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This Love Is Ours

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This Love Is Ours
the first date

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Your hands are tough but they are where my belong in,
I'll fight their doubt and give you faith with this song for you

August 2001

Astoria twirled the ends of her black, gossamer hair nervously.

It was not everyday her childhood crush asked her out on a date.

The Battle of Hogwarts took its toll on everyone, even those that were not directly involved. Unlike her classmates, Astoria didn't see the horrors of what the war was like, having been bedridden to stay at home due to her blood curse for most of her fifth year at Hogwarts. A part of her had wished she had been there to fight with them, but what good would her weary body do if she had?

Still, it's taken an effect on her when she saw how it did a number on Draco Malfoy.

They have always been good friends. It has developed to something even more after that fateful moment in the Hogwarts kitchen where they first danced during the Yule Ball. Ever since then, Astoria had looked at Draco in a different light. A good kind of light.

Though not everyone seems to think of him that way. Not after the war, anyway. But she didn't care much for what people say against him. She knew Draco like the back of her hand. And she would take his word above everyone else's if she has to.

Draco had been particularly distant when they went back to Hogwarts after the war. But that did not stop her from being her usual, cheery self. She stood by him through any trouble he might encounter with the other students upon his return. Astoria had snubbed their whispers and looks of disapproval towards her back then, even to this day. They did not know him like she does.

After Draco graduated, Astoria still had two years left of Hogwarts to go. And within those two years, she has not given up on him, even when at times, he already has with himself. That seemed to ignite some part of their relationship in a way it has not until now.

Hence why Draco asked her to a date during her graduation party.

Hence why, the next day, she sat on one of the seats within the Greengrass estate's foyer waiting for him to arrive that morning.

Astoria snapped out of her reverie at last when she heard the sound of the estate's bell. She stood up, dusted off her lavender dress delicately before breathing out every bit of her nerves just as Poppy, their house elf, apparated in the middle of the foyer.

It's just Draco, she assured herself as she adjusted her sunhat.

"Poppy is to get it for you, Mistress Astoria!" Poppy squeaked happily, and Astoria couldn't help but giggle. She had told Poppy about Draco arriving that morning, and her family's house elf seemed more excited for her than she is.

"Thank you, Poppy," Astoria replied gratefully as the house elf skittered towards the estate's double doors.

Once Poppy opened the door, she caught a glimpse of Draco looking very… muggle. But he did so in the best way. It was particularly unlike him, the way he was dressed from what little she could see between the cracks of the open door.

"…here to see Astoria, please." She heard him address Poppy.

Poppy turned her head to look at her mistress, as though to ask for her approval. Astoria breathed out her nerves once more before nodding confidently.

The house elf opened the door wider to allow Draco in.

As soon as Draco stepped into the space, he seemed to have frozen and lost all control of his limbs.

Astoria felt the heat on her cheeks rise as she watched Draco stare at her, mouth agape and moving like that of a fish's as though he wanted to say something. He was dressed in a long-sleeved black shirt, which seemed to be the only color available often in his wardrobe. Though what made him look so particularly muggle was that he was sporting denim jeans.

"You… you look beautiful." Draco finally found the words, color tinting his cheeks before he stood up a little more stiffly. His white blonde hair bounced with him as he tried to look proud.

"Now there's an adjective I can finally accept." Astoria replied cheekily, implying many years ago of Draco describing her Yule Ball dress to be "presentable". She took a step forward, heart racing considerably as she surveyed him from head to toe. "You look quite dashing yourself. Muggle jeans, is it?"

Draco cleared his throat, looking very indisposed as he offered his arm. "They're quite comfortable, if I'm being honest."

"Well, you look very handsome in them." Astoria beamed at him brightly as she held onto his arm. "Where are we going today? You were so… secretive last night when you asked."

"That's because last night I didn't exactly think it through until today." Draco replied bashfully as they exited the estate.

Once they stepped out under the warmth of the sun, Astoria lifted her head to meet his gaze.

"Is that so?" Astoria asked in amusement under the roof of her sunhat. "So today's date is a surprise, then?"

Draco grinned at her. "I know how you like surprises."

"You surprise me every day, Draco Malfoy." She shook her head with a slight giggle. "Lead the way, then."

There was a pull on her neck before they apparated between flashes and locations.

As soon as the notion was over, their feet landed not on muggle streets, but rather, a vast outdoor of Form

The area was towered over by remarkable trees and tender shrubs. She felt a bit of grass tickle her toes through her open-toed sandals. The air was particularly warm, but not too hot to sear the skin. A half-moon pool sat in the middle of the field, reflecting the sun. Though what truly made her admire the area was the magnificent view of some distant hills. Astoria couldn't help but inhale the fresh air of the garden. It calmed the nervous beat of her heart.

"Alright," Draco said at last, looking down at her. "I'll have to cover your eyes."

"Is that so?" Astoria asked with an amuse raise of her brow before she stood still. "Alright, but don't try anything funny, you hear?"

"I promise." He declared as he rounded his way to her back.

She felt him gently place his hands on top of her eyes, careful to listen to the sound of voice as he lead her some parts left of the field. When they finally came to a halt, she waited with bathed breath before Draco finally peeled his hands away.

Her heart melted at the sight before her. A red and white checkered blanket lay on the warm grass next to a large maple tree. On top of the blanket stood a picnic basket, no doubt filled with a scrumptious meal and spelled with an extendable charm. Beside the basket lay a lovely bouquet of pink and red carnations. The view from where the picnic was set up seemed to give them a fantastic sight of the hills far from them.

Astoria looked up to him in admiration. "It's beautiful."

Draco looked relieved at that, chuckling lowly before sighing. "Is it really? It was very last minute, and I had to bribe the muggle owners to keep the space free of tourists and the like. I thought it'd be different. Calming, even. Blaise said it was a wretched idea, and that I should have brought you to some very expensive muggle restaurant instead."

"It's perfect. Blaise doesn't know what he's saying." She touched his arm affectionately, a slight giggle escaping her lips. Astoria shook her head as she turned to look at the set up. It was very simple, but it held more meaning than having her be taken to a muggle restaurant. "Shall we?"

They sat on the blanket and rested their backs slightly against the trees vast trunk. Draco picked up the bouquet and offered it to her. He looked quite flushed.

"It was mum's idea with the flowers," Draco tried to explain, tripping over his words a bit. "But the carnations were my choice. I remember how you used to have them in your room when were children."

"You remember," Astoria gasped as she took the bouquet from him. She inhaled the light aroma of the carnations then smiled up to him. "Oh, you truly are full of surprises today. How did you get so brave?"

"I learned it from you." Draco bumped his shoulder to hers playfully before pulling the basket towards him.

Astoria peeked into the basket as she placed her bouquet on her lap. "Ooh, chocolates!"

Draco beamed at her as he took out the box full of sweets. "Not just any chocolates. They're Swiss chocolates. Ones I got from Switzerland during my brief travel before your graduation."

"Look at you. Flowers and chocolates," Astoria shook her head. "You've truly gotten the whole package, have you?"

"Merlin, is it too much?" Draco laughed bashfully as he fished out some of their meals. A plate of pot roast, shepherd's pie, bagels—she was right to assume he's used an extendable charm on the basket. "I've never had to do this before. Pansy always settled for much more than a picnic in a garden. But I thought it would be nice to be alone together for a change…"

"Well you're right to think that," Astoria piped up happily as she helped him set up their meal on the blanket. "I'd say you've completely outdone yourself with this one, Draco."

"I just want you to be happy, is all," He said as he took out the last of their plastic cutlery.

Astoria held his hand in hers, causing Draco to lift his head and meet her gaze. "I am happy. I mean, I'm almost always happy. But this is beyond any level of happiness."

The rest of their lunch was as smooth and calming as can be. They were in a very light mood, mostly jesting at each other and telling stories about their favorite books. The atmosphere was very serene, and she felt so relaxed just being with him in that moment.

Eventually, they came about talk of Astoria's plans after Hogwarts and Draco's travels in the past two years.

Astoria had always known why Draco decided to travel for quite some time. It was mostly because he intended to avoid most of the British wizarding world after his defect in the war. He always liked to send her little gifts from countries he's been to, little boxes of sweets and chocolates to fill her belly happy for days, and letters of his stories on places he's been to.

It always seemed a shame for her. Travelling does not bode well with her, considering how easily sickly she gets after long bouts of travel. Whether it was the Hogwarts Express or apparating between countries, travelling was not an easy feat on its own. She had hoped that someday, she'd find a cure for her curse or at least a temporary relief; one that would be enough that could allow her to see the world.

"While you were visiting majestic forests in South America, I came across a ferret in our estate's garden just this morning." Astoria said between bites of bagel in the middle of their meal. "It reminded me of a certain white ferret back in my day."

"You're never going to let that go, are you?" Draco asked, shaking his white blonde head shamefully. "That was years ago."

"Yes, because years ago, you were an absolute prat and the worst one to exist." She shook her head in amusement. "But I know you've changed since then."

Her last sentence seemed to have struck a chord in Draco somewhere because he immediately went silent. His brows furrowed in concentration as he picked at his plate of sheppard's pie absent-mindedly. Astoria put her plate down, prepared to ease the tension that seemed to fill the air, though not before Draco spoke first.

"Do you not mind it?" Draco asked in a small voice, his grey eyes finding his plate of unfinished food. "Being around me? Don't you ever… well, you know, mind the staresand the whispers and the lucid rumors people make up whenever they see you, or see you with me…"

Astoria was taken aback. They've talked about this before, how she didn't care what the other students thought of her back then when she stood by Draco during his real seventh year. But she supposed he thought it this time to be different. That it wasn't just going to be students making their petty assumptions about her for being with him. It was the whole lot of the British wizarding world now.

"I don't mind." Astoria replied softly as she put her plate down. Her hand instinctively went to take his hand in hers. "I've never minded it one bit and I won't stop now. They can say their piece behind lip-glossed smiles, but I don't give a rat's bottom for what they have to say. I… I like being around you. I like being with you. I'd have hoped that… that had been enough, or, you know, that it had been quite obvious for the longest time."

The heat on her cheeks seems to redden ever so bright now, but she did little to look away. She was looking at Draco intently now, even though he wasn't looking back. Her hand trailed upwards from his hand towards his forearm where his Dark Mark was hidden underneath his long-sleeved shirt. She felt Draco stiffen for the briefest moment, only to relax as he looked at her.

"Could you really live that way?" Draco asked, plucking a piece of swiss chocolate from the box and offering it to her. He was moving about, distracting himself from his innermost dark thoughts. The thoughts that had consumed him for most of his days since the war. "Have people ridicule you for being with me? I'm not really the best person, and I'm sure you've plenty of suitors from other pureblood families ready to ask for your hand—"

"Stop that." She scolded him gently, their gaze meeting briefly before she took a bite of the chocolate in his hand. The sweet consumed her palette, making her relax in the slightest, but only for her to get back up from her reverie. "I'd let them wait forever or never at all, because I have no intention of letting those suitors as you so lightly put it court me, nor do I have any attention of accepting proposals they might have in mind."

Draco blinked at her with his mouth slightly opened, unsure what else to say.

"Oh, do close your mouth before you catch a fly," Astoria told him fondly, her other hand reaching out to caress his sharp jaw. "You know, usually, on first dates, most boys do try to impress their date rather than push them away."

"I'm sorry…" Draco trailed off as he leaned into her touch. "I just wanted to make sure that you truly want this. The thought of us, that is. That it makes you happy being with me despite everything that's happened since the war."

"I want this, Draco Malfoy." Astoria insisted strongly, intensifying her gaze so that he wouldn't have to look away. "I want us. No one will ever change my mind about you. Because I have known you for the kindness people know not about. How you have the biggest heart. I want this because you've never given me a reason not to."

This time, Draco truly looked rendered speechless, his gaze never leaving hers. Astoria had not meant to release much of her feelings for him now. She had saved that for some other occasion. But this was an occasion more fitting than the one she had in mind.

"You outshine the morning sun," Draco declared before his lips curled into a gentle smile. He squeezed her hand in his before he lifted their hands to his lips. Astoria could not help the color on her cheeks as Draco planted a soft kiss against her knuckles. "You make the world a little less… gloomier."

"I should hope so," Astoria beamed at him as she tilted her head to the side. "Making you smile is no easy feat."

"It should be now." Draco chuckled as he kissed her knuckles once more. "Are you sure about this?"

"Jury's out," She leaned in close to press her forehead against his. Astoria had poured her heart out to him, and though she knew Draco would take time, she would be patient with his own emotions. The world seemed a little brighter when she saw those prominent lips of his curl into one of his most infectious smiles.

Her heart raced with every beat of emotion. She can no longer deny what she felt for Draco, and she was not going to hold back any time soon. Astoria gazed into his grey eyes before affirming him of her feelings. "And my choice is you."

The stakes are high,
The waters rough,
But this love is ours