Happy birthday, Scrunchy!
"You know, Malfoy," Astoria called, "I dare say that having a - what do those Muggles call it? Oh yes, taking a drag just outside a most prestigious Ministry party won't do your family's image any good."
She sauntered forward, her elbow resting against the balcony rail as she analysed the man the beside her. The whispers in the ballroom told her that he'd changed - that he no longer cared for fickle matters such as status. She knew better though. One look at that positively delicious tailored suit that fitted him oh so well and she was certain that Draco Malfoy was still in the game. He still craved that top rung of society's ladder.
As her heavily lined eyes travelled up and his down his body, he stubbed his cigarette out without hesitation.
"Tell me, Greengrass," he drawled, "what left is worth protecting of the Malfoy image?"
For a moment, she seemed to consider the question. After all, it was a good one and in her opinion, good questions deserved good answers. Pursing her painted lips and glaring, she shrugged.
"What do I know about you lot?" she asked in return. "All I know is that after all those years of being a complete and utter arse to anyone that wasn't a Pureblood back at school, I should bloody well hope you have something decent left of you."
"You say that as if you never said a bad about Mud-... Muggleborns."
"I believe I came to terms with the equality of our blood long before you, Malfoy." Astoria ran her hand against the metal beam and turned her body to face over the courtyard and gardens. "You've got a lot to prove. More than I do."
For the first that evening, Astoria had captured Draco's undivided attention.
"I'm just saying," she said quickly, raising her hands in mock surrender and giving him a sideways glance, "No one talks about you the same anymore. Some say you're good - they reckon you're just like Potter. Others, and would you believe it, say your family was or is possessed by demons."
Draco's faced relaxed and he returned to staring in the distance as he deadpanned, "And everyone says that your mother's a prostitute and your sister's following in her footsteps. I think I'd rather my mother be possessed by demons than have her be a common tramp."
She itched to slap him hard across the face. But, unlike him, she was still desperately trying to uphold the image that her elite family had crafted over the years. So instead, her knuckles turned to white as her fists clenched and she kept her voice even as she continued the conversation.
"Oh? And what do they say about me?"
"That you only ever stood up for Muggleborns because you were afraid that Granger would hex you." Draco smirked. "They say that you're spineless and vainly attempt to make yourself look 'good', when in reality, you have the personality of a floorboard and are really rather dull to talk to."
"Excuse me?" If she'd been expecting anything, it sure as hell hadn't been that.
"Came to terms with blood equality long before I, did you?" He shook his head. "No, like a child, you were frightened into it. You believed that treating the Muggleborns as you treated Purebloods would bring honour to your family. You realised that Voldemort was going to fall and when he did, you wanted to be the first to gloat that you'd always thought that Muggleborns were worth our time."
Her breathing became heavy. What right did he have to say such things about her? This time, she didn't hesitate and a sounding crack! filled the air as she swung her palm against his cheek.
"I'm right," he said, seemingly unaffected by the hit. "And I really would rather be talking to a floorboard, so if you'll excuse me..."
"No!" Astoria shrieked. She grabbed at his wrist, wrenching him back towards her before he had the chance to place his hand on the doorknob. "I bloody well won't excuse you. You called my sister and my mother a tramp and then... Merlin! I've never been so insulted in my life."
His grey eyes drilled into hers, daring her to keep her hold on him. It was only a second or two later when he was freed of her grasp.
"I could've continued. I could've told you about your father too."
"And I could tell you how much of a bastard yours is," Astoria snapped. "Is that why you're so horrible? Did Daddy never teach you how to be a decent human being?"
The chatter coming from inside the ballroom was getting louder and hummed around the two young adults - the tension between them thick. His back was to her now and she was thankful for it. She didn't want him to see her falling apart like she was. She couldn't afford to be seen is as weak.
"It's been good catching up with you, Greengrass," Draco said stonily, turning the door handle. "Our conversation has been most... stimulating. Have a good night."
The words bit at her as he slammed the door behind him, leaving her in the bitter cold on her own. Astoria wrapped her shawl tightly around her, hugging her waist as she stared out into the growing darkness. Oh, how she loathed that man. Their conversations, if you could call them that, always ended like so.
But there was no doubt that he was a broken boy. She reached into her purse and her hand re-emerged with a cigarette placed nimbly between two fingers and her other hand lighting it with great please. Breathing out the first cloud of smoke, she sighed. She'd always had such a thing for broken boys.
No matter how many tears it took - no matter how many times she'd be driven to leaving a red hand print on his scarred face - she would have him, she decided. Draco Malfoy would hers. No matter what.