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A Modest Proposal

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Normally Draco hated the rain, but tonight's drizzle was beautiful. The narrow Muggle street glittered under the light-posts, and he couldn't help but feel that it was only right for the world to look so lovely after such a perfect evening.

He took his time walking down the street, ostensibly looking for an alley suitable for Apparition. Really he was savoring the feel of the cool rain on his skin, the feeling that he was finally grounded here in a way that he hadn't been in years - that he might have never been at all.

And it was all her doing, he thought to himself with all the reverence that she deserved. And now he would pull it all together. Everything would be perfect, and they could spend the rest of their lives together. He just had to tie up a few loose ends.

Heart threatening to jump out of his chest, he turned into a narrow passage between two buildings. He fingered the box in his pocket, checking that it was really there, that he was really doing this. He took a brief moment to straighten the collar of his overcoat with a tug and pat his hair to make sure it was still smooth. (While damp from the rain, it was smooth.)

He turned on the spot to Apparate home, landing at the front entrance to the manor. He took one more deep breath - inhale, exhale - and lifted a hand to open the door.

It swung open to reveal an infuriated Astoria.

He gulped, unsure what exactly had happened but very sure that her rage was directed at him.

"And where have you been?" she demanded, arms crossed, eyes narrowed, and her delicately-wispy brown hair frizzed out from what he could only assume had been her running her fingers through it for Merlin-knew-how-long.

"Er - I had to work late?" Draco was generally a competent liar, but he could never commit to a lie to Astoria.

"Yes, well, I gathered that from your note," she said scathingly. He realized that she was not going to invite him into his own home, and he was very grateful that there was a roof over his head. "I don't know why you even bothered," she added in a hiss.

Draco frowned, fairly confused at this point. "That's what people do, isn't it?" he asked. "Leave a note?"

"I really thought you were better than this," Astoria said viciously, and Draco recoiled. "I suppose your saving grace is that you aren't even good at lying about it."

"Lying about what?" he demanded, finally more upset than confused.

"Where you've been," she hissed.

Just beyond the patio, the rain had picked up, and for a moment all that could be heard was the downpour beating down against the roof, against acres of land.

Then, Draco laughed. He laughed so hard that his eyes started to water and he had to bend over to keep his stomach from hurting. Astoria made a sound that was somewhere between a huff and a sob, and she began to stomp away into the house.

Before she could get too far into the foyer, Draco lunged after her and spun her around by the shoulders. "You are so paranoid," he said before taking her lips with his own.

She let him hold the kiss for less than a second before she pushed him away (quite violently, he felt). "What the hell are you on about? Just tell me who the other bloody woman is so I know who to never speak to again."

"There's no other woman," he said, a broad smile threatening to take over his face. He tried to hold it back, fearing it might incite further violence from his beloved. "There's just you, only you."

While she glared at him disbelievingly, he dropped down to one knee. "I've been looking for the perfect way to do this, but doing it so secretly may not have been my best idea." Astoria's eyes widened as she began to put the pieces together. "I hope that you will be here to help me improve my schemes for the rest of my life."

He didn't fumble as he pulled the small box from his overcoat pocket and creaked it open, despite the fact that this proposal was not happening at all like he had planned.

"Astoria Eurynome Greengrass," he began, his chest oddly subdued for the first time since his arrival, "will you marry me?"

His lover stayed frozen in disbelief, and for the first time he started to doubt whether she was going to say yes. He'd been so sure, but if he had over-stepped or moved to soon, he -

"Only if you promise to stop lying to me!" she demanded. He reached out a hand, requesting hers to slip the ring onto - a Muggle ring, to further cement the distance between them and his family - but instead she gripped it tight and pulled him up and against her chest.

"I promise," he murmured.

"Good." With that, she leaned in and pressed a chaste kiss to his lips. Happily, Draco made sure that it didn't stay chaste for long.