You want to fix me,

Push me,

Into your fantasy,

You try to give me,

Sell me,

A new personality.

You try to lift me,

I don't get better,

What's making you happy,

Is making me sadder.

In your golden cage

All I feel is Strange!


In your perfect world so


Drops of water slipped over the window, crisscrossing its surface with a soft but staggered grace. Over the world hung a cold mist, clinging to the trees and the grass, and filling the air thickly. The already weak fall leaves drooped and fell victim to it. Astoria rested her head against the cool pane, and traced the tracks of water with her finger. She felt so tired lately. A heavy weight rested over her body always, like the mist over the gardens she looked upon.

Upon the hand in her lap rested a large ring, which she spun absently on her finger. It was grand and expensive, and she knew she should think it beautiful. She'd tried to think it was—spent hours turning it in the light, admiring it's sparkle; hours comparing its colour to various things she thought beautiful, like grass, like her eyes, like that dress she'd once seen Narcissa wear; hours forcefully reminding herself that it didn't matter what it looked like, that it ought be beautiful to her if only because it meant they were going to be married. But she just couldn't. It was heavy and awkward. It was tacky, it was showy. It was the exact opposite of everything she used to be. The exact opposite of everything she'd ever admired in herself. Though perhaps it was precisely everything she had become.

For she was the fiancé of Draco Malfoy, heir to the Malfoy estate, essentially heir to the metaphorical throne of pureblood society. He was elite. He was rich. But he was also sweet, sometimes. And funny, too. And a little broken—a little crushed by the war. And she'd fallen so quickly in love with him. He loved her, too, she knew, but the things he'd once loved—the things that had first drawn him to her—he'd long defeated.

She pondered the weight that haunted her every day. Perhaps gravity pulled stronger at shattered shards than at something that was whole. She frowned at her reflection as the darkened sky cast it upon the window. She didn't know the girl there. With the silly hair, and the frivolous clothing. With the careful manicure, and the layers of makeup. She didn't like that girl. She was empty.

Astoria had once been joyful, rebellious, happy. She remembered dancing through the garden below her, a smile on her face, laughter on her lips; remembered Draco watching her with a grin, catching her, spinning her, kissing her oh-so-softly. She remembered going out for dinner and just being silly, having fun, being in love. She remembered that, once upon a fairy tale time, things had been good.

Then Lucius had seen them. Just once. "Indecorous," he'd called their relationship, "Unbefitting a pureblood." That's when everything had changed. No more public affection. No more handholding. No more laughter. But she'd waited for him, waited for him to miss it, for him to change back, for him to be Draco again. Waited, and waited, and it felt like an eternity. When he'd proposed, oh how hope had flooded her heart, as he twirled her like he once had, joyful at her acceptance. A moment of perfection, which she'd locked away in her memory, savouring it as she began, months later, to realize it was not to be repeated.

She missed him. She missed him terribly. But she also missed herself, and some days that felt leagues more profound.

She smoothed the monstrous white dress that fit her so perfectly, forcing herself to ignore its frivolous ruffles and ribbons and lace. She'd made her decision, and the thought suffocated her as she floated gracefully towards her fiancé. He smiled his "decorous" smile, and extended a chivalrous hand, and she smiled wistfully back, reassured in her choice.

Her hand fit perfectly in his, just like it always had. Within his eyes lay a world to which she irrevocably belonged, but somehow could never fit. She forced her shoulders square, standing with every bit of poise she possessed, and then she leaned in, and, before the gasps of the assembly, she kissed him, softly, but passionately.

"I love you, Draco," she whispered, gently setting her ring in his hand, and then she turned, and she walked, calmly, collectedly, from the room. She didn't look back.

The doors closed upon the harsh rush of whispers that had risen behind her, and she let out a soft laugh, hot tears trickling down her cheeks. She fled into the garden and let herself spin. Spin and dance, her arms stretched out beside her, her face turned to the skies. The rain soaked through her dress, it washed away the makeup, it set her hair dripping onto her shoulders. The moonlight cast her reflection in a pool of rainwater and she laughed again, because she looked like Astoria, and maybe she even felt a little like Astoria.

She supposed it was strange to laugh at such a moment, when seemingly everything was falling apart. But maybe it was actually going back together, and maybe she didn't have to care about being strange anymore, didn't have to care what was proper. Maybe all she had to be was her. The weight had lifted from her body, swept away by the storm. She felt light, free, and maybe it was all strange, but maybe she was strange. The thought elicited another carefree laugh, and with a final spin she apparated away, leaving behind the gilt prison and the man that she loved.