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This story is No. 3 in the series "Connections". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: "For this is a classical pureblood “once upon a time”; a story of surrender to heavy-handed heritage. Where there was never any happy ending, only a trailing off. Only a shaky, uncertain, yearning that gave way to an eventual deadening inside."

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > GeneralsmolderFR1533,926252,66123 Dec 1123 Dec 11Yes

chapter two: safe

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. Harry Potter belongs to J.K Rowling.
A/N 2: Reviews are Good. This has been a subtle hint from the author - Please return to your regularly scheduled reading.

chapter two: safe

Ironically, it is through her mother-in-law that she finally finds that opening. Over breakfast one morning she suggests that Scorpius start going to Luna Lovegood’s daycare (looks are exchanged between the other three at the table at this name) but Astoria nods her head placidly. Because she quickly learned that when Narcissa said something, despite the tone, it never feels quite like she is just lightly advising you of her opinion on the subject – there is always a command implicit. And although she is now starting to engage with her world for the first time since she initially did in her childhood and learned the dangers inherent in doing so and taught herself how to retreat inside her head, Astoria also is keenly aware that she must pick her battles and there is no reason to fight this particular “suggestion”.

The problem arises in that she doesn’t want to leave.

She has no problem taking Scorpius to Luna Lovegood’s place (there is no bad blood between her and the woman. She only truly knows her as the girl who was one grade up from her) but she does not want to go anywhere without him. Doesn’t actually know where she is supposed to go now.

Luna welcomes her to stay in the kitchen (although no other parents do) and starts chatting with her while she keeps a steady eye on the children during “Quiet Time.” The woman’s peculiar mixture of warmth and bizarre cut through her attempts to keep everything at the appropriate level of polite small talk she is used to.

….it is strange to have a friend.

It isn’t until Luna catches her absentmindedly telling Scorpius stories as she buttons up his coat before they leave one day (little things she makes up because she loves the way it has consistently made him smile at her since he was an infant) and asks if she has ever tried her hand at writing that they become even closer.

The other woman was constantly trying to set her up with something to do while she was busy teaching the children each day. But this – this was truly not an easy thing to try. The next day though, Luna provides her with the paper and quill and shoos her off to the kitchen table before she starts her class.

So, she writes. It is odd to her - the quill shaky and uncertain in her hand and she glances up at Luna constantly the first half hour silently asking for permission. Can she do this? Is she really allowed to write what she wants and no one will find it and use it against her. Are these thoughts of hers truly safe outside of her head? (A place where she never felt entirely safe to articulate herself either. Occlumency was something everyone feared. Blankness has always been her haven.)

But Luna barely glances at her (she is working after all), continuing to lead the group of children in song (a sad tune about a little boy and a dragon who lived by the sea) and she takes comfort in the site. Her chestnut haired, silver eyed, pale boy not yet old enough to sing along but smiling happily and amusing himself by laughing and clapping at odd times causing the other children to giggle.

Astoria closes her eyes trying to remember the last time she felt this way. Warmed and at peace, safe and hopeful. Was she ever? It has always been hard for her to feel these things. Perhaps….

….Christmas. She was seven. It had been years since Voldemort and her parents had actually settled into a fairly normal life by pureblood standards and there was still two years until Daphne went away to school – four for her.

It was a truly childish tradition but they had kept it up until…..until she left the house (until she was wed). Daphne and she crawled into her bed and all cuddled up, they opened the book and had it read to them.

It had been a gift one year. An uncharacteristically thoughtful gift from her father that had hit the mark dead on when it came to his daughters’ likes. A book charmed to read aloud fairy tales.

Curled up with her sister under the fluffy pale blue comforter that reminded her of a clear summer sky, the dark room illuminated by only a single candle in its candelabra on the wall slowly wearing down until it was only a guttering light flickering feebly and throwing up shadows. The deep calm voice of the narrator telling them stories that always began with a, “Once upon a time,” and ended with her drifting off to sleep.

Feeling safe, warm, hopeful, and at peace with herself.

Slowly opening her eyes, she writes……

……about her sister.

Starting with a time when it was neither simple nor safe, although it should have been both – although they had often wished it was both - she writes a story about a strong girl who valiantly tried to protect her younger sister. A task that wasn’t easy.

A task that wasn’t truly possible in the world they lived in. A place where survival, not protection, was all that one could hope for. Where keeping your head down and living through it if you didn’t want to be the next one to die was a way of life for almost everyone for about a year. And prior to that was just tense tense prelude.

She writes about that girl’s journey. Learning to trust herself after the War – and how that ultimately led to a job as an Auror. How she found fulfillment there. Able to use her magic, this gift of her blood, of her heritage, but in a good way. In a way that protected others.

Astoria doesn’t realize how late it is until she is startled by a man she doesn’t know setting a mug of tea beside her.

“Sorry,” he sat across from her with his own mug and yawned widely. “Made some chamomile,” he gestured at her untouched cup.

She blinked at him looked out the window at the setting sun and back at her pages and pages of writing. “How long….,”

The man made a faintly amused sound and she looked up again. “You were in the zone,” he said simply.

Sudden panic came over and instantly the familiar mask of calm dropped down (sliding on efficiently but not fitting quite as seamlessly anymore). She saw the way her companion straightened in his chair and looked at her in confusion at her abrupt change in demeanor but she couldn’t help it.

“Where is my son?” she asked as if the answer held no meaning to her, as if she was asking about the weather.

He studied her for a moment longer before answering, “He was taking a nap but I think he woke up so Luna was reading to him.”

Astoria inclined her head and smiled, cold and gracious, as she stood, “Thank you”.

He touched her arm as she started to walk by. “Hey. It’s safe here,” he said before handing her the papers she had forgotten between her panic and shutting down.

Then he went back to his tea.

She looked at her own writing for a long moment. The words he had spoken, that feeling that had propelled her to write earlier, was imprinted deep within her brain. She couldn’t ignore that – she didn’t want to.

But right now she had to go find her son.
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