Disclaimer: Not mine.
Anything and Everything Your Heart Desires
Asteria saw him looking up at her window when she opened the curtain to let in the morning sun. She stepped back quickly, not wanting him to know she had seen him. Something had happened. She knew something had happened when she saw he was no longer standing in the space between the two buildings but in the open where he could be easily seen.
She wanted to run down the stairs and open the door and at the same time, she wanted to cower and hide. Peeking out from the side of the curtain, she tried to watch him, tried to discern his mood. Giving up she dressed and put on a pot of tea, suddenly freezing in place at a soft knock at the door.
"I need to talk to you," Draco said into the back of the closed door, his forehead resting on the wood. "I won't even come in. Just open the door and talk to me."
"What about," Asteria spoke on the other side of the closed door, wringing her hands.
"Open it, please. I…I give you my oath…a wizard's oath…I mean you no harm."
She lifted the wards and cracked open the door. Seeing his unshaven face and rumpled clothing, she was at once concerned that something serious had happened to either him or at the Manor.
"That first summer…we spent it at the lake…" he said, licking his lips only to pause, unable to form a question.
"Draco? What's wrong?"
"I don't remember it. I don't remember anything."
"What do you …"
"Only bits …," he lifted his eyes to hers, "please, just talk to me."
She stepped aside and nodded, letting him walk by her and into the sitting room. "It was a bad summer. You talked about…before…about the war and how Voldemort …you talked as if he were still in the Manor. Don't you remember that?"
"No," he breathed out heavily, not wanting to talk more until he could trust his voice.
Asteria sat on the sofa next to him, turning sideways to look at him fully. "You used to have…spells…that's what Narcissa called them. Do you remember?" She watched as his head shook but did not look at her. "I had only seen it once…right before the wedding. We were going to redo the third floor and make private quarters up there…but you…we never did and then after the wedding you were …ill…not yourself."
"I don't remember," he sighed, leaning back and resting his head on the back of the sofa.
"She, Narcissa gave you calming potions…sometimes with a dreamless sleep. She said it would knock you out…let you rest...she said …you always came out of it. She said it was from some injury during the war."
"I wasn't injured," he said, finally able to meet her eyes. "I wanted to take you the France."
"I know," she smiled. "The entire summer I felt a little over dressed. There we were at a lake stuck out in the woods and I had only packed for Paris. Your mother …"
"We were on the boat."
"Yes, you remember that part but not the rest? I was terrified…truly terrified." Seeing his look of confusion, she continued. "We had made the far side when you jumped out to pull the bow up…to ground it on the shore. The water was shallow but the reeds were dense there….do you know the spot?"
She waited for his nod and continued. "Anyway, you pulled the boat almost up and must have just found solid ground when an adder slid by. It wasn't too big, but it must have startled you. It was all I could do to get you into the boat and send my Patronus for help. You really don't remember? It's where I lost my wand. That's why I needed a new one."
"No. An adder? I…I used to keep them for pets during the summer."
"That's what Narcissa said…that I was mistaken. That it wasn't the snake but …anyway, that doesn't matter. We got you back to the house and you spent the rest of the summer in a stupor from all the potions you took. Then…you were fine."
"What were you going to say?"
"She said it was my fault. I shouldn't have taken you there."
"Why did you?"
She let out a soft chuckle and leaned back. "We had only been married a week and every time you took me to bed she was in the house. I wanted to have you alone."
"Do you ever miss going into the city with your friends?" He asked in a sudden change of topic, remembering the easy way Harry and Ron had spoken of their wives night out.
"I have none left," she said shortly. "You made a point of making sure of that."
He left shortly after that, not saying another word, not answering her many questions and not caring if her solicitor knew he had come. She wiped her eyes, followed him to the door, and watched as he walked down the hall toward the stairs. On a sudden impulse, she ran after him only to stop when he spun around and held up his hand.
"Don't," he said. "Not until I trust myself. Not yet. Not now."
"I love you," she said simply. "I wanted you to know that. Even if you don't love me…you need to know someone loves you. Even if you decide …"
She was in his arms and crushed against his chest before she could finish, her last words muffled against the rough fabric of his robes as he held so tightly she was again afraid of him. "Don't say that. You are the only one I have ever loved."
She closed her eyes as she cried into him, glad that she had at last heard him say the words aloud, but sadder than she had ever been before.
Asteria's birthday came and with it came a letter from her solicitor saying that the writ of divorce could now be finalized, as Mr. Malfoy's recent letter had confirmed he would no longer protest it. It's over, she thought. She was free to go and come as she pleased, free to build a life and make new friends. She was free.
Packing for her move to the south of France, she was ruthless with what she kept and what she would send back to the manor. Occasionally she would stop, as she did over a spun silver mirror, and wonder as to its cost and why had he bought it for her. Laying it in the pile of items to be rid of, she continued to pack, finding that what she wanted would fit in two cases.
Perhaps, she thought, she should just throw what she no longer wanted away. However, the memory of the price tag and the outrageous amount of galleons that had been spent on it and all the other things prevented her from doing it. She remembered how Narcissa and picked up a set of hair combs he had bought her with two fingers, as if they had been tainted by her hair. Falling in front of the fireplace, she contacted the owl post to send the items that could be resold to the Children's Relief Auction. She then contacted the chairperson and made the donation in the name of Narcissa Malfoy, grinning at the fact that this was Narcissa's least favourite charity.
As the last of the owls flew from the sill, and she was closing the window, she saw none other than Narcissa Malfoy walking toward the building. Quickly using her wand to levitate her cases to the bedroom she sorted the sitting room, prepared to greet the one guest she had dreaded seeing for a year.
"Narcissa." She nodded curtly, stepping aside to let the older witch enter.
"You have lived here for a year?" Narcissa walked to the chair by the window, a look of disgust evident on her face.
"What do you want?"
Narcissa ran her hand over the back of the chair then examined her palm. She turned back to Asteria a small smile on her face. "I will not be sitting. I do not plan on staying that long."
"Good. How may I hurry your along?"
"You never did like me. Did you, dear?"
"I tried, Narcissa. In the beginning, I tried to understand you and understand why you interfered so much. At first, I thought it was just the idea of your only son growing up and leaving you. But it was more than that."
"You are…not…of our class. Your family, although pureblood is not …how shall I put this so even you will understand? I will only say…"
"Not as subservient? Not as impressed with you? Not as wealthy as the Malfoys? No?"
"You…a Greengrass…dare to speak to me as if I were your…your equal. My son will have a wife that does as she is told and does not drag down the Malfoy name in public. You have been trouble since…."
"You have said enough," Asteria walked back to the door and opened it, standing to the side. "You are in my home now and I am asking…telling you to leave."
"I have never…"
"Good bye, Mrs. Malfoy," Asteria said evenly.
"I came here to warn you to stay away from him." Narcissa spat as the walked to the door. "He is still in a fragile state and I will not have a harpy destroying him."
"Wait," Asteria said, "what are you talking about? Has he been ill again?"
"Ill? Not at all. He has been…resting. A well needed rest."
"That is not…"
"St. Mungo's?" Asteria asked, not needing an answer as she watched the truth flicker across Narcissa's face.
"He was…distraught. He needed…"
"What he needed was a mother that protected him and a father that gave a damn."
"It is no longer your concern. I have had my say…'
"He can't go back to the mausoleum you call home. Not with his room right under where you let that monster stay. Don't you understand? Are you too…"
"The Malfoy Manor is my husbands. As long as he lives…"
"Oh stop. You may convince someone else of your fidelity but I lived there. Remember me? Do you think for one minute I didn't know the reason you moved to the east wing? Do you think Draco was anything but happy for you? Narcissa… you deserve to be happy and if he can give that to you…"
"This conversation is over," Narcissa said, turning on her heel and leaving Asteria to watch after her.
Not worrying about setting wards or locking doors, Asteria grabbed her cloak and hurried to the counsellor's office. Hoping they would talk to her without an appointment and hoping that they had been kept in the loop of Draco's medical treatment.
As she stood sputtering her need to see Hermione, the door behind her opened.
"Mrs. Malfoy…Asteria?" Hermione questioned.
"I only need to tell you something. I don't even need an appointment," she said in a rush. "Narcissa just told me Draco was in the hospital and that she plans on taking him back to that horrid place. Stop her….please stop her. It is evil…he is still there…I felt him…I…"
"Asteria," Draco's voice came from the inner office, preceding him into the reception area. "It is fine. We have had curse breakers in and sorted out not just the third floor but the entire house, from attic to dungeon."
"I…I am sorry I barged in here. I was worried."
"Quite understandable. Will you join us?" Hermione asked, seeing Draco's nod of approval.
"Are you well?" Asteria asked Draco, not hearing Hermione, only focused on him.
"Let's say better. I still have a ways to go…but …better."
"I'm happy for you," she smiled, looking around nervously as if only now realizing she was being watched, relieved when Hermione took the receptionist into her office and closed the door.
"Thank you," he said, stepping close to her. "I am sorry, Asteria. I didn't remember everything I had done. I do now."
"I never held what you did when you were in one of your…your…I never held that against you. I could tell when you …went away. That's how I used to think of it. Oh, Draco…it's all the other things."
"I know," he sighed. "I thought by controlling your every move I wouldn't lose you. It was the way I was raised. The way my father controlled my mother. It's a lot more than that. I know that now. I would very much like to talk to you about it."
"I am leaving for France in the morning."
"Have tea with me? Now. At the Cauldron."
"You don't eat at …"
"I do now," he laughed. "Please?"
She was surprised when he tucked her hand into his elbow as they walked to the Cauldron. Surprised when he greeted one of his employees but more surprised to see Ron Weasley raise his hand in recognition from the far side of the street.
What did not surprise her was his comment that he had rented a room for the night because the smell of fresh paint was still too strong at the manor. Nor was he surprised when she picked up her cloak and started up the stairs.
Over the next, she came to understand Narcissa and would often invite her and her 'friend' to dinner. Since Narcissa and Jacob now lived at the summerhouse, her relationship with her mother-in-law was much better. That and the fact that Draco no longer looked to Narcissa for advice but kept his own counsel and that of his wife.
On her birthday and on special days, Draco would take her to Diagon where they walked along the pavement as every other couple. Meeting friends at the Leaky Cauldron became a habit and on occasion he would join the husbands for a few drinks as the witches enjoyed a night on the town.
He still worried about her and still insisted he knew where she was going and with who. He still made a fuss if she left home without an extra wand tucked away and still bought her outrageously priced gifts. She still complained about his controlling nature but never again had to ask for and receive permission to do as she pleased. And never did she fear him or hear a threat.
One day as they were selecting new china, she insisted they order a service for fifty, he for only thirty-six. Explaining, patiently, that the table in the Ballroom could only accommodate three dozen, he again waited for her explanation.
"Breakage," she said firmly. "You know they can only be spelled back together so many times."
"That's a lot of breakage," he grumbled. "Asteria, if you want the larger set…fine. We will need a bigger china cupboard and the kitchen is already so full it means moving a wall. A wall, I might add, I just moved to enlarge your pantry."
"Fine," she said sweetly as she stood up and draped her cloak over her shoulders, preparing to leave. "Blame me if he destroys them."
"Who? Asteria, just tell me what you want," he ground out, looking apologetically at the salesman.
"Your son," she said as she sashayed out the door and closed it behind her leaving Draco sputtering and fuming behind her.
"My," the salesman said with a grin. "Does she always tell you things out of the blue like that?"
"You have no idea." Draco ran his hands through his hair before jumping up and running after her, shouting back over his shoulder, "No idea what so ever."
A/N: Hope you enjoyed and hope the ending was not too rushed, although I think it is. This is one story that I did not have completed when I began posting and since the readership is so low…lower then a decent one shot has…and only one review from someone other than the person who set the challenge, I see no point to keep going. Thanks to the readers that made it this far…lol… if you care to tell me what you think hit that little review button. Thanks again.
Edited: Okay...so i may change this chapter and finish it correctly...it you are interested hit the alert button to receive an update when i do.
Oh…I chose to use Asteria over Astoria despite the evidence some readers have sent me. Sorry if this bothered you.