The Broken Promise

Title: The Broken Promise
Author: ExcentrykeMuse
Pairing: Harry/Astoria Greengrass, slight Draco/Astoria
Summary:  She had submitted a written proposal.  Draco Malfoy had broken her heart and now she was determined to go to the Yule Ball with Harry Potter.

Warnings: fluff, broken promises

She had submitted a written proposal.  Harry had only blinked at her in response.  She was small, a third year possibly, with strawberry blonde curls and square glasses planted firmly on her nose.  Where girls had been coming up to him in packs, giggling, asking him seemingly collectively to the Yule Ball, this small witch had come alone.

“Er—“ Harry said as he took the rolled up parchment, which was tied with a light blue ribbon.  “Who are you?”

She sighed.  “Astoria Louise of the Ancient and Noble House of Greengrass.”

That certainly caused Harry to blink again.

Astoria rolled her eyes.  “You may know of my sister Daphne.  She’s your year mate in Slytherin.”

Harry looked her up and down.  Astoria was most definitely a Ravenclaw.

“And how can I help, Astoria?”  He was very aware of the students milling about him, many of them stopping to stare at their conversation.

Lady Astoria,” she corrected.  “Really, Lord Potter, you must learn the proper forms.”

Harry was gaping at her—Lord Potter?  Whatever could she mean?—but she merely started up again.

“It’s all in that parchment.  It’s a formal request for your presence as my escort to the Yule Ball.”

Glancing down at the parchment, Harry looked back at the small witch.  “Aren’t you a bit young?”

“Not to go as your guest,” she replied.  “And I was thirteen on Tuesday.”

That was the day before last.  Really, this was all turning out to be either very confusing or highly frightening.  If Harry were one of the twins, he certainly would have found it amusing.

“Well then,” he untied the ribbon and opened up the piece of parchment.  It was certainly eye opening.  He glanced through it and then turned to Lady Astoria who was waiting for him patiently.  “You want to attend the Yule Ball as my date, showing that you can gain the attention of someone of ‘higher status’ as I’m a champion, all to make ‘Heir Malfoy’ jealous?  Why not just call him Draco if you’re his best friend?”

“This is a proper petition and not a personal missive,” she sniffed, as if he should have known better.  “Really, Lord Potter—“

“I think we’re beyond that now”—where had that Lord Potter rot come from?—“It’s just Harry.  And Malfoy’s allowed to have a girlfriend.”

“Look at the second paragraph.”

Harry did.  His eyebrows rose considerably.  “You were nine and ten.  Promising each other that you would one day marry—“

“Is binding in the wizarding world unless one party is unfaithful to another.  He is being unfaithful and I will not be the jilted party.”

Well, if she put it like that.

Harry thought for a long moment, just looking at Astoria.  She was pretty, bossy, yes, but he was used to Hermione.  She seemed to be going after him to spite Malfoy, which was something he was all for in general.  Then a thought occurred to him.  “You’re not looking to make up with him given your mutual infidelity?”  He couldn’t believe that such words were actually coming out of his mouth.  It was absurd.  She really was a bad influence on him.  A huffy, adorable bad influence.

“That would be none of your concern—“

“Of course it would be,” Harry argued.  “I’m the one you’re cheating on him with.”

“So that’s a ‘yes’ then?” she asked coyly, pushing her glasses up her nose.

“What year are you in?” Harry asked in defeat.

“Second, but I’m thirteen.”

Well, that was better than nothing.

Ron was entirely jealous when he learned that Harry had a date to the Yule Ball.  “I don’t have one yet,” he griped.  “I bet it was one of your adoring fans.”  No one, not even Hermione, had seemed to put together the incident with the proposal and his new found date.  It was as if they were all blind to it.

“She isn’t actually,” Harry remarked, taking a long sip of pumpkin juice.  “It’s why I eventually said ‘yes’.”

“Hermione,” Ron breathed, looking over at their friend.  “You’re a girl.”

That hadn’t gone well at all.

Naturally, it wasn’t the last he’d seen of Astoria.  One day when he was out on the Quidditch pitch on his own, flying a few laps just because he needed to be on a broom while not being chased by a Hungarian Horntail, she appeared in her cloak and hat, shivering, in the stands.

When he eventually spotted her, he circled down to her and then landed beside her.  “Lady Astoria,” he greeted.

“Lord Potter.”

Harry.”

“Harry, then.”  She was holding one of those confounded parchments again.  Harry looked at her in bewilderment and she smiled at him.  “You forgot to sign it.”

“I forgot to what?”

“You forgot to sign it.”  She blinked at him through her far too adorable glasses.  They made her brown eyes seem slightly bigger in the cutest of ways.  He really just wanted to lean down and pluck them off her nose so that he could see what she really looked like without them.

Harry sighed, more at his thoughts than at the situation.  “Why do I need to sign it?”

“To make it a mutually binding agreement.  It’s an enchantment.”  She stated it so factually, not like a textbook like Hermione did, but as if it were something everyone should know.

“Like the enchantment you had with Malfoy where you agreed to marry each other?” he asked tiredly.

Her brown eyes gleamed.  “Exactly.  I knew you’d get it, Harry.”

He ran a hand down his face.  “Why would I do that?”

“Well, if you sign, you know that I’ll be your date without any expectations that it will be romantic”—well, that put dampener on things—“and I know you’ll escort me with the purpose of helping me jilt my fiancé.  See, it’s a fair trade.”

Somehow, Harry thought she was getting more out of the agreement than he was.

The wind was blowing up around them and her strawberry blond curls were a mess, sticking every which way out of her hood.  Harry reached forward a tucked a strand behind her ear.

“Eep!” she said, looking at him with wide eyes.  A second later, she stuck her hand out, a copy of the parchment and a quill clasped in them.  “Just sign.”

“Have you?”

“Of course, Harry.  What do you take me for?”  She sounded insulted, but it had been an honest question.

Looking at her long and hard, he took the parchment and quill.  He looked over the proposal again and, after several minutes, bent down and signed it on one of the seats.  His signature gleamed along with hers and a minute later the parchment disappeared with a pop.

“What just—?”

“It was recorded by the Ministry of Magic and is thus binding.  We’re stuck with each other for the Ball, Harry.”  She was laughing at him.

“Yes,” he pondered aloud, looking at where the parchment had disappeared, “I guess we are.”

Astoria somehow had eyes and ears everywhere.  When she learned that Harry didn’t know how to dance, she came and found him on the fifth floor after he had just taken off his Invisibility Cloak.  “There you are.  You’re coming with me, Harry.”

“I’m actually rather busy, Lady Astoria.”  He had nowhere particular he had to be, he just felt like being contrary.  He had seen his date with Malfoy earlier in the day and was feeling a bit peevish.

“No, you’re not,” she snapped.  “And you need to learn how to dance.”

“How can you possibly?”

“A Gryffindor told me.”  She led him to an empty bit of wall and then walked past it three times, muttering to herself.  Then, as if by magic, a door appeared.  “Nothing about you is secret, Harry, except who your date is, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

“Don’t want to upset your beloved Malfoy?” he sniped.

Astoria turned to him, sharply.  She was standing just inside the door while he was still in the corridor.  “Are you jealous?” she inquired, her brown eyes looking at him earnestly.

“No,” Harry denied, knowing that he was lying.  “Why would I be jealous?”

She hummed to herself and let him through the door.  Harry was astonished.  The hidden room was a dance floor with a gramophone in the back.  It was far more beautiful and sophisticated than the room Harry had previously practiced in.

“Well,” Astoria said, twirling, her skirt flying around her.  “Come here and don’t be jealous.”

Music started playing and Harry came up to Astoria, holding her in his arms like McGonagall had taught him.

“Closer,” Astoria instructed.  “Yes—like that.  You need to hold me tight while still letting me look into your eyes.”

Harry’s pulse fluttered as their gazes met and Astoria smiled at him.

“Yes, just like that, Harry.  Now,” she paused, “move.”

Harry tried to take a step forward and immediately stepped on Astoria’s toes.  He immediately released her.  “Oh, I’m so sorry!”

“No, no, I signed up for this,” she chastened through squinted eyes.  “Now try not to step on my toes this time.  My feet are rather dainty.”

She stepped back into Harry’s arms again and he pulled her a little too tight. 

“Remember what I said, Harry.”

He released her and she took a slight shuffle back.  She brushed the hair out of her eyes and Harry pushed her glasses up her nose for her.  They both stilled, looking at one another. 

“Sorry,” Harry eventually said, and the spell was broken.

Two days later he waited for her outside Charms class with a handful of snowdrops.  He knew that she wanted to keep it a secret, but he didn’t mind making Malfoy jealous sooner.  When she exited, she stared at him accusingly before walking away with one of her friends.  Harry was left with the snowdrops. 

He wasn’t quite certain what to do with them.  He went to the stretch of the wall and walked across it three times until the door to the practice room had been revealed.  He found a vase full of water on a piano that was in the corner, and he placed the flowers there.  Hopefully she would find them before the next time they spoke.

She was angry.  They had scheduled another dance lesson, because Harry was apparently still lacking, and she had arrived before him.

“What were you thinking?” she asked in greeting.  “What part of secret did you not get?”

The snowdrops were still fresh on the piano but seemed to have gone unnoticed.

“I thought I’d do something nice for you,” Harry countered.  “You are my date after all.”

“We aren’t romantically involved!” she shouted.

“I thought you were cheating on Malfoy with me!”

The two stared at each other, breathing heavily.

“Or are you ashamed to be seen with me, Lady Astoria?” he sneered.  “What is he, Lord Draco?”

She sighed, sitting down.  “He’s Heir Malfoy, and you are Lord Potter.  Your status is equal to his father’s.”

“Then what is it?  Is it because I’m a half-blood?” he questioned her, working himself into a state.  “You had perfect pureblooded Malfoy and now you have just famous little-old-meee”—

She came up to him and kissed him hard.  Harry was momentarily shocked, before his arms snaked around her waist.  He kissed her back tentatively, uncertain what he was doing, but she seemed just as uncertain.  They remained locked together until finally she pulled away, her eyes glazed but staring into his.

“I’m not ashamed of you,” she whispered.

“But he hurt you,” he concluded, not letting her go.

She nodded into his shoulder.  “I want to hurt him back.  I don’t want him to know until we process in and he has to see me on your arm.  Please, Harry.”

“Only if you agree to be my girlfriend,” Harry quipped, holding her close.

“But I’m his—“

Harry sighed.  “After all this then.  As soon as the Yule Ball, you’ll be my girlfriend.”

She pulled away and looked into his eyes.  “How can I be sure you’ll marry me?”

That was a question Harry hadn’t been expecting.  Dating and marriage didn’t really connect in his mind, though clearly they did in hers.  Maybe this was a pureblood thing.  He really had no idea.

He shrugged.  “You can’t.  But you will know that I will never cheat on you.”

Astoria looked at him for several long seconds before nodding slowly.  She untangled herself from him, went to the piano, and took the snowdrops from their vase.  “Thank you for these,” she murmured and then she was gone, leaving Harry in the room.

There were no more lessons after that.  Harry only occasionally saw Astoria in the hallways and had to resort to sending her an owl to set up when they would meet for the Yule Ball.

Still, he thought of her.  He went to the library one afternoon and looked up a book on legally binding contracts.  It was rather dense and he then chose a much simpler children’s version.  He took out a quill and ink and carefully began to pen his proposal.

He was startled when he heard Viktor Krum’s fangirls come around a corner and saw the famous Quidditch player himself.  Harry sighed.  He noticed that Hermione was only the length of a shelf away.  The two were exchanging glances and smiles.  Well, that seemed to solve the mystery of Hermione’s date.

It was the morning of the Yule Ball when Harry found Astoria on the Marauder’s Map and grabbed her so that they were behind a tapestry.  He quickly covered her mouth with his hand so she wouldn’t scream and murmured, “You’re safe, Lady Astoria,” into her ear.

She instantly relaxed.

Leading her to their secret practice room, Harry saw that a warm fire was in the grate and that a blue sofa had been set up in front of it.  There was a small table in front of that with a quill and ink.  It seemed the room gave you whatever you wanted.

“What do you want, Harry?” she asked, drained of all emotion.  She sat down, her head between her hands, and she looked up at him imploringly.  “I’ll be there tonight.  Don’t worry.”

“I have a proposal,” Harry answered, holding it out to her.

Astoria looked at him curiously before taking it.  The parchment was folded into squares and she quickly looked it over.  “Harry,” she breathed.

He knew what she was reading.  Upon the dissolution of her relationship with Malfoy later that night, she would enter a formal courtship with him, which either could exit if their feelings changed, but if they still remained together by his seventeenth birthday, they would be considered engaged.

“It’s too much,” she finally said, refolding the parchment.  “If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that we’re too young.”

“That’s why we can leave at any time,” Harry said, “and it gives you marriage.  It’s what you need.”

Astoria pushed her glasses up on nose, her eyes a little sad.  “I don’t want you to do this just because you think that this will make me happy, even though you don’t want to.”

Then Harry kissed her, soft and sweet, taking her into his arms and holding her close.  When he final pulled away, looking into her dazed eyes, he whispered, “You’re worth it.”

“Well then,” she stated matter of factly.  “The parchment really should be rolled up, you know, Lord Potter.”

“Harry,” he corrected her, before kissing her again.

They didn’t leave the room before signing the piece of parchment and watching it disappear into thin air again.

“Oh no,” Harry murmured. “I hope Rita Skeeter doesn’t get ahold of that.”

Astoria only laughed.

Harry wasn’t really paying attention to Ron, who was dateless, as he got dressed.  The green robes really fit him well and he hoped that he would pass Astoria’s inspection.

When he descended the stairs to the main hall, he saw her there waiting for him.  Her glasses were missing, her brown eyes sparkling in the candlelight.  She was wearing pale pink robes made of gossamer and silk that looked heavenly.

Lady Astoria,” he greeted, coming up to her and offering her his arm.

“Lord Potter,” she responded.  “I guess now starts the rest of our lives.”

He kissed her hand.  “I couldn’t have put it better myself.”

The End.

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