25 December 1994

"Astoria, if you don't get to the common room now and stop hovering, I swear I'll hex you," Daphne told her sister, her eyes flashing dangerously.

Little blonde Astoria, already dressed in silky robes of deep violet, hopped off Pansy Parkinson's bed. "The ball starts at eight, Daphne," she said for the umpteenth time. "You shouldn't walk in late on your own, especially if you don't have a date."

Daphne, still in her green dressing gown, turned on her bed to stare icily over her shoulder. "Astoria. I will be there," she said coldly. "And I have a date. If anyone shouldn't walk in there, it's you, you're only a third-year."

"A 'date,'" Astoria said with a laugh, drawing quotation marks in the air. "Listen, Daph, if he doesn't talk, he doesn't count."

"Talking? Don't make me laugh," Daphne answered. "Unlike you, I don't need constant snogging to confirm my existence."

"But I got asked to the ball, didn't I? And you had to ask him," Astoria said nastily, and Daphne's mouth fell open. Astoria rolled her eyes, softening. "I'm sorry," she said, annoyed, coming over to sit by Daphne. "I'm sorry, Daph, it's Christmas. We shouldn't fight."

Daphne sighed, opening her compact mirror to check her makeup again. "It's all right," she said finally, smoothing a curl of dark red hair behind her ear and running her finger over her dark lipstick.

Astoria rested her head on Daphne's shoulder, her blonde curls tickling Daphne's neck. "I'd better get out there," she said softly, and Daphne nodded. Astoria got up and walked to the dormitory door.

"Astoria?" Daphne called, and her sister turned. "You look very nice."

One corner of Astoria's mouth lifted. "Happy Christmas, Daph."

Daphne nodded, and Astoria walked out.

Daphne sighed, standing up at last, and walked over to her trunk. Kneeling, she lifted out a set of tight robes of black silk and laid them on the bed. Then she reached back into her trunk and produced a small velvet box, which contained her mother's emerald earrings, the only piece of jewelry that Daphne had begged her father to keep more than two years ago now. Astoria had more of their mother's jewelry, but Daphne had asked only for these earrings.

Daphne gazed at the ensemble. It would do, she told herself, thinking of Astoria's glittery violet outfit and jewels; it would do wonderfully. She liked simplicity, elegance—things that one would not necessarily notice unless they looked carefully. She did not care for flashiness or boasting. If she had pure blood, then she knew it, and nothing more need be said. If she belonged to Slytherin House, she wore the robes, and that was that. If she was the best in her year in Astronomy, then that was enough.

She thought of Astoria again; she knew who was interested in her younger sister, and why, regardless of whether he took Pansy Parkinson to the ball tonight. Well, perhaps they would make a nice couple one day, she thought. Astoria Malfoy did have a nice ring to it. And then Astoria would have all the glitter and finery she so loved, and the name to go with it.

Daphne, meanwhile, would take what she felt in her heart was best. She looked at the mirror that stood between hers and Millie's beds, drawing her shoulders back and gazing at herself imperiously. Yes, she thought. She knew what she was—it showed in her bearing—and that was all that mattered.

Half an hour later, she walked out into the empty common room. Well, nearly empty.

"Hi," said a tall, skinny boy, leaping to his feet near the fireplace. He didn't stand up straight—he never did—so his finely cut black robes brushed the floor. Daphne smiled gently and walked over to Theo, reaching up to brush his shoulders.

"Are you ready?" she asked, meeting his dark, furtive eyes. They were so much warmer than one would have expected from such an introverted, quiet boy.

"Yeah," he said, nodding. "It's half-past, I think we'll have missed most of the crowds."

"All right," Daphne said, smiling and patting his arm. She took his hand. "Come on."

"Daphne?" Theo said, and she stopped, just ahead of him on the stairs out of the common room, still ahead of him. She smiled kindly.

Theo took a deep breath, seeming to struggle with what he wanted to say. "You—you look really nice," he said at last.

"Thanks, Theo," Daphne said, touching her free hand to her neck. Her fingertips brushed her mother's earrings. Theo nodded sheepishly and shrugged. "Come on," Daphne said, tugging his hand. "Let's go see if we can get a table away from those damn Gryffindors."

Theo smiled.


Oh, Slytherins...*sigh*. Round Seven for the Thirty-Four Prompts Challenge! A Daphne/Theodore pairing. I never really got to know these characters...this was fun. Hope you like!

Lucy

Edit: I *know* Malfoy went to Yule Ball with Pansy, and HE DOES GO WITH HER in this story. Astoria HAS NO IDEA that Malfoy likes her at this point. Daphne HAS figured it out. BUT, in my head, I think he's got the hots for Astoria, because I don't think he really likes Pansy much. Kay? Kay. It's just a tweak on perspective. I've added in the line about Pansy to help.