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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 > GeneralsmolderFR1533,926252,63723 Dec 1123 Dec 11Yes

chapter one: passive

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. Harry Potter belongs to J.K Rowling.
A/N: This story is connected to "One Moment At A Time" and "Blink" although it is not strictly necessary for you to have read those first.
A/N 2: Reviews are Good. This has been a subtle hint from the author - Please return to your regularly scheduled reading.



chapter one: passive




She had long been fascinated by the power of the written word. How something so easily fallible (meaning so quickly changed by a single letter, the placement of punctuation) could change someone's life so drastically.

The contract in her hand did little to alter that perception.

She has always felt her life was a tale with an unreliable narrator. It made so much more sense that way – was so much easier to detach herself and stay passive throughout all the horrors that had gone on around her that she had been powerless to stop (there was just nothing she could have done, really. So much screaming going on downstairs but if she had fought against her parents and tried to save any of the Muggles, showed any sign of rebellion at all really with the way this society is set up, then the same or worse would have befallen her. She told herself this all the time as she read the same line of her favorite book – held in a white knuckled grip - over and over, never taking it in. Sometimes it helped. Usually, well usually, it didn’t.).

But this, it was difficult to stay passive for this.

With her parent’s hard expectant eyes on her (and that familiar hollow floating feeling of utter calm that many had often mistaken for grace in her but she knew all too well by now was simply resignation) Astoria signed.

(It wasn’t signing her life away - Astoria always found that phrase melodramatic and slightly silly to begin with. And anyway, her life has felt out of her control long before this.)

The very next day she was wed.

And it all happened so quickly (and she is aware of what that says – the slight on her, her family. That the Malfoys might have fallen in the public eye but they could still be choosy and the Greengrass hadn’t been their top pick – especially her, the second daughter. The one that was slightly off; the only question is in which typical pureblood way would it manifest itself in the long run – easily controlled placid eccentricity or wild violent mood swings. The fact that they actually sent a marriage contract (the slightest proper amount of time after she graduated – but still) said that they were banking on the former.) that she never gave Draco much thought until the long day was over and he was shutting the bedroom door. Then she actually had the idea come into her head for the first time – this, this was my husband now.

It was absolutely stupid of her not to have considered it earlier (say, during the marriage ceremony when the ring was being placed on her finger) but she had kept herself so neatly blank for all of that - a separate box of memories that she wasn’t experiencing then but perhaps would unpack later when she felt ready. When she felt more solid.

Seventeen, freshly married, and hearing the door close to the room she now shared (to the house she now was technically the Lady of) and staring into the sharp silver eyes of a man she has only ever met a handful of times outside of school and is now her husband……

……Astoria has never felt more solid, more real. And it isn’t a good feeling. This alertness isn’t bringing with it the sense of courage that she had hoped for. She feels no more ready to face her life now under his gaze then she had under that of her parents’.

So, she retreats back to the calm, back to the blankness she had been holding steady and becomes the picture perfect pureblood wife. It is a comfortable mask – only Narcissa seems to see through it, recognize it for what it is (and Astoria has to wonder if it was her fellow Lady Malfoy who did the choosing of future daughter-in-laws, who was able to recognize a kindred. For better or ill.).

And she is able to keep it up without slipping again…..until Scorpius.

There is true unadulterated joy surrounding her son’s birth. The child’s grandparents on both sides are almost giddy - smiling proudly in ways she has not seen in many years…and never in such innocent circumstances. Her blankness is not recognized as out of the ordinary (by now it is the main known facet of her personality by everyone but her sister (who has watched her with increasing worry for years)) but this time instead of covering emotion it is simply shock.

Because Astoria might have been able to keep up this life of waking up each and every day in a cold hard building (too large and impersonal to her to be referred to as a house, let alone a home) and simply being forever if it was only her. But now it isn’t only her anymore. And she has a responsibility to this child.

A responsibility to make sure he didn’t turn out like her.

With parents that don’t love each other – were jammed together through a highly political arrangement that was good financially and kept the bloodline pure. Two people that had very little real interest in each other, really. A father filled with confusion and guilt over his family’s part in a War and his own lingering prejudices that had been taught to him for so long. And a mother that hates her world, hates her life, so much that she instead chooses to cognitively disengage from it on daily basis.

She doesn’t want that for her tiny boy (whom she already fears has inherited her weaknesses along with her chestnut hair instead of the sharp striking Malfoy blonde). Astoria has no illusions that she will be the perfect mother, that she even can – she is far too…off for that. But she does love him - and she knows that Draco does too. And perhaps, perhaps she can stop herself -stop them from making the exact same mistakes their parents did.

(When it comes to child-raising that is. She is pretty certain that they are both relatively safe from repeating the mistakes of their parents when it comes to being a part of racial cleansing.)

But Astoria knows she needs a plan. It is good to have made a decision, good to have something she cares about the well being of now other than Daphne who cried last time she saw her. (Feeling guilty, so guilty, for getting to live her own life since their parents were getting what they wanted out of her instead) but it all means nothing – absolutely nothing – if she can’t back it up. If she can’t actually do anything about it.

She is used to being powerless. But this time that isn’t an option (she can’t let it be) and maybe, if she is careful (steady and alert), she can get them all out of this – through this – whole.
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