemed to be fighting back tears, sniffling. Her eyes locked with Draco's, and he turned back to the vicar in time to hear him say "You may now kiss the bride."
He didn't hesitate, pulling Astoria towards him and kissing her gently. She grinned widely as the tears spilled over, giggling with glee.
There was no going back now. He was married, and even if it was to the wrong girl, he'd play the good husband. Even if it drove him insane.
Draco kissed Astoria briefly and started to pull away. She looked confused, and so he mouthed "going to the loo" before pushing his way through the crowds of guests. The after-party seemed to be going well, but Draco was consciously aware of the two people standing in a corner, doing nothing, drinking nothing, saying nothing.
He walked towards them, hands in pockets, heart beating wildly in his chest. He visibly noticed Potter's hold on the girl tighten protectively as Draco approached. He held up his hands as if in surrender, and Potter relaxed a little bit.
"Congratulations," he said calmly, extending a hand. Draco shook it and nodded his thanks. "Where's the bride?"
Draco looked over his shoulder and gestured in the general direction of his wife. "Somewhere amongst that hassle. Can you, uh, give us a moment?"
Harry looked at her questioningly, and when she nodded, he moved out the way. "Sure," he said, smiling a brief, fake smile before walking into the crowd.
"Hi," Draco said.
"Congratulations," she said stiffly, crossing her arms, "she seems like a great girl."
"Thanks for coming. I … I didn't think you would."
"Neither did I, not until this morning."
"What happened this morning?"
She looked fondly over at Harry, smiling gently. "Harry gave me a pep talk, convinced me to go, said he'd be by my side every moment we were here, you know, as he does."
"I don't know, actually. In case you hadn't noticed, we're not the best of friends. You look beautiful, by the way."
"Draco, don't," she said gently, frowning and looking at her feet. A few moments of silence passed before she looked back up at him. "I'm leaving after the party."
"You're still going to Ireland with Seamus?"
"Not with Seamus. I broke up with him. But I am going to Ireland – I need a fresh start, a clean slate."
"Last I heard, you were still together."
"I broke up with him last night. It … it wasn't going anywhere."
"Oh. What does Weasley think of this - of you leaving?"
"Ron isn't pleased, but he understands."
"Promise me something before you go." When she didn't answer him, he continued. "Promise me that you'll never go out with Weasley. You deserve better than him."
"Ron's a good guy, Draco. Maybe I should give him a chance. And after all you've put me through, I don't have to promise you anything."
"Hermione," Draco sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "I know I was a complete dick to you, but-" And then Hermione was laughing. Just a quiet laugh, a small chuckle. "What's so funny?"
Hermione shook her head at him as if he said something stupid. "You weren't a dick to me. Not when you broke up with me. God, Draco, you were such a bloody sweetheart about it. It was like you were a whole different person."
"I broke up with you: that made me a dick. Only a dick would break up with you."
"Sorry. I can't help it if I still love you, Hermione."
"Draco." His name came as a whine, a desperate plead, "don't. Just don't. You're married, you can't say that. You broke up with me. If anything, I should be the one saying I still love you. But I'm not, because I'm ready to move on."
"You still love me, I know you do." Draco tried to move forward, but Hermione put her hands on his chest and pushed him back.
"Of course I do. But I refuse to be the other woman, Draco, I refuse to help you break Astoria's heart. You're married now, and you're going to play the good husband while I go to Ireland and sort myself out. Maybe in a few years, when I'm back in this country, when we've both gotten over each other, we can … be friends? I don't know. But now, you need to stop and accept that you're-"
But her words were cut off by his lips, warm and inviting. It made her heart flutter, her stomach jump, but she wasn't stupid, and as good as it felt, she had to put a stop to this. She put her hands on his chest and pushed harshly. Their lips disconnected, he stumbled back, and stumbled even further as she slapped him across the face.
"Don't you dare," she hissed. "Goodbye, Draco."
With that, she stormed out, and Draco turned back to join the crowd, to pretend like nothing happened, to pretend like nothing was wrong. Harry soon ran after Hermione, determined on comforting his best friend.
Draco stayed, and Draco danced, and Draco kissed, and Draco hugged, and Draco drunk, and Draco talked, and Draco laughed. But it was an act, every second of it, because each second he pretended to enjoy himself, his heart sunk lower and lower, slowly tearing in two. The brunette Gryffindor was leaving, his true love was going away and he didn't know when he'd see her again.
But this was reality, he supposed. He could hardly expect a fairytale ending, for they were ridiculous. Happy-ever-afters didn't happen in the real world, and while Astoria was his princess, she didn't need sweeping off her feet. While Hermione was his damsel in distress, he wasn't her Prince Charming, and he had to accept that. Even if it killed him.
Reviews are appreciated!