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Chase This Light (PG)

January 20th, 2008 (04:01 am)

Part I

"the beauty is in what isn't said"

Chase This Light

Draco Malfoy falls head over heels for Astoria Greengrass while he’s sneaking out of her engagement ball (in the most literal sense; he trips over her.) She’s sitting on the first of three stone steps leading out of the kitchen into the groomed back gardens of the MacMillan estate, elbows propped on her knees and chin in her hands, a fact he doesn’t notice until his foot settles down on something too soft and silk-slippery to be a stone step, too busy trying to dig a pack of cigarettes out of his cloak pocket to mind his path.

He scrapes his hand in the gravel at the foot and ruins his entire pack of cigarettes in a disastrous and inconveniently-placed puddle. It’s something of a small tragedy, in his opinion. And then there’s Astoria.

The moment is a ripped, shoe-scuffed dress, a few scolding, half-angry words that sound more like a conditioned response than any actual sentiment, and a bummed cigarette (“Those things are wretched for you anyway, Draco Malfoy, a completely disgusting habit…I’ve got an extra if you’ve got a light. They’re girly menthols, just to warn you.”) before it falls into an indifferent, occupied silence.

They are terribly girly cigarettes, too thin between his fingers, too fresh in his mouth, but the motion, the habit is enough. Astoria smokes hers with determination, looking with an almost cross-eyed intensity out over the MacMillan estate. The cinder-tipped cylinder in her hand is an anachronism to her elegant, old-fashioned robes, her dark brown hair pinned up in lacquered curls at least a hundred years out of modern fashion; the white paper is like a black oil smear on some pastel-shaded portrait. She looks like an old china doll, dressed in sage-green silk and thick dust, only twenty in years but rather ageless and inanimate in her sea-glass eyes; a doll in an attic with a quiet but nearly tangible sense of unhappiness in a cloud about her.

She’s about halfway through before she turns to him, exhaling the smoke before speaking with a half-smile. “Sneaking out of my ball, are you?” Her eyes meet his with an unusual intensity; she has a magnetic, pulling gaze even when she speaks so lightly.

“Sneaking out of your own ball, looks like,” he observes with a quick, meaningful glance at the door before turning his eyes back to hers.

“Ernie’s too busy to dance,” she says as though he asked why (he has the sudden, strange conviction that he did, without words, and she read it in his eyes). Astoria doesn’t sound particularly sad, or resigned, but rather matter-of-fact and there’s a song of arrogance in her voice, who would be too busy to dance with me?

He doesn’t realise until she’s left that most wouldn’t have stayed at all, much less shared any sort of a conversation that wasn’t dripping with disgust and condescension. Most would not have even looked him in the eye. For a minute, he’d forgotten that he’d been shown to a seat in a shadowy, undignified corner of the ballroom, that his conversation was limited to quiet words with his mother simply to keep up the show, that all the grace and respectability once woven into the Malfoy name has been unraveled and ground into the ashes of the war. He'd forgotten that no one met his eye, but rather glued their gaze upon his shirtsleeve as though the Dark Mark were about to burn through.

Draco doesn't leave like he intended to; there was something in the curl of her rose-pink smile as she toed the remains of her cigarette into the gravel. For his dignity, what little his family has left, he lingers by the kitchen door for a while before he follows her back into the ballroom.

It’s quite a grand party; the MacMillans are always good for a fuss. A lot of good looking girls flitter about the white marble floor in a rainbow flurry of dress robes. Their glances dart away, eyes sliding quickly sideways should they happen to fall into line with his. And then there’s a pair of cloudy-green eyes locked with his, and she’s smiling; with just that, the world, the life Draco thought he’d thrown away at seventeen settles back into place (it’s a bit rough in spots, not quite as he remembers, but the flaws make it beautifully real.)

The whole high table falls uncomfortably silent when he approaches and asks her to dance. MacMillan sputters admirably when Draco asks permission (his toes curl in distaste, but Narcissa Malfoy taught her son tradition), while Daphne, next to her younger sister, wrinkles her nose in suppressed mirth. Astoria's hand, small and white and aristocratically soft but for the wand callus on the curving joint of her first finger, is in his before anyone can summon polite, appropriate words to chase him off (if there are any, really).

Astoria comes alive in his arms, dust falling away from her stiff curls, her eyes, her smile. I’m not too busy, he tells her without words, locking his gaze with the only girl in the room who would dare look back, if you’re not too good.

The biggest scandal high wizarding society will see in 2002 begins in the two minutes Ernie MacMillan can manage to sit for the pretense of good will and good manners, before cutting in to reclaim his fiancée. Ernie meets his eyes for the first time and, even with the black fury in the man’s look, Draco rather relishes the contact.

He feels a like a man again; there’s someone looking him in the eye with jealousy, possession, challenge in his gaze. Someone's looking at him again like he's something more than dirt.

There’s a cool smile that spreads across his face as he looks down at Ernie, whose cheeks are blotchy pink with suppressed rage. Astoria is fading back into dust as Ernie’s hand grips her wrist, but her eyes are clear as she meets his for just a moment before he politely returns her to her fiancé, thanking the former Hufflepuff for the dance with his lovely bride-to-be.

Ernie grinds out some pleasantry completely voided by the hard look about his face, the challenge in his brown eyes and Draco smiles more broadly before congratulating the couple and returns to his seat next to his mother, watching Astoria’s sage-silk figure glide in and out of the waltz-timed hurricane. She finds him in his seat over and over again, the sea-glass green of her eyes matching up with his when the ocean of dancing people ebbs perfectly, clears a path between them. Her eyes light from behind in the short moments, and he's never wanted to chase anything so badly.

He laughs when he’s off the MacMillan property like he hasn’t laughed in years. Draco leaves them to celebrate an engagement that’s never going to end in a wedding, and laughs as a man who knows he’s already won the match.

Part one in a short series of Draco/Astoria one-shots. I've been working really hard on characterising Draco well, because he's one of the characters I have a hard time getting down just right, so please let me know what you think!

Title and header quote from Jimmy Eat World's fabulous album, Chase This Light, everything else from Ms. Rowling.


Posted by: jamy98 (jamyg98)
Posted at: January 20th, 2008 04:55 am (UTC)

I'm so glad you're doing this. I never paid much thought to Draco until after reading DH. Now he's probably the most interesting character to me.

Posted by: passthebutter (passthebutter)
Posted at: January 20th, 2008 07:56 am (UTC)

Oooh, I really liked that. Great job.

Posted by: lee (snegurochka_lee)
Posted at: January 20th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)

Wow, that was wonderful! I was pulled into the characters immediately. You made me instantly care about this woman we know nothing about in canon, Great job! :)

Posted by: dame_gita (dame_gita)
Posted at: January 20th, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)

You write brilliantly, i really enjoyed that. loved all the similies and stuff to do with oceans... and the use of Astoria being made of dust. perfect. can't wait to see what'll happen. Didn't realise it was Ernie til about half way through and then thought: oh well, now this is gonna get interesting! teehee.

Posted by: Not the one (teshara)
Posted at: January 21st, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)

this was very vivid and darkly humorous.

Posted by: doctor watson is my copilot (kaalee)
Posted at: January 21st, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
snob by *avadaaccio*

This is wonderful. I so enjoyed the depth of both of their characters that you were able to show in such a short piece. Well done!

Posted by: lefaym (lefaym)
Posted at: January 21st, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)

I like they way that your portray Draco as mellowed slightly from the bully he was at school, but still Slytherin through and through. :)

Posted by: Peki (peki)
Posted at: January 21st, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC)

Here via quibbler_report. Hello! :)

I enjoyed the slow, subtle development of this - Draco's resignation at his fall in the social hierarchy, the tentative delight of meeting Astoria, and then his regained confidence at the end. The glimpse at post-war wizarding society was compelling, and you've truly breathed life into Astoria; I'd love to know more about her now :)

Looking forward to more Draco/Astoria one-shots!

Posted by: secretsolitaire (secretsolitaire)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2008 04:04 am (UTC)
here via snegurochka_lee

This is lovely! I especially liked these lines:

He feels a like a man again; there’s someone looking him in the eye with jealousy, possession, challenge in his gaze. Someone's looking at him again like he's something more than dirt.

Posted by: fallenwitch (fallenwitch)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2008 11:54 am (UTC)
Boyd | smiling by elle113

Here via peki. Fabulous fic. Wonderful writing voice. An interesting look at what the post-war wizarding society might look like. But I ADORED your take on Draco and the beginning of his relationship with Astoria. Please, continue on!

Posted by: Verdenia (verdenia)
Posted at: January 23rd, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)

This is completely brilliant - thanks so much for sharing this Draco/Astoria with us!
I think I got here via odogoddess. ;D

Posted by: biffes (biffes)
Posted at: March 5th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
not an ordinary heartless git

I loved the way Draco charmed her and how he was thankful for the only person looking him in the eye.

Posted by: Chesty la Rue (hogwartshoney)
Posted at: June 10th, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
felton grins

Woo hoo! Well done, Draco! I like the way you describe what life for him is like post-war without any petulance or airs of what he should be entitled to. Also, the best thing was the way he came alive; the way he feels like a man again. I thought you captured his character very well.

Here via snegurochka_lee's rec

Posted by: dracofiend (dracofiend)
Posted at: June 11th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)

Here via Lee! :D You know, I truly almost never click on a het fic link...but her recs of Draco/not-Harry fics had me intrigued, and this one just made me wonder. I'm glad I clicked, because I quite liked it. The title is so apt--and I loved how you showed Draco to his best advantage by highlighting how terribly low he's fallen, and how much he feels it--without fuss. The line about quiet words with his mother, just to keep up the show...I really liked that a lot.

Posted by: Suzanne (suzanne78)
Posted at: August 15th, 2008 12:39 pm (UTC)
I'm WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot on FFN

Hello! I've just recently found my way onto LJ, and I wanted to friend you. I love this story, and have been following it on FFN. Had no idea you were on here too! Fantastic. Excellent work with developing Draco and Astoria's relationship. I love your post-war Draco too. Just fabulous.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: November 9th, 2008 10:17 am (UTC)

I thought it was awsome. I'm not one to usually read Draco/Astoria, but I thought this one was great.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: June 23rd, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)

Incredible writing . You should make a great author.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 13th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
Looking forward to have my say

Hey - I am really delighted to find this. great job!

Posted by: Ramona N Blackwolf (Ramona N Blackwolf)
Posted at: September 28th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)

this story is pretty awesome.

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