Disclaimer: These stories are based on characters and situations created and owned by J. K. Rowling. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: This is a collection of one-shots, vignettes, and short stories (sometimes even alternate scenes and outtakes/omakes) belonging to the journals & ice cream series. They don't impact on the understanding of the main eight-story arc, but they do help make the narrative richer. I'll try to post them in chronological order, in accordance with the journals & ice cream stories.
Summary: Set between Draco Malfoy and the Perils of Dating and Ronald Weasley and the Midlife Crises. Astoria pens a cathartic letter to her ex-husband.
things better said
July 2, 2019
I know it's been several months since I last saw you, but I hear from the gossip vine – and the Prophet – that you are doing well. I'm glad. Truly, I am. I think we've said most of what he had to say to each other already, so… I'm writing because it is cathartic, and because I know you'll understand, and I think you'd like to know what happened after that night in April anyway. You needn't reply to this. I don't even know if I'll send this.
It was April 18, and I was waiting in one of the Ministry's interrogation chambers. Middle of the day – I hadn't slept at all the previous night and I hadn't had anything to eat for almost two days. The least they could have offered me was a glass of water, but I didn't even get that.
"You killed a man, Ms Greengrass."
I have never liked Harry Potter as much as I probably ought to. He is the Wizarding world's hero, their poster boy, the one they love. If you don't like him, people assume you are trying to be edgy, or thinking it's cool to think against the flow. That, or you are a Dark Lord supporter. I am not attempting to be edgy or think against the flow, nor am I a Dark Lord supporter. I just genuinely do not like Harry Potter, for no other reason than I do not like him. Not all emotions are rational.
From his face, I could sense the feeling was mutual.
"It was self defence," I said.
From a certain point of view, it was. Ignatius Pantera was holding a gun; I disarmed him. He attacked; I defended.
This is for Titania, you bastard. His head snapping back sharply, the bullet smacking him straight between the eyes…
"Right," Potter said, and I knew he didn't believe me. He'd been an Auror too long – he's spoken to too many murderers – to know when someone was lying. Except when that someone happens to be a fellow Auror putting on an idiot act. You were right: some Auror he is.
Vitus stood behind me, a quiet pillar of strength. He stepped forward and touched my arm, ever so slightly. "I was witness to it, Mr Potter," he said. We didn't look at each other, but my lips managed to curve into a small smile to let him know how much I appreciated it. How much I appreciated him. I know you don't understand it, Draco, but like I said before… not all emotions are rational. "Astoria is telling the truth."
Potter glanced back and forth between us, putting two and two together. "Right," he said again, and scrawled something down on some parchment. "So let me get this straight. After sending Draco Malfoy a letter incriminating Ignatius Pantera as a suspect in the murders of at least seven people, you – Astoria Greengrass – feared he would confront Pantera on his own. Shortly afterwards, I, Harry Potter, received the evidence supporting the theory and a request from Malfoy to go to Pantera's private practice in Diagon Alley. Upon your arrival – with Vitus Fallone –"
"We were together at the time Astoria sent the letter to Mr Malfoy."
Potter blinked as us. "I… see," he said, then continued. "Upon your arrival, you heard a gunshot."
"Three," I corrected. "Three gunshots."
"Three gunshots," Potter amended, frowning to himself. "You rushed in to –"
"Do we really need to go through all of this again, Potter?"
He put his quill down and glared at me. "Actually, yes, Ms Greengrass, we do. You rushed into the room to find Pantera leaning over Draco Malfoy, holding a gun, and the body of the young woman on the ground near the door. You used Accio to take the gun."
"All right." He wrote that down.
"Is that all?"
He put the quill down again, harder this time. "I suspect that it's all I'll be getting from you."
"Your suspicions are correct."
Potter leaned back in his chair. "I'll just make up the rest of your statement then, shall I?"
"If you'd be so kind."
He rubbed his eyes tiredly. He didn't look well, I recall thinking. Ill and exhausted, as if the whole ordeal was simply too much for him. "We do offer therapy sessions for people who have been involved in homicides," he said. "If you require –"
"Mr Potter," I said, "I don't feel sick. I don't hate myself. I don't regret what I did and if I had the chance, I'd do it all over again."
He watched me for a second, then gathered his things. "I don't recommend you say that during the Hearing, Ms Greengrass." He nodded at me. "See you later."
I didn't end up seeing him later, of course. There was no Hearing – a little irregular, but I suppose the Ministry didn't want there to be too much scandal around one of their own being a serial killer. The papers focused on you instead, probably thanks to Potter's influence with the press, how reformed Death Eater Draco Malfoy, father to a Squib, used his amateur detective skills to trace the murders back to Ignatius Pantera. No mention of me in the papers, which was fine – I didn't investigate Pantera for fame. I wanted justice for Titania.
Those nine days were dreadful, while you were unconscious. The first two days no-one knew if you were going to wake up. I still can't believe you'd be so stupid as to rush in like that and confront a killer. You almost died, Draco.
I know people expect I would have taken in Scorpius and dropped Livia off at an orphanage, but they're wrong. I… I would have taken her in. I would have had no idea what to do, but I would have taken her in.
Thankfully it didn't come to that. You had been in hospital for five days when I went to Hogwarts to collect Scorpius first. He was furious with you, and rightly so; I took him back to the Manor and we waited for news.
"What about Livia?" Scorpius asked that night.
"What about her?"
That was the wrong thing to say. He sat up, outraged and hurt, and snapped, "She should know! She should be here!"
I was too tired to bring up excuses as to why I couldn't go and get her to tell her about you. I nodded. "Yes, she should. I'll… get her tomorrow."
"You don't even know where she is," Scorpius grumbled, and he was right, I didn't, but I unlocked the spells on your desk to find the paperwork for her Muggle school after I sent Scorpius to bed.
Contrary to common belief, I have been to Muggle London before. I didn't like it at all and never thought I'd have to do it again, but I wasn't a complete stranger to it. I travelled by Floo to a distant relative's house in Kent, and made my way to Pembury from there. Yes, Draco, I walked, and I found the school within a few hours. It wasn't hard. I even had the sense to change my outer robe to a jacket similar to the ones the Muggles were wearing.
It's a nice school, the one you've sent Livia to. The fees must be astronomical, though. I know I never offered and I know you'd never ask, but… if you need my help to pay for her fees, I will.
"My name is Astoria Greengrass," I introduced myself at what I presumed was the front desk. "I'm Livia Malfoy's mother. I need to see her immediately. It's about her father. He's… been in an accident."
I was made to wait in the Headmistress's office. I didn't care much for the people there, or for the room itself, and I also didn't care for how long it took for one of the teachers to speak with me.
"Ms Greengrass, how do you do. I'm Marian Halcombe, one of Livia's teachers." The Muggle sat down across from me. "I have someone going to collect Livia now from her English class. I… I heard that Mr Malfoy has been in an accident. Is he all right? What happened?"
Why do you care? I felt like saying, but the Muggle was clearly concerned about you.
"Draco is and always has been an idiot," I said. "He charged after a serial killer, got into a fight and was strangled to the point of unconsciousness. He nearly died on the way to the hospital and now he's in a coma on life-support systems."
I am not one for edging carefully. That was what happened and if she was so concerned about you then she could handle hearing the blunt hard truth.
The Muggle pressed her hand to her mouth and went desperately pale. "Oh, my God…" she murmured. "Will – will he be all right?"
"I don't know."
The Muggle left when Livia arrived. She held her hand at the door and murmured something about 'just being outside if you need me'. Then Livia came in, the Muggle closed the door, and I met Livia's eyes.
"Hello," she replied.
She'd grown up so much. I imagine one day she will be very beautiful; she resembles me quite strongly, aside from her pale colouring that is so like your own. But where I am cold by nature (according to so many people), she was cold by necessity and situation. You've been teaching her well, Draco.
"Why are you here, Ms Greengrass?" Livia said.
I wasn't brave enough to ask her to call me 'Mum'. "It's your father," I said. "He's been hurt."
Her careful mask cracked a bit, revealing her as the nine-year-old girl she actually was. "Is he okay?" she said. She tried to sound brave, but the waver in her tone betrayed her.
I try to say yes, he'll be fine, but the truth was, I didn't know. The Healers were saying by that day that you would make a full recovery if you woke up, but that was an if, not a when. Livia was looking at me for the first time in more than a year. There was no coldness or detached superiority she greeted me with mere moments prior – there was only fear in her eyes. Some distant, disowned part of me longed to be able to drop down beside her and hold her and tell her that you would be fine, but it was wistfulness: the wish that I could do that, the wish that I had the ability to. I did not possess that true emotion.
"I don't know," I said truthfully. "You can leave your things here. I'm taking you back to the Manor until we hear more from St Mungo's."
She nodded, and followed me.
You more or less know what happened in the days after that; I'm certain Scorpius filled you in. Livia stayed in her room, Scorpius stayed in his, I refused to speak to the press. When you woke up, I told the children, and the next day I brought them to the hospital to see you.
After I brought them to your room, I left. They seemed so happy to be with you, and I know better than anyone that I no longer have a proper place in your lives. We had a good few months working together, Draco, and I hope we can remain on non-antagonistic terms. But we were never really husband and wife, were we? We weren't in love. We had a good few years and we tried to make it work, but we both wanted different things. I would be lying if I said I didn't have a few regrets about some choices I made, especially in the last two years. But in the end… I think it was for the best that we parted ways.
Vitus was waiting for me when I stepped out of your room. He came up to me and held my shoulders, and I sighed and leaned into him.
"I hope you know what you're getting yourself into, Vitus Fallone."
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I am. Who I am. What I'm like. You still have a chance to run."
"Why would I do that?"
"I'm not… I'm not a nice person, Vitus."
"No," he agreed. "But you're a damned interesting one."
That's probably the nicest and most honest thing someone has said to me in a long time.
I'm happy, Draco. I have regrets, but I know of no-one who doesn't regret at least one thing. You're all right and the kids are happy with you.
I think I will send this letter to you after all. I know I said up above that we'd said most of what he had to say to each other already, but I think you deserve to read this. Some things are better said than not.
I wish you and the children all the very best, Draco. Try not to get yourself killed.