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Still Life

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Life is both still and moving too quickly for Astoria Greengrass. A frown is her new lipstick, constantly attached to her lips. She’s not formally known as Greengrass anymore. She’s a Malfoy now. Has been for the last twelve years.

An oak tree peaks from her balcony at the Manor. It reminds her of over a decade ago, when she filled a Parisian luggage with garments and trinklings of her childhood. Her window in the Greengrass estate oversees a drooping Magnolia tree planted by her grandmother. Its branches fall to the sides like it’s perpetually slumming over. A melancholy thing, a bit like Astoria herself.

She’s far from home, even though the Greengrass chateau never provided the warmth and safety associated with childhood and growing up. Business deals were closed the dining room while Astoria and Daphne played ornaments. Pretty, delicate dolls for father’s business partners to look at too long, and for mother’s middle-aged socialite friends to criticize. Even her marriage into the Malfoy family was negotiated in the sitting room, over tea after a five course meal.

It takes her a long while to digest the fact that she’s merely a pawn in her father’s attempt to gain notoriety and admittance into the elite pureblood circle. When she was younger, Mr. Greengrass used to rock her to sleep and speak of the different shades of hues the color green has. He wants to give her the world, but he’s under the misconstrued notion that he must give away two daughters and that the world means money.

The night the marriage contract is solidified, Draco finds her in a room filled with paint brushes and the smell of iron. It’s her room for now, her refuge from the politicization of own life. She wonders why it’s written into law that her father, as the head and founder of their family, must make decisions for her and Daphne. Her desires for art and sex must be ruled by her father while Mrs. Greengrass turns an eye to the youngest of her friend’s sons.

She dreadfully loves and positively hates Draco Malfoy. Her husband. Her love. The person who shares a bed with her but leaves before she wakes up. A man who can never love her as much as he hates himself. When they first married, she absurdly believed he could learn to love her.

Astoria made him a better man. A loving father, a better listener. Someone who treads carefully, not to appease people and be a slimy sucker, but as someone who cares.

She hates him. She hates him. She hates him because he’ll never love her as much as he loves his son. She recognizes anger having spent many years of her teenage life despising her mother for bringing young lovers into their home. Father never loved her. Astoria wonders if she’s a bit like her mother. She’s frightfully aware that the vindictive behavior she inflicts on Draco is a behavior learned from Mrs. Greengrass.

When they married, she was showered with attention that felt like a harsh stinging hex in the face because Draco only gave her carnations because he was raised by a pureblood. He didn’t pick out the engagement ring, it was a family heirloom.

She despises that he directs his attention to Potter and notices when Potter hasn’t shaved.

She’s long given up on Draco loving her. She doesn't like the color green anymore.

Some days she hates herself for staying with him. For thinking that small touches were satisfactory. She lets Draco get away with too much. He smokes too much. He drinks too much and she learned how to smoke cigars when he left his pipe by their bedside table.

She grew up with her father smoking finely rolled cigarettes and the scent reminded her too much of home. Astoria absolutely adores the feeling of Draco’s lips on her own, especially after his breakfast – cigarettes and coffee.

Draco goes to work as an Unspeakable in the morning and comes home at six in the evening. He’s punctual and an affectionate father. He spends every weekend with Astoria and Scorpius, leaving all work related ventures at the Ministry. She doesn’t know what he’s up to during the day and he can’t divulge information because his position of employment forbids discussion. She wonders what he’s up to throughout the day or if he saw Potter during lunch.

Astoria refuses divorce and Draco would never bring it up, even if he’s obviously unhappy and yearning from another body to share his bed with.

She hates that Draco’s lips smells like home. Home is far away. It isn’t at Wiltshire.

Soon, she thinks, it will be over soon, when the blood in her system has run dry and her lungs stop trying to keep her alive.

But he stopped kissing her a long time ago. She doesn’t smell home anymore, even when she opens the windows to the country air.

She’s immensely grateful that Draco is a good father. That he made her into a mother and they parent together.

She is filled with rage that the tabloids, and even Draco at times, reduces her as a woman who’s given birth to the Malfoy heir.

Astoria paints. She’s a mother. She’s a gardner. She’s transformed the Malfoy gardens when Mrs. Malfoy passed away. She’s a writer for a pro-Muggleborn magazine. She’s not just a wife who stands next to Draco Malfoy during galas and Ministry events.

She feels like a still life-portrait. Unmoving. Unchanged. She can’t leave the frame like a wizard painting.

Life is still in Wiltshire. The wind is just right. The temperature bland and calm, unlike the hustle of Dublin.

She had a job before this. She was someone before a wife and a mother. Sometimes she doesn’t remember her. She wants to meet her again. Astoria wants the twenty-one year old version of her to travel to the present and hold this currently withering woman.

She used to belong to herself. She doesn’t mind sharing parts of her with Scorpius and Draco. But Father and Son carved up a person they want to see.

Astoria Malfoy, Astoria Greengrass, and whoever else she’s become, loves the curve of Draco’s lips, especially when it’s turned to a smile. Their son makes Draco’s lips turn into a smile, like a comma at the end of the page, she’s always turn her head for more. She loves him so deeply, and is disappointed with her own stubbornness.

She’s staying. She’s not going. She’s staying right beside Draco even if he only flicks two fingers on her wrists. The quiet company is enough, she tells herself. He loves her, in his own quiet way, even if he’ll never love her as intensely, as beautifully as someone else.

She’ll go away soon, return to the magnolias. The healers confirmed it one Tuesday morning in autumn. Maybe Draco can let her go, too.

One evening, she’s comfortable in bed, already feeling parts of her leaving with wind outside. Draco kisses her cheek goodnight.

“Do you love me?” He’s never said it before. He thinks actions are better than words but she doesn’t recognize the difference between love and obligation.

He pauses, moves closer to her. “I do.”

She smiles, it’s enough. It’s enough. It’s enough. It’s enough. She repeats silently, like a mantra. Astoria closes her eyes. She’ll be home soon.