Pairings: Draco/Astoria, Lucius/Narcissa, assorted Greengrasses
Summary: Through hardship to the stars. The months and years post-Aftermath.
“I admit, I did think ‘the walls are made of gold’ was hyperbole.” Astoria shielded her eyes against the brightness of their torches reflected in the gold. The insides of the vault seemed to be glowing with it, flickering and pulsating like they had been swallowed up into the belly of a living, breathing beast. “You know, the Muggles classify hoarding as an illness.”
“Pfft, what do they know.” Draco poked her in the back so she stepped forward and he could close the door on the Gringotts goblin who had accompanied them downstairs. “It’s just one less thing to lose sleep over.”
Astoria looked up at the piles of gold around her, feeling as a wary wanderer at the foot of the mountain. “How much is it?”
“We buy and sell, interest gets deposited... My mother shops. It changes every day,” he shrugged. “But I’m sure my father knows exactly.”
“Well. I won’t feel bad at all asking him for a charitable donation to St Mungo’s next time I see him.” There was a good idea. “What else would you ever do with it all?”
Draco came up and slung an arm around her shoulders. He wiggled his eyebrows, and she had to laugh. “Manage it for future generations.”
“You could run all of wizarding Britain on this.”
“My point exactly.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead, just a light, affectionate caress, just because he could. He always had to be touching her, as if he still feared sometimes that she would slip through his fingers and away if he didn’t cling with all his might. He always wanted more, more, more of everything, not just of gold, and that lust for life – and her – had always amused her. She snaked her own arm around his back and into the pocket of his trousers to give him a squeeze, grinning.
“Well, what comes next in your plan for world domination? After saturating the global market with Firebolt brooms?”
His pale eyes glittered like silver. He drew breath to say something, but then shook his head. “I hadn’t thought further than that.” Astoria didn’t believe it for one second, but she knew he’d tell her in his own time. He went to collect the household money they’d come to the vault for. “But once you’re done with your traineeship, we’re due for a vacation.”
She looked at his bum as he bent over to shovel gold into a briefcase, biting her lip against a smile. “Where would you like to go?”
“Wherever strikes our fancy.” He glanced back at her. “We could take a few months for aimless wandering. Stay where we like, leave when we like. See the world.”
The end of her training at St Mungo’s had always been the milestone she’d looked towards; it was a goal they’d reach together after years of labouring, and as such had always seemed momentous, but now she realised it was only the stepping stone to something more. “That sounds nice,” Astoria said gently. “But I don’t think I could take off for months, love. They do need me at the hospital. Applebee said she’d support me in whatever choice I made for a clinical specialty--”
“No,” said Draco, who knew instantly where this was going. “They don’t get to keep you for a Knut and the warm glow of their gratitude. It’s exploitative.”
“Healing is thankless sometimes,” she agreed. “But I can’t just leave my colleagues, never mind my patients.”
Draco sighed. “What about that private practice? You said it yourself, Hogsmeade is underserved, they need a village healer--”
She chewed on her lip. “I know. And it’s a fine thing to serve the community, hand out Pepperup Potion and fix hexed-off noses, but I want more. Is that selfish?”
Draco threw the full briefcase down and himself along with it to lie in a pile of gold. The dramatic setup suited him, she had to admit. “I’m fine. Don’t mind me. I just want to moan into my treasure for a bit.” He frowned up at her. “Here is the amassed fortune of centuries, and you’re planning to increase your workload? What’s the point of being wealthy if you’re going to be so bloody industrious?”
“I don’t do it for the money--”
She went to lie beside him in his pile of gold. It was hard and uncomfortable; she didn’t know why anyone would want to roll around in it voluntarily, but the Malfoys were peculiar like that. She took his hand. “I do it for the people. And for the beauty of the craft.”
“Forget the patients for a minute and think about me,” he whined. “I need you more than they do.”
She smiled. “But I’m here for you, and I’ll always be.”
They stared at each other for a long, charged moment. Draco’s mouth twitched nervously, but he waited her out with uncharacteristic patience. Not that there was long to wait; the answer was easy.
“Yes,” she said, leaning over to kiss the downturned corner of his mouth. “Don’t you know that?”
He grumbled a little, but his mouth shaped itself to fit hers under the light touch of her kiss. “After all these years, don’t you think we deserve a break? Don’t you ever get tired?”
“I don’t know. Not so far.” She leaned in to him until her head rested under his chin and they were so close they could feel each other’s heartbeat. “But I’m going to need your support. I can’t do what I do without you.”
“Rubbish,” Draco said, with feeling. “You never let me take care of you anyway. I mean, all of this,” he flung out his arm at all the gold, which shifted under them with a quiet pling-pling-pling, “And you’re not even a little bit impressed--”
“I am impressed. It’s an unbelievable amount of gold. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean anything to me, you know?” She squeezed him hard, wanting him to know that she meant it. “If you didn’t have any of this, I’d still feel the same way about you.”
“Yeah, I know.” Draco bowed his head over hers and buried his face in her hair, and she heard him sigh softly.
She had to smile. He was such a silly boy sometimes. “That’s a good thing, love.”
“Yes, just... It could be so easy. If this made you happy. Knowing that whatever you could wish for is at your fingertips, that you’ll never have to worry, that I’ll always be able to provide for you... If you could just let me have that. To take care of you for once.”
“But you already do all of that. I’m already happy.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s not enough.”
“It is enough,” she insisted, but she suddenly realised what it was that he wanted, what he needed from her but was unable to ask for. She had to smile. In her heart, she was his and he was hers, but she couldn’t rip that out of her chest and present it to him on a platter. Draco liked a grand gesture, though; she’d have to think of one that would suffice to express her devotion to him without making him feel like she was moving their relationship along all by herself. It was tricky; suddenly she wished he’d just go ahead and ask her to marry him as he wanted to so she could say yes as she wanted. She would have asked, but she was fairly sure he’d be affronted, he was so old-fashioned sometimes.
She felt a rush of fondness as she drew back and looked at him. His fair hair gleamed in the torch light like the gold all around them, making him look as one with the treasure. It was impossible to separate the man she loved from the background of who and what he was, but truthfully, she didn’t want to. She wanted him to know it all didn’t matter, though, neither the gold nor his dark past nor whatever other baggage he carried around with him.
She didn’t know how to make him understand, he was so determined sometimes to expect only the worst of all the world. She only knew a beginning: “I love you.”
“Yeah. Same,” he said, but he looked a little happier. “Come on. Gold isn’t actually as nice to lie in as you’d think.”
Astoria was glad they agreed. She took the hand he offered to help her up and held on to it, catching it between her palms. “You’re right, though, about having a rest. Let’s take a trip. Where do you want to go?”