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"I'm afraid I must use the bathroom, please excuse me."

Draco sighed, biting his lip and digging his nails into the palms of his hand as Astoria stood and left the room. Immediately his parents began talking.

"Quite a lovely girl, isn't she, Lucius?" Draco's mother asked, taking a sip from her wine glass.

"Indeed," Lucius agreed. He looked over to Draco, his eyebrow raised as if dating him to speak.

"It is a pity about her views on blood purity," Narcissa said with a chuckle. "Speaking of Muggles as if she were one herself! Can you imagine being belittling one’s self like that? Mark my words, Draco, you'll do far better with the girl we've picked out for you."

"Pansy Parkinson?" Draco said, not even bothering to hide his disgust. "You know how I feel about her."

The girl makes my skin crawl, he thought.

"Miss Greengrass would help improve our public image, if Draco were only seen courting her," Lucius mused. "Although, it may discredit us with the other old families. You remember what happened to the Notts when their niece courted that Fawley boy."

"Oh, yes!" Narcissa exclaimed , laying her hand over her heart. "Oh, poor Evelyn. She wasn't able to go out in public for days —"

"Mother!" Draco interrupted, jerking his head towards the door. Astoria walked in at that moment, and Narcissa stopped talking.

"Sorry I took so long," Astoria said, sitting on the loveseat next to Draco and taking his hand. "I couldn't find my way back."

Narcissa raised an eyebrow but said nothing, taking another sip of wine.

"You have a lovely home," Astoria said after several moments of awkward silence. She had said the same when they had first reached the sitting room, but Draco wouldn't point that out. "I especially like the painting outside the bathroom. Michelangelo, if I'm correct?"
Lucius nodded in confirmation.

"Yes, gifted to an ancestor by the Italian Minister for Magic." He smirked pretentiously, taking a rather large drink of his wine. "The Malfoys have always had an eye for fine art."

Expensive art, you mean, Draco thought, rolling his eyes when his father wasn't looking.

"Oh, yes," Narcissa exclaimed, waving a hand. "You should see the art we have in the attic. Some of them date back to the 1500s, if you can believe it. Many were even painted by members of the Malfoy family themselves."

Astoria raised a brow, appearing interested, although the way she fidgeted with Draco's ring showed that she was more than ready to leave. "Oh, really?" she said, clearly feigning interest, though Narcissa didn't seem to pick up on the her false tone.

"Oh, yes, all Malfoys are extraordinarily talented," Narcissa bragged. She took another drink of her wine, then nearly choked on it when she turned to look at Astoria.

"My word!" she said once she'd regained her composure. "Is that...blood, on your face?"

Astoria's eyes widened, and her hand flew to her face, wiping away the reddish-brown liquid, which had started to dry already and left a stain on her glove.

"What happened?" Narcissa asked, a hand over her heart.

"I must have bitten my lip and not noticed," Astoria said, though Draco noticed her voice sounded strained, and when he looked at her lips, there wasn't any trace of a cut. She was lying.

The subject quickly changed, and before long it was time to leave. Astoria hurried off to get her cloak, and Lucius pulled Draco aside.

"Drop her," he hissed before Draco could speak. "She's clearly diseased. Think of what kind of heirs she'd produce, if any at all."

"I'm not leaving her, father," Draco said calmly. "Now if you'll excuse me I need to get my cloak." He pulled away, kissing his mother on the cheek before going off in search of Astoria.

"It was a pleasure to meet you," Astoria said as she shook Lucius's hand. "I look forward to seeing you again."

"Of course," Lucius agreed, bowing and kissing the back of her hand. He cast a meaningful look at Draco as he straightened up.

"Well, Astoria, I suppose we should go." Draco offered his arm to Astoria, which she accepted, and stepped out the door, leading her down the driveway and Side-Along Apparating back to her house.

As he sat with Astoria at her kitchen table, drinking Firewhisky and listening to old Celestina Warbeck records, he couldn't help but ponder on what his father had said. Could Astoria really be sick? It certainly was worrisome. But then she pulled him to his feet, wrapping her arms around him, and all thoughts of that afternoon were banished from his mind. As she kissed him softly, and the last few notes of You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me dwindled into silence, only one thought was present.


God, I love her.