Differences

There's his wife, the mother of his child and his life partner. And then there's the love of his life, the woman of his dreams and his always and forever what-if…

X

There's his wife, Astoria Greengrass-Malfoy.
And she's the epitome of beautiful. Fare, perfectly clear skin. Long, straight, dark brown hair. Sparkling blue eyes. Plump, luscious lips. A tall, slim frame with legs that go on for miles. She's got the physic, and appearance of a model. And she's got the attitude to go along with it. She knows she's beautiful. She's always known it, and she's always known exactly how to use it to her advantage.

X

And then there's Hermione Granger.
And she's the epitome of beauty, pure and raw. She isn't stunning or gorgeous, or sexy like his wife, but she's still rather beautiful. Tanned skin. [It shines in the sunlight that seeps in through the windows.] A blanket of small freckles across the bridge of her nose. [He's counted them plenty of times.] Long, curly, untamable dark brown hair. [He tangles his fingers in her hair, getting them caught in the knots as he tugs affectionately.] Warm, brown eyes. [They're so kind and inviting and he's drowning...] Pink, heart-shaped lips. [Oh-so-kissable.] A short, slim frame with curves in all the right places. [She fits so perfectly against him, like they were carved from the same stone.] She doesn't have the physical appearance or attitude of a model. [Although he could spend all day, and all night just staring at her.] But she has a kind heart, and a brave soul [and sometimes-most times-he wants to crawl inside her chest and just live there] and it's fucking beautiful. She doesn't even have a clue. She doesn't know she's beautiful-she doesn't even think she's beautiful. She doesn't understand why he stares and she shakes her head when he tells her why. And that, he thinks, is what makes her so fucking gorgeous.

X

Astoria is so well put-together that she's sort of...well, perfect. But she's frigid. Cold. Stiff.
She walks with the elegance of a pureblood. Her shoulders pushed back, square and straight and poised. Her neck is open and elevated. Her head is always held high, with pride and pureblood etiquette. She is quietly reserved.
She is the epitome of the perfect wife, the perfect mother.
There's just no life to her. It's like she lives inside a box, never venturing outside of it. Never even wanting to. Everything has its place and everything has to be in its place, and only then is she happy. She lives by routines, never falling off track.
There's no excitement. No fire. No passion.
She just...is.

X

Hermione knows exactly who she is. [She knew way before anybody else did.] But it doesn't end there. She, unlike his wife, allows herself room to grow. Room to mature. Room to explore. [She's been growing and maturing and exploring far longer than anyone else.]
She's warm and fluffy and adventurous. [She has these wild dreams-fantasies-of doing all sorts of crazy things.] She walks with elegance of a different kind. [She trips and stumbles, but it's graceful and beautiful.] She is confident and powerful and passionate. She has no fear. [He only wishes he were as brave as her.]
She isn't perfect, but she's still perfectly happy being imperfect. She makes mistakes. She doesn't always get it right, but even when it's wrong it's okay. When she laughs, she laughs out loud-the wholehearted kind, where she throws her head back and closes her eyes. [She is free.] When cries, she cries for all the wrong reasons and when she talks, she's animated and lively. [Nobody can stop her. Nobody even dares to try.]
There is fire in her eyes and passion in her heart.
She is alive.

X

He loves his wife, Astoria. He does.
He loves that she loves him.
He loves that while she can be cold and uncaring to the rest of the world, she is kind and compassionate and loving to their son.
He loves that she is loyal, despite his indiscretions.
He loves that she makes him dinner, even when he isn't hungry because she doesn't want him to starve-as though one meal is going to make him waste away.
He loves that she is quiet and focused in her work.
He loves her as a person. As a friend. As his wife and his life partner.
But he isn't in love with her.

X

How can he be, when his heart craves another?
When it's her dark, unruly curls he wishes lay upon his pillow sheets. When it's her dark brown eyes he craves staring back and her heart-shaped lips kissing him back and her quick, witty tongue arguing back. When it's her body he craves sleeping next to his, with his arm curled around her waist and his face buried into the back of her neck.
He is in love with her. With her mind and her heart and her soul. With her obnoxious laugh and her beautiful smile.
[His wife knows, but she never tells.]

X

It's been years. Years since he's seen her, been with her. Years since he's lost himself in her warm eyes and tasted her kiss. Years since he's held her.
And while he loves his wife and wouldn't trade his family for the world, sometimes he wonders. And he will always wonder. What if?
What if he had been stronger, braver?
What if he hadn't forced her to give up on him? [What if he hadn't given up on himself?]
What if he had followed his heart instead of his parent's directions?
What if it had been her?