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Perception

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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 > GeneralsmolderFR1533,926252,59323 Dec 1123 Dec 11Yes

chapter three: hope

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 three: hope



Draco was waiting for her – pacing tensly back and forth by the fire when she Apparated back to the Manor.

“Where were you?” he asked spinning towards her instantly. “Did something happen to Scorpius? Is he alright?”

“Shhhh,” she responded smiling blandly back at him and nodding down at the sleeping child in her arms.

Seeing him, Draco visibly relaxed and followed her up the stairs as she carried their child to his room and placed him in his crib. They both stood and gazed at him – his tiny breaths, the way he would scrunch up his nose and kick at the blanket - for several long moments before going back downstairs.

“Where were you? Why were you back so late?” Draco asks again.

“I was at Luna’s. I lost track of time,” she answers honestly.

“What were you doing?” he asks her and detachedly Astoria notes she can see his anger building again.

“I was writing,” she pulls the sheets out of her bag. More for proof for herself than for him. It is still hard for her to believe that this happened, that she did this today.

He seems a bit taken aback by her actions and tentatively he reaches to take the pages from her outstretched hand. Moving slowly, giving her plenty of time to pull them away from him if she had wanted to – if this was a purely private thing.

But she didn’t – she let him take them. And standing in front of her he read the first real thing she had written down (that wasn’t an assignment for school). This biography of her sister that was simultaneously a highly personal accounting of her early life as well. Something they had never discussed….but then again, they truly talked about very few things.

He read (glancing up at her quickly when he first started but then quickly continuing). And she wished, she truly truly wished that she felt something in this moment. It was times such as these that she only wonders what she is supposed to be feeling. Happy? Excited? Tense? Before it was a necessity, but she has gotten too good at pulling in and now it is difficult for that not to be her default.

So Astoria was simply blank as she patiently waited.

Draco finishes, looking up at her and blinking in surprise. “This – It’s good. Really good, Astoria. I didn’t know you wrote.”

“I don’t. This is the first time I have,” she tells him.

“Really?” he asks but then understanding falls over his face. The inherent lack of safety in even keeping a diary in the sort of household where loyalty is paramount but always always questioned. “Ah.”

“What are you going to do with it?” he asks next.

“Do?” Astoria responds stupidly, not understanding what he is asking.

“Are you just going to show your sister or write biographies of more people or publish a…,” Draco starts to list.

“Publish,” she interrupts him uncharacteristically, her mind working – the plan that had only been lying still, daring to break ground in her mind, daring to grow and blossom. “I could….”

“I could interview people. Give them a voice. And Luna still has all of her Fathers’ old printing supplies – I’m sure she would let me use them. At least temporarily. I could publish myself.”

Draco is watching her with an odd expression.

“Couldn’t I?” she asks him suddenly extremely uncertain.

“You could,” he says with a small smile.

***

The next person she wrote up was Luna because it was easy, convenient, and she knew her friend wouldn’t mind her using her for practice with her interviewing skills.

And it was through Luna that she would be able to get in contact with many other people she was interested in talking to. Not the major players in the War – oh no. Honestly, they held little fascination for her.

She was talking about Aberforth Dumbledore, Remus Lupin, Percy Weasley, Dennis Creevey, Olivander, Gabrielle Delacour.

And there were many interview subjects that she could easily access herself – Andromeda Tonks, Theodore Nott, Narcissa Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson, Susan Bones (a friend of her sisters’ now), Draco….

It became a study in multiple sources for her. Everyone had their own story, their own take on things that was influenced by the life that they had lived, their very own unique perspective on the events that were unfolding for everyone. And all too often those stories were never heard. History was written by (or maybe more accurately, about) the victors after all. Not the quite ones, not the people in the background… on either side. The ones that were able to blend, to survive – that held their breath and just quietly hoped (with carefully held down panic slowly mounting in their chests) that the water didn’t get too high before they could grow gills.

She decided to call it “Afterwards: The Lives Led by Individuals Before, During and After the War.” On the back was a form you could fill out to have it sent to your house – for a small fee.

It was distributed all around town. Small stacks in shops, salons, bars, boutiques, on sellers carts.

And Astoria truly hadn’t had much hope for it. She wanted it to succeed (and even that sort of want is hesitant) but optimism – well, saying it had never been a strength of hers was rather an understatement.

The box she had had set aside for specifically the purpose of receiving any responses she may get at the Owlery was absolutely full of requests. Requests and money.

Astoria stood blinking at it stupidly.

Perhaps it was because this premier teaser issue had been a double feature: Luna and Daphne – two people whose families were seen as being on either side during the War – so she had snagged both demographics. Perhaps it was the titillation of the fact that she didn’t give her name, that she had signed at the end with the childhood nickname only her sister had ever called her – “A Story”. Perhaps people were hungry for a recourse other than the Daily Prophet (which had taken a major hit in public trust); somewhere they could learn about people from the people themselves. Perhaps people were just honestly just curious about the premise.

Astoria truly didn’t know the why, but she did know that this success allowed her to take the next step.

She packed up all the requests and money into her bag and Owled her sister while she was there - it was a fairly new legal procedure but Daphne would know people in the Ministry who could get her the proper paperwork.

***

Months later, Astoria held her final draft for Draco’s issue in her right hand. She had taken her time on it – much more than any other that she had done previously. He had been patient but very curious (of the process and frankly of her) during the interview. And she had been very careful, very particular – letting the words guide her as she always did but doubling back and checking for bias of any kind in every line. Like every issue she sent out she wanted this to be his story not hers and that is hard - so hard - when his tale is so close, so intertwined, with hers in ways even her sisters’ wasn’t. (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) And it was only with his approval that she would print it next month.

In her left hand she holds (what she desperately is allowing herself to hope – for all of their sakes is) the key to break the spell, break the cycle. Perhaps not a “happily ever after” but maybe something close, something that at least re-opens the opportunity for that someday. Or is possibly, the gift of a type of hope, a newness they have never before known. And, at the most miniscule, it will guarantee that their son will never never go through the same things they did.

In her left hand were divorce papers.

The walk up the staircase seems too long and she is intensely alert for the impossible stretching of time. He was already in the bedroom when she enters.

“Draco,” she says quietly and his eyes go to the papers in her hands before meeting hers, sharp and direct, “we have to talk.”

She takes a deep breath and closes the door behind her hearing it click heavily in the silence.

The End

You have reached the end of "Perception". This story is complete.

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