New Life's Resolution
A HariPo oneshot
Note: The Harry Potter characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not me. This pairing was discovered by my buddy, Morghen, so please give her a little mention if you write them! Thanks! It is one of many of Mew and Mor's Weird Pairings, which you may find in Mor's and my forum, "Mew and Mor's Weird Pairings Fan Stories," found here (Just take out the spaces!): http : / forum. fanfiction. net/ forum /Mew_and_Mors_Weird_Pairings_Fan_Stories /76194 / Read, review, and enjoy! And check out and join the forum FUN! For Claire, one of 3 people who could even possibly get me to read—and enjoy—femslash. ;)
A lone witch made her way down a humming Muggle street. This may have happened often for some, but not for this witch. She wasn't just any old spell caster—she was one of the remaining purebloods.
Her heels clacked on the gravel, creating a hollow echo that added to the chill of fall. Tighter she wrapped her cloak around her, and she absentmindedly shoved several loose strands of hazel fringe from her eyes. She was more focused on the bit of parchment tucked into the palm of her free hand. Glancing at her writing first, she looked at the house to her left and confirmed the lettering with her hurried scrawl.
This was her destination.
The witch tucked the parchment into a free pocket of her cloak and paused—both for breath and a moment to steel herself. She still couldn't believe she'd come. But as her feet carried her to the door and her fist knocked on the heavy frame, she knew there was no turning back. Especially when the door was answered.
"Hello, ma'am… Andromeda Tonks, I presume?"
Andromeda narrowed her brown eyes. "Who's asking?"
"Astoria Greengra—I mean, Malfoy," the younger witch replied. She held her hand out, but Andromeda didn't shake it. Astoria politely retracted her paw. "May I come in?"
"If you must…"
"It's about to start raining."
Andromeda's eyes flicked towards the overcast sky briefly before she opened the door enough for Astoria to slip inside. She used her wand to flick the door shut.
Inside, Astoria shed her cloak and kept it with her as Andromeda led her to the sitting room. However, once there, Andromeda made no move to be a good hostess. She merely sat down and stared at Astoria until the hazel-eyed witch followed suit. An awkward silent moment passed.
"So you're Draco's…?"
"Yes," Astoria replied. "Nearly two decades now."
"Mmm." Andromeda's gaze drifted to a picture-laden mantle. "Well, if you're 'smart' enough to have married into such a nice family, then why are you here visiting me?"
Astoria felt her smile wane at the brunette's tone. "I thought I'd like to find someone who could best understand me."
Andromeda gave a very crude snort. "Someone who makes her bed with other purebloods? That's quite all right. It's obvious you don't know the family history after two decades."
"Someone who hates being a pureblood," Astoria barely stated. It almost came out as a whisper, because it was such a taboo idea to ponder—at least, that was how Narcissa would see it. Astoria darted her hazel gaze between a spot on Andromeda's face and a spot on the floor.
"What? You expect me to be sympathetic just because you said that?" the older witch asked very quietly. Astoria felt her eyes on her, and refused to look up and meet the penetrating stare.
"Not exactly. I—I was hoping I could at least speak my mind, in a house that wouldn't look down on me."
"Well, you came to the wrong place for that." Andromeda stood and gestured towards the door. "Leave."
Astoria knew when she was not welcome. She hurried to the front door and barely stopped to sling her cloak around her shoulders before she was out in the rain. She turned to thank Andromeda for even a moment of her time, but Andromeda slammed the door in her face. No, there was nothing to thank after all.
A week later, Astoria sat on the edge of her bed, her head bowed from exhaustion while she hunched over. Dealing with Narcissa and her contemporaries had become more demanding as the years passed, and today was no exception.
Narcissa had been dining with some of her friends, Mrs. Zabini, Mrs. Parkinson, Mrs. Goyle, and Astoria's own mother, Mrs. Greengrass. Of course, since Narcissa was busy "catching up," she'd expected Astoria to fulfill her daughterly duties and attend to their every need. Well, that was fine and all until Astoria tripped over Mrs. Goyle's big, fat, protruding foot and spilled hot soup on her and Mrs. Parkinson. Mrs. Zabini had thought it most amusing, but Astoria's mother and Narcissa had been utterly appalled, and Narcissa had ordered Astoria upstairs until their guests were gone.
Astoria cursed at the picture of young Draco, Lucius, and Narcissa that hung on the wall near the window. She was a grown woman, not a little chit. Truly—if Astoria were being honest with herself—she loathed Malfoy Manor. She loathed the family named. She loathed herself for having ever liked Draco, and for harming her son, Scorpius, by giving him such a horrible, overbearing surname, because she didn't really want to be a Malfoy either.
"But what choice do I have?" she muttered to herself. She stood and traipsed the perimeter of her room, searching the family photos for some scrap of…of hope.
Her eyes found an old picture of Narcissa with her two sisters, and Astoria frowned. She'd already tried that route…
…but she'd only tried it once.
Astoria glanced anxiously at her bedroom door before grabbing her cloak and sneaking out. She felt terribly ridiculous, a grown woman sneaking out of her own house…! But as she thought more on it, she knew it wasn't really her house; she'd just married into the family as a kind of house-elf replacement. She despised the idea, but she knew it was true, and she felt no guild as she took a secret path behind an empty picture frame and followed it out of the house. Draco had shown her the escape route when they'd only been engaged, and he'd asserted Narcissa knew nothing of it. Astoria could only hope that was still the case.
It didn't take her long to get outside the manor's barriers, and then it was a quick Apparition's trip from there to the Tonks' neighborhood, which she remembered enough of to risk a magical journey. However, the moment her feet hit the pavement, she hesitated. All she could picture was Andromeda's apathetic face. Sure, it was pretty and had softer features than Narcissa's, but it was still apathetic.
She knocked, but—unlike the first time—there was no immediate response. She waited a while before knocking again. That time, Andromeda answered.
"You." Andromeda narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms in front of her chest. "I don't recall inviting you back."
Astoria forced a smile, though she quite disliked the other witch's uncalled-for attitude. "No, you didn't. This is… Well, I can at least say sorry and thank you for last time, can't I?"
"I'd prefer you didn't. Have a good day, Mrs. Malfoy," Andromeda said through gritted teeth, the door closing in Astoria's face once more.
Astoria didn't quite know what it was that kept sending her back, trying for another moment of Andromeda's time. One thing she'd definitely started to feel, though, was annoyance. Would it kill Andromeda to be a little polite?
Though, Astoria at least understood that her persistence might be excuse enough. Nearly every opportunity she got, she tried going to the Tonks' house. A few times Narcissa had seemed suspicious, but Astoria had come to care less. What Astoria did was really none of her mother-in-law's business. She'd acted as a brood mare, produced Scorpius, so her job was done. She only stuck around these days for her son anyway, and Scorpius spent little time at home anymore.
By the time the third week of Astoria's needling arrived, some of Andromeda's neighbors had come to learn Astoria's name and even grew friendly towards her.
"Give this peach pie to Andromeda, will you?" Mrs. Lummox told Astoria. She pushed the package into the hazel-haired woman's arms. "She's not stopped by to visit Mr. Lummox and me in a while, so I was hoping her new companion could get this to her."
Astoria smiled but didn't have the heart to correct the elderly woman that she'd yet to have any real "companionship" with Andromeda. "I'll make sure she eats it," she reassured. She nodded to Mrs. Lummox and marched up to the familiar oak door for the umpteenth time that month.
"Give it a rest…!" Andromeda groaned through the door.
"I don't have better things to do, thank you for asking. Oh, and Mrs. Lummox baked a lovely peach pie. She made it for you, specifically."
The door opened and Andromeda's eyes dropped to the package. "Then pass that to me."
Astoria grinned. "See? It's not so bad, being civil."
Andromeda sighed. "I don't want anything to do with that life."
"No more purebloods?"
"And yet you've been treating me just like all the purebloods do." Astoria raised one eyebrow. "Actually, you remind me very much of your sister—Narcissa."
That was it. Just as Narcissa hated being compared to her "traitor" of a sister, Andromeda hated being told she was like the thing she most despised. Astoria had once heard from Teddy that Andromeda had never stopped loving her sisters, but that didn't mean she'd continued liking them. Andromeda glared back at her before slapping on a smile. "Please… Come in."
The inside of the Tonks' house was very plain—quaint, Astoria thought politely. It said nothing of magical inhabitants and looked, well, Muggle. The woman preferred it to the home in which she'd been raised, and it was like a ray of sunlight compared to the gloomy shadows of Malfoy Manor. "This is lovely," she commented softly as Andromeda led her to the kitchen. She sat at the counter and watched Andromeda get out plates and silverware.
"You don't have to lie."
"I'm not lying."
Andromeda glanced up at her from the pie, her brown eyes half-hidden by her wavy hair. Faintly, she smiled. "…thank you."
Astoria nodded and remained quiet while Andromeda moved about. She cut them each a slice of the pie and poured tall glasses of milk. As there was limited counter space, Andromeda sat beside Astoria. However, she did not seem as rough as she had earlier.
"Why did you come to me?" Andromeda asked. Her fork was resting against her lips, and she slowly chewed the mouthful of peach and crust.
"Well…I'd think it's obvious." Astoria sipped her drink. "You were the best person I could think of."
"The only one."
Astoria shrugged. "That, too. I would never talk about this with Narcissa—honestly, I wish the witch away." She raised an eyebrow. "Pun intended."
Andromeda smirked. "I grew up with her; I understand completely. But I remember there being two Greengrass girls."
"My sister wouldn't understand either. Well, she might partially, but she lives her own separate life away from all of this. She's also not on Narcissa's good side since she's involved with Lucius. Even divorced from him, Narcissa still tries to control him…" Astoria cupped her cheek in her palm.
"You're trapped in Cissy's web."
"All on my own," the hazel-haired woman stated, staring at her food.
"What about Draco?"
"The last person I care about in that household is Scorpius. And my son is very nearly gone from the nest." She turned her light eyes on the older witch. "Now do you see why I was going nuts?"
Andromeda paused. "It couldn't have started recently."
"No, it didn't. I've always felt a little awkward in our little…society," she said, putting a pretty twist on a not-so-pretty subject. "The fraternization and the subjugation and the alienation…" She shuddered, and her fork clinked against her plate; her hand was slightly shaking. Astoria found she had little appetite.
"Part and parcel of being a pureblood," the other female said. Andromeda ate another bite of pie. She chewed slowly before resting her utensil on the counter and sending a sympathetic look Astoria's way. "Hey…not every pureblood was marked in such a way."
Astoria looked at her.
"The Potters were purebloods until James married Lily Evans. James and his side of the family were wonderful people. I had the honor of meeting them a few times. The Weasleys alone…! So many called them blood-traitors, but they didn't see themselves as being any different from Muggles except for their magic. Not even all Blacks are bad—look at Alphard, Sirius…me." Andromeda brushed her hair out of her face, and the odd thought struck Astoria that the older witch had an understated elegance. She mentally swatted away her thoughts when Andromeda looked at her, brown eyes on hazel. "Then there were your grandparents—they were good people, too. I don't know how your parents can be so different…but maybe it skipped a generation." She said it so politely that Astoria didn't feel any offense at her words.
The younger woman continued to stare at her, even when her lower lip quivered. Growing up in Slytherin, growing up a Greengrass…the closest thing Astoria had ever had to a like mind had been her sister's, but Daphne's heart was elsewhere. To have actually found a kindred spirit was moving to Astoria. Finally, there was a bit of strength out there… Now the question was, could she have that strength?
Perhaps Andromeda understood. She covered Astoria's shaking her with her own, wrapping her pale fingers around the slender ones. When Astoria didn't withdraw from her touch, she ventured to entwine their fingers—briefly, for after she squeezed her hand, Andromeda let go and resumed eating.
But Astoria knew: She could borrow Andromeda's strength, even if Andromeda was not willing to admit it.
Little by little, Andromeda warmed up to Astoria. Astoria stopped being so pushy, since she was basically getting her way, but this worked out for both of them. Andromeda was returning to the kind woman she'd been before losing her husband so long ago, and Astoria found she had a sort of friend with whom she could share her sentiments about her day-to-day life. Andromeda even seemed to enjoy Astoria's tales of one-upping Narcissa.
"You look annoyingly happy," Narcissa commented, however, one afternoon when Astoria had planned to visit Andromeda again.
"It happens," Astoria stated, closing her eyes so her mother-in-law didn't see her roll her eyes.
"Did someone die?"
"No. Don't be so morbid. Besides, I'm not that kind of person."
"Don't I know it," the blonde spat. She stopped fiddling with her cuff and eyed her daughter-in-law up and down. "Where have you been going?"
Astoria decided to play dumb. "What do you mean?"
"Don't be stupid. Where have you been going these past several weeks? You haven't been taking care of your house."
It took a lot of willpower for her not to say "Don't you mean your house, Mistress?" but Astoria just shook her head. "I've only been running…errands."
"Yes, errands," Astoria asserted.
"You know, Draco's barely seen you…," Narcissa pushed. Her heels clacked on the finely shined tiled of the manor floor as she walked towards Astoria. "You are his wife, Astoria, dear."
"It is I who has not seen him in a while," Astoria stated as nicely as she could.
There was venom in Narcissa's cold blue eyes. "Don't go correcting me, either," she said through gritted teeth. "As the next matriarch of the Malfoy line after me, you have responsibilities to fulfill in this household."
"No, you mean you want to control me and make me your personal slave," the younger witch spat. Usually she was better about controlling her annoyance and anger, but something about Narcissa today had just gotten under her skin.
"How dare you!" Narcissa's eyes were aflame with an arctic iciness. She raised her hand to slap Astoria—interesting that she was so blinded as to have forgotten she owned a wand—but Astoria moved faster.
The young woman was out the door in a flash. Luckily, Narcissa didn't follow her. However, Astoria kicked herself for riling Narcissa's awful temper; they would surely have it out when Astoria returned.
Because there was no "if" about it. Astoria had to go back at some point.
"But for now…I can run to here," she breathed as she lifted her fist to knock. The door swung open before her knuckles made contact, and Andromeda was smirking.
"I had a feeling you'd turn up… What's wrong?" All coyness disappeared from her face when she saw Astoria's flushed cheeks.
A thousand words welled up within the hazel-haired witch. Instead, she reached out for Andromeda, not bothering to ask permission for an embrace. She clasped her hands in the small of Andromeda's back and hid her face in the crook of her neck, and stayed like that for a good full minute.
When Andromeda placed her arms on her, Astoria broke away. "Are you all right?"
The words were so plain and cliché…and Astoria choked back a sob from hearing them. She nodded and sniffed, wiping at tears that had yet to emerge. "I—I'll be fine… Sweet Salazar, am I ever glad Scorpius is staying at the Potters' with his best mate!"
Andromeda ushered her inside. "Let's just hope he doesn't need to stay there forever."
Andromeda didn't like hearing about her sister's antics very much anymore. In fact, Astoria wondered if Andromeda was growing concerned about things getting out of hand.
"They won't." Astoria folded an old dress of Andromeda's as they cleaned the attic of the Tonks' house. "If there's one thing she cares about, it's her image."
"No, Astoria, you're wrong." Andromeda stopped what she was doing to catch the younger woman's eyes. "The one thing she cares about is family."
Astoria frowned. "If that were the case, then she wouldn't be such a harpy to me. Or have cut ties with you."
The brunette shook her head. "She did that because she was being loyal to the rest of the family. But, Astoria—didn't Draco ever tell you? Narcissa and Lucius didn't actually fight in the last battle. Harry survived because of Narcissa's lie to Voldemort." She continued, despite Astoria wincing at the name. "Narcissa only wanted to know if Draco was alive… She cares about her family first and foremost. If she thinks you're jeopardizing that…"
The Greengrass daughter's mouth went dry. She would have loved to argue the subject more, but fear had settled in her gut. Astoria hadn't been severely punished upon her return before, but she had a nagging feeling that Narcissa was likely just biding her time. Crap, Astoria thought. As comfy as she was with Andromeda, things were going to be the polar opposite at home. And they were only going to get worse.
And they did.
Astoria knew she was spending more and more of her time at Andromeda's, but she was fine if she only had to handle the fights and snide remarks of her mother-in-law's. She'd also taken to carrying her wand in the sleeve of her left arm; that way, she'd be able to quickly draw it with her right hand if needed. Though the thought of having to seriously duel Narcissa Malfoy was a terrifying idea indeed.
Even the road to Andromeda's didn't feel as friendly with the growing tension at home. Astoria tried to think of the last time she'd seen Mrs. Lummox stop by—what, two, three months ago?
A set of footsteps paced themselves behind Astoria. She turned with a smile, thinking that—speak of the devil—it would be Mrs. Lummox with a new confection to share. But Astoria's smile fell and panic and anger bubbled up in her chest.
Narcissa was walking towards her. "Well, well, well…"
Astoria swallowed the lump in her throat. There was no need to make excuses now.
"I'd ask if you were having an affair, but I'll save that for a time when I don't recognize the house on which stoop you stand."
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Narcissa wouldn't try anything. Not here, not now, not in a Muggle neighborhood.
"But fraternizing with a traitor to the family?" Impossibly, the blonde's eyes grew colder than ever. "Befriending a traitor makes you a traitor, as well."
Astoria whipped open her eyes, but Narcissa was faster. The tip of her wand stuck out of the hem of her sleeve, and she cast both a Silencing Charm and a Full-Body Bind on her daughter-in-law. Astoria was quite literally paralyzed by more than fear.
Narcissa strolled up to her and grasped her arm painfully in a talon-like grip. "Now then, dear Astoria—"
"Astoria? Is that—" Andromeda opened her front door. She narrowed her eyes and flared her nostrils. "Cissy. Don't."
"—we simply must go home," Narcissa finished, eyes locked with her sister's, before Disapparating right before Andromeda's very eyes.
Astoria tried to cry out to Andromeda for help, in spite of the Silencing Charm. But it was obviously no use. Truthfully, Astoria wasn't sure Andromeda would've listened had Astoria been able to talk.
But that didn't matter. The next thing she knew, her eyes were blinded by the dim light of Malfoy Manor. She blinked a few times to readjust her sight, but Narcissa pushed her forward into a darkened room. The last thing she saw was Narcissa closing a door, saying,"If you are to act as a child, then you shall be treated as a child."
Then, it was black.
There was no use. In the inky jet darkness, Astoria couldn't find an escape route. At some point during their one-sided tussle, Narcissa had slipped her wand from her, and Astoria had never had a knack for wandless or nonverbal magic anyway.
Even with magic, Astoria had no idea where she was. All she knew was that she was in a medium-sized room, five meters by seven, with one door, a chair, and a tiny coffee table that appeared to keep moving into her way because she kept tripping over it every time she tried to find a way out.
It was frustrating. Draco might've shown her a few places out of the manor and Astoria had always known that she didn't know everything about the place. However, this just drove home that the place she had been expected to regard as her own was a pure mystery to her. If she ever got out of here and still had to stay, she would learn every nook and cranny of this accursed structure.
Of course, she was not planning to stay. …but it was not as though she had much of a choice right now.
Astoria spent what felt like days in that room. A few times food appeared out of nowhere on the coffee table and Astoria picked at it. But she couldn't live on it. Not even the bloody Malfoy house-elf could get by on it.
Frankly…I'm doomed, the witch thought. She sat with her back against the wall and brought her knees up to her chest. She hated this. She was a grown woman and yet she'd never felt like such a little girl.
Eventually she nodded off, only to be woken hours later by a slamming door far off and the sound of shouting voices. The door and walls muffled the words, but Astoria knew whoever was screaming and yelling—they weren't just angry. They were livid.
Footsteps neared the door and Astoria scrambled away just in time. The door was blown open; it splintered a bit as it hit the wall along the hinges. In walked Andromeda, who was scanning the room. When her eyes fell on Astoria, she grabbed her arm and heaved her up. Astoria winced and Andromeda panicked and let go.
"I'm sorry." Her faced hardened once more. "But we should go."
"You're forgetting one little thing."
Astoria pointed to Narcissa, who was stompning down the hallway. "THAT!"
Andromeda pushed Astoria behind her, brandishing her wand agains her sister. "Don't make me fire another hex at you, Cissy. You know they were always my strong suit."
Narcissa glared at her sibling, looking a lot like a huffing, puffing dragon in a copper corset. "Don't intervene, Dromeda."
"DON'T call me 'Dromeda'!" Andromeda marched right up to her sister and stuck her wand at the base of Narcissa's throat. Her eyes were crazed and reminded Astoria of Bellatrix's old Azkaban photo. "Don't," she repeated, " you ever called me that. That was Ted's and Ted's alone."
"Then why did you even set foot in the same space as me?" Narcissa sneered.
Andromeda narrowed her eyes. "Narcissa…believe it or not, I still love you. You're my sister and I'll always love you. But that doesn't mean I have to like you, especially with you imprisoning Astoria like this."
"I'm your sister! You barely know this girl!"
"Cissy, at this moment, I love her and I barely know you." Andromeda returned to Astoria and took her hand. "Let's go, Astoria. Cissy won't come after us," she added with a pointed look to her sister.
They left through the other end of the hallway, and traveled up a staircase that was under the basement and led outside. "I can't believe the manor had a room like that."
"I'm surprised you haven't gone crazy. That place… I showed Cissy that place when we were little. I'm glad I remember the path… That house wasn't always Malfoy Manor, you know. It belonged to the Black family until Abraxas took it as a dowry, and then Lucius wanted it for himself when he married Narcissa. We all used to play here when we were little." Andromeda had Astoria Side-Along Apparate to her house. The brunette cupped one of Astoria's cheeks in her hands. "Merlin, look at you…"
"Do I really look that bad?" Astoria asked with a nervous chuckle. When Andromeda frowned, she furrowed her brow. "Andromeda, how long was I there?"
"A… A week…"
"A week?" Astoria was glad Andromeda got her inside, because the adrenaline had run out and her knees gave way. "Ohh. I can't believe…"
"I'm sorry I didn't come after you sooner," Andromeda said. She bit her lower lip, a gesture of uncertainty which Astoria had never witnessed before from the older witch. "I feel stupid for it."
"Don't…," the hazel-eyed woman said. They went into the living room and Astoria knelt on the floor by the couch near the fireplace.
An odd beat passed. "You know…you can always stay with me," Andromeda mumbled.
Astoria halfheartedly chuckled. "Oh, can I really?" She sighed and followed her arms on the piece of furniture resting her head on her arms. "I think it's about time for Scorpius to finally get that apartment he wanted to share with Albus. I don't think either of us should go home now." Astoria made a mental not to write her son a long letter later.
Andromeda sat on the carpet beside her companion, gently tugging on her arm. "So what now?"
Astoria frowned. "I…I don't know. I'm not really sure. I can't believe things just—just broke so badly. This is ridiculous…!" She rolled her eyes and ran a hand through her hair, cringing at how grimy it was.
"Well, you wanted a new life. You got it," Andromeda mumbled. She tugged a little more on Astoria's arm before pulling the younger witch onto her lap and cradling her. "Just so you know," she ventured, holding her carefully but tightly enough so Astoria might feel safe, "I'm not your mother or sister or anything."
"No, you're my friend."
"Something like that."
Astoria smiled at Andromeda's sentiment and looked up at her. She pecked her cheek with a smile. Then she watched Andromeda for a moment longer before daring to lightly peck her mauve lips. Andromeda smiled briefly against her mouth before moving to stare at the fire in the hearth, but Astoria didn't mind. She rested her head against Andromeda's chest, not needing any more. At least, for now.
Wow. Definitely my longest femslash/implied femslash so far! :D And I enjoyed every minute of it! :] Now, before you cry about OOC-ness, consider a few things: Andy being bitter because purebloods never seemed to bring her anything but misery (hello! Death of Ted!), Cissy being so bloody evil because that's really just her control-freak personality coming through (I get the feeling she really does want the perfect family), & Andy opening up to Astoria in a possibly non-platonic way not because she suddenly has the hots for women but because she made a deep connection with Astoria. *End babbling*
Thanks so much for reading! Leave a review, please! And I hope you enjoyed it, Claire!