There she is on the side of the road, just sitting there. After almost three years, I barely recognize her. She sits in the shade of a large tree whose leaves are just beginning to fade from green to orange.
I wish I could go over and say something, but I don’t know what to say. I’ve just begun to start in the opposite direction when she’s spotted me.
“Draco?” she calls. “Draco Malfoy, is that you?”
I close my eyes, breathe in sharply through my nose, and clench my fists as I turn slowly around and begin to walk toward her.
“Astoria.” I acknowledge her, barely making eye contact.
“Draco,” she begins, her eyes huge and apologetic. I’ve seen that look before, and I refuse to fall for it this time.
“Whatever you’re about to say, Astoria,” I interrupt, “I’d advise you to think about it before you say it.”
“Draco, I’m so sorry,” she says. I sigh; too little, too late. Three years ago, I might have accepted the apology, but now I feel as though it just makes my heart ache. I settle down next to her.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Astoria presses when I don’t respond.
“There’s nothing to say.”
She lets out a small sniffle. “For most of my life, all I’ve thought about was what a screw-up I am.” She pauses long enough to look sidelong at me. “And I did screw up, Draco. I screwed up when I hurt you like that.”
I listen intently to her story; I want to sigh again, to comfort her, but it will only show weakness, and I’m determined to prove a point.
“Do you remember that day,” she asked suddenly, “when you first said you loved me?”
I can’t help it; I groan and put my head in my hands. For the longest time now, I have tried not to think about that day. I feel vulnerable now, more vulnerable than she knows.
It was a sunny afternoon, and we were quite alone. The Greengrass family owned a huge amount of land, all covered in greenery and flowers. Astoria was quite fond of one garden in particular, filled with orange daisies. They were her favorite, and flowers were flowers – who was I to object to a good snogging session?
I don’t know what made me do it. We were just lying there, staring up at the sky, when I looked over and told her: “I love you.” And I did love her. She smiled and said it back, and we just lay there for a while, simply being, enjoying the moment.
Now I look up, finally able to look her in the face, and am surprised to see her eyes sparkling with tears.
“I still love you, Draco,” she whispers. “Please, can’t you give me a second chance?”