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For the daily prompt…Books…on the Hogwarts Online Forum
A Walk in Diagon Alley
On occasion, as he walked down Diagon Alley with his wife, he would see one of his old schoolmates and turn away, feigning interest in one of the shop windows, or striking up a conversation with Astoria. Once they had passed by and were at a safe distance, the conversation would end or the item in the window would no longer hold his interest.
He envied them at times, these schoolmates he would occasionally pass, not that he would admit it, or even speak of it. He would watch them secretly as they walked beside their spouse, her arm wrapped around his, his eyes turned down to hers as if happy just to be in each other's company. That is what he had always wanted. To walk down the pavement without hiding behind his façade.
At home, she was different. Laughing at his lame attempts at humour and sitting next to him, his arm draped over her shoulder as she read some new book she had just purchased, peaking at the last page to see how it ended. He would tease her and she would slap his arm and tell him to mind his own business. The next morning she would chide him when he turned to the last page of the Prophet for help on a puzzle he was working. It was only in public that she turned cold and hard, walking stiffly beside him, avoiding his touch and keeping her face unmovable.
He remembered she had been different the first time he had taken her out and it had been he that had first pulled away. He wished it had never happened and now that it would stop. They had just left the almost empty restaurant, he holding her hand, not so innocently peaking at her face as they slowly walked, both not wanting the night to end. He trying to find a way to talk her into coming home with him and seducing her to bed, she trying to hint that she would like to see him again.
Glancing over his shoulder to see if they were alone enough for him to garb and kiss her, he had seen Weasley step out of his shop and throw up wards, closing for the night. Letting go of her hand and moving one-step to her side, he had clasped his hands behind his back and looked down at her arrogantly.
"I...I am sorry. I didn't know I was embarrassing you," she had spat at his sudden change, after looking behind her to see what had made him change so suddenly. "Next time you take out someone so beneath you why not just pay them to stay open later. That way no one would see who you left with."
He had watched her storm away, unable to call her back, knowing Weasley was still behind him and the other shopkeepers would soon be following suit. How could he run after her, beg her to understand, that if she were seen with him she too would be treated as a leper?
A month went by before he had the nerve to approach her again. This time he asked her to join him in Muggle London for a meal and a cinema. It didn't take him long to know that he had once again said something wrong when her lips formed a thin straight line and her eyes narrowed to slits. Stammering out a change of plans as he became angry with himself, she misinterpreted his frustration and once again thought he found the fault in her.
"Listen, Malfoy, if you want skirt that bad and don't want to be seen with me, head over to Knockturn. I am sure you can buy what you need there."
He could still hear her voice and see the way her eyes had flashed as she had hissed at him. What he could not forget was the way she had stopped as she had walked haughtily out of the room to look back at him.
That was when he fell in love with her.
He fell in love with her audacity to challenge him, with her refusal to give into his requests because he was the wealthy and powerful son of the House of Malfoy. Because, she did not give a bloody damn who he was. However, it was the way her eyes seemed to turn liquid and glisten with tears and the way her chin had trembled when she had looked back at him that he knew she felt the same.
He spent two more years leading a celibate life while he managed to run into her as she did her marketing or browsed for a new book. Strolling outside of the robe shop, he timed his entry to coincide with her exit, pulling the door open as she pushed so he could catch her as she tumbled out.
"What the bloody hell do you want, Malfoy? Don't you have someplace to be?" She muttered, squatting down to pick up her packages.
"Where would you suggest we go?"He had asked evenly, prepared for yet another rebuke.
"Don't you have a ….a job?" Astoria kept her head down, ignoring his question.
"Yes," he grinned and started to chuckle.
"If this if funny just go."
"If I do I will be derelict in my work." He stood, looking down at her scowling.
"What would that be? Knocking witches to the ground?"
"No, picking them up." He leaned down and grabbed her upper arms, dragging her up and closing his mouth over hers.
It was the only time before or since that he lost himself and given into temptation with a public display of affection. She had pushed him away and muttered something about his inappropriate behaviour, picking up her packages and pushing them at him. She had told him that since he liked being a horse's arse, he could learn to work like one, had taken a step to his side, lifted her chin and allowed him to carry her bundles, walking stiffly beside him.
From that day on it is how they appeared in public, cold, uncaring, a typical pureblood couple, more concerned in social acceptability than personal happiness. What the bystanders saw but did not understand, was the way he kept his hands clasped behind his back and the way she would cock her eyebrow at him when they passed the turn off to Knockturn Alley.
What the other pedestrians would never know was that every time a rude comment or an insulting barb was hurled at his back, she would turn and level the offender with an icy look. She would raise her eyebrow and look down on them, until they backed down and it was in these moments he would fall in love with her all over again.