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Draco is not sure what happened. Last year she was just Daphne’s little sister and now, as he looks at her, he really wishes that she wasn't.

He isn't even that close to Daphne, really. They're House mates, and she's a good enough gal in his eyes but has never held Draco’s attention for long, for better or worse - he can be truthful in saying that she's kind of pretty, friendly, funny, and easy-going but not really over the top, and she's not an attention seeker, unlike many of the other girls in their House that only care about gossiping or making others' lives a living hell. They've been partners in class a few times over the years, and Draco can honestly say that Daphne seems to be a good girl (even if he’s caught her dancing a little too provocatively in the common room at some Slytherin parties to be just playing nice, but who’s he to judge? Draco is a teenage boy that, like most of his peers, very much enjoys a witch in a skirt).

One of the things that has always kept him from spending more time with Daphne and a few of the other Slytherins is the fact that Daphne always had her little sister around. Not many of his friends have siblings, and as far as Astoria goes, the younger girl has always seemed shy and a bit too quiet to make friends other than her sister, and with most Slytherins being an only child it somehow didn’t sit all that well with most of them to have siblings around.

But really, it was more like they had no clue what to do with the younger ones that wanted to trail after them around Hogwarts.

It wasn’t until Draco’s Sixth Year that she caught his eye, and not for the obvious reason either.

Astoria, as it turns out, came out of her shell last year and made sure to let everyone know just how much of a know-it-all she actually is, and how proud she is of that (absurdly hot) fact. And it was his own fault really, when late one night Daphne (a rather tired-of-having-her-little-sister-around 7th year student) was beyond exhausted and exasperated from studying Herbology for hours on end, and Astoria had just started spewing facts as if she knew them by heart, which only aggravated Daphne’s impatience in helping out her little sister study for her exam. Daphne had left the library then and Draco, who had been just a few seats away studying by himself (thank Merlin for that, Crabbe and Goyle couldn’t find the library for the life of them), noticed how Astoria had suddenly looked disappointed, as if relaying random nonsense about Herbology was something that she actually enjoyed.

Draco, still to this day, has no clue what compelled him to get up from his seat and go offer to help Astoria study and revise for her O.W.L., when he himself had so much studying to do. But the fact of the matter is that he spent hours listening as Astoria not only answered his questions on Herbology right, but also engaged in sharing details that she’d learned – and some of them not even from the mandatory readings – about the subject.

It had been with delight - for some strange reason that at the time Draco hadn’t been able to pinpoint - that he had walked her to the entrance of the Hufflepuff common room for the very first time, later that night. It started their friendship, and a tradition, but lately it has developed into something more.

At least for Draco, it has.

Astoria’s chest rises and falls with every soothing breath that she takes in her sleep. Since Autumn gave way to a chilly Winter, her love for wearing jumpers shows itself in the Puff yellow wool sweater that’s engulfing her frame for it is too big for her, but Draco has learned that’s how she prefers it. Truth is, he doesn’t dislike at all seeing her in over-sized jumpers either. He’s never seen her wear makeup and thinks she’ll never need it, her beauty so effortless it takes his breath away. Her hair, despite unruly from the way she has fallen asleep an hour before, frames her face beautifully as if she’d displayed it on purpose. He knows for a fact that she didn’t though, not only because he watched her fall asleep but also because Astoria has to be the least vain person that Draco has ever met.

In truth, it’s part of her charm. That and her kindness, her empathy towards pretty much everyone, and her passion for plants that is just adorable in his eyes even if her geekiness seems to be unattractive to every other boy in his class.

All the better for him, really.

The thing is that, as Draco got to know her better, Astoria suddenly wasn’t Daphne’s little sister anymore. She was just Astoria.

His Astoria, but he doesn’t dare say it out loud. Not yet.

Draco is pulled out of his wandering thoughts by a raucous rumble. Mathilda has cracked a joke and the whole group seems to be losing it all around them, and Draco immediately notices how Astoria is disturbed from her peaceful sleep, curled on the love seat closest to the fireplace in the Slytherin common room. Blearily sitting up and realizing that she ended up dozing off from so much reading, Astoria blushes and fixes her hair as best she can, hoping no one has noticed.

Too much for that.

“So it seems Sleeping Beauty has decided to rejoin us,” Zabini stupidly remarks, and Draco sometimes has these urges to punch his friends in the face. “And just in time to join the game, no less.”

However frequently boys flirt with her nowadays, now that she’s on their radar not for her intellect but for her looks, Draco knows for a fact that Astoria dislikes being the center of attention, more so when she isn’t all that interested in pursuing romantic entanglements as far as he knows. Before he can say anything in her defense for there’s no way that she’s playing with them, Pansy speaks up, and everyone can tell that jealously of the other girl’s beauty laces her words. “She’s not playing with us,” Pansy defies a still rather sleepy Astoria. “She’ll never have what it takes.”

“Guys…” Daphne warns them with a threatening tone, knowing full well how everyone not only thinks that Astoria is this innocent little thing, but also how they all assume that she has to have it be corrupted out of her somehow.

“What game are you talking ab-”

Draco doesn’t let Astoria finish the question, even if he knows that she’s always eager to learn about anything and everything new. “You’re not playing,” he voices assertively, turning heads left and right at his commanding tone.

Truly, it isn’t that his and Astoria’s friendship is new. It isn’t even that she happened to be sorted into Hufflepuff despite her lineage, and that he’s a proud Slytherin. It’s just that their connection seems incomprehensible to everyone but them, for some reason.

Draco can’t tell why, though; he thinks it’s rather obvious. She’s an incredible girl, and he fell for her. It’s that simple, really.

For her part, intrigued by everyone’s reaction and pretending that she didn’t hear her best friend while oblivious to the thoughts running through his mind, Astoria repeats herself, if anything to piss Draco off a little. At first it had been subtle, a small change here and there, but lately Draco has been behaving more and more strangely. Always making the time to walk her almost anywhere, keeping her up until two or three in the morning to just talk if there’s nothing too important they need to study for (she often has to remind him that Draco has his N.E.W.T.s to think about, but he always dismisses it by saying that he’d rather just keep talking to her instead), intimidating boys who try to engage in conversation or flirt with her often times…

While it makes her heart beat faster just thinking of the possibility that there might be more to their friendship, Astoria has been waiting on him to make a move for weeks now. He’s the confident one, the one who has all the moves and the smooth lines to easily crumble her resolve of withholding from him, and yet he hasn’t done a thing in that regard, and Astoria wouldn’t know where to start if she were to do it herself. What does she know? She’s never been with anyone.

Needless to say, unresolved tension and frustration have been building between them for the past few weeks, so yes. If she can infuriate him just a little, she will.

Astoria turns to Zabini, hoping her gaze is flirtatious enough as she drawls the words out to upset Draco, or at the very least to get a bit of a reaction out of him. She’s starting to think that she’s deluding herself about any chances they might have. “If there’s a game, I want in. What’s it about?”

Draco’s response is immediate as he leans forward, eyes wide at Astoria’s sudden boldness but he can’t get anything out before Zabini leans forward on the couch himself, certainly interested in how forward Astoria seems to be tonight. “Well, we were just thinking that we’ve been slouching out here for a couple of hours now, when really we should be studying. Because what we seem to lack is incentive, we thought we could make things a little bit more… Interesting.”

Draco hates the shit-eating grin that Zabini has on his face, even more when Astoria reddens good-naturedly and innocently asks “How so?”

He might just have to hex his mate in his sleep tonight.

Zabini leans back again and lets his arms rest on the back of the couch, all of his posture inviting. If he didn’t know any better, Draco would say that his friend is trying to make a move on Astoria. And the problem is that Zabini is, without a doubt, doing so. Draco is so not letting this happen...

“Easy,” Zabini replies, with a smirk that Draco has overheard some witches say is irresistible. “For every question, the person who answers right gets to pick someone, themselves or others, to lose a piece of clothing. If the answer is wrong, they’re the ones who have to lose it. Now of course the game usually goes on until everyone is in their underwear but naturally, in the end, clothing is optional.”

If possible, Astoria’s cheeks redden even further, and some of the girls in the group start mumbling lowly amongst themselves, much to the brunette’s dismay. Draco watches warily as Astoria holds her head high though, at least until her next questions are answered. “Then how do you decide who is the winner? If the chooser can pick anyone to lose a piece of clothing and everyone can literally choose the same one person in every round, who wins? Whoever has the least pieces of clothing on in the end? Whoever has the most?”

Draco can tell that, in part, Astoria is genuinely interested in the answer for her curious nature, but he hates himself for knowing all too well what Zabini’s response will be. “Well, that would depend on who you’re wishing to see naked, now wouldn’t it? Maybe someone you’ve set your eyes on. Maybe yourself, so that others can watch you… It’s really all about everyone’s personal interests. And don’t we all win in the end, if we end up studying and having a good time and getting to see each other naked?” Zabini asks, raising his eyebrows suggestively.

“You are not playing, Astoria,” Draco tells her gravely, as if wanting to warn her wisely before she heads into battle. He exchanges a look with Daphne, pleading for support, but for some reason his classmate seems rather uncaring, watching her sister be lured into something so foul, without wanting to raise her wand to protect her sibling if her lack of input is any indication.

Draco’s hand twitches with the will to reach for his own and jinx everyone in the room just for thinking they can get away with this.


Truly, and much like what happened when they started hanging out and his interest (she’ll call it interest for the lack of a better fitting word) in Astoria led to others’ attention to her as well, it’s Draco’s fault that they’re in this position. Or so Astoria likes to think.

Or at least it’s how Astoria is justifying her answer to such a git as Blaise Zabini. “I’m in. I want to play.”

Zabini grins like a little wizard on Christmas morning at her answer, so Draco jumps up from the couch immediately. To do what, he hasn't the slightest clue. “We're leaving,” he ends up letting out in between gritted teeth, facing Astoria. “It's way past curfew, you shouldn't even be here.”

He's gesticulating way too much and his cheeks are painted red in his pale complexion, Draco knows, but he doesn't have it in himself to care. It does seem to strengthen Astoria more though, and Draco can almost feel the crippling of energy between them as Astoria gets to her feet and stands to face him as well, defiant. “I'm not going anywhere if I'm welcome here. If you're too bothered, then maybe you should head to your dormitory if it's past your bedtime.”

People around them snicker and laugh at how ballsy little Astoria is being to almighty Malfoy, but neither of the two is listening, too wrapped up in their bubble.

He hates how much of a little firecracker she can be sometimes. “You're not playing, Astoria. I'm not letting you.”

Astoria takes a couple of steps forward, emboldened even if Draco’s scent and closeness overwhelm her when she’s near him. “What makes you think I don't have what it takes?” Her eyes fiery, Astoria takes another step. “You would likely play in a heartbeat, and yet you seem to think that I can't. Am I too young for you, too naive?” She suddenly halts, reminded that they aren’t alone, looking around them to give the impression that she’s referring to all Slytherins and not just Draco, because that would go well. “What makes you think you have any say in the matter anyway?”

If he didn’t know her any better, he’d say Astoria had a bit of a flare for dramatics. However he can tell that she’s just being consumed by her frustration, much like he is. And even if he doesn’t understand the depths of their irritation, or has been pretending not to, Draco resolutely picks up all of her books and pushes them into her arms. Astoria barely has the time to catch them before they escape her grip, and Draco is a breath away from her before she can form any coherent thought when he mutters “We’re going.”

Zabini and some of the others start talking, but Astoria can only notice the way Draco’s chest heaves with faltering breaths, his eyes shining with a sentiment she can’t quite pinpoint.

“Malfoy, don’t be such a spoil-sport. It’s just harmless fun,” Tracey Davis whines, and Draco knows it’s because she’s rather interested in both Draco and Astoria playing the game. Looking out for all her choices, that one, not that he blames her. She’s just out of luck where they are concerned.

“It’s just a game, Draco,” Pansy remarks with annoyance, and he’s never regretted so much having hooked up with the girl in the past when he notices Astoria flinching at Pansy’s tone.

It only seems to incite his friend further. “Not that you have the right to make such a decision, but what is your reasoning for not allowing me to play? What makes you think you can speak for me and make decisions? Go on and tell me, I'm curious,” Astoria dares.

Draco pinches the bridge of his nose, exasperated with the turn their night is taking. He just wanted to wait for her to wake up so he could walk her back to the Hufflepuff common room, safe from any wandering Prefects. “This isn't a game for the likes of you, Astoria, okay? It's beneath you…”

The last part comes out a whisper that she’s almost sure no one else heard, and her breathing picks up at the subtext. If only Astoria wasn’t so mad at him at the moment… “For the likes of me?,” she asks, taking offense. “What is that supposed to mean? Am I too young to play such an alluring game, too innocent? Or perhaps I’m not pure enough?” Her eyes start burning then, and Draco knows he’s messed up as soon as she brings up the fact that she isn’t a Slytherin like the rest of them, still a sore point even after six years at Hogwarts. “Tell me, Draco,” she defies. “By Merlin, what makes you think you're above me?”

No one says a word. Draco doesn’t think he has ever heard the common room so quiet, the lulls of the lazy water from the lake rasping against the tall windows when a merman approaches the glass to peer inside.

Knowing he struck a nerve without meaning to, Draco lowers his head in embarrassment at having put Astoria in this position, and worst of all in front of everyone.

Daphne stands up - finally, Draco thinks a little too bitterly - but Astoria motions for her sister to stop. “No,” she murmurs, but everyone can hear it in the near silence. Her eyes never leave Draco’s, tears threatening to fall. “Maybe I should leave after all.”

Draco doesn’t think he has ever felt as ashamed as he does in this moment, when her eyes burn into his so fiercely, the hurt behind them turning her beautiful irises from the usual dark brown into a warm shade of amber. It breaks him. “Astoria…”

On a whim, he reaches forward to take her hand but Astoria takes a step back as soon as their skin touch. In silence, she clutches her books to her chest and turns around, walking as fast as she dares towards the labyrinthine hallways that will lead her to the entrance of the common room and out into the dungeons.

Draco watches her go, following after her for one, two, three steps before stopping frozen in place. All around him, no one says a thing, for which he’s thankful. Turning on the spot, only Daphne meets his eyes, and Draco feels even worse realizing that he might have destroyed something he was still not so sure how he had so luckily come by.

“Up, the lot of you,” Daphne suddenly demands from the group, the last ones down at the common room at such a late hour. “And not a word of this to anyone.”

No one argues after the show they just witnessed, and they all know better than to go against Daphne when she decides to enforce her authority as a Prefect. She’s mostly laid back in her position, but she can be very persuasive when she wants to.

When everyone but them has gone to the dormitories, Draco has no idea what to expect. It certainly isn’t what comes out of Daphne’s mouth. “I don’t know what you two have going on, but I know you care a lot about each other.” Before Draco can ask her how she knows that, or how she can be so sure that Astoria cares about him, his classmate continues. “I can tell,” she clarifies for him, surely reading the questions on his face.

“Look, Draco…” Daphne sits in one of the couches, her hands resting on her knees as she looks up at him. “My sister, she’s not used to the kind of attention you’ve given her for the last year, if you know what I mean.” He thinks he knows, but Astoria’s romantic partners or lack thereof have never really been a discussion he has been particularly fond of having with her. Draco thinks that, in part, it’s because he’s almost sure that Astoria has never been with anyone and she’s ashamed of that fact. For his part, he’s not too eager to find out he might be wrong.

Daphne continues, unaware of his inner ramblings. “She doesn’t have many friends, and she prefers to keep to herself most of the time. But she’s been trying to be more social as of late, joining us sometimes and putting up with our antics because she’s grown to be comfortable around us.” She rakes one of her hands through her hair and Draco can tell that she’s anxious. “Tonight, with the game… I thought it might have been fun for her to enjoy herself a little. She studies too much, always cooped up hiding behind books. She needs a break,” Daphne sighs. “In part, I think it’s why it blew out of proportions. She’s just been too tense. But when you stood up for her, I thought Hey, maybe they’ll finally do something about whatever is going on between them.”

“There’s nothing going on between us, Daphne. We’re just friends.” Or were, his conscience assaults him, and his heart rate picks up at the painful prospect.

“For now,” Daphne mentions with a soft smile. “The way you look at each other… Friends don’t look at each other like that.”

He knows he’s been transparent, but Daphne can’t possibly think that Astoria feels the same way about him. “I-”

“Don’t say anything, it’s true. Anyone can tell. And I mean anyone. I’m almost sure Zabini provoked you just to get back at you for knocking him over on the last Quidditch game.”

“Hey, that wasn’t on purpose! I was going for the snitch and he got in the way.”

“I know that, and he knows it too. Still you’re aware of how much of a git he can be.”

“You can say that again…”

“It doesn’t matter now. What matters is that you and Astoria let your feelings get the best of you, and not for the outcome I’m sure you both would prefer. I thought you wanting to protect her from the game would please her, but I guess she’s way more annoyed at you than I thought.” Draco wants to ask her just how frustrated Astoria is with him, but he still can’t wrap his head around the fact that Astoria might feel the same way about him. “I didn’t intervene because I thought you two would figure something out on your own but that might have been poor judgment on my part. So I’m giving you a piece of advice now. I could go after my sister to see how she’s faring and make her feel better, but I think you should do it. You should go after her.”

Draco looks down at the ground as if the carpet beneath his feet holds any interest. “I don’t know. I acted like a possessive git. I couldn’t stand the idea of Astoria undressing in front of anyone, especially when I could tell she was daring me. It wasn’t even something that she really wanted, she was just taking it out on me. And I didn’t let her. And now she’s mad.”

“I’m almost certain you might have to duck a few spells on your way to her,” Daphne jokes, “but I know she’ll much rather have you to comfort her than me.”

“I doubt that,” he says, meeting Daphne’s eyes. “I didn’t mean to, but I hurt her.”

“So maybe you should move your arse and go fix it, don’t you think? I know it doesn’t matter to you that she’s not a Slytherin, and that you’ve told her that yourself several times in the past, but maybe you should convince her once and for all that she’s still one of us, no matter what. Merlin knows she doesn’t listen to me…” Daphne gets up and fixes imaginary wrinkles on her skirt. “Maybe all she needs to hear is that it doesn’t matter what House she’s in or what bloodline she comes from, because you’d love her either way,” she states simply.

Draco is left dumbstruck. “I don’t- I mean, maybe I have… Feelings for her that I don’t really know how to express. Or better… I mean, I wouldn’t say…”

“You don’t need to tell me anything,” Daphne shrugs as if this is of no importance to her, but a smirk is threatening to escape her lips. “You need to tell her.”

Draco stares at Daphne as if she said he should rip his heart out of his chest, slice it open and offer it to the one person he knows has the power to stomp on it and leave it rotting on the ground miserably as she walks away, uncaring.

Daphne chuckles, for sure at the livid expression that has to be marring his face. “You two can be so stubborn in your own way, you don’t realize you could have been together for months now.”

Oh, how he wishes it were so. “I don’t know…”

“One of you is gonna have to make the first move, and I’m thinking it’ll be harder for it to be the one of you that has no experience in matters of the heart, wouldn’t you agree?” Draco says nothing, but he can tell that his cheeks redden if the warmth that he suddenly feels in his face is any indication. He likes the idea of Astoria never having been with anyone even if it makes him a git for wanting to be her first, but is he worthy enough to take that place? He doesn’t think anyone is. “Go after her and make up. I expect to find my sister with a smile on her face when morning comes,” Daphne says, as if she couldn’t be surer that he and Astoria will solve everything easily.

Daphne picks up her cloak from the spot on the sofa where she’d been previously tucked underneath the fabric for warmth. Probably expecting to find Draco gone but noticing that he hasn’t moved while she did so, Daphne places a hand on her hip and cocks an eyebrow. “So? You know how terribly lost Astoria always finds herself whenever she’s alone down in the dungeons. Plus, you’re also aware - too aware, I’m afraid - of how Miss Granger, Head Girl extraordinaire, enjoys doing her rounds at off hours precisely to find students out of bed way, way past curfew, as it’s now.”

So what if Draco likes to wander through the castle late at night to make sure pranks are in place to catch Potter and his clique by surprise come morning sometimes? Granger is out past curfew just as much as he is when she happens to finds him red-handed every now and then!

Still Draco glances at his watch. Almost 2:30 in the morning. Astoria is gonna get in trouble is she’s found out wandering about.

“Move along, Malfoy, or I’m jinxing you until you do.”

That gets him moving. He’s seen Daphne’s Stinging Jinx once or twice; he doesn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of those. Ever. “I hope you’re right,” he resolves, finding the strength to move.

He can hear Daphne mumble “So do I” as he trails behind what he hopes is a good fate.


He finds her almost five minutes later, going in what is definitely not the direction of the Entrance Hall.

“Astoria, wait.” Draco runs to catch up with her, and he almost knocks her over when the brunette suddenly stops on her tracks and turns to face him.

“Am I not good enough for you, is that it?!”

So much for figuring things out without a hitch.

Her voice echoes through the empty corridor and her hurt resonates within him, and Draco can’t help the way it aches to know that she’s upset because of him. Grabbing her arm and tugging lightly, seeking for some privacy and to avoid problems with anyone that might catch them out of bed so late at night, Draco opens the first door that he finds unlocked and gets inside, closing it behind them both to find that they’re in an unused classroom.

“Tell me,” she demands from him, and he’s never felt so self-conscious in his life. “I- I- I thought we had something. I thought you and I were going somewhere eventually, but you’re always gonna see me as Daphne’s little sister, aren’t you? Merlin forbid you’d ever spare me a second glance or-”

Hope renewed at her words, more so after his talk with Daphne, Draco crosses the space between them until he’s too close for rational thoughts to form properly, and it takes him a moment to get his bearings. The tension between them wins him over for a moment, and he’s not sure where his next words come from. “You want to play the game?” He dares, tired himself of all the dancing around each other they’ve been doing all year. “If you want to play the game so much, then we’re playing. Right here, right now. Just you and me.” He can’t tell whose chest is heaving harder; they both seem to be out of breath. “I’m not letting anyone else see you naked.”

He shouldn’t like so much how her cheeks taint red at his comment, but feels ashamed at how possessive he sounded, and fears it might lead Astoria to the wrong conclusion. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant-”

Astoria interrupts him, swallowing dryly at his proximity, his scent intoxicating her, his eyes boring into her soul as if he can read everything that’s on her mind, and yet not so much. “I wanted to play to rile you up, Draco, and because I thought we could have some fun. But maybe I wanted to play more to prove to you that I’m not the innocent little girl you all see me to be. I’m tired of pretending to be something I’m not,” she admits.

“And still you think you have something to prove, Astoria. You don’t,” he tells her softly. “Playing that game wouldn’t have changed that.”

She shakes her head, leaning against one of the dusty, old desks. The dungeons, often cold and unwelcoming, feel as though they’re ablaze. Astoria deems it true for the warmth that spreads all over her under his unwavering gaze. “You don’t know how hard it is to ignore the murmurs of the Slytherin girls whenever I pass them by, knowing I’m not one of them. Or how awkward it is when Daphne and I go home for the holidays, and all our parents seem to see are her accomplishments. They try to be involved in regards to my House and my hobbies, my grades, but it’s never enough. They don’t know how to be something they’re not either.” She looks away, breaking his heart when she whispers “I was born and raised to be a Slytherin, not a blood traitor. They’ll never look at me and see the same thing they do when they look at Daphne.”

He had no idea she felt so strongly about this, and he imagines that Daphne doesn’t either. Astoria has, a few times in the past, opened up about how she struggles with being a Hufflepuff, something that she’s very proud to be. She’s confided in him how guilty she sometimes feels that she didn’t ask the Sorting Hat to place her where she thinks she should belong instead of letting it make the choice for her, but he never knew just how much it affected her. He knows as well that these are different times from the ones their parents lived in, and blood lineage and purity isn’t as important anymore even though it still seems to matter to some families. He knew her relationship with her parents wasn’t the best one, but he hadn’t imagined she felt this way towards them. It has to be in her head though. He’s seen the way her parents look at her when she and Daphne hop off the Train into the station and their parents greet them. They look no differently at Astoria, and it’s hard to fake such affection.

“I think you’re wrong.” Daring to touch her, Draco lifts her chin so he can meet her confused eyes. “So what if you’re in a House your parents didn’t think you’d be? You’re still their child, and you’re no blood traitor. They still love you.”

Her lower lip trembles with the effort not to let herself cry. “I’ve disappointed them.”

Moving closer, Draco cups her cheeks, not ignoring how soft they feel under his hands. “You haven’t disappointed a single soul in your life, Astoria. I promise you.” The air seems to catch in her throat. He’s feeling out of breath himself. “And I’m sorry if I’ve made it worse.” Finding strength in the way he’s got her rapt attention, Draco lays his bare heart on the table. “I have feelings for you, Astoria, and I’ve had them for a while now. I don’t know their extent yet, or their true nature, but you’re the best part of my day and you have been since I met you. Getting to know you has been the most gratifying experience I’ve ever gone through, and I never want it to stop. You’re kind and passionate about what you love. You’re smart and aren’t afraid of showing it.” Her lip stops trembling when he brushes it with his thumb. It makes him want to do it again. “You make me want to be better. You’re so strong…” He whispers, leaning in just the slightest bit.

“I’m not so smart.” Her voice trembles, and Draco feels the need to make all her worries go away. “I’m not the brightest witch, or the sexiest. I often stumble on air whenever I walk and I’d rather spend my free time reading a good book or caring for the plants down at the Greenhouses than trying to sneak to Hogsmeade to purchase the shortest skirts to work on getting a wizard’s attention. I’m not like any of other girls my age.”

“You’re you. And that’s enough.” His words ring finality, in a way, and Draco can only hope they convey as much sentiment as he feels inside. Merlin, she makes him sappy. “You drive me bonkers whenever we argue, Little Green,” he draws out his nickname for her easily, always having enjoyed the way it rolls off his tongue, “but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’m sorry if I took it too far earlier. The thought of anyone else seeing you so intimately… It made me jealous, and embarrassed for still not having had the courage to tell you how you make me feel. But not anymore now.” Their noses touch, and Draco is overwhelmed with the urge to just kiss her already. But he wants to make right by her, so he waits. “I think you’re incredibly smart, and just, and compassionate. You have this innate talent for Herbology that’ll take you as far as you’ll let it in the future. You’ll be the best Herbologist the magical world has ever seen. You’ll be in the History books your kids will read one day. You don’t think you’re the sexiest witch, or have your priorities straight; I have to disagree. I think your priorities lie just where your heart does, and I think you’re the most beautiful witch I’ve ever laid eyes on. For sure, one of a kind.” He thinks his heart stops beating when her gaze drops momentarily to his lips. “I wouldn’t want you to be anybody else but you.”

They crash, her mouth soft yet determined against his, replying to his admissions with the words she doesn’t have.

They burn, bodies overcome with a longing they didn’t know was there, so powerful and overwhelming to their senses as they pull the other closer.

They cave into each other, giving into the unknown, hoping the other will catch their fall.

After what was, surprisingly, merely a graze of lips for it seemed to be so much more, his light grey eyes meet her dark brown ones, and it’s in astonishment that they realize they’re both safely on the ground.


“You think I’m one of a kind?”

Draco grins, his nose sweetly brushing her cheek before he kisses her lightly on the lips again. “I know you are.”

Astoria holds his gaze for a moment before hiding her blush against his chest, and Draco holds her as they laugh. “You do have a way with words, Draco. I’ve been wondering when it was going to catch up with me.”

“I’m glad it finally has.”

Astoria looks up at him, and whispers “Me too.”

They look at each other in silence for a moment before Draco holds her hand and pulls her with him as he starts to move. “Come on, I’m walking you to your Common Room.”

Their fingers entwine sometime during their cautious walk through the castle. Merlin forbid they were to find Mrs. Norris or Peeves at such a late hour, or worse yet Granger or one of the teachers (even Draco has to admit that he envies Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility sometimes, he really does), but thankfully there’s no unpleasant meetings.

When they approach the painting that depicts a bowl of fruit, Draco slows his pace and Astoria matches it until they stop by the stack of barrels that gives entrance to the Hufflepuff Common Room. Their fingers stay laced a moment longer. “Would you like to have breakfast with me tomorrow?” Draco rubs his neck, feeling himself blush as he asks. “You know, just the two of us. We could talk about how you’ve been feeling, and I’d like to tell you again and again that you’re far more special than anyone else in this castle. And maybe we could talk about us, take a walk by the lake after lunch. Or meet somewhere…”

Astoria kisses his cheek swiftly, indulging in how rare, yet adorable Draco is when he rambles. “I’d like that.”

It takes everything he has not to kiss her again and rush things. “Then it’s a date.” And he means it just as it sounds. “I’ll see you in the morning, then.”

Astoria seems reluctant to let go but does so eventually, taking her wand from one of her pockets to enter her Common Room but his voice stops her before she can. Looking at Draco over her shoulder, he’s glad that he decided to say one last thing. “You don’t need to pretend to be different, or do anything that isn’t who you’re not. Not with me, and not with anyone else. Astoria, the way you look tonight…” He takes in her disheveled hair from her nap, the lovely over-sized jumper that despite hiding her body, drapes her in a coziness that keeps reeling him in, her natural beauty always devoid of makeup, the kind eyes and her pretty lips bare for him, her worn-out shoes that she’s stubbornly not traded for new ones because they’re her favorite and most comfortable pair. Draco loves that she challenges and outsmarts him, that she’s unlike everyone else he knows, and he’s determined to let her know that, however often he’ll have to repeat himself. She’s priceless, a masterpiece, and he’s decided to take it upon himself to appreciate her as she deserves. “Inside and out, I don’t think you’ve ever looked more beautiful to me.”

The grin that Astoria wears to bed that night remains when he meets her again, come morning.



Author’s note: I'm you-make-me-wander on tumblr. Feel free to stop by and check out the fan art for this fic and more on my on-going Drastoria/Scorose fic, "The joys of you", and please leave a review to let me know what you thought :)


UPDATE (APRIL 22, 2018) - I just now regretfully learned of the closure of the HPFF platform, so even though I haven't been posting here for long, I'd like to thank the entire team behind this incredible archive for all the effort you went through to allow writers to give us readers so many stories that entretain us, for giving us writers the opportunity to share our passion for writing with others, and for maintaining HPFF running for as long as you could. It's more than we ever could wish for or deserve, so thank you for sharing your love for this incredible magical world with us, and for allowing us to do the same. I wish you all the best of luck.

To my readers, and as for my HP stories, know that I will continue writing them. If you want to check out my other works, both HP and from other fandoms, make sure to follow me on any of the platforms below so you won't miss any updates:

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If you'd rather, I also post my stories on tumblr, along with sneak peeks and aesthetic posts that revolve around my works, so you can also follow me on You can always contact me by messaging me there anytime as well.



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