A HariPo fanfic
Note for all chapters: The Harry Potter characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not me. These pairings were discovered by me & my FFN twin, Morghen, so please give us a little mention if you write them! Thanks! They are some of many of Mew and Mor's Weird Pairings, most of which you may find in the M&MWP forum. Check out and join the forum FUN! Read, review, and enjoy!
For Jess, who can't get enough of femslash pairings by me, especially of these 3. ;]
*Note: This story has femslash, and femslash abounds. There's a plot, yes, but you've been warned, so no bitching about all the femslash. Also, this uses some of the "canon" from my stories "It's Called a Funhouse," "Soldiers of Love," "Pleasant Façade," "Mother Knows Best," "backwards," "One Minute to Drown," and "milkweed liquor messes," though it is not necessaryto read those before this. You just might like them, too.
Salutation: Millicent, Pansy, & Astoria
The wind blustered through the witches and wizards…and Muggles…of London, and it was the kind of wind that chilled one to the bone. Odd. It was a little too cold for mid-September.
That's what Millicent Bulstrode thought, anyway. Yes, she was capable of thought. She's had decades to grow up and get a mind and she indeed has one. But she wondered if she really did have one, considering where she now found herself.
She was outside of a shop that sold sweets. "Chocolate Incantations," it was called. It was a misnomer; it sold more than chocolate things. It also had no business being in a secluded part of London, on the outskirts. It should have been in Diagon Alley, because the place sold Wizarding treats, as well as Muggle ones. Still, Millicent couldn't entirely complain. She liked the items sold too much to risk seeing it closed.
Standing outside the window, Millicent looked inside and saw the shopkeeper—a Mr. Willoughby—restocking some of the shelf items. He saw her and politely waved. In the back, Mrs. Willoughby emerged and her husband pointed out Millicent to her, so she also waved.
Millicent's cheeks felt warm at the kind gestures. She still didn't feel deserving of such things, even though the war was far behind her.
Mr. Willoughby motioned for her to stay put, and he wandered to the side of the store that couldn't be viewed from the window.
That was when Millicent left. She knew he was going to fetch someone, and Millicent couldn't bear to see that someone, not now. And perhaps not ever again.
In her haste, Millicent decided to go to a place she had not been to in years: Diagon Alley. Abbott, who'd taken over the Leaky Cauldron almost right out of school, raised a lazy but curious eyebrow as Millicent dashed out the back to head toward the Wizarding mecca, but Millicent didn't give her the chance for words or appraisal. Millicent hadn't seen any of her schoolmates since her twenties, and she didn't feel like shooting the breeze now, either.
But the air in Diagon Alley made her breathe easy. The air was different there than in any other part of the world except for maybe Hogsmeade. The air felt magically charged, and it was something that thrummed in her blood, to be surrounded by so much magic. Millicent didn't hold anything against Muggles, actually—she'd had a long time to interact with a few and change her mind about blood purity—but there was a sense of being home when she was amongst the magical variety.
Happier, Millicent allowed herself a tiny smile as she strolled slowly up the street. Some places had closed permanently during the war—for instance, Florean's wouldn't have been the same without the late Florean Fortescue. Others had been repaired and looked as though time had left them untouched; Ollivanders would always be around, and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes couldn't be beat despite the loss of one half of its creative mind. Still more were shops that had popped up in the reconstruction era—The Graces Three, a tearoom that had originated in Hogsmeade; Quality Quidditch Quickies, an extension of Quality Quidditch Supplies that was dedicated solely to broom repair, and a smart business decision considering the baby boom that had lasted from the five to ten years after the war, producing many a new Quidditch fan and goer; and Garland Boutique, a wedding store that sold everything from organization services to the wedding dress to the jewelry…the only things it didn't sell were rings.
Millicent had only ever been to The Graces Three once, and she had no interest in Quidditch, but she had never been inside Garland Boutique; she'd only ever heard about it. She didn't fancy herself one of those witches to squeal about weddings and the like, but she also couldn't picture ever having to go inside such a store. Millicent Bulstrode, in a wedding dress? Hardly! …at the thought, Millicent dropped her eyes to her figure. She'd lost some weight from fear in the war and it had never returned, but she still thought of herself as box-ish. There was nothing anyone would want with a drab box like her.
She bit her lip as she thought of one person…but she reprimanded herself. There was nothing anyone would want with a drab box like her. She was sure of it.
Still, she could long, couldn't she? Every girl had a tiny part of her that dreamed of getting married or at least finding love. Millicent's breath fogged the window as she rested her eyes on two of the dresses in the window display. One was fluffy but slightly resembled dress robes. The other, which was pale silver instead of white like the first, was cut to hug the wearer's shape while still being elegant. Now Millicent envied the designer's artistry, and not just the future wearer's life.
Millicent turned to walk away, but upon turning she saw someone between the dresses. Actually, there were two people. One was behind the counter, and the other was rummaging through her purse. But they couldn't be…
The witch steeled herself and pushed open the door. She jumped, not realizing there was a bell to announce customers…just as there was a bell in almost every other shop on Diagon Alley. The two people at the counter stared at her, and recognition seemed to hit them, too.
"Millicent?" Pansy Parkinson asked from behind the counter.
Pansy couldn't believe her eyes. She actually squinted until she started believing them, and then Millicent drew near. Merlin be damned…it really was Millicent Bulstrode!
Millicent only had to take a few steps before she joined Pansy and her customer, the woman was so tall. But she looked confused, unsure perhaps if she should have been smiling and hugging people or turning and leaving the store right away. "Is that really you, Pansy?" she finally asked.
Pansy nodded and came out from behind the counter. She stood awkwardly for a second before hugging her friend's middle—if they could be called friends. Becoming an adult had forced Pansy to take another look at her relationships in Slytherin House, and she knew she had treated Millicent like a thug on many an occasion. If Millicent recalled that, she didn't let on, as she gently returned the embrace. Pansy backed away and smiled a bit. "I can't believe… Well, I can't believe a lot."
Pansy's customer also brightened. "Oh, my—Millicent?"
Millicent looked more confused than before. "Sorry, I know I know you, but I just can't place…"
"It's me, Astoria!"
Millicent looked taken aback. "Astoria Greengrass? Queenie's little sister?"
Astoria snorted. "Oh, please, no one but Blaise has used that nickname in ages."
The tall witch's eyes widened. "Daphne and Blaise? When…?"
The smile on Astoria's face faded. "Didn't you know? I thought Daph had stayed in touch with everyone over the years…"
Pansy bit her lip. Astoria might be two years their junior, but she had always been fairly close to those in their year because of Daphne; Astoria had been like a little sister to all of them. However, that didn't mean that Astoria couldn't be out of the loop. "Ah, Astoria—"
"It's fine," Millicent interrupted. She looked grateful that Pansy was going to save. "I stopped talking with everyone after the war."
"What?" Astoria's face fell. "Why?"
"Well, it was the war…and we all did things we regretted. Plus there was so much to try and understand…" Her expression was pained, so Pansy stepped in.
"Come on, Astoria. Not everyone was you and Draco. Daphne and Blaise took a while to find happiness, and it was only a few months ago when Tracey and Theo finally conceded that they were more than friends and got married. Hell, I'm still paying for wanting to hand Potter over during the battle."
Everyone looked uncomfortable at that, but Pansy was okay with it. She had gotten used to the effect her presence had in places, and the effect her personality caused around people. But she had learned to toughen up; she couldn't be protected by anyone—all she had to trust was her wits and her wand.
Pansy waved away the sudden silence and ushered them to sit at her planning table in the back. "Now, let's not harp on about foul things. Anyone hungry?"
Astoria nodded and Millicent opened and shut her mouth without saying anything. Pansy nodded and went into the back, where half of her storage room was a kitchen. She grabbed a marbled cake from the fridge and pointed her wand to make tea. Once set, she joined her friends, finding Astoria chatting away.
"It was a few years after we married that Draco and I had Scorpius," Astoria told Millicent. She rummaged through her purse and pulled out a worn photo, though it looked recent considering how much older Scorpius looked as he wrapped his arms around his mother again and again. Astoria grinned sweetly at the moving image, and Pansy felt a pang of jealousy…but she dismissed it. Pansy Parkinson wasn't the family type.
"Sweet Salazar… Scorpius looks exactly like his dad," Millicent said.
Pansy sipped her tea, and she thought it might have been a trick of the light that made her see Astoria grit her teeth before resuming smiling. "Yes, yes, he does."
Pansy took the photo and stared at it. "On the surface, maybe. He's got Draco's eyes and hair…but that smile's all Greengrass. It reminds me exactly of you and Daphne."
Millicent turned to Pansy then. "So Astoria's got a family…what about you?"
Pansy shook her head. "Nope. There was nothing left for me. And I was bloody lucky that I could get the permit for this store. Do you know how much of the Ministry is overladen with Weasleys and Potters?" She paused, and the other two remained very still. Curious. "Anyway, I thought that they might hold grudges…but they're all about live-and-let-live these days. They seem to care less and less about old feuds."
Astoria nodded. "That's actually why I'm here," she told Millicent. "I've come to Pansy not as a friend but as a customer. Scorpius is engaged to Rose Weasley, the daughter of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. They'll be married at the beginning of March." Her smiled could be described as strained, at best.
"Don't tell me now that you don't like the girl," Pansy said, sighing. "After months of planning already? I really don't want to give you back your money."
The hazel-haired woman shook her head. "No, never. I don't hate her. Rose…is good for Scorpius. She's a good influence on him."
"I thought you told me he was Head Boy at school?"
"He's good and smart, but Rose's charm heightens that." Astoria spoke fondly of her soon-to-be daughter-in-law. "Anyway, that reminds me—did you get in those earrings?"
"The pale sapphire ones? Yes, but I think the dark sapphire ones—"
"No. Her eyes are periwinkle, not ultramarine." She paused, with their eyes on her. "What? I know my colors."
Pansy laughed, because Astoria had her quirks. "All right, all right. I'll get them for you after we're done here. She's watching her weight, right? There will be three more fittings before the wedding—one next month, one in December, and one a few days before the wedding. I'm not completely altering a dress just because she eats like her father."
"No, she's been very careful."
"Good." She looked at Millicent. "So…we've given you little tidbits. What about you, Millicent?" Her eyes softened. "How've you been?"
Millicent ate her piece of cake very slowly, as if she might regain all that weight from their school days. "I've been…neutral. I guess."
"You guess?" Astoria asked, brow furrowed. "That's hardly an answer." Pansy gave her a look, which Astoria returned with a "What did I do?" expression.
The tall witch pushed a chunk of her brown hair behind her ear. "'Neutral' is good, in my opinion. It's not evil, which is good. It's not dangerous, which is good. It's not…scary, which is good. So…it's all good."
Pansy quirked an eyebrow. "Mil…I kind of agree with Astoria. Are you all right?"
She finished her cake and suddenly downed her tea, though Pansy knew it had gone cold. Her own had chilled a while ago. Millicent nodded.
"Okay… What do you do these days?"
For a second, her eyes hardened, but then she sighed. "Nothing."
"Nothing at all?"
"Well, there must be something."
Millicent clenched her jaw. "No, there doesn't have to be."
Astoria and Pansy exchanged glances. "No job or hobbies?" Astoria inquired very gently.
"…I like sweets. That's it."
Pansy really wanted to shake her for her lack of a response. Why was it that people always dragged their feet? Not Pansy. Pansy never dragged her feet. She couldn't stand it! Pansy had not dragged her feet once and she would never let it—her conscience chided her.
She had dragged her feet once.
But that wasn't important. That was a thing of the past. Pansy didn't like thinking of the past, didn't like dwelling on it. So she nudged Millicent's foot with her toe. "I'm glad that's one thing that didn't change. That, and your hair. The wavy bob has always suited you, Mil."
Millicent smiled a little then. "Thanks, Pansy."
"Mm-hmm." She glanced at her watch. "Crap! Astoria, look at the time!"
Astoria glimpsed the dusk sky outside the window and gaped. "Is it really night already?"
"Neither of you noticed that the sun was low in the sky earlier?" Millicent asked.
Pansy grimaced. "I was a little preoccupied. But, Astoria, you need to go, don't you? I find it hard to believe that Narcissa would let dinner be late, even considering the wedding preparations."
Astoria blanched. "Hell. Yes, I must go—could you just give me the jewels now? I'll pay you next time."
Pansy nodded and Summoned the order from behind the counter, tossing the package to Astoria before the woman hustled from the table. Astoria paused at the door.
Astoria went back and tugged on Millicent's arm. "You're coming with me."
Millicent was flabbergasted. "I—what? Why? You two are the only people I've seen in ages and—"
"Exactly," Astoria replied with a sweet smile that was borderline terrifying. "You should come say hi and stay for dinner. Narcissa was like a den mother to us Slytherin gals, so you should at least let her know you're alive."
While Millicent looked as though she didn't quite agree, Pansy gave Astoria a look and pointed to her watch. Astoria nodded and dragged Millicent with her anyway. Once they were out the door, Pansy looked around the store and decided to close a few minutes early.
As she flipped the "OPEN" sign to "CLOSED," she caught a glimpse of a blonde walking up the street. But upon closer inspection, Pansy squelched the fluttering in her stomach. That person was not the one who'd once made her drag her feet. Pansy closed the blinds, ending another day and another day's daydreams.
Perhaps bringing Millicent along had been the best idea ever. Astoria internally promised that she would treat Millicent to anything she wanted later, because Narcissa's attention had been almost solely on her since they had set foot inside Malfoy Manor.
"I'm stunned that Astoria brought anyone home for dinner," her mother-in-law said as the three witches headed into the sitting room. "Normally she's too mousy to say much to anyone."
"I see," Millicent said politely out of respect to both of them. Astoria rolled her eyes; this could've gone a lot worse.
Narcissa nodded emphatically. "The only time she wasn't mousy was when she won Draco's heart," she stated, almost as though she revered Astoria as some sort of heroine…which was such a lie. Narcissa only appreciated Astoria for bringing Draco out of his post-war funk and only for doing that. The rest of the time, Narcissa "thought aloud" about the fact that none of the Slytherin girls had been "right for Draco." Astoria included.
"How did she do that?" Millicent asked.
Astoria excused herself from the room before hiding out in the kitchen. No doubt Narcissa would be going on and on to Millicent about Draco's trials and tribulations. She would tell Millicent that after running from the battle, the Malfoy family had never been the same. She would say that Draco had retreated from society, and that Lucius had narrowly escaped Azkaban. She would tell Millicent that Astoria had gotten fed up with Draco's moping and finally told him to figure himself out, otherwise he would never be a catch. Narcissa would tell Millicent that Draco had taken Astoria's advice and changed, just to be a catch for her.
But what Astoria was sure Narcissa would avoid were the taboo topics. Narcissa wouldn't say a thing about Lucius' precarious status; he was a consultant to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement regarding Dark activities, and he did this free—it was part of his agreement to name names and put away other Death Eaters and potential Dark wizards, lest he find himself in Azkaban anyway. Narcissa also wouldn't mention that his father's balancing act kept Draco from sleep half the time, nor would she mention the time when she had been crying so loudly in the night over past misdeeds that Astoria had found her and comforted her. Least of all, Narcissa would definitely not be mentioning the fact that Scorpius got on okay with his grandparents and father, but he wanted little to do with the Malfoy name. Granted, Narcissa knew nothing of Scorpius almost considering taking Rose's name—he loved the Weasleys and Potters, all of them—but she would never tell another living soul that her grandson didn't want to be a part of their family. The Greengrasses were fine, and Daphne still spoiled him from time to time. But Malfoys? Scorpius and Malfoys didn't mix.
Astoria rather thought the same thing of herself. She detested Lucius, she hated Narcissa more (probably because she knew her more personally, the evil-stepmother-ish hag she was most of the time), and Astoria felt nothing for Draco. Once upon a time, she had enjoyed their companionship. Once upon a time, she had been in love with the idea of having the perfect family.
Then she realized that Narcissa was the one who really wanted perfection, and Astoria stopped working towards it.
As the family hadn't a house-elf since the war (it was actually part of Lucius' agreement with the Ministry—the Malfoys could have no servants), Astoria got to making supper. Though they had no house-elves, sometimes Astoria felt like one…but then Scorpius would come home and be appreciative and sometimes even help his mother out, and things would look better. Astoria liked best the moments when she and her son could get away from the Malfoy taint and be a happy little family, kind of like the Weasleys.
She bit her lip as she stuck a large roast in the oven. If they were really a happy little family, then she wouldn't betray her son, would she? Perhaps for his own protection, for his own sake…but never because the betrayal might give her something, might make her feel good. No, never, of course not.
Time flew by as she rushed to deliver a meal to feed six. Astoria had just drizzled a gravy over the roast when she heard a familiar, chiming laugh ring outside the kitchen door. In walked Rose and Scorpius. "Mum!" Scorpius said before sweeping her into a hug that lifted the tiny witch off the ground.
Astoria grinned. Pansy was right; Scorpius had Draco's eyes and hair, but the rest of him—including his somewhat beefy stature and his strength—was all Greengrass, because her father, uncles, and grandfather had all been the same way. When he released her, he kissed her cheek. "Welcome home, Scorpius."
Rose was right behind him with a big, warm hug, too, but Astoria… Well, it didn't feel quite right. Rose pecked her cheek as though she was already Astoria's daughter-in-law, and her smile never left her face. "Hi, Astoria. How are you today?"
"The same old, same old," the mother fibbed, her fingers dancing along her shirt collar as she grew uncomfortably warm. "I take it you two had a good day at work?"
Scorpius snickered. "Sometime this year, I know Harry will finally assign me to a team and let me get away from his trainee group. I make a better Auror than Al does."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Oh, come off it, Scor. Al might be waif-like compared to you, but he's clever. He's like Uncle Harry in that regard—people underestimate him. Not that people wouldn't underestimate big ol' lugs like you and Teddy," she quickly added when he gave her a look.
"Speaking of lugs," Astoria interrupted. "Where is your grandmother?"
"Now, Mum, that's not very nice—"
"I mean—we have a guest, Scorpius." Astoria smiled. "She's a 'big ol' lug,' as Rose might say," she added, and Rose blushed. "But she's very loveable. I left her with Narcissa while I made dinner."
Interested, Scorpius left the kitchen in search of Narcissa, but Rose stayed behind. "Do you need any help, Astoria?" she asked.
The mother shook her head. "No, thank you." She waved her wand, sending the dishes and food flying out the door and into the dining room. They exchanged a conspiratorial wink, as Narcissa was not fond of such magic being used around anything she might eat.
"I love being here," Rose said as Astoria washed up. "It reminds me of home."
Astoria gawked at her. "What? Why? Is everything all right at home?"
Rose laughed. "Of course. What, you think this family's broken?"
The older witch sighed. "Between you and me, we take the 'fun' out of 'dysfunctional.'"
The young woman raised an eyebrow at that, and Astoria had to move away from that stare. It was too friendly, too personal. "That leaves you only with 'dysctional,' though, which isn't a word."
"Well, it is now. Now, let's fetch the others and eat."
They found Scorpius in the sitting room with Narcissa and Millicent, and already Scorpius was calling her "Aunt Millie." Apparently she'd said something to earn his approval. Of course, it might've been simply because she was a close friend of his mother's and not his grandparents'. "Dinner is served," Astoria cut in, making Narcissa pause in lamenting about how Tracey and Theodore could've had a more lavish wedding.
"Where is Lucius?" Narcissa asked as they all stood to go to the dining room.
Astoria bit back a snippy retort. "He's not home yet."
"We can't eat without him. He's a part of this family."
Or maybe she couldn't hold it back. "Then maybe you should look after your husband," the Greengrass said lowly as the others sat. Even Draco had come downstairs and was at one end of the table.
Narcissa scowled and seated herself on the opposite end from Astoria, much to Astoria's relief. And as the meal went on, Astoria was even more grateful for Millicent's presence. Astoria had remembered her as being very quiet when they were younger, but Millicent spoke a little more now, though she often followed the conversation instead of leading it. There was much to follow, too, as Scorpius basically caught her up on his entire life so far—all twenty-three years of it. Yet, in his storytelling, he never let Millicent feel as though she had appeared out of thin air. And with Millicent present, Narcissa had to hold her tongue on more than one occasion—and Lucius did the same when he arrived halfway through dinner. Narcissa's glare at him was priceless. Astoria would've loved a picture.
After the meal, Lucius and Narcissa retired early, as did Draco. This left Astoria and the other three to enjoy themselves with dessert, a light pudding Astoria had made last-minute before Rose and Scorpius had gotten home. "That was nice," Astoria said of the meal, for once actually meaning it.
Millicent nodded. "It was. I liked it. You're a great cook, Astoria."
"Thank you, Millicent."
Scorpius cleared his throat. "I've only ever heard of you, Aunt Millie. How come you've never visited before?"
Astoria's ears perked up, for she was just as curious as Pansy had been and now she wondered if Millicent would finally give a straight answer. But Millicent was as vague as before. "I'm a very private person, Scorpius. I've kept to myself all this time."
"That must've been tough," Rose remarked sympathetically. "Are you sticking around…?"
Millicent hesitated, but she slowly nodded. "I think so. I think maybe I'm ready to come back to my old friends—at least, some of them." She gave Astoria a smile then, and it made Astoria feel as though she had an ally in this den of Malfoys.
"I'm glad I bumped into you earlier," Astoria said, and she gave the tall witch a one-armed hug. Millicent really was just like another sister to her.
"Oh, that reminds me! You said you were picking up something from the boutique?" Rose prompted Astoria.
"Ah. Right." Astoria shoved all friendly thoughts aside and thought of nothing but the jewelry. She went into the other room to fetch it, but she couldn't find her bag. Where had she left it?"
"Do you need some help?" Rose asked, spooking her as Astoria looked in the kitchen.
"No, I don't think so. I came straight here once I got home, so—" Her words halted when she and Rose reached for her purse at the same time. Astoria withdrew her hand involuntarily when their fingers touched, as though she'd been scalded. But…nothing of the sort had happened.
Rose eyed her and passed the bag. "Er, sorry…"
Astoria shook her head and mumbled something incoherent as she rummaged through the bag and found the package from Pansy. She thrust it at Rose. "Here."
"Thank you. You never did tell me what you were getting today."
"Just open it."
Rose complied, and her eyes lit up as she held the gold and sapphire earrings. "Oh my—! Astoria, you really shouldn't have."
"Every bride needs something blue, don't they?"
"Please, Astoria, tell me how much it—"
Astoria shook her head. "No, this is a gift from me to you. It's something new and something blue."
Rose sucked on her lower lip and gave Astoria a watery smile. "You're fabulous, you know that?"
Truth be told, Astoria wanted to roll her eyes then, but she didn't. Instead, she encouraged Rose to try on the necklace.
"Could you help me out, then?" Rose asked.
Astoria took one earring from her and reached up—Rose was about two inches taller—slipping the piece into her left ear, behind her hair. Her fingers touched her skin, and Astoria moved her hands away. She picked up a silver serving tray so that Rose could admire her reflection.
"Beautiful," the redheaded witch breathed.
Astoria couldn't help but agree.
:) I had to cut ch1 into 2 parts, otherwise it would've been way too long. However, this first part is a great hint of things to come, and I hope you enjoy ch2 even more. There is so much to develop, though I have things set fairly solidly in my head. So do stay with the story! And cookies if you know where my original creation, The Graces Three, has popped up before. ;]
Thank you very much for reading, and please drop a review before moving on, thanks.
See you in ch2!