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The Moon Girl

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Chapter One

The floor beneath her was rigid and wet, doing very little the sooth the chill in her bones. Her skin ached to feel the kiss of the sun, the warming of a ray of light and the smell of fresh air. The dungeons in Malfoy Manor were as far away from her dreams as they could be. There was no warmth here, no visible light other than the swinging lantern that hung haphazardly beside her cell. Luna could no longer tell how long she had been there. It could have been weeks or months; she knew it had been a long time, so long that her days and nights had merged into one monotonous blur. How she longed to be free of captivity, to stretch out on a bed of soft grass and feel her toes dig into the fresh earth. Tears welled in her eyes at the thought. Luna sniffed quietly wiping a shaking hand under her nose and blinking the tears back from her large, blue eyes. Now was not the time for crying.

A creak from overhead made her willowy frame jump in fright; the stairs groaned under heavy footsteps. Luna held her breath hoping one of the less horrible Death Eaters was descending the stairs. She didn't think her body could withstand another attack from Greyback or the Lestranges; the thought of her last encounter with Bellatrix Lestrange left a burning sensation in her veins. Shuffling footsteps echoed throughout the cavernous dungeon as a figure stopped in front of her cell. Not a word was said to her as a metal plate was thrown under the bars, half of the contents spilling onto the filthy stone floor. Grabbing the tray once the figure had lumbered up the stairs, Luna separated the stale bread from the questionable slop on the tray. She pushed herself up onto wobbling legs walking to the corner of the cell where Mr. Ollivander was curled up, his thin grey hair wild with matted dirt and blood. Placing the tray next to his diminishing figure, Luna wished for the millionth time since her abduction that she had her wand if only to cast a warming charm on the rapidly cooling food-like substance they had been given; at this point in her life, warm food seemed like a luxury.

Tearing off a small piece of stale bread, Luna placed the provision delicately on her tongue. She pretended it was pudding, rich dark chocolate and topped with a hefty dollop of whipped cream and black cherries. Another piece was warm mashed potatoes with chives. Then it was sweetened oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon, vegetable soup, a treacle tart, sweet potato pie with toasted pecans on top; with each small bite, Luna pretended she was back at Hogwarts piling her plate full of delectable food at the welcoming feast or in her childhood home where her father cooked unconventional meals only the bravest of souls dared to try. She would give anything for a morsel of one her father's concoctions at this very moment or anything other than stale bread to be quite honest.

The thought of her father nearly brought the tears back into her eyes. Luna often thought of her father and hoped he was doing well, though she knew he was probably a mess knowing where she was; that is, if he knew at all. She knew he would do his best to aid Harry Potter and have her returned safely. Her eyes started drooping from exhaustion; life in the dungeons was not befitting to Luna or any human for that matter. She could feel her body weakening and breaking down. Her once soft blonde hair was brittle and breaking from the lack of nutrition, her skin was always peeling and cracking from the harsh conditions, and she knew that she had lost weight causing her normally thin figure to resemble a skeleton. Her clothes, which she had been wearing on the day of her abduction, no longer fit properly. The red turtleneck hung loosely, the once snug neck wilting pathetically towards her jutting collarbone while the dress she wore over it seemed to weigh her down, as the fabric was always somewhat soggy. Luna closed her eyes unable to fight against the exhaustion as she dreamed of an overflowing, warm bubble bath.

Two floors above, Draco Malfoy was pacing in his room; the tapping of his shining shoes against the dark wood floor echoed impatiently throughout his cavernous dwelling. His wand was in his hand twitching nervously at his side as his other hand clenched his white blonde hair in frustration. He contemplated his life and how it had ended up being such a catastrophe. It was never supposed to go so far; people weren't supposed to be dying in his home staining the floor he'd played upon as a child in blood. No matter what room he was in, he could feel the blood running through the veins in the wood floor; it pulsed beneath his feet nearly bringing him to his knees on several occasions. It was sickening. His home used to be his haven, but now, he wanted nothing more than to escape.

Draco knew people were in the cellar or what used to be so; now, instead of an open cavern, cells had been formed and sealed with magic insuring that the people locked in would have no way to escape. His stomach rolled at the thought. He was just as much a prisoner as they were, only he got a warm bed and food everyday. He wondered what was worse: being a prisoner or feeling like one in your own home. He didn't have time to resolve the new question in his brain, for two hard rasps sounded against his door.

"Draco," his father's voice sounded slightly muffled behind the heavy oak door.

"You may come in, Father," Draco said with a newfound composure.

The door swung open revealing Lucius Malfoy, his long white hair billowing slightly along with his black silk robes as he glided into the room. His father stood before him looking as sure and certain as he had in a long time, but Draco could see the frantic fear and desperation to please the Dark Lord in the silver eyes he had inherited. Draco knew what ever his father was about to say was not going to be pleasing.

"The Dark Lord has requested for Wormtail to accompany him tonight," Lucius said with a look of disgust as he spat the cowardly rat's name. "He said you must keep watch in the dungeon for the next few evenings."

Draco resisted the urge to scoff. Prisoner duty appointed to a Malfoy? The idea alone was repulsive. Draco could tell by the look of disdain on his father's face that the older Malfoy agreed with his son's internal feelings. To be chosen to take over Wormtail's position was insinuating that he and Draco were interchangeable, on the same level of respect in the eyes of the Dark Lord; in other words, he was disposable. Draco opened his mouth to protest, but the sharp look his father gave him caused him to snap his mouth shut soundly.

"You will do this without any contempt or question. The Dark Lord has requested you to do something; see to it that you do it well and complete your task this time," Lucius said with finality to his tone that left no room for argument.

Draco nodded his head; the message was clear. Because he had failed with his task to kill Dumbledore, he was being demoted; he was a disappointment to his family name. He was equal to, if not less than, a traitorous rodent. His pale cheeks flared at the thought. He was Draco Malfoy, the Slytherin Prince, and now, he was taking over duties for Peter Pettigrew who was more mouse than man. The thought alone made Draco's stomach roll with a combination of disgust and fury. He didn't want to see the people who were held prisoner in his home. He knew they were there, but seeing them made it real. He heard their screams, but it was easy to pretend he didn't know who they were when all his heard was screams of agony. Seeing their faces, Draco knew, would change everything.

After a dinner spent in silence where Draco forced a few bites of steaming roast and scalloped potatoes into his stomach, the young Malfoy begrudgingly made his way down the dungeon stairs holding a tray of a strange substance barely passing for food and half a loaf of stale bread. His face was still burning from the jeers and comments made to him by the older Death Eaters.

"Ah, there he is in his rightful place," Greyback chuckled as Draco retrieved the tray from the kitchen bustling with frightened House Elves as the filthy werewolf bared his sharpened teeth. "Oh how the mighty have fallen," he cackled joined by Macnair and Dolohov.

Draco wanted to comment on their inhabitation of his home and why they saw it fitting to keep company with the servants when they clearly were not invited to join dinner with the others. He wanted to comment on Greyback's filthy appearance and his status as a half-breed, but Draco bit his tongue. Instigating them now would only cause more trouble; though it pained him, Draco knew when to keep his mouth shut.

Pushing open the door, Draco released an embarrassingly shaky breath; his fingers began to chill as he descended the creaking staircase. Though not quite autumn, the air in the dungeons held a frost year round. Beneath his comfortable home, it smelled of filth and despair; it was sodden and the air was unfiltered and heavy. Draco suddenly found it hard to breath; the disgusting air felt as if it was stuck in his lungs sticking like glue to his organs.

At the end of the staircase, Draco felt a splash of freezing water seep into his trousers chilling him even more so than before. Cursing himself for not doing so before, Draco pulled the dark, hawthorn wand from his robe pocket casting a silent lumos after ridding his trousers of the chilled liquid. Now that he had a light, Draco was able to maneuver around the puddles in the floor; he wouldn't allow himself to entertain the thought of what the puddles might contain as he could still feel where the puddle had splashed upon him despite the fact that he cast it way with magic.

With his wand before him, Draco was able to see clearly and walked until he saw a small lump of a person curled up in a corner. He turned pointing his wand directly at the crumbled up body, the person's grey hair was sticking up in all directions and his skin was filthy. Draco shuddered in disgust. Bending down, he gently slid the tray under the bars of the cell careful to not disturb the disgusting mush in fear that it would land on his silken sleeve. Turning away, he nearly yelled in fright as his wand illuminated upon a shockingly large pair of misty blue eyes.

Luna looked at the person before her; there wasn't much she could make out due to the bright light emitting from the wand pointed directly at her face, but the shockingly white hair upon the tall figures head told her all she needed to know. At last, Draco Malfoy had ventured into the basement. He lowered his wand, with the light still shining, and peered at the girl before him. He knew who she was as soon as he laid eyes on her: Luna Lovegood. He noticed her typically unkempt hair was even more atrocious than usual; it was matted on one side and excruciatingly dirty; he couldn't help but cringe at the sight of her. She was skeletal, her clothes looked as if they weighed more than she did. Her emaciated frame made her impossibly large eyes seem as if they were protruding from her face. Despite her ghastly appearance, Draco noticed the spark of life, though dim, shining in her blue orbs.

"Have you come to kill me?" Luna asked calmly; the gentleness and dreaminess in her voice made the question sit dumbly in his head until he was able to understand what she was asking.

"What?" Draco asked.

"Have you come to kill me?" she repeated with the same delicate tone. "I thought it might be coming soon; I hoped it wouldn't, of course, but…" she trailed off with a delicate shrug of her shoulders. Draco studied her face, calm and serene. She didn't seem upset about the fate she assumed was coming; she looked peaceful as if this was a normal conversation she'd had several times.

Maybe she has, Draco thought to himself, after all, she is a friend of the self-sacrificing king himself: Harry Potter. Maybe they learned lessons about it during their secret meetings in the Room of Requirement.

"No, I'm not here to kill you, Lovegood," he sneered at her. "Though if you start talking, I may reconsider."

"I don't think you will," Luna sighed picking at the piece of bread she took from the tray. She pulled a small piece off and placed it on her tongue; she imagined blueberry crumble.

"You should eat something other than that pathetic excuse for bread," Draco said harshly after she'd eaten half of the stale portion. "You look as if you're about to die from starvation."

Luna looked at the questionable mixture in the metal bowl and sighed wistfully. "I'm not quire sure what it is," she said as her fingers traced the rim of the bowl; the action hypnotized Draco for a moment before a scoff escaped his mouth.

"I don't think you're in the position to be choosy, blood traitor," Draco sneered. "You should be thankful you're being fed at all."

"Oh, I am, Draco," Luna said pleasantly placing another piece on her tongue, rhubarb pie. "It's just, I don't eat meat."

"You don't eat meat," Draco said slowly. "You're a prisoner, Lovegood; you can either eat it or die."

"Somebody already did die," Luna said sadly looking at the contents of the bowl.

"Not somebody, Lovegood, something, a worthless animal," Draco huffed. "Who cares?"

"I care," Luna whispered softly yet with a tone of certainty. "Besides, I'm doing fine with just the bread, honestly. At this point, sunlight would do me better than any sort of food," she sighed longingly. "Would you tell me about the weather?" she asked the sullen boy softly; her sweet voice laced with hope.

"No," Draco said moving away from her cell. "I don't wish to talk to you any longer," he stated bluntly as he walked back towards the stairs where he sat on a chair, his chin resting in his palm as his elbow sat upon his knee.

Draco sat in the uncomfortable chair at the bottom of the staircase for what seemed to be hours. He fought internally with himself for speaking to the loon. Even if they were not, and would never be, friends, he didn't want to see her in such a state. She looked as if she were on the verge of death; other than her bright eyes, her face was frightening. Her cheekbones jutting out and her full lips cracked with dehydration created an image of a corpse. He supposed it was her own fault; she wouldn't eat anything other than the bread because of her refusal to eat meat, but at the same time, he couldn't place her entirely at fault. After all, she wasn't here by choice; hell, he wasn't even here by choice. For the first time, he wanted to return to Hogwarts, if only to escape his home that had been transformed into Death Eater Headquarters. He hated them; he hated everything that had taken place over the last few years. He hated the life he was forced to live and the effect it had on those around him, even the freaks like Loony Lovegood.

Dropping his forehead into his hands, Draco tried not to groan loudly. Why did he care about her life? Shouldn't he be trying to keep his own afloat before feeling any sort of sympathy for another person? He was the one who deserved sympathy; he deserved to be happy, and right now, he was so far from happy Draco didn't know what it would even entail. Sighing to himself, Draco leaned his head back against the stone wall and closed his eyes. A soft voice broke him from his attempt to relax.

"Thank you, Draco," Luna said as her fingers wrapped around the slick metal bars. "You've shown me something I've yet to see since being here."

"And what might that be, Lovegood," Draco huffed annoyed.

"Kindness," she smiled weakly; the movement felt foreign to her muscles. "All the others curse me or refuse to look at me as if I am a pariah or less than human, but not you."

"Don't confuse my acknowledging you for kindness," Draco barked darkly. His heavy tone echoed off the stone walls. "You're worse than a pariah; you're a blood traitor, filth."

"Maybe so," Luna said dreamily as if she hadn't heard a word Draco said. "But that's not how you treated me. Good night, Draco."

With that, Luna placed her head on the stone floor and closed her eyes wrapping her arms around herself in a futile attempt to keep warm. Draco stared at the spot where her pale fingers had gently wrapped around her cage of confinement. He wanted to scream at her, to cry and yell until she understood that he was not kind nor did he care about her or her current state. She was nothing to him other than a nuisance. If it weren't for her, or the heap of a human on the floor beside her, he would be in his warm bed rather than sitting on an uncomfortable chair in the dingy prison beneath his home. With that thought, he closed his eyes resisting the urge to slam his head into the wall behind him.

Sometime later, once he was relieved of his belittling duty, Draco trudged upstairs, and after a steaming shower to rid himself of the filth and grime he felt embedded in his skin, he crawled into bed where he flopped down in an exhausted heap. He fell asleep almost instantly, and the next morning, he was none the wiser of the curious, wide blue eyes of which he dreamed.

Chapter Text

Though the morning was crisp and cool, signaling the upcoming season change, Draco could not find it within him to admire the lovely day. He was exhausted. He had wrongfully assumed that because he had spent all night keeping watch in the dungeons, he would be exempt from breakfast; however, the soft pop in his bedchamber followed by the gentle and fearful rousing from a House Elf proved his assumptions to be wrong. After spitting harsh words at the cowering creature, Draco threw the emerald bed covers from his body in an annoyed huff. His knees popped and his head throbbed from lack of rest and as he stretched, his entire body protested.

I'll have to find something more comfortable to sit upon this evening, Draco thought to himself with a flash of irritation as he thought about having to return to the dreaded duty.

After dressing and combing his hair into a perfect part, Draco descended the stairs leisurely. If he had to function on such a small amount of sleep, he wasn't going to rush for anyone. Walking into the dining room, Draco tried to hide a grimace. Whenever he looked at the table he had eaten meals at for all of his life, he could no longer see birthday celebrations or joyous Christmas feasts. No, all Draco could see now was a giant snake slithering across the dark wood, fangs bared with dripping venom aimed for his past professor. Though he knew Professor Burbage once taught a most ridiculous subject, Muggle Studies, and held the despicable idea of muggles and their offspring being equal to pureblood wizards, Draco never expected her to be eaten before his eyes.

The impatient clucking of his mother's tongue brought Draco out of the haunting memory. He morphed his face back into a look of indifference as he slid into his spot to the right of his father; because the Dark Lord was not present, Lucius was able to claim the seat at the head of the table. Once seated, Draco looked up to meet his mother's eyes; he saw any previous annoyance she held for him slip away. He supposed he looked a right mess; though he was dressed and groomed meticulously, Draco knew dark circles shadowed his eyes and his typically fair skin was ashen. The stress and fatigue did not befit him nor had it for the past two years.

Looking at Narcissa Malfoy, an outsider would never be able to read her small facial twitches or body language for anything other than indifference and natural poise. Draco, however, knew his mother, and in that moment, her concern was evident; he could tell she wanted to say something, but in doing so, she would go against his father and, most likely, the Dark Lord. A sharp look from Lucius caused her left eyebrow creased in worry, a telltale sign of her true feelings, to smooth out in a perfectly relaxed state. Lucius knew his wife still viewed Draco as the sickly infant he once was; he had yet to convince her Draco, their only child, was nearly a grown man. She had spoiled and coddled him for far too long.

"How nice it is for you to finally join us, Draco," Lucius drawled slowly distaste clear in his voice. "It is as if you've forgotten breakfast is served promptly at eight o'clock, just as it has been your entire life."

"My apologizes, Father," Draco smarted as the House Elves came bustling into the room; their wiry forms weighed down with platters as they carried what they could not levitate. "My duties to the Dark Lord kept me up until just before sunrise this morning."

"You mean your pathetic watching," Rodolphus Lestrange snorted. "You must be absolutely fatigued, my dear nephew. Tell us, who caused more trouble? The senile, old man or the emaciated, little girl?"

Draco's cheeks burned internally though he made sure to keep his face impassive as to not encourage his aunt's husband to mock him further. Just as his mouth was opening to shove a hefty portion of poached eggs to keep from saying something he would later regret, Bellatrix fixed her husband with a steely glare. Her dark eyes were fierce giving her the look of a wild animal, which her crazed, dark curls enhanced.

"Draco was given a direct task from the Dark Lord," she seethed. "That's more than you can say, husband."

For the rest of breakfast, the only sounds were the polite, quiet chewing and the gentle movement of silver utensils against fine china. Once everyone was finished, Draco wanted nothing more than to excuse himself and return to his enticing bed with the hope of remaining there until lunch was served; however Bellatrix had other plans for her nephew. As Draco rose from his seat and began making his way to the grand staircase, Bellatrix wrapped her long, talon-like fingers around his arm.

"Come, Draco," she said with a sickening, gleeful smile; his stomach dropped. "I think it would do you well to assist me in a bit of questioning."

"Of course," he replied stoically, his full mouth forming into a grim line.

Bellatrix led Draco down to the dungeons as her feet tapped manically in a graceful dance of destruction. He wanted to snatch his arm away from her and run upstairs to pretend this wasn't happening in his home, but, as if sensing his thoughts, Bellatrix tightened her grasp, her broken nails digging into his skin. He fought the urge to wince. Once in the dungeons, Draco's limbs felt heavy; there was no way for this to end well. As his aunt continued to lead him to her favorite cell, Draco attempted to evade the disgusting liquid her elated steps caused to splash upon him. Coming to a quick stop, Draco nearly toppled over his aunt as she stood staring into the cell he wanted to avoid most.

"Come out and play, Mr. Ollivander," Bellatrix teased in a singsong voice; her hand released Draco's arm to glide over the metal bars, her nails scraping against the rusted surface. "We have much to discuss."

With a quick shock, Draco realized that the old man within Lovegood's cell was none other than Garrick Ollivander, the man from whom Draco had bought his wand from in Diagon Alley. He wondered why such a man was locked away; what use was he to the Dark Lord's cause?

"Lumos," Bellatrix said harshly as she pointed her mangled wand into the cell. Draco could see into the cell and assumed his aunt was addressing the lump in the corner. Though he had moved since this morning, Draco noted that the old man still looked as if he were dead.

"He's not been well," a dreamy voice said from the other end of the cell. Bellatrix whirled dramatically to the side, her wand pointing menacingly at Luna's face. "If you want him alive, I wouldn't suggest cursing him any time soon."

"You dare speak directly to me and tell me what to do?" Bellatrix fumed. Though it was still dark, Draco could tell her face was turning red with her loss of composure; in this state, his aunt was not one to be provoked. "You disgusting blood traitor," she spat waving her wand over the cell door and pushing it open as it unlocked.

Bellatrix Lestrange stormed into the cell grabbing Luna by her hair tightly. Though the blonde girl was taller than she, Bellatrix's firm grasp of her flaxen locks and Luna's waning strength enabled the terrifying Death Eater to overpower the young girl with ease. Draco, despite his disbelief, found himself horrified at the realization of what was happening. Ignoring her nephew, Bellatrix, dragging Luna by her hair, began marching towards the exit; Draco followed dumbly behind his stomach a pit of dread.

Once on the main floor, Bellatrix threw Luna to the ground in a broken heap. Her wand pointed unwaveringly at the wide-eyed girl, the Death Eater's face broke out in a chillingly joyous smile as if nothing brought her more joy than torturing people. Draco tried not to look down, but hearing the pained gasp as Luna's waif figure met the hardwood floor, he couldn't help but to cast his grey eyes down. If he thought she looked sick in the light of his wand the night before, she looked even more dreadful in the light of the day. Her skin was transparent, her blue veins visible and her bones jutting out at all angles. However, despite her obvious weakness, she remained composed, her eyes held the strength her body had lost.

"Well, little girl," Bellatrix sneered. "Seeing as you're so willing to supply ideas, what do you think we should do to you? Shall I torture you with magic? Or would you rather me to treat you like the dirty muggles you love so dearly and use my hands?" she taunted bending down to pull Luna to her feet. Bellatrix's fragmented nails left broken crescent moons of red on Luna's skin; Draco stared transfixed as the red started running down her arm. When Luna didn't answer, Bellatrix turned to her nephew unperturbed to the greenish hue his skin had taken.

"What about you, Draco?" she asked crazed. "How should we show the little blood traitor her rightful place? Break her, Draco. Show me how much she disgusts you," Bellatrix whispered in his ear. "Come now, come now. Let us see!"

With a shaking hand, Draco retrieved his wand from his robe pocket. He aimed it at Luna as she stood before him, but he didn't, no, he couldn't look at her. He gazed away unable to do the deed if her misty blue eyes were connected with his. His aunt was urging him to do it; his hands were shaking, palms sweating. His eyes shifted so that he was looking at the girl one year younger than he. She was calm, standing there waiting for the excruciating pain to begin though she looked as if she were waiting for an answer to an interesting question. Luna was pensive and curious, but she was not scared. She was unfazed by her fate, unaffected by the pain she was about to feel. He envied her composure.

"Do it, Draco," Bellatrix screeched. "Do it now! Crucio the blood traitor!"

"Draco, it's okay," Luna whispered lifting her chin defiantly in show of strength though she looked as if she could fall over with a slight breeze. Her jaw was set in determination, but her eyes were soft, begging him to do it now so his aunt would not.

"You dare speak to me, blood traitor," he spat, his lips curling into a snarl. "Crucio!" he yelled as a beam of scarlet light shot from the end of his hawthorn wand hitting her directly in the chest.

"There! That's it! That's it, well done!" Bellatrix cheered as she danced around Draco, her wild curls bouncing.

Draco could barely hear his aunt; Luna's screams echoed in his ears as she collapsed to the ground curling into herself in a futile attempt to keep the pain from spreading throughout her body. In that moment, he realized it was her scream that had awoken him so often in the dead of night echoing throughout the manor and his bedchambers. It was her scream that had shattered his fabricated ignorance during the day reminding him of what was truly happening in his home. It was her scream that haunted his mind at all hours of the day and well into the night. Her scream was the reason sleep so often evaded him. Her scream, Luna's scream, had always hit him the hardest. It was shrill and filled with tear educing agony. It was the sound of innocence leaving the world; it was the sound of a shattering soul.

"Tell us where Harry Potter is!" Bellatrix screeched as Luna's body shook on the floor once Draco had ceased the curse. "Tell us now and we might leave your lunatic of a father unharmed."

"I-I've told you," Luna gasped through clenched teeth; beads of sweat slid down her temple as her body trembled through the lingering effects of the Unforgiveable curse. "I have no idea w-where Harry is, I swear."

"Again, Draco!" his aunt called looking pointedly at him.

"Aunt Bella, I don't think—" he stammered as he looked at Luna shivering body; her face was contorted into an expression pure misery, a look he had never upon her face before

"Now, Draco," Bellatrix commanded gravely. "Or are you too weak?" she goaded eyeing him with her dark, crazed eyes. Draco looked away from her, his eyes landing on Luna. He stared in disbelief as the eccentric blonde gave him a nod of consent.

"Crucio!" he yelled once more before Luna's screams reverberated throughout the manor again.

As he held the curse, he wondered why Luna was so willing to sacrifice herself for the old wand maker and why she nodded at him to curse her. Was she really a glutton for punishment? Had all the creatures she believed in finally gone to her head? He could feel the curse weakening, but there was nothing he could do to force it stronger. Draco convinced himself that his exhaustion was preventing him from producing the curse as severe as he was capable; never once did the truth enter his mind, the truth being he didn't want to cause Luna harm.

"Well done, Draco," Bellatrix praised as Luna lay on the ground in a broken heap. The fragile girl's chest was heaving, a single tear rolled down her gaunt cheek as her misty eyes stared unseeingly in the distance.

Bellatrix glided to Luna's crumpled form her robes billowing around her as she circled over her body like a buzzard waiting for its prey to die. Crouching down, Bellatrix grasped Luna's hair, yanking her head up and placing snarling lips beside Luna's ear. Draco could see Luna trembling from aftershocks of the curse and the pain his aunt was now inflicting, but what shocked him most was the sympathy in her dreamy blue orbs as she gazed at him. He found it difficult to look away from such an expression.

"Maybe next time you won't be so brave, little Gryffindor," Bellatrix teased in a sickly sweet voice.

"I'm a Ravenclaw," Luna said weakly though the pride in her voice was evident. Her retort earned her a swift kick to the stomach after her skull was thrown to the floor; the girl barely responded to the attack.

"Then you should be clever enough to recognize when to keep your filthy mouth shut," Bellatrix barked before sweeping her robes up in a dramatic flair. "I'll send Rodolphus to return the blood traitor to her cell in a few minutes. Do what you please to her until then," she said before sauntering out of the room.

Draco felt his knees wobble and nearly give out once his aunt was no longer present, but a coughing fit broke his moment of weakness. He looked over at Luna as a steady trail of blood fell from her mouth and into the veins of the wood floor below her. Draco wondered how much of her blood was pumping through the foundation of his home. Bruises were forming on her face from where she had hit the floor and her breathing was labored. Despite her obvious pain, she never cried other than the one tear that had fallen from her dewy eyes after his second curse had finished.

For an unmeasured amount of time, neither said a word; instead, they both simply looked at each other. Luna's eyes still overflowed with pity while Draco's showed only disgust and disbelief. He didn't understand how someone could withstand such torture at the hands of another and not respond with hatred or fury. Though Draco was half of the cause of her current state, she didn't look at him with hatred brimming in her crystal ball eyes; she looked at him as if he had been the one tortured and beaten. Questions formed at the tip of his tongue begging to be asked, but he could only form one syllable.

"Why?" he chocked out hating the weakness in his mangled voice.

"Because I can take it," she responded in a simple whisper as her eyes closed, her face forming into a look of pure serenity.

Before Draco could say anything more, Rodolphus' heavy footsteps reverberated around the room as he stormed in. Without any regard for her current state, his uncle grabbed the weakened girl by her wrist emitting a nauseating pop. Luna barely flinched. Instead her eyes were focused on something behind Draco; her glassy eyes filled with joy as she was shoved towards the dungeon door and taken underground once more.

Dazed from the events that had unfolded, Draco turned to see what had captivated Luna so entirely. He stared dumfounded at the simplicity of what existed behind him. With a view of the Malfoy Manor's sprawling gardens, the large window was glowing with rays of light from the late morning sun. A red bird swooped down landing upon an apple tree heavy with bright green orbs. He wished, just in that moment, that he could find peace in the scene before him. Instead, all he was able to see was life flourishing as his spiraled out of control.

Chapter Text

Thrown into the cell as if she were nothing but a shabby doll, Luna lay in a mangled heap upon the freezing stone floor; she barely registered the achingly cold water seeping into her clothes. In a way, it helped to cool her fiery skin that was still searing from the lingering dark magic. Her waif figure convulsed involuntarily as a result of Draco's curse, but she found the corners of her mouth twitching upward despite her incredible discomfort. Mr. Ollivander's slow but steady breathing was still sounding from his new upright position against the wall, and she deduced that her taking his punishment had been well worth it.

Though many thought her to be spacy, flighty, and rather undeserving of her place in Ravenclaw, Luna knew she was clever; she knew by directing attention to herself and insinuating that she was more aware of the wandmaker's state than Bellatrix Lestrange would cause insult on the haughty Death Eater. This insult would prove to be more important and in need of punishment than the information the crazed woman meant to extract from Mr. Ollivander. Thus, Luna was immensely proud of her accomplishment. Though she was in great pain, she knew she had done the right thing, the honorable thing.

On shaking, pale arms, Luna pushed herself up slightly so that her back rested against the cool wall. She leaned her throbbing head back wincing sharply as a protruding stone struck a sensitive spot on her skull. Feeling a warm liquid seeping down her face, Luna tremblingly brushed the back of her hand against her swollen lips; pulling back she could faintly make out the dark red substance staining her alabaster skin. She was unfazed by the image; in fact, it had turned into one of comfort during her stay at Malfoy Manor. Blood meant you were alive, and judging from the steady flow escaping her mouth, Luna was very much alive. Before her body and mind gave out sending her into a dreamless abyss, Luna remembered the perfect autumn day and the flawless green apples hanging so tantalizingly from their branches thriving just outside the Malfoys' window.

Two floors above, a million scenes of a beautiful autumn day could not offer peace to the mind of Draco Malfoy. After excusing himself feigning fatigue he no longer felt, the young Slytherin walked up the marble staircase with a mask of indifference towards what he had just done. However, once in the confines of his bedchamber, Draco could no longer maintain his forced composure. Both of his graceful hands shot to his white hair gripping the snowy locks with a frightening force causing his scalp to throb in protest. He paced, back and forth in front of the burning fireplace that did nothing to warm his icy skin. He felt sick, disgusted with himself and his aunt, repulsed by the people in his basement, and simply confused by everything around him both internal and external. Nothing made sense anymore; nothing was simple.

Draco enjoyed simplicity; he found comfort in the idea of everything being black or white, yes or no, right or wrong. However, he was realizing, slowly yet surely, that nothing was ever certain. Nothing was every fully one thing; most everything was a blurring shade of grey. Draco knew that he believed in pureblood supremacy; that was a certain fact in his mind, steady and concrete; however, he did not know how far he would be willing to fight for this belief. Sure, he knew he was better than the likes of those with tainted muggle blood, but did he think they should be executed because of it? To this, uncertainty plagued his mind. Then there was the issue with blood traitors; purebloods, like himself, who, unlike his family, did not agree with the Dark Lord. People like Potter, Weasley, and Longbottom, people like Lovegood who had been kidnapped and was being held captive in his basement.

With the thought of the dazed blonde, Draco remembered her anguished screams; her wide, blue eyes squeezed shut in agony as his wand ignited her body in unbelievable pain. He knew what that particular curse felt like; he had been on the opposite end of the Dark Lord's wand for failing to complete his task, but that was not his first encounter with the Cruciatus Curse. Bellatrix had also used the Unforgiveable against him multiple times in their Occlumency training sessions; if he failed to block her from his mind, she cursed him. Though harsh, it was a very motivating incentive to keep her out.

His room was becoming unbearable to be in; it felt as if the walls were closing him in, drowning him in uncertainty and fear of change, fear of disappointment. Draco felt the need to escape, to flee from his current space of confinement. Turning sharply, he practically ran to the double doors that led to the balcony overlooking the famous Malfoy Manor gardens. Draco wrenched the doors open uncaring towards the harsh slamming that reverberated behind him. He braced both of his hands on the wrought iron railing, his white knuckles turning pink with the straining grip. Hanging his head, Draco heaved in a deep breath of the rose scented air remembering a time when the sickly sweet scent made him want to stay inside, but now, it was fresh, a cover to the decay so often prevalent in his home. Opening his silver eyes, Draco peered down at the gardens below. The white peacocks were elegantly strutting around the gardens displaying their intricate feathers as if putting on a show. Maybe they were, maybe they all were.

Draco stood there on his balcony until a House Elf apparated behind alerting him lunch was behind served. Without his usual harsh words towards the creatures that kept his home running, Draco nodded slightly dazed and stiff from standing stoically for an extended period of time. Mechanically, Draco made his way downstairs his legs feeling as if they were filled with lead. In comparison to the cold, distant atmosphere in which breakfast was served, the air within the dinning room was positively euphoric for the afternoon meal. Lucius was seated at the head of the table; Draco noticed his usual pallid cheeks were slightly blushed. The rosy hue seemed out of place on his father's skin, for Draco couldn't remember the last time his father was genuinely pleased. Apprehensively, Draco sat to the right of his father looking towards his mother for clarification on his father's somewhat cheery disposition; however, Narcissa, as poised as ever, simply looked indifferent.

Throughout the first course, a butternut squash soup adorned with fresh sprigs of thyme, not a word was spoken, but as the House Elves levitated the main course into the opulent dinning room, Bellatrix could no longer contain her elation. Clearing her throat, the devoted Death Eater looked at Draco pointedly with a wicked grin on her face; like Lucius, her cheeks were blooming with color. Draco felt a weight of dread drop into his stomach nearly forcing the soup to make a reappearance.

"Draco, dear," Bellatrix said with a shake of her wild hair, "I've told your father how brilliant you were this morning; I'm sure he is most proud, as the Dark Lord shall be once he returns," she grinned madly.

"Yes, Draco," Lucius said with a curt nod. "I am pleased to see your commitment to the Dark Lord remain strong," he said. Then looking down at Draco's covered forearm where the Dark Mark etched his fair skin, he reached over and tapped where the haunting imaged lay. "This honor means nothing if you do not uphold it."

Draco responded with a nod; he had always been taught that the Dark Mark was a great honor, a symbol reserved for the Dark Lord's most loyal and reverend supporters, his soldiers. The young Malfoy looked up, his grey eyes meeting his mother's blue; unlike her husband, Narcissa Malfoy did not look pleased, yet her normal mask of indifference was lost. For the first time, Draco was not able to decipher his mother's expression. Before he could look deeper, her mask of grace returned as her older sister spoke.

"As a reward, Draco, for your loyalties and dedication, I've reassigned your watch of the blood traitors to Rodolphus here. I'm sure he won't mind," Bellatrix smiled sickly sweet at her husband who looked as if he minded very much.

"I appreciate the sentiment, Aunt Bella," Draco said before he could stop himself. "But the Dark Lord appointed the position to me, and I will honor his wishes," he said with a smirk; Bellatrix looked at if she could burst from the pride she felt for her nephew in that moment, the child, now man, she so often called weak and cowardly.

"Of course, Draco," she nodded.

The remainder of lunch was spent in polite small talk. On his mother's request, Death Eater business was rarely spoken about during meals. Instead, conversation was held strictly between courses and only on approved topics such as weather, gardening tips, and light gossip. Draco tuned it all out giving his full focus to the food before him. He stabbed a stalk of asparagus in aggravation; he had told the bloody House Elves how much he despised the offensive vegetable time and time again. Though he was not forced to eat the green stalk any longer by his mother, he felt an unwanted and unfamiliar pang of guilt as he remembered the skeletal girl in the dungeons. He chewed the vegetable bitterly.

Once lunch was finished and the apricot strudel situated nicely in his stomach, Draco excused himself from the table. On their own accord, and to his disbelief, his feet carried him outside to the gardens where he would roam as an innocent child. Once again, the aroma of roses assaulted his nose in a sugary tickle, but he did not shy away from it. The air around him smelled like roses swirling with the tartness of green apples and savory scent of autumn leaves. Looking up, Draco felt the warm rays of sun on his skin; he cringed away from the unfamiliar feeling and tucked his chin walking towards a patch of shaded grass. The smell of apples grew stronger and looking up, Draco realized he was standing under the great tree adorned with perfect jade orbs. Without thinking, Draco grabbed one and stuffed it into the pocket inside his robes before returning to his bedchambers until dinner was served.

Mr. Ollivander, the famed wandmaker, had become very worried. When he had awoken, the young girl, a Ravenclaw like himself, had been unconscious against the cell wall. Through the meager light and his aging vision, he could faintly make out the trail of crimson that had dried against the corners of her pale lips; her head was lolled at an odd angle, her matted blonde hair falling messily over one side of her face as it pooled by her hips on the filthy floor. Though dreadfully thin and beaten down, Mr. Ollivander had never met such a lively spirit.

He remembered the first time he'd met the young girl very well. Six years prior, a bubbling little blonde girl had danced into his shop. Her eyes wide and clear, the color of a spring sky, filled with joy as she bounced in place. She had been wearing a floral, lavender dress with pink and yellow polka dot stockings; perched upon her long, flaxen waves was a set of rabbit ears, white and fluffy, and a butter beer cork necklace hung around her neck. From the moment he looked at her, Garrick Ollivander knew she was a Ravenclaw; he could see the curiosity and creativity swimming in her blue eyes. He remembered her wand, nine inches long, oak wood, with a unicorn core. When he had placed the wand in her hand, her hair that hung down to the small of her back had blown around her as if a strong breeze had blown through his shop. He looked at her face, full of wonder and elation, and knew the wand was meant for her, Luna Lovegood. He had never met a girl such as her since, and he didn't think he ever would.

"Ms. Lovegood," he whispered in a harsh, raspy voice. "You must wake, child. I fear you are not well."

But Luna did not wake; she did not stir or move a muscle. She remained motionless against the cell wall, her hair resting on the floor, blood dried on the corners of her mouth. With what little strength he had, Mr. Ollivander placed a hand on the girl's shoulder, her skin cold as ice, and shook gently. To his utter dismay, he received no response. She remained unconscious.

"What have they done to you, dear child," he sighed helplessly.

After dinner was finished, Draco sluggishly made his way to the kitchen to receive the slop tray for the prisoners. He cringed at the sight of the lumpy greyish brown substance and turned up his pointed nose. Seeing what was on the tray made him slightly more thankful for the roasted lamb and steamed vegetables currently residing in his stomach. Looking around, he pointed at one of the House Elves who started to tremble under his gaze.

"You," Draco pointed at the creature wearing nothing more than a disgustingly filthy and destroyed tea cloth. "What goes into this repulsive concoction?"

"Dippy, doesn't know, young Master," the elf said quietly, her squeaky voice shaking with fear.

"What do you mean you don't know?" Draco sneered. "Who makes it then?"

"No one makes it, young Master, promise. I would never lie to young Master," she responded, her mangled fingers pulling at her large ears. "Dippy just pulls it from the bin; it's what Mistress Lestrange tells Dippy to do."

"So, it's rubbish?" Draco asked thoroughly sickened.

"Yes, young Master," Dippy nodded still pulling at her ears. "Mistress Lestrange said the trash deserves to eat as such."

"Well, she's right," Draco nodded though he strained to do so. "They are trash. Just like you lot."

Without another word, Draco turned from the cowering creature and made his way to the door leading down into the dungeons. Upon opening the door and smelling the revolting undergrounds, Draco began to regret refusing to hand over his duties to Rodolphus. He wasn't certain on what made him deny Bellatrix's offer, especially as he descended the stairs fully immersing himself in the dungeons, but something inside him hated the thought of Rodolphus being down here. Lighting the way with his hawthorn wand, Draco headed directly for Lovegood's cell fully expecting to see her wide eyed and lively despite the horrible morning she underwent; the memory sent a shiver down his spine. However, when he reached her cell, she was anything but lively. In fact, she looked rather dead.

Draco stood unmoving for several passing seconds; he stared at her, his wand illuminating her broken form in the darkness. He hardly registered the old man trying to speak to him; all he could see was Luna, unconscious and bloody. Had she been that bad when Rodolphus took her away? She had been awake then, talking even. Draco's hands began to shake; the light emitting from his wand began to wobble around the cell. There was blood everywhere, on her face, her clothes, smeared across the stone floor; it stained her pale hair crimson, it highlighted the wounds on her face, the bruises marring her flesh. He had done that to her; he had broken her just as his aunt commanded him to do.

"Child," Mr. Ollivander said placing a hand on Draco's shaking arm through the bars of the cell. Draco snatched his arm back; the tray of slop went flying across the floor.

"How dare you touch me," Draco seethed; despite the harsh words, his voice cracked with emotion.

"She needs help, Mr. Malfoy," Mr. Ollivander pleaded. "I'm afraid I have no way of helping her."

"What's wrong with her?" Draco asked trying to mask his voice with indifference.

"I'm not sure; she hasn't responded to anything since I woke to find her in her current state. She has not moved an inch."

"Why do I care what happens to her?" Draco spat realizing where he was, who he was. "She's nothing but a blood traitor. I don't care if she dies; let her rot."

"You are not a murderer, Mr. Malfoy," Mr. Ollivander said gently as slid down the wall to rest once more on the floor; his strength was waning. "But if you leave her, and she dies, her death is on your hands."

Draco felt the impact of Mr. Ollivander's words: you are not a murderer. He wasn't a murderer, at least not yet, but he knew there was going to be a time when the words were no longer true. One day, he was going to have to kill either by orders from the Dark Lord or in necessity to protect himself. Looking at Luna, he knew he wasn't ready for that quite yet; he didn't want his first kill to be so meaningless, so trivial. Swiping his wand across the cell as he had witnessed Bellatrix do the night before, Draco pushed the door in giving Mr. Ollivander a stern look to remain still. Draco sank down to the floor settling on his knees and facing the small girl thoroughly repulsed as the wetness of the floor began to seep into the knees of his trousers. He pointed his wand at the skeletal figure poking her in the shoulder; she remained motionless. He looked at her face, dried with blood as her neck tilted at an odd angle.

"Rennervate," Draco whispered; he nearly toppled back as Luna's blue eyes shot open immediately, her mouth forming into a grimace as she doubled over in pain.

Luna cried out; her insides felt as if they were on fire. She clutched her torso, her breathing labored as her right ribcage ached agonizingly. Ignoring her present company, Luna pulled the bottom of her dress up, along with her turtleneck shirt to try and assess the damage. Before she was able to see her wound, a hiss of shock sounded from before her. Casting her eyes up, Luna saw Draco Malfoy gazing at her bruised and scarred body. His eyes were wide staring intently at the massive discolored bruise that covered most of her right ribcage, exactly the spot where Bellatrix's heavy boots connected.

Draco stared at her in shock. He remembered the kick that caused the injury; he remembered how Luna had barely acknowledged the attack. Looking at the black and purple mass that covered most of her protruding ribcage, Draco wondered how she hardly moved when she was assaulted. She never cried out, only stared out of the window behind him and into the gardens. Draco shook his head, his wand still shining, pointed directly at the harm his aunt had inflicted.

"I think they're broken, probably poking into my lung," Luna sighed hoarsely; she winced as she took in another breath. "Have you come to help me?" she asked peering up at Draco, her wide eyes hopeful, yet still the pity and sympathy lingered.

"Why do you continue to look at me like that!' Draco yelled ignoring her question as he stood up abruptly. Luna didn't respond verbally but merely cocked her head to the side in confusion; the pity remained. "You look at me as if you feel sorry for me! As if you pity me!"

"I do, Draco. I do pity you," Luna said softly, her wide eyes blinking in sincerity.

"Are you delusional? I'm not the one being tortured here; I'm not the one being held against their will and beaten!"

"Aren't you though?" Luna asked calmly; her dreamy voice remained though her body protested at every movement.

"What the bloody hell are you talking about?" Draco seethed; he could feel his blood boiling, the tips of his ears turning red.

"Maybe not physically, but you are being tortured. I can see it in your eyes, Draco. You're being tortured worse that I ever have. Physical wounds will heal," Luna said smoothing a gentle hand down her still exposed bruised flesh. "But emotional and mental wounds, well, those can last a lifetime."

Draco stared at her dumbly unable to form a clever remark or scathing insult. He looked down back down at her ribs; the hideous bruise somehow beautiful on her pale, marred skin. He felt his mouth go dry, his mind fill with a million reasons to walk away. Instead, he found himself replying with one word.

"Yes," he said faintly, so softly Luna didn't think he'd actually said anything. "I've come to help you," he said slightly louder, yet more broken than he'd ever sounded before.

He said nothing more for the remainder of his time in the cell apart from healing incantations. Once the bruise was nothing more than a greenish yellow blur and her three ribs were fused back together no longer causing shooting pain when Luna took in breath, Draco watched as the waif blonde lowered her shirt and dress smoothing them down in an attempt to look presentable. Draco glanced back to her face still bloody and bruised though more alive, brighter than before and saw the overwhelming silent thanks in her big, sapphire eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, most likely to voice her appreciation, but Draco shook his head as he stood up and brushed himself off in attempt to rid his robes of the filth from the cell; he quickly deemed it a lost cause and turned to leave.

Just as he was about to exit the confines of the metal bars, he felt a lump in his pocket. With a humorless snort, Draco turned back around walking the short distance to crouch in front of Luna, their faces inches apart. Draco pulled out the shining green apple showing it to her with a small smirk pulling at his lips. He placed it in her lap observing as her wide eyes grew impossibly larger in awe of what she now possessed. Without uttering a syllable, Draco turned once more and left them alone in the dark. He walked back to the rickety chair at the bottom of the cellar stairs and plopped down. For the remainder of the night, he cursed himself for what he had just done.

Chapter Text

A week passed by in a blur; Luna lived her life in the darkness of the dungeons while Draco lived in the light of the day, surrounded by dark magic performed by himself and others. He was commanded to torture Luna once more, her screams tearing him apart piece by piece. Though she was a blood traitor, muggle lover, and overall repugnant to Draco, he couldn't find a reason she should have to suffer so severely. She was so emaciated and physically weak, so near to Death's door. Was her existence not torture enough? His nights continued to be spent in the dungeons where he pointedly ignored the whimsy blonde and her constant humming and talking. She spoke to him occasionally, never pushing for information or asking for favors; she would only say hello and ask him of his day as if they were friends at Hogwarts instead of prisoner and jailer.

The morning after Draco had healed her ribs, he had a panic attack in the confines of his room. He kneeled over, gripping the plush, fur rug in both hands, his fingers tearing at the soft texture as if it were the only thing that could save him. His lungs heaved uncontrollably as his mind raced with a million possibilities. If he was figured out, if Bellatrix or Rodolphus, his father or the Dark Lord found out what he had done, he would be severely punished, possibly even killed. He had helped a traitor, an opponent to the Dark Lord's grand plan; he had helped the enemy. In some ways, he could also be seen as a traitor; he went against everything he had been taught. He showed compassion, weakness, when he should have been strong. He had given in to those wide, misty blue eyes and dreamy voice not because he liked her or cared about her, but because he knew she was good; he knew she was in need of help. He couldn't fight the urge to do good, to help. His entire life had been built around destruction and violence, and Luna offered him an opportunity he had never been granted. Bellatrix was right after all: he was weak.

When Bellatrix summoned him, her dark, mad eyes alight with joy, he knew what he was going to be asked to do before Luna was dropped before his feet. She was still as bruised and skeletal as he remembered; the cut above her left eye remained as did the dried blood that had not flaked off. His stomach churned at the sight of her, white skin, blue veins, and black bruises; she was repulsive. He wanted her out of his sight. He used the Unforgiveable curse against her, sending fire through her bones and eliciting screams of anguish from her swollen, chapped lips. Bellatrix had danced around her convulsing form again, though when she was taunting the young girl, to Draco's relief, Luna kept quiet. Though he nearly missed it, he saw her large blue eyes flick to him when Bellatrix teased her about her father, her family's reputation in the wizarding world, and her love of Harry Potter. He felt his mouth form into a thin line as if he were warning her to keep quiet, which, thankfully, she did. However, her answer remained the same when she was asked about Potter's whereabouts: she didn't know. Draco wasn't sure if she was lying or not, but he knew she would never give up the information if she possessed it. She didn't have a bone of betrayal in her body.

He had paced more in the last week than he had in his entire life. If it weren't such a ridiculous idea, he would think there would be a hole in the floor from his constant, compulsive tracing of steps occurred. With his left hand tangled in his hair while his right clutched the hawthorn wand, the one he bought from the man locked away in his basement, Draco attempted to think of what to say should it be discovered that he assisted a prisoner. He could say she was dying; it wasn't entirely a lie. He could say he wanted her well enough to torture again. The possibilities were endless, yet he knew they were all a lie. He feared the Dark Lord would be able to see through his blatant lie no matter his skills in Occlumency.

As soon as he had placed the apple in her lap, Draco regretted his decision Not only had he healed her, but he had also fed her, given her more than she deserved. Yet, he couldn't rid his mind of the way her eyes filled with gratefulness and awe at the sight of the green fruit; he had never seen such a genuine, honest expression meant for him. He was accustomed to looks of jealousy, fear, and fury; he knew the filtered looks of disdain, scorn, and arrogance, but never had he witnessed such an innocent reaction. Draco sighed as he crumbled into the leather chair situated before the crackling fire. His head fell into his hands, elbows propped on his knees, and scratched his scalp, tearing at his hair. The stress of it all was becoming too much, the confusion, the disgust. It was all entangled in his mind in a treacherous web he could not escape or decipher.

He pushed himself back up, his legs feeling restless, and resumed his pacing. At his third lap around his seating area, a light knock sounded at the door; it was hesitant and polite. Without being admitted permission to enter, Narcissa Malfoy stuck her head inside her only son's bedchamber. Draco nodded at her as consent for her to enter effectively halting his pacing. His mother looked as well maintained as she always did. Her icy blonde hair tied in a sophisticated twist as sparkling diamonds sat delicately on her ears and above her collarbone. She looked every ounce of the aristocratic woman she was; she oozed of good breeding and social etiquette. However, her eyes betrayed her composure; she was in a state of desperation.

"Draco," Narcissa addressed her son, "I must speak to you in private."

"Of course," Draco nodded clasping his hands behind his back. He watched as his mother waved her wand around the door, most likely casting a nonverbal silencing spell. "What is it, Mother?" he asked apprehensively.

"Draco, I know that everything can be confusing during war," she said sitting on the ottoman before his grand bed, dark wood with four pillars ascending to the ceiling; her hands folded carefully over her onyx robe covered lap. "I need to know that, as my only son, you are being cautious of your actions."

"I haven't a clue what you might be referring to," Draco stated with a breezy indifference despite his palms breaking into a cold sweat.

"Don't play coy with me, Draco," Narcissa said, her carefully painted rose lips pursed for a moment, her pale blue eyes flickering to the silenced door. "I know what you did for the girl in the basement; I know you healed her."

"And what makes you so sure, Mother?" Draco asked calmly; the cold sweat once isolated to his palms had spread over his entire body; he could feel beads of sweat accumulating against his temple. "Why would I ever help a blood traitor?"

"I know, Draco, because I went down to do it myself, but it had already been done," Narcissa admitted looking into her son's silver eyes, his father's eyes. "Bellatrix's assault was heard throughout the manor; the girl is too small, too frail to survive such an incident without serious internal injury."

Draco stared at his mother; there she sat, perfectly poised and calm though she admitted to going against the Dark Lord's orders. She showed no look of remorse or guilt; unlike Draco, she would not have regretted healing Luna. A million questions formed in Draco's mind, though none of them seemed to be able to escape his mouth. Instead he continued to look at his mother in silence trying to make sense of what she told him.

"I can see the confusion in your eyes, Draco," Narcissa said after several stretching silent minutes. "I see the doubt and the turmoil. I'm your mother, I see things others do not, my son," she sighed standing up smoothing her perfectly ironed robes. She walked over to her son, who stood over a head taller than she, and placed her fingers lightly on his. "But you must keep these to yourself; it's not safe to go against anything that happens here. Draco, you must keep the doubt you feel to yourself and never let it be discovered."

"What doubt, Mother? I live to serve the Dark Lord; I bear his mark," Draco said pulling at his sleeve and showing the horrific mark marring his white skin. "I am loyal to the Dark Lord, as are you."

"Above all, Draco," Narcissa said pulling his sleeve over the ugly mark, "I am loyal to you, my son. You are the most important thing to me; more than anything, I want to see you safe and well. I think of the girl below us; she's a child, Draco, just as you are. In war, age does not matter. I never want you to be where she is now. No matter what you feel, you must be careful, Draco."

"I feel nothing for the disgusting blood traitor filth in the basement," Draco seethed, his words spitting fury to hide the uncertainty of his words. "She and her lot absolutely repulse me. I was weak to help her."

His breaths began to come in shallow pants as he remembered the possible fates he could face because of his weakness. Torture, isolation, death, it was all plausible and all frightening. He thought of being on the receiving end of the Dark Lord's Cruciatus curse again, to be struck by the spell from a man with so much hate and fury in his soulless body. Draco knew no one would ever math the fury in the Dark Lord's curse; no other could hate or hold the desire to hurt so completely as he did. Draco could feel his heart beating erratically; his breaths continued to come in quick pants.

"Bellatrix is right, the Dark Lord was right, I am weak. I am spineless creature," he said breathlessly. "They're going to find out," he mused. "They're going to find out, and they're going to kill me because of it. I'm a traitor, and traitors must be eradicated," Draco said hysterically distraught.

Narcissa could see her son breaking down before her. His pale skin, which he inherited from both his mother and father, was positively ashen, his hands were shaking and beads of frantic sweat fell down his temples. She knew he was in turmoil. She wanted to take away his pain, his confusion and desperation. However, Narcissa knew that voicing her true feelings of what was happening in her home would cause trouble not only for herself, but also for her husband and her son. She would not, could not take the risk; the outcome was too uncertain and precarious. Though she was opposed to some of the Dark Lord's ideas, her sense of self-preservation and need to keep her family safe and intact won out against her desire to speak out against the Dark Lord.

Reaching out, Narcissa wrapped Draco in her embrace as she had done so many times before. However, those were times when his greatest need for comfort came from his falling off a broom or out of the apple tree, from being scolded by his father, or being frightened over something trivial; never had he needed comfort for such a perilous matter. Draco broke down in his mother's loving embrace. His tears flowed freely as his lean form shook with terror and confusion. He didn't register his mother leading him to sit upon the wide ottoman with her, for she never broke her physical contact. Draco felt her smoothing down his hair in the manner in which she had done to calm him as a child; he leaned into her hand welcoming the caring caress as she hummed a soothing song in his ear. He never felt the tears falling into his hair where his mother's cheek rested.

At dinner that night, neither Draco nor Narcissa acted as if anything had happened. Draco had cleared his face from the red splotches and swollen eyes caused by salty tears before combing his hair back into perfection where his mother's hands had ruined his meticulous sculpting. Narcissa refrained from casting her son a knowing look and made it through dinner with a mask of nonchalance and composure. However, the mask Draco wore slid off with every step he took into the dungeons. He felt his limbs fill with lead and his heart hammer against his bones; he dreaded this time more than pointless classes such as divination, care of magical creatures, or muggle studies. He would rather spend a lifetime with Hagrid taming wild, dangerous beasts than spend another night in the dungeons with her and those wide, blue eyes.

Draco walked achingly slow to the cell shared by Luna Lovegood and Mr. Ollivander; he thought that if he dragged his delivery of their daily slop, the prisoners might be asleep by time he arrived to push the metal trey under the rusted bars. As his wand led the way with light provided by his nonverbal casting of Lumos, Draco cursed his misfortune as the light landed on her flaxen hair and wide eyes. Despite his mind telling him to look away, Draco made eye contact with her; the corners of her chapped lips quirked up slightly in greeting as the glare he wore to hide his trepidation remained steady. He kneeled down delivered their provisions before turning to leave; however, her dreamy voice stopped him in his tracks.

"Have you been crying, Draco?" she asked in a whisper though it felt as if she yelled. "You look as if the wackspurts have muddled your thoughts; it's alright, I know how it feels."

"No, Lovegood," he sneered at her after turning around to face her. "I haven't been crying. What reason would I have for doing so?"

"I think you're very unhappy," she shrugged as she reached out with shaking fingers to grasp the slightly less stale than usual bread. "But, I suppose I would be unhappy too if I was forced to live a lie."

"You don't know anything, Lovegood," Draco smarted bitingly. "I live exactly the life I want; I support a righteous cause, I get to eat, to sleep in a bed, and I have access to a means to bathe myself. Look at you, you're filthy, inside and out."

"You don't realize it yet," Luna nodded as she placed a small piece of bread on her tongue, her eyes closed as she imagined steamed green beans with just a sprinkle of brown sugar. "But why else would you help someone like me?"

Draco turned red as his vision blurred with anger. He charged the cell wanting to yank her off the ground and shake her until his words made it through her thick skull: he did not care for her and he never would. His long fingers wrapped around the rusted bars and dug into his palms where his nails reached his skin. Draco's glare never wavered from her, but in his peripheral vision, he could make out Mr. Ollivander's form in the corner asleep. Staring menacingly at Luna, whose aura of dazed dreaminess and curiosity never wavered, Draco mustered up his most harsh tone.

"I had a moment of weakness, Lovegood," he spat. "It will never happen again."

Luna sighed as she shook her head, her matted blonde hair hardly moved. He could tell she was contemplating something and that his best chance of peace was to walk away while she was silent, but he couldn't escape the feeling of wanting to know what her mind was creating, what her unorthodox way of thinking was configuring. He found himself standing there, fingers still wrapped around the bars, waiting for her response. Finally, Luna lifted her head, her blue eyes flickering up to meet Draco's silver; a sad smile formed on her full, cracked lips.

"You're wrong," she said simply. "It takes a rather strong person to stand up against what is happening around him. You are strong, Draco, because you did what you felt rather than what you were told, what you were commanded to do. You were never weak, you were brave," she said with conviction lacing every word. "I'm alive now because of your bravery."

Draco found himself breathless at her testament. He knew in a way he had saved her life, but to hear the words aloud cracked something within him. He hung his head, his forehead scratching the rusted metal slightly as he suppressed a groan of frustration. Sure, he may have saved her life, but at what cost to himself? He was no hero; he saved someone but instead of basking in the glow of knowing he had saved a life, his thoughts only went to himself and the trouble his decision was causing, the prosecution he could face because of his moment of weakness. The panic began to swell within his stomach again and his fingers tightened impossibly on the bars as they popped in protest.

"Draco, are you alright?" Luna said suddenly more serious than she had ever been.

She pushed her self up on wobbly legs as she carefully walked towards the troubled boy before her as to not frighten him. Luna stood before him, all skin and bones and less than a head shorter than his impressive height; she peered at him with concern overflowing from her wide blue eyes. Draco fought the overwhelming hysteria that threatened to explode from within him and wrenched his silver eyes open to stare at the waif girl before him. He had never seen her so close before other than the time he had healed her, and even then, he never focused on her face. Seeing her at that moment, illuminated by the harsh light of his wand, Draco thought she looked more ghost than human. With eyes wide and shadowed with dark circles of malnourishment and exhaustion, full lips cracked with dehydration, jutting cheekbones, and skin the color of fallen snow, Luna Lovegood looked positively haunting. Yet Draco couldn't find it within him to be disgusted by her close proximity, at least not in that moment when her eyes were so full of concern for him. No one had ever looked at him like that.

"Draco," she said softly disturbing his observation of her face, her voice dreamy and musical in the echoing space. "Everything is going to be alright."

"I don't see how it could be," he whispered not bothering to add the typical biting tone to his words, his head still resting on the metal bars. "They're going to kill me because I helped you; they'll find out. They always find out," he croaked as his throat filled with emotion and his eyes closed in fear that she would see his façade crumbling, see the scared boy beneath the stoic exterior.

Luna looked at the boy, no, the young man before her and felt her heart breaking in two for his troubled soul. She could see deeper than the stoic face he wore daily; she could always see beyond the sneering, petulant child he once was. Luna saw him for his true self, a frightened young man constantly searching for approval and belonging. However, he had made all the wrong choices resulting in him standing where he was now, miserable and confused. Hesitantly, Luna reached up with her long, trembling fingers placing them delicately on Draco's where they still clutched the metal bars. To her surprise, he didn't flinch away or call her scathing names. Instead, a lone tear escaped his silver eyes, drowning with shame and fear, when he looked up at her.

"Things have a way of working themselves out," she said cryptically. "Good will win in the end, you know. It always does."

"Then I'll lose once again," he snorted humorlessly staring at her fingers on his, icy and trembling.

"No, I don't think you will," she said in a wistful sigh laced with certainty.

"You're not as vapid as you pretend, Lovegood," Draco said before he could stop the words from falling from his lips.

"I'm not the one pretending," she said simply.

To this Draco had no response; as usual, Luna's remarks left him quite speechless. He opened his mouth to say something, searching for a snarky remark to shake the tender caring swirling in her blue orbs, but nothing came out. As Luna looked at him, she saw his inner turmoil return, so she gently squeezed her fingers which were still over his and backed away from the young Slytherin who continued to look at her with uncertainty. His mouth snapped shut and he nodded his head. Pivoting gracefully he returned to the bottom of the stairs; however, he couldn't sit down as his legs were far too restless.

Draco paced in front of the bottom step for what could have been hours. He only stopped when a light, melody traveled through the dungeon in a familiar arrangement. He found his tense shoulders relaxing, his breathing evening out as his eyes closed in serenity. The one melody that could calm him, the light tune he had fallen asleep to as a child as it fell from his mother's lips was now coming from the dreamy blonde locked in a cell beneath his home. Draco turned his head towards the ceiling in disbelief. He knew something had changed that night, and nothing would ever be as it was before.

Chapter Text

Bellatrix was growing impatient; the insane brat locked away under the manor was grating her last nerve. It had been weeks, months since the little blood traitor was brought to Malfoy Manor, yet she had offered up no information on Potter's whereabouts. Her usefulness was beginning to wear off, and Bellatrix wondered her value. She was an avid follower of Potter, yet no rescue attempt had been made. She wasn't providing a very provocative bait for Potter or his two parasites, the Weasley child and the Mudblood. Maybe the whimsy snot wasn't so valuable after all; perhaps she was a waste of time and resources. Just as her mad father who was now rotting in Azkaban for failing to surrender Potter into her grasp. The Dark Lord had no time or patience for dead weight, and the Lovegood mutt was running out of value and would have to be exterminated like the pest she was. At the thought of the blood traitor's lifeless, bloody body lying at her feet, Bellatrix's mouth formed into a wide, wicked smile as a peal of wild laughter escaped her lips. Nothing pleased her more than pleasing the Dark Lord; however, torturing, and even killing those who opposed her Lord came in at a close second. Twirling a long, dark curl around her crooked finger, Bellatrix spun as if she were a child on a playground, free of restraint or confinement. The world was hers; she could do as she pleased.

"Bella," her sister's voice sounded from behind her; however, she kept spinning and skipping. "What are you doing?"

"Oh, Cissy," Bellatrix smiled cunningly coming to a halt before her younger sister. She clasped their hands together, her mangled, dirty talons distinct in comparison to Narcissa's perfectly manicured hand. "I've been thinking of all the ways in which I can rid your home of the filthy brat in your dungeon. She's one of the fools who stood against us in the Department of Mysteries, you know? I bet Nott and Crabbe are dying to get their hands on her, probably your husband too, though not in the way the other two, of course," she said in a single breath, the mad smile never left her face.

"I bet she's untouched," Bellatrix mused to herself turning away from her sister lost in thought. "Oh how those two would have fun with her, tearing her from inside out. Wouldn't it be delightful?" she asked turning to her sister once more; Bellatrix was so lost in her own elation she didn't notice the look of disgust and shock displayed on her sister's face for a mere second.

"Positively wonderful," Narcissa said lamely. "Though, I do wonder if her usefulness is so lacking," she mused.

"What do you mean, Cissy? She is of no use any longer; she obviously has no information on Potter's whereabouts, or if she does, she's not revealing it," Bellatrix said in a huff.

"I do not doubt she has information on Potter," Narcissa said with a raise of her blond eyebrow. "I've never known you to give up, Bella," she challenged with a smirk befitting of a Malfoy.

"I haven't given up," the devoted Death Eater replied with a petulant stomp of her foot. "I will extract the information from her myself and then tear her apart limb by limb. Mark my word," she growled.

"You're dedication is quite inspiring, Bella," Narcissa said confidently gliding towards her older sister. Gone was the beautiful aristocrat Bellatrix Black; before her now stood the deranged madwoman Bellatrix Lestrange. Narcissa hardly recognized the woman who was once her best friend, her loving sister.

"However, I wonder if your torture is what is required to break such a peculiar creature. Perhaps someone she's familiar with, someone closer to her age could appeal to her if not persuade her with a more inexperienced touch. She knows what you are capable of and what to expect from you. After all, she is friends with the Longbottom boy," Narcissa explained placing an intentional seed in her sister's mind. In order for this to work, Bellatrix needed to think it was her own idea and not her sister's.

"Hm," Bellatrix said turning with her nose in the air. She looked to the ceiling where the black, mighty chandelier hung casting a warm glow on the cool evening. "Perhaps the girl would provide good practice for Draco," she mused. "I can tell he's grown quite fond of cursing her; he no longer hesitates. Maybe she will respond to him more so than she does to me. Cissy, what do you think?"

"I think Draco would be more than pleased at your confidence in him; I'm sure he would rise to the occasion and meet your expectations. Though, I do wonder when he might be trusted to perform such tasks on his own," Narcissa replied as she sat delicately on a jade colored ottoman feigning a look of indifference towards response her sister may give though inside, she was freighted of what may become of the girl below; after all, she was only a child. "After all, you have taught him everything he knows; with that in mind, I have no doubt he is fully prepared for anything," Narcissa added to appeal to her sister's prideful nature.

"He has proven his loyalty to the Dark Lord," Bellatrix nodded her broken fingers skimming the onyx piano nestled in the corner. "And he is most skilled if I do say so," she smirked. "Narcissa, I do believe your little boy is ready to become a man, an honorable man of the Dark Lord," she grinned biting her bottom lip in glee as a smile overtook her face.

"He will be positively thrilled, Bella. He aspires to serve the Dark Lord as you do, faithfully and devotedly," Narcissa said breathlessly as if the idea brought her nothing short of total elation. "When will you tell Draco of this honor you are bestowing upon him? I can hardly wait to see his reaction."

"Tonight at dinner," Bellatrix said. "We'll toast in his name!"

"Splendid," Narcissa said rising from the velvet ottoman. "This is wonderful, Bella. I am so grateful for the guidance you have provided my son," she said embracing her sister lightly as she glared over the Death Eater's shoulder in disgust.

She made eye contact with the portrait of Draco as a child, slicked back hair to resemble his father and innocence in his grey eyes, a gleam she had not seen in years. Her child within the portrait gave her a wide grin, his silver eyes shining bright reminding Narcissa of her reasons for doing this: her son, her only child. Above all, she would protect him with her life, and keeping him from becoming a murderer was protecting him from himself. She refused to let him go without a fight; her son would not turn into the deranged human her sister morphed into, worried only about how much terror and destruction she caused and how deeply she pleased the Dark Lord. She loved not, cared not about anyone other than the he who was more serpent than man. Narcissa would not allow this fate for her son. She would rather die.

The moment Draco sat at the table, to the right of his father, he knew something was wrong. His mother's posture was tense, her face showed indifference but her left eyebrow was creased, her tell. Draco shifted his eyes to his father who seemed none the wiser to his wife's disposition. Throughout the first course, a beet salad with shredded Brussels sprouts, toasted walnuts, and lemon vinaigrette, his mother merely pushed the food around her plate taking a small bite every so often. Draco looked to his father once more, but Lucius continued to stare directly ahead waiting for the elves to finish placing the platters on the dark, mahogany table. Draco's silver eyes swept the room unconcerned with the platters before him overflowing with roasted parsnips and beets or seared lamb topped with thyme and rosemary; Draco's only appetite came in the form of knowing what was going on in his mother's mind. No one else seemed a bit on edge; in fact, Bellatrix looked positively elated as she speared a parsnip with her fork holding it in front of her face before biting it ferociously. Draco knew her happiness always came at a cost to someone else; his first course threatened to make a reappearance at the thought.

Like his mother, Draco's appetite seemed to dwindle as time went on though very little food was put into his mouth. His senses were heightened due to his anxiety of unknown and every scrape of silver on porcelain, every clank of glass was setting him on edge, making him grind his teeth down in frustration. After what seemed a lifetime, the main course was cleared and a decadent apple pie was placed before him. The sight of it made him physically ill, but both Bellatrix and his mother were looking at him expectantly as a slice was placed upon his plate. The scent of cinnamon and nutmeg invaded his senses; the apples smelled tart and sweet at the same time. This particular pie was made from the apples in the garden; it was also a well-known favorite of the young Slytherin. Draco forced a large bite in to his stomach in order to appease his onlookers; it felt as if hot sand was lodged in his throat the entire time.

"Draco," Bellatrix grinned wickedly as dropped a large dollop of cream on top of her pie. "I have grown impatient with the Lovegood brat in the basement, and I wish to be rid of her," she said nonchalantly as if Luna was nothing more than a crumb on the floor.

"The Lovegood girl," Draco said slowly as if he were trying to remember if anyone else in the basement shared the same name with the whimsy blonde.

"Yes, yes," Bellatrix nodded stabbing an apple slice. "Whatever her name is," she said with a wave of her mangled hand. "I've grown bored of her incompliance, and thus, I have decided she is no longer of any use to me."

"Has the Dark Lord approved of this?" Draco asked hastily before he could stop himself. "After all, I thought he wanted her in order to keep her father and his ridiculous publishing in check," he added hastily.

"You dare think I would go against the Dark Lord?" Bellatrix said, her dark eyes wide with fury.

"No, Aunt Bella, of course not," Draco said quickly; he noticed his mother shifted uncomfortably in front of him. "I just wanted to be certain; I know your loyalty to the Dark Lord is unwavering. I never meant to imply otherwise," Draco assured his crazed aunt hiding his shaking hands under the table. "Well, if she is of no use to you, she must be exterminated. The Dark Lord needs not to waste his time on her."

"I admire your willingness to be rid of such a horrible creature," Bellatrix said, her tense posture relaxed as she attempted to bear a look of sweetness; the expression looked maddening on her face. "However, her uselessness to me does not mean she cannot serve a purpose. I have decided to bestow her to you, Draco. Do what you wish to the filthy blood traitor; it is of no concern to me," Bellatrix shrugged placing a small bite of pie onto her tongue. "Kill her, torture her, defile her," she added with a predatory gleam in her eyes. "She's all yours, dear nephew."

He stared at his aunt dumbfounded; time seemed to slow down as he stared at her expectant gaze. His mouth opened and then closed like a fish out of water. His hands were shaking even more so now than before; he shoved them deeper under the table to hide his obvious sign of distress. From the corner of his eye, he saw his mother's face; she nodded minutely at him, but it was enough to persuade him to talk.

"I'm honored, Aunt Bella," Draco rasped out before clearing his throat to feign nonchalance and certainty. "I'm sure she'll make great practice for the curses you've taught me," he said forcing a smirk; his insane aunt beamed proudly at him. He saw his mother nod once more, a sign that he had said the right thing. It caused no relief.

"We're proud of you, Draco," Lucius said finally. Draco turned his head sharply to peer at his father, the older man's pointed face so similar to his own. "You've made the family proud."

"To Draco!" Bellatrix cackled raising her goblet of wine sloppily, the rich red contents threatening to spill with her enthusiasm.

"To Draco," the table echoed before taking a sip of the contents of their goblet. Narcissa Malfoy tipped her glass to her son first before taking a small sip and looking away, looking in the direction of the basement door.

After dinner, Draco made his way to the kitchen to perform his nightly duty of bringing the prisoners their sustenance before manning his post at the bottom of the stairs. He walked into the kitchen bustling with House Elves, all frantic and dirty from their working, and looked for the tray usually waiting for him. Seeing his annoyance at having to wait, one of the elves quickly grabbed a bowl and scooped a heap of slop out of the bin; Draco had to suppress a gag. The House Elf placed the metal bowl on a matching tray presenting it to his young master. However, Draco was not pleased.

"Where is the bread?" Draco demanded.

"There is no old bread left, young master," the elf quivered. "Only good bread for the honorable masters of the house, the house I live to serve."

"Then do as your told and put bread on this tray now; I don't care of its age," Draco commanded with a tone that left no room for argument.

The elf scurried away fumbling over its large feet to retrieve the bread. He returned only seconds later with a freshly baked loaf of pumpernickel bread, Draco's personal favorite. Without a word of thanks for the cowering creature, Draco turned on his heel and made his way to the basement. Unthinkingly, he cast a silent Lumos as he reached the bottom step and walked quietly to the cell. He could hear Luna humming, her breezy voice echoing in the cavernous space; he fought the urge to close his eyes as the calming sound. As he stood before her, she ceased humming to cast him a small smile. Draco did not return the gesture; he only leaned down and sent the tray beneath the bars. He jumped as Luna gasped in surprised. Her long, thin fingers touched the bread delicately as her eyes overflowed with shock. She picked the loaf of dark bread up carefully bringing it to rest under her nose as she inhaled deeply. Draco felt awkward watching such an intimate moment and turned to walk away, but, as usual, her voice made him halt.

"Thank you," she said brokenly. "How did you know this was my favorite?"

"I didn't," he confessed. "And don't ever thank me, Lovegood," he said walking away from her knowing that in a few hours, his post would be taken over and he would be expected to play with his new possession.

Merely an hour later, large, heavy footsteps lumbered down stairs causing Draco to jump up, wand ready for an altercation; however, once Fenrir Greyback's mangy face appeared, Draco lowered his wand. He swallowed back bile as the scent from the constantly grungy werewolf evaded his senses; he smelled like rot and decay. Draco backed away instinctually causing the half-breed to grin predatorily.

"I've been sent to relieve you, little Malfoy," Greyback teased. "Bellatrix wanted you to have time to play with your new toy," he grinned licking his foul lips and giving a full view of his sharpened, yellow teeth. "A little bony she is, but I'm sure she'd be delicious just the same," he added with a repulsive gleam in his eyes as he craned his neck as if to get a better view of the girl. Draco wondered if Greyback could see in the dark.

"Yes, well," Draco said straightening his robes, "don't lay a repugnant claw on her; she's mine," he sneered. "If you touch her, I'll have to annihilate her immediately, and as you so implied, what a waste it would be."

Walking to the cell, Draco waved his wand over the rusted metal bars revealing a door that was not there moments before. He pushed it opened and beckoned for Luna to stand up. As she did so, Draco reached out and grabbed her arm in a firm clutch, though not tight enough to harm her. He closed the cell door behind it resealing it with magic and pulled Luna along with him.

"Come now, Lovegood," Draco sneered at Greyback not missing the way the werewolf's eyes traveled over Luna's body. "It's time for us to have a bit of fun."

Draco dragged her up the stairs, her feet struggling to keep up with his quick movements, but he didn't care. He couldn't quite understand why, but the thought of Greyback laying a claw on Luna made his stomach churn. Draco knew he reveled in mutilating the corpses of his victims both before and after they died; he basked in the blood that covered him as he killed mercilessly. Greyback's bloodlust was paralleled only by that of Bellatrix. At the thought of his deranged aunt, Draco saw a flash of black from the corner of his eye. He turned to see his aunt lounging on a emerald, crushed velvet chaise, her black robes surrounding her making it look as if she were levitating on a cloud of coals, like an angel of darkness, despair, and madness.

"Aunt Bella," Draco acknowledged her with a stoic voice. "Have you come to observe?"

"No, Draco," Bellatrix responded still lounging on the furniture. "You're a man now. You don't need my nor anyone else's supervision. And like I said, she is of no use to me. I do not wish to see her hideous face any longer. Take her away and do as you wish," Bellatrix said shooing him off with a wave of her righteous hand.

"Oh!" Bellatrix called after him just as Draco, and a silent Luna, were nearly out of the room. "I've just heard news of Azkaban's new prisoner," she sneered. "Any guesses on who that might be, blood traitor?"

"Someone undeserving I'm sure," Luna said with a wistful sigh; Draco wished she had remained silent.

"That nutter you call father will surely provide a wonderful plaything for the dementors, don't you think?" Bellatrix said ignoring Luna's dreamy retort. "I wonder if the mad have souls? I wonder if the Kiss works on insanity?"

Luna made no other sound but a small whimper Draco barely heard, but her body was trembling, her lip quivering. Despite her heartbreak, Luna raised her chin defiantly and refused to break under Bellatrix's dark gaze. She kept her eyes locked with the devoted Death Eater until the back of a mangled hand met her cheek. Luna's lip split at Bellatrix's assault, but because she could feel Draco's fingers tighten ever so slightly, Luna remained silent not even bothering to wipe away the blood that was running down her chin, creating a river of crimson down her pale neck.

"Enjoy her, Draco," Bellatrix said walking away resuming her position on the chaise. With this dismissal, Draco hauled Luna out of the room. He could feel when every drop of her blood hit the dark floors.

Dragging Luna's willowy frame to the secluded room in the back of the manor, Draco felt the panic rise in his throat. He was going to have to hurt her now, and he would have no one's orders to blame. It was his decision now; he was in charge. However, it all felt out of his control. Once in the room illuminated by the nearly full moon, Draco released Luna abruptly causing her to stumble forward slightly. She steadied herself standing directly in the moonbeams filtering through the window that stretched to the very top of the wall resting mere inches from the high ceiling. Draco took a moment to look at Luna as she stood stoically in the moonlight. Her pale skin was glowing; her filthy blonde hair was made into a halo of sorts. As the blood continued to fall down her face and run down her neck, Draco could liken her to nothing besides a broken angel, a celestial being who had taken a beating by some cruel demon.

"They gave you to me," Draco said in a hushed whisper. "You were given to me to do with whatever I choose."

"I know," Luna said quietly, her blue eyes wide.

"I was told to hurt you, to curse you until you offer information on Potter or until you go mad."

"People already think I'm mad," Luna shrugged, her thin fingers fiddling with the hem of the dress she wore. She looked so frail.

"Are you so blind, so naïve you can't understand what's going on? I have to hurt you, Lovegood. I have to bring you closer to death than you already are! Do you not understand?" he shouted at her, his left hand reached up to clutch his hair as his right hand tightened around his wand. "Do you get it? This is not a joke."

"Then do it," Luna encouraged him, turning her palms up for him to see. "Curse me, Draco," she said as she took a step towards him. She took another and then a few more until she was standing so close the wand clutched in his hand nearly touched her. Reaching down, she lifted Draco's hand with both of hers, touching the tip of the dark Hawthorn wand to the spot directly over her heart. "Do it," she said as her hands slid around his wrist keeping his hand in place.

Luna could feel him shaking. She looked down at where her hands were around his wrist, their pale skin glowing in the pure light from the moon. Her fingers tightened slightly as she lifted her eyes to meet his, but his silver orbs were hidden as Draco squeezed his eyes shut willing his mouth to form any curse, anything to rid himself of this moment. He briefly considered the Killing Curse, to end her suffering and pain, to offer her peace, but he couldn't do it.

"Draco," Luna whispered. "It's okay. I will forgive you, no matter what. Please, just do it," she begged him.

"I can't," he said his jaw locking to hide the emotional quivering slowly taking over his body. "I just can't," he said as her hands pulled his wand harder into her chest. He could see the indent the wood was making in her dress.

"You can, Draco, you can," Luna goaded him. "Please, Draco. I'll forgive you, it will be alright."

"How could you forgive someone like me," he asked her; tears welled in her eyes at his broken voice. One of her hands slid up his arm to grasp his bicep gently. He told himself he should break from her grasp, to flinch away from her touch, but she was so gentle, so tender; Draco didn't want to be rid of her touch. Her thin, cool fingers were comforting in his moment of panic and confusion.

"I know you don't want to do this, Draco," Luna explained, a sad smile forming on her full lips, a single tear escaped her eyes. "This isn't your choice; it's mine. Please, curse me. Protect yourself and your family," she said looking at him, begging him with her misty blue eyes holding a focus he had never seen before. "Pretend I'm someone else if you must, Draco. You have to mean it for it to work. Please," she said releasing his arm and his wrist as she squared her shoulders exhaling a deep breath.

"Luna," Draco said looking at her incredulously as if he couldn't believe the words that had just fallen from her mouth. She looked so at peace, so comfortable standing in the dark room with moonlight making her skin glow. She smiled as the young man before her unknowingly used her name for the first time as she ran her thumb across his wrist giving him a steady nod.

"Crucio," he whispered brokenly as her screamed reverberated around him. His jaw quivered with the pain his soul was bearing; he didn't try to blink back the tears that formed in his grey eyes.

He thought of Potter for not being quick enough to end this, he thought about his father forcing the horrible life lessons he couldn't rid himself of, he thought of his aunt who made him do this, and he thought of Voldemort who was so cruel and vile he sought out to end lives merely because people didn't meet his standard. But most of all, he thought of himself, if it were possible to stand before himself, Draco would cast the most vicious of Cruciatus curses because of his weakness, the raging battle within him to do what he had been taught and what he wanted. He lowered his wand as Luna stopped responded hating himself for hurting her to the point of unresponsiveness. The tears still refused to fall from his eyes.

However, Narcissa Malfoy, covered by the shadows in the doorway, shed the tears her son could not. She cried for her child and for the innocence he had lost, she cried for the broken girl who lay convulsing on the floor where Draco dropped to his knees beside her twitching body hidden in the darkness of the shadows cast by the heavy drapes, his wand still clutched in his right hand. Narcissa watched as he reached out his left hand to brush over the girl's fingers that remained outstretched in the moonlight, calm and relaxed as if she they were where they belonged lying there in the pale light. Narcissa nearly released a sob as her son's fingers tightened around the girl's as he whispered apology after apology to her unresponsive body. With each apology, Draco's soul split just a fraction more.

Chapter Text

Hands shaking, Luna attempted to smooth her hair into a single braid to no avail. Her hair was brittle from lack of nutrition and matted with blood and dirt, slightly damp from the musty dungeon cellar. Luna could feel Mr. Ollivander's eyes on her, but she wasn't ready to answer questions. She knew what his pensive stare was searching for; she knew what the wandmaker believed to be happening. Giving up on her hair, Luna knew she did not possess the energy to explain everything; however, turning her face to see Mr. Ollivander's concerned, caring gaze, she mustered every ounce of energy within her to give the older man a kind, reassuring smile. His gaze never wavered. Turning her silvery blue eyes away, Luna began to hum a sweet melody; she knew it was something that eased the wandmaker's mind and allowed him to relax.

The light tune echoed throughout the dark space, a small light hanging outside of their cell allowed minimal visibility; she could just make out Mr. Ollivander's face, worn and dirty though still maintaining his look of otherworldly intelligence. As she continued to hum, Luna thought about the past three days. Everyday Draco would walk down the stairs purposely ignoring her as he delivered their rations, his pointed face hidden in shadows of sleeplessness and despair. Sometimes he would speak to her after an hour or two of silence; other times the dungeon would remain deadly silent forcing Luna's mind to race and buzz with wackspurts. The eerie silence begged for sound, so Luna often hummed during Draco's watch. Sometimes, when she performed a particular song, she could hear a sigh escape from the young Death Eater's lips; a sound so pure and sweet, Luna craved for it to caress her ears in its splendor. Something so simple as a sigh of contentment brought joy to her existence.

However, Draco rarely let any noise fall from his lips during his time in the dungeon. He seemed haunted in the dark space, trapped and suffereing from extreme loneliness. He only seemed to come to life, to show signs of humanity when he stood in the clear, cool light of the moon. It was here when his pale skin glowed with enchanting energy and his grey eyes melted into shimmering silver, his white hair glowing like untouched snow as his pointed features created contorting shadows on his face enhancing the sharp angles. Luna once thought he had perfected the look of haughty aristocrat's son, stoic and unfeeling, but when she glimpsed at him in the moonlight, Luna realized that Draco Malfoy had turned into a ghost, a phantom searching for the life he once possessed. It was in the darkened room filled only with gently blowing emerald, silk curtains and chilled moonlight that Draco became something resembling a human.

Draco would watch her with swirling silver eyes, brimming with every emotion known to mankind. Luna saw hatred, disgust, and fury, but she could not deny the fear, the sadness, and even care in his eyes as he cast curses at her from his hawthorn wand. The Cruciatus Curse was becoming an everyday occurrence in her life; however, unless she provoked him, told Draco to imagine someone else, it felt like nothing more than a garden gnome bite, annoying and sharp though not mind-numbingly horrible. Luna knew she was given to Draco in order to practice his torturing and cursing; she was not ignorant towards her role. However, Luna was aware of Draco's hesitance, and should she not prove to be a decent target for his practicing or should Draco be caught showing humanity towards her, Luna feared she would be disposed of, killed as if she were nothing more than a pestering fly. To the Death Eaters, Luna knew she was less than human.

Though she seemed to act in self-preservation, Luna's nobility was not limited to protect only herself. While Harry Potter's strength grew from the understanding of love as the greatest asset, Voldemort considered such a thing to be weakening, frivolous, to be dangerous in the quest for total power and control. Luna knew that should Draco's compassion towards her be discovered, he would not be the only one to suffer. Though she hid deeply in the shadows, Luna was always aware of Narcissa Malfoy's presence as the woman's only son cast numerous curses and hexes at her; Luna could hear Mrs. Malfoy's muffled sniffing and gasps. Luna had no doubts that Voldemort would punish not only Draco for his seemingly weakness but also Narcissa for being his mother. Luna knew that being the cause of his mother's pain and suffereing would destroy the traumatized young man even more so than he already was.

Luna sighed as her humming trailed off. She wondered what the weather was like today; she wondered if the air was cool as winter approached or if the crispness of autumn remained. Her skin ached to feel fresh air, to be touched by unfiltered nature. She thought of the leaves falling from the Whomping Willow as the great tree shook its limbs. She thought of the cool ground in the Forbidden Forest, sodden with autumn's rain. Luna wondered if the thestrals were doing well, if they were being loved upon; she had no doubt that others would soon be aware of the haunting creatures' existence. Her musings were cut short, for hearing Mr. Ollivander clear his throat weakly, Luna realized she would have to face him and answer the questions only his eyes dared to ask up until that moment.

"Child," Mr. Ollivander rasped out, "where does the young Mr. Malfoy take you during the night?"

"We go upstairs," Luna said simply pulling her fallen dress strap back onto her shoulder.

"Does he—does he force himself on you?" the famed wandmaker asked looking into her eyes with a feverish concern.

"No," Luna said hastily. "Draco is a perfect gentleman, I assure you. Though he can cast a nasty Cruciatus when provoked," she assured. "You needn't worry, Mr. Ollivander; I'm perfectly safe with Draco."

"Dear child," Mr. Ollivander sighed unbelievingly as he shook his head. "I fear you have become blind to the dangers around you. Ms. Lovegood, you are not safe while in the presence or possession of a Death Eater."

"Then I suppose it is a good thing Draco no longer requires supervision," Luna said a serene smile stretching over her full mouth. "I am never in the presence of a Death Eater."

"Mr. Malfoy is a Death Eater, Ms. Lovegood. He is one of them," the wandmaker said gently as if delivering bad news to an unsuspecting victim of circumstance.

"He's not," Luna replied with a tone of dreamy finality; her mind would not be changed. Draco Malfoy was many things, but Death Eater was not upon the list nor would it ever be.

"It would not be wise to cultivate feelings for young Malfoy in such times, Ms. Lovegood," Mr. Ollivander said looking at the frail girl before him sadly. "I do hope you are being careful and not entertaining the thought of romance."

"I am too worried about Draco's life to amuse myself with such things, Mr. Ollivander," Luna assured him.

"Your kindness is limitless, Ms. Lovegood," the wandmaker sighed. "But it's your life you should be focusing on."

"My safety depends on Draco's survival," she told Mr. Ollivander just as the basement door opened and slammed shut.

Both Luna and Mr. Ollivander stopped talking at once, remaining stoically silent as footsteps neared their cell. The clicking of heels and joyous puddle splashing alerted the prisoners to the identity of the new arrival: Bellatrix Lestrange. Luna felt her insides glaze over with ice and dread. The echoing of clinking metal sounded throughout the dark space as Bellatrix trailed her ragged nails against the cell bars. She did not light a Lumos nor did she carry a lantern; she was playing games with the prisoners, using a tactic all too familiar to Luna and Mr. Ollivander though never diminishing in fright. Luna's limbs tensed in anticipation, her body protesting the tightness in her muscles. The blonde Ravenclaw could hear the Death Eater's heavy breathing, imagine the terrorizing smile upon her face, the mad gleam in her dark eyes. Luna often wondered how it could be that Bellatrix and Narcissa were related, much less sisters. Bellatrix Lestrange was dark, wild, and animalistic compared to Narcissa's fair, poised, and merciful disposition; Draco obviously took after his mother.

A sharp light illuminated the cell as Bellatrix casted a silent Lumos; Luna felt the fear and adrenalin rush through her bloodstream as the woman stared at her. Bellatrix pursed her lips as she looked at the ratty blood traitor; her ruined clothing remained the same, ugly and ragged. However, Bellatrix noticed her face had changed; it wasn't that her cheeks, though still sallow and protruding, had a very subtle rosy color to them nor was it noticed that her eyes were brighter than before, the misty silver-blue shining. Instead, Bellatrix focused on what she knew best: destruction, pain, savagery. The young girl, weak and pathetic, was covered in bruises. Her left cheekbone covered in a purple bruise sweeping upwards into her hairline; her right eyebrow was split towards the end in a slightly open wound, dried blood marred her fair skin. Her full bottom lip was split from both injury and dehydration. Her arms were dusted with marks of all colors, fading green bruises to new deep violet hues decorated Luna's alabaster skin. Though hidden beneath her leggings, Luna knew her knees were scratched from falling onto the solid wooden floor; her hands showed her attempts of catching herself with deep red cuts and splinters wedged in her palms.

"Well, look at you, blood traitor," Bellatrix grinned as she twisted her wand around a wild, dark curl. "It seems my dear nephew has had such a splendid time with you. Tell me, are you enjoying your time with him?" she teased with a cackling laugh; Luna didn't respond, for she knew her response would result in more abuse.

"Answer me when I speak to you," Bellatrix seethed pointing her wand menacingly at Luna's face; the young girl could hear the curse waiting on the tip of the Death Eater's tongue.

"He's horrifying," Luna whispered brokenly knowing it was what Bellatrix wanted to hear yet didn't expect. She knew Bellatrix still did not fully think her only nephew capable of living up to her reputation.

"Maybe you need reminding of what horrifying really is," Bellatrix growled waving her wand over the cell and pushing the door open, but before she could grab Luna, a voice sounded from behind her.

"That won't be necessary, Aunt Bella," Draco said coolly, indifference oozing from every pore. "I've just come down for her. I read about a particularly nasty hex and wanted to see how effectively it could serve the Dark Lord."

"Well," Bellatrix huffed smoothing down her black corset. "Go on then. There are others I can tend to," she grinned menacingly at the wandmaker in the corner.

Draco saw the flash of rebellion in Luna's eyes, so he quickly wrapped a hand around her upper arm effectively yanking her out of the cell, through the dungeon, and up the staircase. He never loosened his grip until they were in the room he always brought her too. Void of any furniture, the décor consisted only of silken emerald curtains that blew with the slight breeze coming from the opened windows. Releasing his hold on the girl, Draco backed away from her noticing the fire in her eyes.

"Why did you do that?" Luna asked her serene tone muddled by worry and distress.

"Do what?" Draco asked confused.

"Take me out of there, of course! She's going to hurt him; he's old and frail, Draco. He cannot withstand much more," she explained as she pulled at the ends of her straw textured hair.

"I removed you from a situation you would surely ruin with that mouth of yours resulting in you being on the receiving end of Bella's wand," Draco sneered crossing his arms over his chest. "Please, spare me your gratitude," he said with an eye roll.

"You of all people should understand," Luna said eyeing him carefully.

"And what exactly should I understand, Lovegood?" Draco asked staring at the broken girl before him, her pale skin shimmering under the white moonlight.

"The need to keep someone safe," she said gently hearing the basement door slam shut. "Do it now," she commanded Draco as she squared her shoulders.

"Do what?" he asked dumbly his mind trying to catch up to the sudden change in the atmosphere. No longer were her eyes full of concern or fear; instead her blue orbs were filled with determination.

"The hex, Draco," Luna replied hastily. "Quickly now; she's coming."

"I—I lied," he fumbled out reaching for his wand inside his robe. "I don't—There isn't—."

"Say this: Avis," Luna instructed closing her eyes against what she knew was coming. She heard Draco say the incantation followed by the fluttering of birds. "Oppugno," Luna said.

"Oppugno," Draco repeated in fascination as the birds, which had emerged from his wand, flew at Luna with lightening fast speed, their beaks shredding her meager clothing and embedding their beaks into her skin before disappearing.

Luna's shriek of pain followed by her legs giving out, a result of the deep gashes now marring her skin, echoed throughout the room. As her body hit the ground, her hands catching most of her weight, Draco looked up to see Bellatrix standing in the arched door way, a content, wicked smile on her lips. Nodding her head, the loyal Death Eater turned to leave, her black skirts billowing dramatically as she whirled around. Looking down, Draco saw Luna's arms shaking as they struggled to support her frame. Sinking down to one knee, Draco held out his wand to heal the deepest wounds on her skin, but Luna shook her head before he could begin casting the healing charm.

"Don't," she rasped out breathlessly. "She checks me for injuries."

"Lovegood, you'll bleed to death. Stop being so bloody heroic," Draco fumed pushing himself up and gripping his hair. "Why did you choose that one? You knew what it was going to do to you! Do you have a death wish? Do you want me to become a murderer?"

"Draco, I can't—" Luna gasped her arms giving out and her head hitting the floor with a resounding bang; her eyes were closed, her breathing labored.

"Dammit," Draco nearly yelled finding himself back on the floor pulling her ragdoll frame into a sitting position, her head lolling to the side slightly as her eyes opened but remained unfocused. "Lovegood, stay with me. Luna," Draco said shaking her slightly.

Luna's head was woozy; her sight was blurry. She could hear Draco calling her, even saying her first name, but she couldn't find the muscles to respond to him. She knew what was happening to her body; it was shutting down due to blood loss, for the birds had attacked more ferociously than she expected, cutting her more severely than she intended. She could feel her blood oozing from open wounds; her legs felt sticky and hot, as did her arms and torso. She could feel a particularly nasty cut on her neck throbbing painfully.

"Potion," she rasped out in a nearly silent whisper. "Blood," she added before her eyes closed off to the world and her vision went black.

Draco continued to hold her lifeless body, her dead weight falling entirely onto him. Her head fell onto his chest, her straggly blonde hair tickling his jaw. Trying to make sense of her whispered words as panic flooded through his bloodstream making it difficult to form a coherent thought, Draco grabbed her wrist feeling for a pulse. He didn't feel anything; his entire body turned into ice. In a panicked daze, Draco pulled her limp body into his lap as he pushed her matted hair away from her neck. Leaning down he placed his ear directly over her heart, ever so faintly a tiny thump sounded, much too faint and much too weak.

"Stay with me, Luna," Draco whispered hoarsely as he remembered her words: potion and blood.

Looking down at her once more, it clicked into place. Luna needed a Blood-Replenishing Potion. Unfortunately, the potion cabinet was located in the kitchen, it's stock closely monitored by both the House Elves and his father. With a fiery determination, Draco picked up his wand and aimed the dark wood at his arm. He cast a silent curse resulting in a deep gash appearing on his forearm; he struggled to keep the cry of pain from escaping his lips.

"Dippy!" Draco croaked as his blood flowed freely out of his skin and onto Luna. A soft pop sounded as the House Elf apperated into the room. "I need two Blood-Replenishing Potions. Now!"

"Young Master is hurt," the elf squeaked in a panic. "Dippy must heal Young Master," the elf said walking towards Draco, her crooked, grey fingers outstretched.

"Do as I say and bring two Blood-Replenishing Potions; I don't want your filthy mangled hands on me," he growled causing to elf to cower and disappear returning seconds later with two bottles. "Be gone," Draco said dismissively.

After the House Elf had disappeared, Draco pulled out his hawthorn wand muttering the incantation to heal the deepest lacerations on Luna's body before doing the same to his own; his skin pulled together tightly in a deep, pink scar. Pulling the cork from the bottle with his teeth, Draco opened Luna's mouth after setting her upright and poured the scarlet liquid down her throat; he drank half of the second bottle before pouring the rest into Luna's mouth. He waited a few minutes, but nothing changed. She didn't move, her full lips slightly parted, Draco leaned his head down feeling her breath on his skin.

Content that she would survive Draco shoved the two potion bottles into his robe pockets before laying the frail Ravenclaw on the floor, her flaxen hair a messy halo around her head. She laid there, the moonlight shimmering over her alabaster skin. In that moment, as she laid so completely still, she seemed to be a statue, an angel frozen in time. Her features soft and pale, glowing white in the raw light emitting from her namesake. Draco could feel the energy flowing through her, the goodness, the effervescent spirit, the purity; it all rejuvenated and surged through her as she basked in the light. Hesitantly, Draco reached out his long fingers to touch her cool skin, but as his hand hovered over her hand, their fingers nearly touching, Draco noticed the shadow his body created. It covered her in darkness, so unnatural and violent. He jerked away from her form, burying his fingers into the white locks on his scalp. He wouldn't allow himself to taint her anymore than necessary. He had caused her enough pain, enough fright to last a lifetime; unfortunately, he knew the show was nowhere near complete.

Lost in thought, Draco was unaware of his mother's sweeping robes as she passed by the open archway stopping to peer in on her son and the girl he was given to torture. As Narcissa looked into the room, she saw her son as she had so many times before: clutching his hair and rocking slightly as he sat on the hard ground. He risked so much by acting as such, frightened and troubled, out in the open for all passing to see. Quietly, Narcissa walked into the room and stood to the side of her only child. Bending down, she wrapped her thin arm around his shoulder and nuzzled her nose into his hair placing a kiss to his temple. He never responded to her touch.

"Come now, Draco," she said gently. "You must return her to the basement."

Draco looked to the body lying next to him. If it weren't for the layer of bruises and cuts, the dried blood or her matted hair and emaciated frame, the young Ravenclaw looked peaceful, as if in a deep sleep. Pushing himself up on wobbling legs, Draco pulled out his wand muttering Mobilicorpus under his breath as he pointed the wand at Luna's body. Her body rose a few inches in the air, her limbs floating beside her, her hair swaying in the breeze; she looked as if she were floating on a cloud at ease with the world around her. Draco turned away from his mother and the floating form behind him and walked to the basement. Down the stairs and into the cell, Luna's levitating body followed him where he gently lowered her to the cool ground. As he was turning to leave, Draco looked to the corner to see Mr. Ollivander staring at him with exhaustion in his eyes. However, seeing the wand in his hand, a small spark shone in the old man's eyes.

"Hawthorn, ten inches, unicorn core," the wandmaker muttered under his breath. "Unicorn hair, just like—"

"My mother," Draco finished looking down at the dark wood in his hand.

"Yes, Narcissa Black, now Narcissa Malfoy," Mr. Ollivander said closing his eyes. "Yes, I remember. Lovely girl, always polite," he nodded before opening his watery eyes. "You resemble her very much."

"I look like my father," Draco sneered. "I look like a Malfoy."

"Physically, yes," the wandmaker agreed. "But semblance runs much deeper than outer appearance, Mr. Malfoy."

Draco stared at the wandmaker as the old man peered back at him, his glistening eyes murky from exhaustion. Feeling uncomfortable under his unmoving gaze, Draco turned to look once more at Luna. He wondered whom she looked like, who she resembled. He knew her father was a complete nutter, but he didn't quite believe her to be one any longer. He supposed she was more like her mother though he had never heard anything of her. No longer wishing to gaze at her lifeless body, Draco turned to leave but was stopped by Mr. Ollivander's raspy, weak voice.

"I do hope I'm not overstepping my boundaries in saying so," he began before a cough overtook his body. "But Ms. Lovegood cares for you very deeply."

"Tell her not to," Draco replied as tension crept into his shoulders at the idea of the girl caring for him in anyway; it made his palms sweat, his head pound with panic.

"She cannot be persuaded," Mr. Ollivander sighed. "She is very wise, clever beyond her years, but she believes in people. She believes in you, Mr. Malfoy."

"Then she is as loony as people say she is," Draco whispered existing the cell and waving his wand over the metal bars sealing them together with magic.

Draco walked back to the edge of the staircase where his post awaited him. Sitting down on the wooden chair, he leaned forward to clench his hair with his long, slim fingers. Pulling at the roots, Draco felt tears well in his eyes threatening to spill over should he move at all. His scalp was burning with the force of his pulling, but he couldn't stop, couldn't let go. Everything was becoming too much. Wrenching his hands from his scalp, Draco pulled his sleeve up revealing the long, pink, jagged scar that now displayed on his forearm in the exact place the Dark Mark showed on the opposite arm. In a twisted way, the wound seemed more significant, more meaningful than the Dark Mark ever had to Draco. Though he didn't realize it, the self-inflicted wound showed more about who he was, who he was becoming than the Dark Mark ever could.

Chapter Text

Fenrir Greyback could feel the full moon approaching. He flexed his crooked knuckles willing for the claws he loved so dearly to emerge early so that he could sink them into warm flesh. Though he kept his nails long and meticulously sharpened, they were nothing compared to those in his wolf form. Those claws, those blades of destruction, were perfect for slashing through anything in order to release sweet, pulsing blood. His lips raised in a snarling smile showing his yellow, pointed teeth. Just a few more days and his time would come; he nearly howled with joy at the thought.

Because the full moon was drawing closer, Greyback’s senses were heightening. He could hear better, his vision was sharper, his reflexes quicker. Though he may have fooled himself into believing so, he could just make out the sweet smell of fresh blood in the basement, irresistible and decadent; he couldn’t resist. Ignoring the pestering, cowering house elves’ offerings, Greyback stalked out of the kitchen, his nose trained on the luscious scent as he hunted his prey. Walking down the stairs, Greyback blinked a few times adjusting his sight to the darkness; because it was so near to his time, his vision was clear without the use of a light. Sniffing the air soundly, he closed his dark, beady eyes reveling in the sweetness, his top lip forming into a snarling grin.

“My, my, what big eyes you have, my pet,” Greyback grinned peering into the cell as his claw-like hands wrapped around the metal bars. The frail girl within continued to stare back at him steadily, her misty blue eyes never leaving his though she could barely see him.

“I think you’re stealing my line, sir,” Luna replied calmly remembering the muggle fairytale her mother once read her. Though Greyback spoke Little Red Riding Hood’s words, he held the look of a wolf getting ready to swallow a girl whole.

“Why don’t you come out and play, little girl,” Greyback smiled hungrily. “Wouldn’t you love to feel the sun on your pretty skin?”

“If I am to have an option, I’d rather stay here,” Luna said in a sigh.

“Pity I’m not giving you one, girly,” Greyback growled waving his wand over the cell unlocking the metal and reaching his hand in to grab Luna from the floor.

Luna was still weak from two nights before when Draco had sent the birds to attack her upon her request. However, her lack of severe cuts had not escaped her notice. She knew Draco had healed her deepest wounds putting himself in considerable danger due to the role he was meant to play. Luna couldn’t help but worry as to the reason she had not seen him in the past two nights. Their meals were shoved under the cell in the corner nearest the stairs; she had never seen as much as a hand push the metal tray under. As Greyback hauled her gangly form from the cell, Luna feared the worst: Draco had been discovered. Her eyes filled with tears for the fate he could possibly be facing if he hadn’t already.

Fenrir Greyback stopped just as they stood before the staircase. He leaned down, placing his nose beside Luna’s ear inhaling deeply as a rumbling growl escaped his lips. She smelled delicious, like apples and honeysuckles beneath a layer of dirt and blood. Saliva pooled in his mouth as the thought of sinking his teeth into her supple flesh; his only wish is that she was a bit fuller figured. However, he would take what was available. Unfortunately for Luna, Greyback very much enjoyed playing with his food.

As she was dragged up the stairs and into the great room where she and Draco often came, Luna blinked the tears back from her misty blue eyes and held her chin high. If she was going to die here, she would not give the Death Eaters the satisfaction of seeing her cry, seeing her emotionally and mentally weak. Greyback released her arm and took a step back. Luna looked around the room slightly noticing how different it looked in the sunlight. It didn’t hold a special, chilling glow as it did at night; in fact, the room seemed rather dull. However, the sun felt glorious. Though winter was nearing, the sun felt warm and luxurious on Luna’s chilled skin; she fought the urge to close her eyes fearing that if she gave in to the sensation, Greyback would strike. Luna returned her eyes to Greyback to witness him raking his eyes over her figure with an uninhibited hunger in his eyes. Luna’s stomach rolled in revulsion.

“I can’t wait to take a bite out of you, girly,” Fenrir snarled as he licked his cracked lips.

“Then go ahead,” Luna shrugged wanting to hurry her fate along.

“Oh no,” he grinned madly. “I want to savor this experience,” Greyback said lowly, his eyes darkening at the thought.

He walked closer to Luna sending a shiver of disgust down her spine. He lifted a lock of her matted hair to his nose inhaling deeply as he twirled the strand around a sharp finger. Luna could feel her hands trembling; she gripped the bottom of her dress to hide the evidence of fear. Greyback trailed a hand down her arm as he walked behind her; his hand followed as he moved, skimming over her lower back, her hip as he circled her. Luna pushed down the feeling of nausea willing herself to stay alert and focused. She knew Greyback was sloppy; he relied heavily on his animalistic instincts instead of human intuition. She could easily beat him in a battle of wits, but the possibility of overpowering him physically was nonexistent. Without a wand, there was no way for Luna to effectively defend herself; she knew there was very little hope in such a situation. However, it wasn’t in her nature to be hopeless.

“I could Imperio you into doing whatever I please. I’ve heard you scream so many times, little one,” Greyback said as he stood before her once more with ravenous eyes. “I always wondered what it would feel like to have that noise made for me from your sweet mouth. Crucio!” he yelled with a smile as he aimed his dark wand at Luna.

The force of the curse knocked her back a few feet; she landed with a thud on the hard floor as she slashed wildly around, her screams echoing in the cavernous room. A portrait on the far wall shook her head before walking from her painting leaving the intricate, gilded frame empty. Luna felt as if her veins were being filled with boiling potion, thick, pulsing, and bubbling wildly as if it meant to burst her apart. Greyback’s curse rivaled that of Bellatrix’s; like Bellatrix, Greyback wanted to hurt Luna, he wanted to hear her screams and see her agony. However, unlike Bellatrix, Greyback wasn’t the most skilled wizard, so the effect of the curse lasted only a few seconds before it faded leaving her breathless and twitching.

The few seconds were all that was needed to alert the inhabitants of Malfoy Manor as to what was occurring. Narcissa stood from her sitting room where she was daintily sipping a cup of tea as she read the Daily Prophet. Abruptly, she dropped the publication, abandoning her tea, and ran to her only son’s quarters. However, before she reached his bedchambers, she heard quick footsteps heading her way. Draco emerged looking frazzled and panicked; upon seeing his mother, he stopped in his tracks a lost expression on his face.

“I can’t let him tear her apart,” he said as an explanation. “I don’t know why, but I just can’t,” he added brokenly as he pulled on his hair with this left hand.

“Go now, Draco,” Narcissa urged him. “Be quick before he bites her.”

With that horrific image in mind, Draco bound down the staircase two steps at a time. He pulled his wand from his robes readying it for conflict should it arise. Stepping into the room, Draco’s breath caught in this throat. Luna was lying on the ground, her pale hair all around her face as Greyback loomed over her with a frightening expression etched on his scarred face.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Draco said suddenly as Greyback leaned down closer, his sharpened teeth bared towards Luna’s pale neck. “Release her at once.”

“Or what?” Greyback said looking up with a lazy smile. “Is she your little pet, Draco? Do you care for the little peach?”

“Don’t patronize me, wolf,” Draco seethed feeling the blood rush up his neck, his temples throbbing with fury. “Your absurdities hold no merit. However, she is mine, and I do not share with others.”

“Is that so?” Greyback said standing up and pulling Luna with him. Her eyes, though slightly dazed from pain, found Draco’s immediately as Greyback stood behind her holding the back of her head close to his, his fingers digging into her scalp painfully. “Such a pity, no? Such a lovely thing she is,” he said leaning down to sniff her neck soundly. “So sweet and fragrant.”

Greyback peered at Draco for a few seconds gauging his reaction before placing his tongue on Luna’s skin trailing it from where her neck met her shoulder to just below her ear, a horrendous grumbling exiting his mouth as he did so. Luna stiffened visibly as Draco’s vision blurred red; he aimed his wand at the werewolf, his mouth set in a grim line. Greyback only smiled in a menacing way, his lips curled over his gums in a snarl as he tightened his grip on Luna’s hair. Draco willed his face to stay impassive despite the fury welling inside of him disgusted that such a villainous, revolting creature dared to defile someone so pure.

“Very well then,” Greyback shrugged. “However, if you want her back, you’ll have to hand me your wand. I don’t trust you to play fair,” he smirked.

“Not a chance,” Draco scoffed tightening his grip on his hawthorn wand. “How will I curse you without it? After all, you touched what is mine. I warned you to stay away from her,” he glared.

“How could I obey such a demand? Haven’t you ever wondered what she’d taste like?” Greyback questioned his mouth nearing her skin once more. As his teeth grazed Luna’s skin, Draco saw her lip tremble.

“Fine, half-breed,” Draco surrendered throwing the wand directly at the wolf’s face; Greyback caught it easily before pushing Luna towards Draco harshly. Once he had Luna’s arm in his hand, his grip surprisingly gentle, Draco looked to the animalistic man before him. “Alright, give it back now.”

“I’m rather interested in seeing how you use the girl,” Greyback said twirling Draco’s wand around his sharp, hairy fingers. “Do show me how you make her scream so loudly. I can think of a few ways myself,” he said with a wink.

“If it’s a show you want, I’ll need my wand,” Draco said lowly sending a murderous glare to Greyback.

“You wizards depend on magic too much,” Fenrir Greyback tsked shaking his head in a show of mock disappointment. “Aren’t you curious as to what it would feel like to have her bones crushed beneath your hands? Her blood running down your skin? I have, Draco. I’ve wondered what her blood would taste like, what her skin would feel like ripping beneath my hands.”

“I’m not an animal,” Draco spat. “Give me my wand. Now.”

“Not until you do as I say, little Malfoy,” Greyback taunted waving the hawthorn wand in the air tauntingly. “Treat her like the muggles she loves so much would. Strike her.”

“I don’t take orders from filthy half-breeds, Greyback,” Draco seethed. “Return my wand now or my aunt will hear of this.”

“Always hiding behind Mummy’s and Auntie Bella’s skirt tails,” Greyback mocked. “You’re pathetic, little Malfoy. A pathetic excuse for a Death Eater, you are. You don’t have the stomach for it. You cowardly, son of a—“

“I wouldn’t advise you to finish that sentence, Greyback,” Lucius’ cool voice sounded from behind. Draco turned his head to see his father standing stoically beneath the arched entry. “However, I wouldn’t mind an excuse to hex you into obedience, to treat you like the mangy dog you are.”

“I see you have Father on your side now,” Greyback laughed heartily throwing his head back and howling with amusement. “He must be so proud of his weak little boy. Couldn’t even curse an old man; someone had to rescue you then.”

“Shut up,” Draco fumed. “Give me my wand, wolf, and I’ll show you just how well I can curse someone.”
“Just strike her, Draco,” Greyback taunted. “Just once and I’ll give this back to you. It shouldn’t be an issue; after all, she means nothing to you, right?”

“Of course she doesn’t,” Draco huffed feeling his father’s gaze burning into his neck. “I simply refuse to take orders from you.”

“Do it, Draco,” Lucius said with indifference. “Strike the blood traitor and get your wand back. Do it.”

An icy dread settled in Draco’s stomach; his father’s tone was absolute, no wavering or room for negotiation. Releasing Luna’s arm, Draco took a step back and looked at her face. Determination and understanding reflected from her misty eyes; his shoulders squared firmly. Swallowing a lump in his throat, Draco slapped her soundly, his fingers burning where his hand met her cheek; a red, whelped handprint was already forming on her face as tears of pain formed in her eyes. Draco wanted to apologize, to take away his mark on her skin, but he couldn’t.

“That’s all you’ve got, little Malfoy?” Greyback laughed mockingly. “Such a weakling. How did you even survive infancy?”

“Again, Draco,” Lucius commanded. “Try closing your fist this time.”

“I don’t see why I have to act as a filthy muggle,” Draco said willing his voice to not crack with the turmoil he felt within.

“You may be in a situation where your wand has been compromised. You must learn how to defend your self physically as well as magically,” Lucius said with disinterest.

“I’m not foolish enough to lose my wand,” Draco huffed.

“Then how are you standing before me wandless?” Lucius asked pointedly looking at the extra wand in Greyback’s possession. “Get on with it, Draco. I haven’t got all day.”

“Yes, Draco, do hurry,” Greyback chuckled. “Be sure to leave a mark. I’m sure one of those big eyes would serve as a great target.”

Draco turned to Luna, her chin held high but her jaw trembling slightly. This was different than cursing her with magic; hurting her this way, physically, with his own hands was more intimate, more personal. He looked down at her hands clutching the bottom of her ruined dress tightly to hide her shaking hands. He wondered how someone could be so strong yet so fragile simultaneously. His eyes returned to her face, the red handprint visible on her ashen cheek. She looked all wrong; the sunlight was too harsh it shadowed her in might, incased her in blinding light. It didn’t allow her to glow as the moon did; it overpowered her.

“Draco,” his father said in a warning.

With his father looking at him so pointedly and Greyback’s taunts echoing in his head, Draco knew there was no choice. He looked into Luna’s misty blue eyes begging her to understand, to forgive him for what he was about to do. He willed her to know this wasn’t his choice, but he had to do it. He had to protect himself, to protect her. He pulled his arm back squeezing his fist into a tight ball and threw his arm forward. His top knuckles connected with her brow bone, a sickening crack echoed throughout the room as a cry escaped Luna’s mouth. He felt her cheekbone shift under the force of his blow as if it shattered. Luna fell to the ground; the left side of her face already scarlet from his first strike landed was streaming with blood from where the Malfoy crest resting on his ring finger split her skin. Her bottom lip was bleeding from where she bit them anticipating the attack. He had never seen her look so pained, so hurt.

“I didn’t think you had it in you, little Malfoy,” Greyback cackled.

“Again, Draco,” Lucius commanded silencing Greyback’s laughter. Draco looked to his father in horror. “Now, Draco. Again.”

The young Slytherin looked to the crumpled girl on the floor, a mixture of blood and tears streaming down her face. Her breathing was labored, her chest heaving with the effort it took to keep her cries silent. Draco loomed over her looking deadly yet so frightened. Luna wanted to reach up to him, to comfort him and assure him that she understood but she couldn’t. Her eyes shifted over to Lucius Malfoy as he stared at his son with a grim expression. Shifting her eyes back up to Draco, she willed him to listen, to do as he asked. Both of their lives depended on it.

“Do it, or I will,” Lucius said coolly, his tone clipped with aggravation.

Luna heard a soft cry fall from Draco’s mouth though she knew no one else heard the sound; it broke her heart in two knowing what the young man above her was being forced to do. She wondered how Draco had maintained what humanity and morality he possessed while being raised in such an environment. Her admiration for the young man above her grew just a bit more as his mouth discretely formed the words I’m sorry before he struck her again. This time he hit her jaw, a pop eliciting as his fist connected. Luna’s eyes fogged over as her cries of pain reverberated around the room. She felt another punch against her nose, her stomach; she was sobbing the pain just as bad as the Cruciatus curse.

This pain wasn’t an illusion of magic; it was real. It pulsed throughout her entire body even after the attack was over. She could feel the bruises blooming on her skin, the blood rushing to her head. Her ears pounded so forcefully she wondered if her eardrums would burst. As another blow hit her mouth, Luna felt her teeth rattle, her lips split even more than they had before. Then there was silence except for her muffled sobs. Her body ached more than it ever had; her heart broke for Draco knowing that whatever physical pain she felt was nothing compared to the mental and emotional pain he was going through.

After the room remained quiet for an unbearable amount of time, Luna opened her eyes as much as they allowed; the swelling inhibited her from opening fully. For a moment, she thought she had been left behind; the room was silent save for the quiet cries of pain. However, Luna realized the cries were not coming from her, but from the figure next to her. Draco sat next to her, his face buried in his hands as his shoulders shook with emotion. Though every move brought a new wave of pain over her, Luna reached over placing her hand on Draco’s arm. She felt his muscles tense under her gentle grasp, but he didn’t pull away.

“Draco,” Luna said in a trembling voice. “Please don’t cry.”

Removing his face from his hands, a small gasp escaped from Luna’s bloody mouth. Draco’s eyes were swollen; the intensity of his tears caused his face to turn red and splotchy. His face was streaked with tears. Luna had never seen such emotion coming from him; his normally stoic façade has finally cracked before her eyes revealing the scared and tormented young man before her. Luna’s fingers closed around Draco’s wrist as her other arm struggled to push herself up. Once she was sitting upright, though painfully so, Luna moved so that she was sitting closer to Draco, their legs brushing slightly.

“I don’t have the right to cry,” Draco said smearing the back of his hand effectively spreading the tears into his white hair. “Look at what I’ve done to you.”

“I’m sure I look no worse than you do, Draco,” Luna shrugged smoothing her thumb in calming circle on his skin. “You know I don’t blame you, right?”

“You should,” he barked. “You should hate me, despise my very existence. How can you be so bloody forgiving? How can you treat me as a person when I’ve never done anything but harm you!? I don’t understand you, Luna, I just don’t,” Draco sighed before lowering his head into his hands once more. “How can you not hate me?” he cried.

“I think you hate yourself enough for the both of us, Draco,” Luna said softly releasing her wrist to wrap her arm around his torso pulling herself closer to him. “You’ve been nothing but good to me. It’s the others using you as a tool to cause me harm; it isn’t you. I know the difference, Draco. I know you don’t want to do this.”

“And yet I do,” he said with a cracked voice. “I don’t know why, Luna, but I don’t want to hurt you. It just feels—I don’t—I can’t explain it.”

“It’s because you aren’t a bad person, Draco,” Luna assured him wrapping her other arm around him as his shaking grew stronger. “You know that, right? You’re not a bad person; you’re not like them. Your father, Greyback, Bellatrix, you’re not like them. You’re not evil.”

“It’s because of me that Dumbledore is dead,” Draco said in a mangled cry as he lifted his head to look into Luna’s bruised, swollen eyes. “I brought Death Eaters into Hogwarts. He offered me help, to bring my family into safety, and I didn’t take it. He would have protected us, and I let him die.”

“But you didn’t kill him, Draco,” Luna said. “You lowered your wand. Harry told us. Snape killed Dumbledore, not you.”

“It’s still my fault, Luna. This is all my fault,” he said shaking his head as lifted his face to peer as Luna.

His breath caught in his throat at her close proximity. She was sitting there, her arms wrapped around him in a comforting embrace. Her chin resting on his shoulder as she peered up at him with swollen, blackened eyes, her lips split and bloody, face smeared with blood and tears. There was a cut on her brow, a sunken look to her left cheekbone as if it had shattered. Yet, she looked so peaceful and forgiving as if she had barely felt a thing. His bottom lip trembled as he looked at her, looked at what he had done to her. He was a violent force, destroying everything he touched. Draco raised a shaking hand, his fingertips barely touching her broken cheekbone; Luna fought the urge to flinch, for she knew the sudden movement would frighten and break Draco even more. Instead she smiled encouragingly despite the stab on pain the movement caused.

“I am so sorry, Luna,” he croaked out dropping his head in shame.

Luna’s grip on his tightened as she brought him closer to her, pulling his head to rest on her right shoulder as she traced patterns on his trembling back. She could feel every vertebrate down his spine, for he was so thin. Her other hand came up to rest as the nape of his neck, his white hair tickling her fingers. Though she was tall, her willowy frame seemed so small as Draco leaned on her, his arms wrapping around her back hesitantly as if being comforted was a foreign concept. Luna supposed that for Draco, it was.

It’s going to be alright, Draco,” Luna said in a hushed whisper as she lightly ran her fingers through the fine hair on his neck. “I promise you.”

Luna pressed her cheek against his, feeling his cool skin against hers as the early winter sun beamed down on them bathing their intertwined forms in warm light. Closing her eyes, Luna took a deep breath in willing Draco to do the same in order to calm his heavy breathing. He continued to mumble apologizes under his breath in muffled sobs as Luna continued to trace patterns on his back and running her fingers soothingly against the back of his neck and into his hair every few minutes. Eventually, his breathing regulated, his posture relaxed; Luna wondered if he had fallen asleep. However, Draco was very much awake; he simply did not want to move. Though it frightened him completely, it felt nice to drop his walls in front of someone, to be held by another person with complete acceptance and understanding, to be comforted by someone who cared for him regardless of his past sins. Though he was more comfortable now than he had ever been in another’s embrace, Draco knew the current position they were in could lead to dangerous outcomes. Should anyone other than his mother walk in, there would be dire consequences to pay.

Begrudgingly, Draco lifted his head giving Luna a weak grin; she saw right though it. Her arm released his back, but the other remained on his neck and she leaned forward resting her forehead on his. Her misty blue eyes hidden behind the dark bruises, her blonde eyebrows matted with blood, yet Draco couldn’t find it within himself to be disgusted with her. Her nose was crooked, possibly broken from his blow; he ached to heal it. He wanted to heal every injury he caused her, but he knew he couldn’t. Instead he brought his hand up to rest on the back of her head, his fingers sinking into her dirty hair as he let out a deep breath.

“I’m so sorry, Luna,” he said once more before releasing her head.

“It’s time for me to go back,” she said rather than asked still not removing her forehead from his.

“Yes,” Draco said with a slight nod which Luna repeated removing all contact as she backed away from him and pushed her self onto her feet.

Once she was standing and steady, Luna nodded extending her arm for Draco to grasp as if he were dragging her. Draco picked up his wand Greyback had thrown onto the floor and shoved it into his robe pocket before lightly grasping her forearm. He walked to the basement, down the dark staircase, and after waving his wand over the metal bars, pushed the door open for Luna to enter. Once she was inside, she turned to look at him, her eyes nearly shut due the swelling, yet he could still see the care and concern she had for him shining though. He closed the metal door sealing it with magic once more before resting his forehead on the cool metal.

“Something is about to change, Draco,” Luna said suddenly causing his eyes to look to her quickly. “I have a good feeling.”

“Let’s hope you’re right,” he sighed letting go of the cell bars before turning to walk away.

“I usually am, Draco,” Luna said. “I was right about you.”

Draco didn’t respond, but instead, he continued to walk away hoping that whatever feeling the dreamy, confusing girl was having would soon come to be true. Change was something he desperately needed at the moment. That night, just before the sun had set, a group of snatchers walked into Malfoy Manor with four teenagers, one with a severely deformed face, and a goblin in tow. As usual, Luna Lovegood’s feelings were correct and change was quickly approaching, and as Draco sat watch in the dungeon, he has no clue as to what choices he would soon have to make, choices that would forever change his life.

Chapter Text

There was an aching silence in the basement dungeons. Luna was staring at the metal bars before her, locking her within the small cell, and the lantern hanging haphazardly beside the magically sealed entrance. She wondered what it would be like to be a firefly, to fly around the sky with no worries about darkness. She wondered what it would be like to be free, to bask in the glow of the moon, to see the stars twinkling once more. A sigh of despair escaped her lips before she could hold it back; she heard rustling beside the stairs signaling that Draco heard her. She heard him stand up and walk towards her cell, his feet splashing in the puddles. He stopped in front of the cell, his face illuminated by his wand.

“I’m sorry, Draco,” Luna said airily, her jaw protesting talking with aching pain. “I was just lost in thought; I’m alright.”

Draco said nothing, but instead continued to look at her, his arms came up on their own accord as if trying to get to the girl inside the cell, but Draco, instead, grabbed the metal bars hoping Luna didn’t notice the awkward movement. Though her face was bruised from his forced abuse, Luna serene nature made it seem as if nothing was out of place. He wondered how she managed such peacefulness, such tranquility. As he looked at her, Luna’s eyes seemed to glaze over as she peered back at him, her eyes nearly swollen shut, shadowed in bruises. Without warning, a large commotion sounded above them; Luna’s eyes snapped open, alert and alarmed, no trace of dreaminess in sight. She looked to Draco who seemed frozen in his spot, hands immobile around the metal bars from where he tried to play off reaching out for her.

“Draco, something is wrong,” Luna said, her voice small and slow.

“I know,” Draco said looking towards the cellar door.

Loud footsteps thundered overhead, careless and heavy as they clambered towards their goal. The cellar door wrenched open; Draco jumped away from the cell in shock as if the metal bars had caught flames. He shot a look to Luna, warning her to remain quiet, to act like the prisoner she was. Heavy breathing echoed throughout the cavernous space; the door never closed behind whom ever was walking down the stairs as they creaked horribly.

“Draco!” the voice called, his father’s voice. “Draco, you must come at once! He’s here! Harry Potter is here!” Lucius Malfoy shouted from his position halfway down the stairs.

“Yes, Father,” Draco said his eyes locked with Luna’s. “I’m coming now.”

Lucius did not acknowledge his son’s response before walking back up the stairs and slamming the door shut behind him in his overly gleeful disposition. The sound reverberated throughout the dungeon, the loud commotion bouncing off the stonewalls, the metal bars shaking. Draco felt as if everything in the last few seconds had taken place over a year. Though he was extremely bright, his mind was having a difficult time comprehending the possibility of Harry Potter being in his home, being captured, not being the savior everyone believed him to be. He was so lost in his own mind, he almost didn’t notice Luna was standing against the metal bars; her long fingers wrapped around one as the other hand reached for him. Without hesitation, much to his shock, his feet walked to her; Luna’s hand reached for his cheek, her skin cool on his.

“Be brave, Draco,” Luna told him with the upmost faith in her eyes. “Be brave and do the right thing.”

“I’m no lion, Luna,” Draco whispered feeling dread pool in his stomach as he fought the urge to lean into her touch; he remained stoically still, eyes cast down at the wand clutched in his hand.

“No, you’re not,” Luna said simply, embarrassingly honest as usual. “But you are a dragon, and they can be exceptionally brave when protecting what they treasure most.”

Draco’s grey eyes found her misty blue orbs; a few droplets fell from them, but a small smile remained on her full lips. He reached up, his hand settling over hers on his cheek, fingers intertwining slightly with hers. He wanted to tell her to not put so much faith in him, to not believe in him like she did, but the words wouldn’t fall from his lips. He hadn’t realize how much he depended on her trust, on her confidence in him to do what they both knew was right, to do good. Despite all of his attempts to stay away and all of the walls he incased himself in, Draco had allowed himself to become close to someone, allowed someone to know a sliver of who he wanted to become. The realization made him both horrified and elated; someone saw him and liked what they saw, trusted him despite is past sins.

Draco stepped back from the cell; Luna’s hand dropping to her side though his remained on his cheek for a second longer. Draco gave her a curt nod wishing he could rid his mind of those piercing eyes, so that he could focus on whatever mayhem awaited him upstairs. Ascending the staircase, Draco felt as if his shoes filled with lead; every step felt as if he were dragging the world behind him. In some ways, he was. Once upstairs, the cellar door closed behind him sealing Luna away from immediate harm, Draco followed the echoing commotion into the drawing room. The sight before him was one he quickly learned he never wanted to see.

His mother and father stood beside the fireplace, a perfect image of unity. Once Lucius saw him, he beckoned wildly for Draco to come forward; he forced himself to comply. Draco’s eyes scanned the room trying to assess the entire situation. His father had been standing to the side, his disposition emitting waves of eagerness, excitement, and just a touch of apprehension. His mother, however, standing beside her husband, gave no inclination to her thoughts or feelings. Draco followed his father as he pulled him forward at a faster pace delivering him right before a line of captured teenagers all kneeling and bound with ropes.

Though he didn’t show it, Draco recognized each of them immediately. Hermione Granger, her hair a right mess as usual, glared at him with such intensity he wondered, despite it being impossible, if she could do wandless magic; he thought he could feel a burning sensation on his cheeks. Ron Weasley, in his redheaded glory was next to her, his face an image of defeat. On the end, Dean Thomas rested on his knees, head bowed, his height much greater than the goblin beside him. However, the boy in the middle, the person with a horribly bloated face, was undoubtedly Harry Potter. As Draco stood there, his grey eyes calculative and menacing, he could feel Harry trying to restrain himself from making a comment that would give him away.

“They say they’ve got Potter, Draco,” Narcissa said from her position by the fireplace. Her mask of indifference never faltered.

“Draco, is it him?” Lucius asked walking around Draco practically giddy; Narcissa stayed still and silent. “Draco, is it?”

Be brave and do the right thing echoed throughout his mind, a dreamy voice filling his ears.

“I-I can’t tell,” Draco lied. “Give me space, would you?” he barked to his father. “I just need space.”

“Draco,” Lucius said calmly coming to his only child’s side. “Draco, if we are the ones who hand Potter over to the Dark Lord, everything will be forgiven, we’ll be—“

“Now we won’t be forgetting who actually caught him, I hope, Malfoy?” Greyback growled; Draco hadn’t noticed his presence until that moment.

“Of course not, Greyback,” Lucius responded through gritted teeth. “What is wrong with his face anyways? What did you do?”
“Didn’t do a thing,” Greyback said defensively, his lips curling over his teeth in a snarl. “We didn’t touch him.”

“Looks like a stinging jinx, Lucius,” Narcissa said as she peered at the boy. “It should wear off in a few hours; perhaps we should put them in the basement.”

“No, Narcissa,” Lucius said pushing Draco forward once more. “If this is truly Potter, the Dark Lord must know immediately. Draco, go on, take a closer look.”

Draco stepped closer peering at Potter’s face with dedicated scrutiny. He needed to pull this off in order for it to all work in his favor. Looking at Harry, he wished he could place a warning into his mind, but it would have been too obvious. Draco leaned forward, his face inches from Harry’s, his lips pursed in concentration. The scar, though stretched thin, was apparent on the boy’s forehead, his eyes a shocking green. Draco could feel his father breathing down his neck; he snapped his head back to give him a glare.

Do the right thing.

“Father, do back away so I can concentrate,” he said with a steely glare.

“Lucius,” Narcissa said stepping away from the fireplace and towards her husband, “Give him room.” Lucius huffed at being told what to do, but with such high stakes, he did not protest.

Draco, crouched down to be level with Potter, stared intently at the Boy Who Lived, the boy who could save the girl downstairs. He willed his eyes to be sincere and trustworthy; the change in his demeanor flickered a spark of curiosity from Harry. Draco hoped this would work; it had to work, for all of their lives depended on this single moment.

Be brave and do the right thing.

“Moon girl,” Draco mumbled careful not to say her actual name lest he be heard. “Basement. Save her.”

Harry’s swollen eyes narrowed further as he tried to make sense of Malfoy’s babbling. The boy in front of him, pointed features cloaked in shadows of sleeplessness and stress was somehow different from the boy he knew at school. This Malfoy was desperate; he was scared. Harry could feel his fear rolling off in waves. Yet, Malfoy had asked him to “save her.” He didn’t know who “her” was; how could he save her? And how did he know this wasn‘t a rouse to prove his identity? Harry didn’t say a word but continued to study Malfoy’s face though squinted eyes. Draco pulled away, keeping his eyes contacted with Potter’s, his mouth in a grim line.

“I don’t think it’s him,” Draco said looking to his father whose face turned red with anger.

“You don’t think?” Lucius said eerily calm as he stepped closer to Draco. “Is it him or not, Draco. Yes or no.”

“I don’t know, Father,” Draco seethed, the tips of his ears burning red. “If you can’t tell, whoever it is has a highly deformed face.”

Lucius Malfoy was livid; his family had been disgraced by the Dark Lord, and there shot at redemption was standing right before them if the boy truly was Potter. Lucius glared at his son who was walking away to stand beside his mother. Nearly a head taller than her stature, taller than most women, Draco was appeared poised and indifferent though he could feel his hands shaking. He gripped them behind his back willing Hermione to cease staring at him with such a burning intensity.

“We had better be certain, Lucius,” Narcissa said wanting nothing more than to reach out to her son and comfort him; however, she remained still, her voice cold and unfeeling. “If this isn’t Potter, the Dark Lord would not appreciate his precious time being wasted. Remember what happened to Rowle and Dolohov?”

“Well, what about the Mudblood then?” Greyback growled, the predatory gleam in his eye shining brightly; Draco remembered when the disgusting wolf had looked at Luna with that exact look in his eyes.

“Wait,” said Narcissa sharply. “She does resemble the girl who was in Diagon Alley. I remember her picture from the Prophet, I believe. Draco, is that the Granger girl?”

“It’s possible—maybe, yeah,” Draco said squinting at Hermione who stared back at him dumbfounded; he wondered if she had given up trying to make sense of him or if she had already figured everything out.

“And certainly this the Weasley boy!” Lucius shouted. “If these are Potter’s friends, Draco, then surely this is Potter!”

“Yeah,” Draco nodded noncommittally. “It could be.”

As Lucius turned to his son, his mouth ready to reiterated the severity of the situation, the complexity of everything around them, the drawing room door slid open, slamming uncaringly into the walls. Bellatrix Lestrange stood there in her maddening glory, her dark eyes curious to the scene before her.

“What is this? What’s happened, Cissy?” she asked, a gleam of joy in her eyes. She walked around the prisoners, listening as her younger sister relayed the circumstances resulting in the four teenagers and a goblin captured and delivered into her home. “Well, surely this must be the Mudblood girl? Is this not Granger?” Bellatrix asked standing before Hermione with a gleeful snarl.

“Yes! Yes, it must be Granger!” Lucius cried. “And beside her, we think, it must be Potter! Potter and his band of merry heroes, caught at last!”

“Potter?” Bellatrix gasped in a breathless whisper, her lips pulling into an unbelieving smile, a glimpse of herself as Bella Black when she had been free from the grips of dark magic and insanity. “Are you sure? The Dark Lord must be called at once!”

Bellatrix uncaringly hoisted up her black sleeve, the dark lace ripping slightly. The Dark Mark stood prominent on her white skin, slightly raised and menacing. She pulled out her gnarled wand, pointing the dark tip towards her skin eager to summon her beloved master.

“No, Bella,” Lucius growled pushing her arm down away from the tip of her wand. “I was about to call him! I shall summon him; Potter has been brought to my house, and it is there for my right, my authority to—“

“Your right? Your authority?” Bellatrix laughed, a maddening cackle that shook the crystals of the chandelier. “You lost your authority when you lost your wand, Lucius. How dare you deny me my duty the Dark Lord’s most trusted Death Eater. It is I who—“

“This has nothing to do with you! You didn’t capture the boy!” Lucius roared his hands reaching for Bellatrix once more as she attempted to touch her skin once more with her wand.

“Begging your pardon, Malfoy,” Greyback interjected. “But it’s us that caught Potter and it’s us that’ll be claiming the gold an—“

“Gold!” Bellatrix laughed whirling around to face Greyback, her face contorted into a haughty sneer. “Take your gold, you filthy scavenger. What would I want with gold? I seek only to honor the great— Stop!” she yelled suddenly, her smug face turning horrified so suddenly Draco wondered what she had seen. “Do not touch your Mark, Lucius! We shall all perish if the Dark Lord comes now!”

Lucius, index finger hovering over his mark, froze with terror as he looked at his sister-in-law. She was never fearful, nor did she ever do anything that would cause her to fall from the Dark Lord’s ranks. Looking at her, Lucius had never seen such an expression. She wasn’t just scared; she was horrified.

Bellatrix’s eyes studied the item hidden behind the snatchers leg; though she could only see a portion, the goblin made object, glimmering under the chandelier’s light, was unmistakable. Yet it was impossible for it to be there; it was locked away, safe from discovery. The Dark Lord had trusted her to keep it safe; seeing it there, however, meant that she had failed.

“What is that?” Bellatrix said, her voice low and growling.

“A sword,” the snatcher said in a grumble as he shifted his weight from one foot to another.

“Give it to me,” Bellatrix said quickly, so desperate in tone, “Give it to me now.”

“It’s not yours, missus, it’s mine, I reckon I found it.”

Before anyone could react, there was a large bang and a blinding flash of light as Bellatrix casted a silent stunning spell, her mouth contorted in snarl. There was a roar of fury from the other snatchers. One dared to draw his wand though he would never stand a chance. Everyone in the room, captured students included, stared at Bellatrix Lestrange in fear and confusion. She still wore a look of complete shock and fear.

“What do you think you’re doing, woman? Have you gone mad?”

“Stupefy!” Bellatrix screamed as she pointed her wand at the snatchers. “Stupefy! Stupefy!”

They were of no contest for her; she easily stunned all for of them without a problem. Whirling around, she forced Greyback into a kneeling position, his arms stretched above his head as her wand pressed into his chest with surprising force. In her hand, Bellatrix clutched the sword of Gryffindor to her side, her face waxen and worried. She stared at Greyback with such disgust, it was a wonder he was the one she kept conscious.

“Where did you get this sword?” she said eerily calm through her teeth as she snatched away his wand. “Tell me!”

“You bitch!” Greyback seethed wishing the full moon was near so he could rip her to shreds; she was a talented witch, but he doubted her speed when faced with a werewolf. “How dare you! Release me at once!” he demanded, pointed teeth bared.

“Where did you find this sword?” she repeated with more urgency, brandishing it in his face. “Snape sent it to my vault at Gringotts!”

“It was in their tent,” Greyback growled, staring dangerously at Bellatrix.

Bellatrix removed her wand from his chest; he sprang to his feet but didn’t approach her, for she still had his wand. He walked away from her nearing the armchair close to Narcissa and Draco. His glare never wavered. Bellatrix paced the drawing room; no one dared to utter a sound. It was deathly silent other than the crackling fire and her manic footsteps. It was impossible; it couldn’t be real. There was no way the sword could have gotten out of her vault!

“Draco!” Bellatrix barked causing everyone in the room to jump. “Take this filth outside; dispose of them as you wish. If you haven’t got the stomach for it, I’ll do it myself later,” she commanded motioning toward the Stunned snatchers as she glared at her nephew willing him to argue with her; he wouldn’t.

“Don’t you dare speak to Draco as if he hasn’t proven himself to you, Bellatrix. Don’t you da—“

“Shut up!” Bellatrix screamed effectively cutting off her sister’s rant. She didn’t have the time to listen to it; she had to figure out how to save herself from disappointing the Dark Lord. “This situation is graver than you can possibly imagine, Cissy! This is a very serious problem!”

Narcissa looked taken aback by her older sister’s outburst, but it lasted only a second. Before anyone could look deeper into her reaction, Narcissa had composed her face back into a look of indifference. However, as Draco moved to follow his aunt’s orders, his mother placed the back of her hand on his chest keeping him standing where he was as Bellatrix began muttering to herself.

“If it is indeed Potter, he must not be harmed. I must not hurt him,” she mumbled to herself. “The Dark Lord wishes to do so himself, even though I want to. I want to hear him—but I mustn’t. For the Dark Lord… But if he finds out, I must… I must know if—“

Bellatrix turned back to her sister and nephew.

“The prisoner’s must be placed in the cellar, while I think of what to do! I can’t think with them all breathing around me, taking all of the air. Take them down, Draco,” she said as a string of fire erupted from her wand; a hole burned into the carpet.

As his mother’s hand dropped from his chest, Draco stepped forward pulling the newly captured prisoners to their feet by the end of the rope. He started to pull them out of the room, but Bellatrix called for him to stop. Turning around, he saw Bellatrix throw Greyback his wand before digging into the folds of her skirt to retrieve a silver dagger.

“All except for the Mudblood,” she grinned madly before cutting Hermione free from the rest of the prisoners. “Take them.”

Ron protested loudly, vocally; his yells of panic and despair pulsing in his ears. Draco wondered if he would act the same way if Luna were in Hermione’s situation. However, he didn’t wonder too long, because he already knew the answer, for it had already happened. He wouldn’t say anything; in fact, he would be the one to hurt her. Shaking his head in attempt to rid himself from such thoughts, Draco pulled on the rope harder walking down the stairs. He could sense Luna’s eyes on him the second his foot touched the stone floor. Hermione’s yells echoed throughout the stone room though the door had been shut; Draco almost cast a silencing charm but thought better of it.

“Draco,” Luna said pressing her face against the bars in attempt to see him. She could sense he was not alone; she could feel more people in the large space. Once he heard her voice, Harry understood what Draco was trying to tell him. Moon girl he said in code: Luna. “Draco, what’s happening.”

Leaving them tied together, Draco abandoned his new charges for the girl in the cell. Waving his wand over the metal bars, Draco opened the door allowing her to step out. She looked at him quizzically wondering what change at occurred. He pointed his wand toward the new prisoners watching as Luna’s face lit up as if he had given her the world; he supposed in someway he had. Luna had a deep, uninhibited love for her friends. The love she held for them was so deep he wondered how she could feel anything else. Luna ran from his side straight into the arms of Harry Potter, or rather, slammed into his body, for he was still tied up; though he tried to ignore it, Draco felt his stomach clench painfully.

“Harry, what’s happened to your face?” she asked immediately. “Oh, I’m so sorry you’re here; I didn’t wish you to be captured.”

“Hermione! Hermione, no!” Ron yelled in despair, his blue eyes sharp with urgency. “We have to help her, Harry!”

“I’m trying to think of a plan so that we can, Ron, Stop yelling for once second so I can,” Harry gritted out; Ron didn’t stop. “Luna, can you untie these ropes?”

“Yes, of course,’ Luna said before scurrying back to her cell where Draco still stood. Giving him a bright smile, Luna went into the metal box and removed a stone from the wall revealing a rusted nail. Draco was mildly impressed. As she walked back, Luna grabbed Draco’s hand pulling him with her. “Here, hold still. Ron, please do stop moving I can barely see!”

“The Deluminator is in my pocket; it’s full of light!” Ron said in a panicked voice. After a few moments and a soft click, soft orbs of light floated above their head. Luna struggled to say focused as she tried to cut the tight ropes with the small nail as Hermione’s screams became louder, more pained. Luna understood; she had been there before.

“Draco, could you please help me,” Luna said looking to him, her blue eyes pleading under the shadow of bruises and swollen skin. “I’m not fast enough; the nail is too dull.”

He nodded his head, his white hair flashing with movement under the glowing lights. He went to Ron who snatched his arms away as he continued to yell. Draco gave him a menacing look before trying to untie the ropes once more only to have Ron kick him squarely in the shin.

“You bloody prat!” Draco fumed. “I’m trying to help you, idiot!”

“I don’t want your help, Malfoy! Do you not hear what they’re doing to Hermione?” Ron seethed his freckles disappearing into the heat of his cheeks.

“Do you think me deaf? Of course I do! The faster you’re untied the faster you can save her,” Draco glared. “The faster you can save Luna,” he added quietly. Ron said nothing but extended his wrists out begrudgingly. Within two minutes, they were all untied.

Looking up from her last stand, Luna peered at Harry for the first time under the light. He was digging into his shoe; when he pulled out a piece of glass, Luna cocked her head to the side. Harry began to speak to the glass, asking for someone to send help in a desperate tone as Hermione’s screams of agony grew impossibly louder. Despite the circumstances, Luna’s curiosity got the best of her.

“That’s a curious thing to keep in your sock, Harry,” she said with her usual airy tone; Harry looked up but was unable for form words at the sight of her.

Harry gasped at her appearance. He knew she had always been a thin girl, long and willowy, waif as if she was made from air, but the girl before him was positively skeletal. Her cheekbones jutting out sharply, her jaw defined, no longer soft and delicate. Her large eyes seemed to protrude from her face as it was so sunken in. Her clothes hung loosely on her as if any movement could send them to the floor. However horrible her health was, he noticed the injuries she sustained: cuts and bruises, a broken nose, black eyes, and busted, swollen lips. Harry’s hand reached out to touch her cheek, to see if she were even real; a part of him expected for his fingers to go right though here as if she were nothing but a ghost who had decided to stay on Earth.

“What happened to you,” Harry questioned as his stomach churned with anger, with an unfiltered rage. “I’ll kill them, Luna. I swear it; who did this to you?”

“Don’t say such things, Harry,” Luna sighed dreamily. “It really wasn’t his fault. He didn’t want to do it.”

Harry needed to further explanation. Turning around sharply, his fist swung blindly for Draco’s face. Much taller than Harry, Draco was able to dodge the attack, but he stumbled backwards, crashing into the stonewall behind him hitting his head fully on a protruding rock. Luna gasped as she rushed towards him, stepping in front of Draco to prevent Harry from taking any more swings at him. Luna raised her hands before her in a motion to stop Harry. His face was burning red, his vision turned pulsing scarlet as he stared at Malfoy with such hatred, such violence in his flashing green eyes. Luna, however, remained calm.

“Harry, please. There isn’t time to explain now, but Draco has helped me; he’s protected me,” Luna pleaded.

“Sure, that’s why you look so healthy,” Harry spat venomously. “Have you seen yourself, Luna? He didn’t protect you from anything!”

“He did! Harry, I wouldn’t lie,” Luna assured him as she took a step back from Harry’s horrifying face, her back pressed firmly into Draco’s chest, his breath in her hair. Though the swelling had gone down and his face returned to normal, he was still nearly unrecognizable as the fury he felt contorted his face. “Please, Harry. He’s not bad; he’s kept me as safe as possible in such a situation.”

“He should have done better,” Harry growled, his hand subconsciously reaching for his wand though the snatchers had confiscated it.

“I don’t think you’d say that if you knew the whole story,” Luna sighed, Draco’s fingers bushed against her wrist. “But there isn’t time at the moment. We need to—“

“How did you get into my vault?” Bellatrix’s voice carried down into the basement cutting Luna’s voice silent. “Did that dirty little goblin in the cellar help you? Did he?”

“We only met him tonight!” Hermione sobbed, her voice watery and choking. “We’ve never been inside of your vault. It isn’t the real sword; it’s just a copy! I swear!”

“A copy?” screeched Bellatrix, Draco could only imagine the look of outrage on her face. “Oh, a likely story! Do you think me dumb, Mudblood?”

“It’s easy enough to find out,” Lucius’ voice carried, confident and assured. “I’ll have Draco bring up the goblin.”

“Griphook,” Harry ran over to whisper into the goblin’s sharply pointed ear. “You must tell them that the sword is a fake, they can’t know it’s real, Griphook, please, we—“

“Draco! Bring up the goblin!” Lucius’ voice said from the top of the stairs. Draco slid out from behind Luna’s protective shield, his fingers lightly touching her wrist once more.

“Come on,” Draco said pointing his wand menacingly at the goblin before pulling him up the stairs. Once they were gone, both Harry and Ron looked to Luna for clarification on what was going on; however, before they had a chance, a loud crack echoed throughout the cellar.

“Dobby!” Harry shouted in a hushed voice; he could hear Draco’s footsteps overhead. “What are you doing here? How did you know?”

“Harry Potter,” Dobby said in a squeaking voice. “Dobby has come to rescue Harry Potter and friends.”

“Yes, but how did you know?”

Before Dobby could answer, a blood-curling scream shook the house; they didn’t have time for a round of questions. It could all wait. Right now, saving Hermione was the priority. Harry thought for a moment about what to do, his brain racking over every possibility.

“Can you Disapparate out of this cellar?” Harry asked a plan formulating in his mind. Dobby nodded, his ears flapping like bat wings. “And you can take humans with you?”

Dobby nodded once more.

“Okay, Dobby, I want you to take Luna and Dean—“

“And Mr. Ollivander!” Luna chirped from beside him. “He’s in the cell right over there; he’s very weak, you see.”

“Right, okay, so I want you to take Luna, Dean, and Mr. Ollivander to, well, take them to—“

“Bill and Fleur’s,” Ron said suddenly, his voice hoarse from yelling so harshly. “Shell Cottage on the outskirts of Tinworth!”

“And then come back,” said Harry. “Can you do that?”

“Of course, Harry Potter,’ Dobby nodded enthusiastically. Dean walked forward, silent in shock at the day’s events and stood next to Dobby. The small elf looked at Luna expectantly.

“I can’t, at least not yet,” Luna said. “I have to tell him; I must tell Draco.”

“You don’t owe him anything, Luna,” Harry barked harshly hating himself when Luna jumped at his tone.

“I owe him my life, Harry,” Luna said simply. “One day, when you’re ready to listen, I’ll tell you, but right now you just have to trust me.”

Though he hated it, Harry nodded knowing that Luna’s mind would not be changed. He told Dobby to go into the cell with Dean and Disapparate from there with Mr. Ollivander; a loud crack signaled their departure. The loud crack was heard from upstairs; Bellatrix stood from her menacing crouch over Hermione and looked at Draco expectantly.

“Draco, go see what that was at once!”

Without having to be told twice, Draco went down into the cellar noting immediately that Dean Thomas was no longer there. He looked to Luna for an explanation knowing Potter would not be forthcoming with information. However, Luna looked distraught, her bottom lip quivering slightly. He slowly walked to her, standing close yet not touching. He wanted to wrap her in his arms, keep her from the evil of the world, but instead, his arms stayed glued by his sides suppressing the urge to do so. It wasn’t the right time; it would never be the right time. He knew in that moment what she was going to say; Potter, as always, had a way to rescue his friends, to keep them truly safe. It was more than Draco could say for himself.

“You once told me,” Luna began with a watery voice, her emotions getting the best of her. “You once told me that Dumbledore offered you protection,” she said grabbing Draco’s fingers with her own feeling their coolness against her skin. “Well, I would like to do the same. Draco, please come with us.”

He wanted to. With every fiber in his being, Draco wanted to leave, to escape from the cursed house, to escape his father and his aunt, Greyback and the other vile Death Eaters. He wanted a way out from it all, and there was Luna, innocent blue eyes shining through dark shadows he had caused, offering him safety, protection. He wanted to say yes, more than anything.

“I can’t,” he finally responded, her blue eyes clouded over with sadness. “I can’t leave my family here, my mother, he would kill her. I can’t let that happen, Luna.”

Luna nodded her head as words escaped her; she couldn’t find the right syllables to utter in order to properly encapsulate just how grateful she was to him. He had kept her safe, or as safe as was possible. Before she could stop herself, she flung her arms around Draco pulling him into a tight hug, her face buried into his neck, her lips resting softly against his skin. Despite himself, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her tighter against him. He could feel Potter and Weasley staring at them in disbelief, in disgust, but he didn’t care. Luna was going to be safe, and that was all he could ask for.

As a loud crack sounded in the basement once more, Draco heard Luna let out a shaky breath; he felt it too as her warm breath fanned across his neck. He fought for control of his body as it let out an involuntary shiver. She squeezed him tightly before stepping back, her blue eyes filling with tears as she reached her fingers up to trace along his cheekbone.

“I will never be able to thank you for all that you’ve done for me, Draco,” she sighed dreamily. “I will see you again.”

Words evaded him; he only nodded as she stepped back once more placing her hand into the elf’s. She gave them all a serene smile as a tear fell down her face. Harry gave the elf orders to come back as soon as Luna was in safety; Draco could hardly focus as Luna stared at him with such faith and trust. He knew he would somehow disappoint her in the end; he always did.

“Whenever you’re ready, sir,” Luna nodded at Dobby who smiled at her brightly.

“Sir? I like her very much,” Dobby grinned before whisking her away in a blur.

Draco didn’t know what to feel after she was gone. He was simultaneously relieved and distressed. She was no longer here for him to protect, yet she was far safer somewhere else, and he knew that. He just did not like it very much. It felt odd to be so dependent on the consistency of someone’s presence. Everyday, Draco would go to bed knowing that no matter what, Luna would be in the basement for him to see, to talk to, to understand him, to care. Now that she was gone, in the blink of an eye, a strange emotion came over him. He missed her. Draco Malfoy missed Luna Lovegood with a ferocity he never imagined possible.

However, he didn’t have time to ponder his feelings or emotions at the time. He had to find away to protect himself while getting Luna’s friends back to her in one piece. As Dobby Apperated back into the cellar, Draco, for the first time in his life, looked to Potter for guidance. Being the hero was not his strong suit, of this he was aware. He would surpass his pride if it meant keeping both his family and Luna alive; for them, there wasn’t much he wouldn’t do.

Chapter Text

Hermione’s body felt weightless as if she weren’t in existence any longer; gone where the tremors of pain and awareness, instead, she was left with a numbness that provided her no comfort. She wanted to feel the pain, to know her body was still responding; the numbness was frightening in that it supplied no knowledge. It was possible her body was broken completely; she could be paralyzed or possibly descending into insanity. However, as she focused her cloudy mind, the frizzy haired witch could feel her arm pulsing, throbbing in unbearable pain from where Bellatrix carved the dreaded word, the word that had labeled her at the beginning of her life at Hogwarts: Mudblood. A tear fell from her brown eyes as she looked at her outstretched arm lying lifeless against the dark floors; her arm was covered in blood, but the text was clear. Bellatrix had scared her, branded her in the most barbaric of ways. Hermione couldn’t tear her eyes away.

Though her ears were pulsing, a sharp ringing causing her hearing to dull, Hermione could just detect Ron’s muffled voice from beneath her. If she had been in complete control of her body, she may have smiled at his concern or scoffed at his distracting shouting. He shouldn’t be screaming her name; he should be forming a plan to help her and escape the Malfoy Manor. Slowly, voices other than Ron began to register in her mind. Hermione could hear Bellatrix speaking to Lucius and Narcissa, her shrill tone grating and horrible. Lucius Malfoy was standing beside his wife and sister-in-law, his body pulsing with anxious energy; Narcissa seemed to be scanning the room for her son, her full mouth set in a grim line. After all, it was a dangerous game she was playing. In viewing Mrs. Malfoy, Hermione’s mind began to wonder why the woman stood stoically beside her husband, her face an unreadable mask. Hermione had expected her to be rejoicing at their capture, but, instead, she was positively unreadable. It was unexpected to say the least, though not as unexpected at Draco Malfoy’s denial.

When Hermione was captured, tied up and deposited at the Malfoy Manor, no hope had been in her mind; she knew the moment Malfoy laid eyes on them, they were done for. After all, they were bitter enemies. However, to her greatest shock, the Slytherin boy had not given them up though it was quite obvious who they were. His cold silver eyes had been hard until he came closer; they softened ever so slightly trying to convey a message Hermione couldn’t understand. He was Malfoy; he wasn’t soft, he wasn’t their friend, and he certainly wasn’t on their side. So why did he refuse to identify them? Hermione was missing a piece of the puzzle, the whole picture not connecting in her mind. Though she was fuzzy brained and exhausted from the extreme torture Bellatrix put her through, Hermione, as diligent as ever, wanted answers; she wanted to know.

The sound of swishing robes caused Hermione’s bloodshot, brown eyes to cast up groggily witnessing Bellatrix billowing around dramatically, a menacing glare on her face as she leaned deathly close to the goblin before her. Her lips, cracked and dry, lifted into a snarl as she stared at the revolting creature before her. Dark hair framing her face, Griphook never flinched as the Death Eater’s mangled nails drew closer to his face like talons. The goblin’s face remained impassive, seemingly bored as if this scene was nothing new to him. Hermione wondered how he kept such composure standing before Bellatrix Lestrange. The dark, frightening woman handed the goblin the sword, her face hard and snarling.

“Well?” she barked after a minute of examining the piece. “Is it the true sword? Or a fake as the filthy Mudblood said,” Bellatrix sneered as she casted a disgusted look at Hermione’s broken form on the floor.

“No,” Griphook said in his gruff voice. “It is a fake.”

“Are you certain, goblin? Quite sure?” Bellatrix prodded though her face relaxed slightly in relief.

“Yes.”

“Good,” Bellatrix said with an attempted smile as she flicked her wand causing another deep gash into the goblin’s face. Griphook released a yelp as he fell at her feet, his long fingers clutching his face. “And now, we call the Dark Lord!” she said triumphantly touching her forefinger to her Dark Mark.

Below in the damp basement, Harry Potter’s scar erupted in unbearable pain. His knees buckled before slamming on the stone floor below him; a sickening crack echoed throughout the cavernous space. Both Ron and Draco looked at the fallen boy in horror and concern as he clutched his scar, back bent over in pain.

“We haven’t got much time,” Harry gritted out of his clenched teeth. “He’s coming, I know it; I can feel it.”

Draco nodded needing no other validation to Potter’s words. His cool grey eyes scanned the cellar trying to formulate a plan, his hand tightening around the wand in his hand. Draco felt a certain solution enter his mind as his eyes cast down to see the dark, hawthorn wood clutched within his fingers. The wand he had since childhood, the wand that had done so much harm, caused so much pain would now have to opportunity at redemption. He envied it in a way. Letting a sigh escape his mouth, Draco looked up at Harry, his eyes resolute.

“You’ll need a wand, Potter,” Draco said extending the dark wooden piece towards the boy in which he was placing all faith; Harry looked apprehensive. “It’s done horrible things, Potter; I won’t lie. Maybe now, it could be used properly, used for good. I never got the chance.”

“You had the chance, Malfoy,” Ron fumed beside Harry, his freckled face turning as red as his hair. “You didn’t take it, you bloody coward.”

“I won’t deny that,” Draco said with a hard voice. “But I’m trying; I’m taking it now. Potter, take it, take my wand; it’s yours now. Put me in a Full Body-Bind curse and have Dobby go upstairs with you and Weasley, grab Granger and get the hell out of here as quickly as you can,” he said in a rushed voice.

“Malfoy, Luna was right. Come with us; we can offer you protection,” Harry said reaching out to take the offered wand; a shock followed by a tingling warmth ran up his arm as his fingers touched the dark wood. “If you’re serious about doing the right thing.”

“He’ll kill my family, Potter,” Draco said harshly dropping his now wandless hand to his side. “Surely you wouldn’t wish that fate on anyone,” he added, his sharp tongue revealing itself. He regretted the words as they left his mouth, sort of. “Just—Just please keep her safe,” he said in a sigh as his hand reached up to pull at his white locks; he didn’t need to clarify who he was talking about. They all knew.

“I will,” Harry said with a nod, his startling green eyes conveying the upmost sincerity. “I promise you.”

Draco said nothing; he merely nodded his head as his throat squeezed with emotion. This was it. He had made his decision. Once they were free, Draco knew he would have dire consequences to answer to. The Cruciatus curse was a given; he wondered what other tortures he would be subjected to. However, as the thought traveled though his mind, Draco knew he would take it. He would take it all, for he knew, in a way, he deserved it. After all the terrible things he had done, all the pain he had caused, Draco knew his time had come to feel all that he had done to others, all that he had done to Luna. It was a punishment it accepted.

“Go,” Draco said finally jerking his head towards the door. “Just wave the wand over it, it will open.”

“You sure about the curse, Malfoy?” Harry questioned as he readied himself.

“This is your only chance at a free shot; take it while you can,” Draco said as the classic Malfoy smirk twitched at the corner of his mouth.

Harry nodded before saying “Petrificus Totalus.” As Draco fell to the floor, his limbs locked by his side, eyes staring straight ahead, Ron Weasley shot him a dirty look before following Harry up the dark staircase with Dobby in tow. Once the band of heroes had disappeared into the main floor of the manor, Draco’s silver eyes filled with tears as his heart filled with pride and fear of the unknown.

So this is what it feels like, he thought, to do the right thing.

As the thought filtered through his brain, Draco wondered if Luna would be proud of him. He could imagine her serene smile, her bright blue eyes looking at him with pride shining in her clear orbs. The thought alone made his petrified body feel warm against the cold, stone floor. It was worth it; he knew in that moment he had finally made the right decision, his own decision. It felt good. He just hoped his sacrifice wouldn’t be in vain.

As Harry, Ron, and Dobby walked up the stairs, their footsteps light in order to remain as silent as possible. They retracted their steps into the shadowed hallway leading into the drawing room where they stopped in order to assess the situation, for pure bravery was not going to get them out of the manor. In a room full of cunning Slytherins, blind heroism was not the route to take. Harry’s eyes took in the large room trying to formulate a plan; without looking at his best friend, Harry knew Ron was staring at Hermione’s crumbled body, her eyes staring blankly in front of her, forearm bleeding profusely. Whatever plan he was formulating needed to hurry; time was not on their side. Before Harry could look else where, a trembling form came from the hallway on the opposite end of the drawing room. Wormtail, quivering in fright as usual, walked in hesitantly refusing to cast his eyes on Bellatrix Lestrange out of fear of receiving a curse. As Wormtail shuffled in, Bellatrix’s triumphant smile dwindled slightly. She crossed her arms across her chest, a huff of annoyance threatened to escape her lips.

“Wormtail, have you accompanied the Dark Lord?” she fearsome Death Eater asked with a cold glare.

“No—No, he, the Dark Lord, sent me to—to see if the matter was of upmost im—importance,” the quivering man said, his face hiding slightly behind his filthy fingernails.

“Well, of course it is!” Bellatrix shouted causing him to flinch. “I would not disturb his precious time; I would never,” she said in a devoted tone. “He must come at once! We have Potter!”

“Po—Potter?” Wormtail squeaked. “Harry Potter?”

“Yes, you fool!” Bellatrix barked. “No other Potters remain; you made sure of that years ago, didn’t you, Wormtail?”

At the mention of his parents’ death, Harry felt his cheeks go hot; his ears flamed red as an angry snort left his nose. Though nearly silent, Narcissa’s trained ears detected the noise from the shadowed hallway. Her pale blue eyes connected with Harry’s immediately narrowing slightly. Though she gave no other signs of finding him there, Harry knew she had seen him. However, she did not say a word; instead she turned to Wormtail with a haughty expression on her smooth face.

“Wormtail, go relieve Draco from his duties in the basement. I do believe he’s done your job for long enough now,” Narcissa said with a sniff as she raised her nose turning away from the cowering man. Wormtail gave a shaky bow before backing out of the room mumbling quietly to himself.

“He will be coming soon,” Bellatrix said with a pleased smile placed back onto her face; the expression looked foreign to Harry as if such a smile was impossible for such a horrid woman to form. “We can dispose of this Mudblood; the Dark Lord will have no use for her. Greyback, you were the captor. Perhaps you’d enjoy a little snack?”

“No!” Ron yelled bursting into the room with wild abandon; with no wand in hand, he didn’t stand a chance.

Harry quickly followed behind him casting curses around the room hopeful that his spells were reaching their targets. After a Stupefy left the dark hawthorn wand, a loud thumb reverberated though the room; Harry hoped it had been Greyback or Lucius Malfoy. Looking at Bellatrix directly, Harry fired an Expelliarmus from Malfoy’s wand causing the menacing Death Eater’s wand to fly into the air. With his seeker reflexes, Harry caught it easily before tossing it to Ron who fumbled but managed to capture the mangled wood in his hand. A jet of light flew past Harry’s head as a loud growl erupted from Greyback. Harry turned just in time to see Narcissa Malfoy fire a curse; it narrowly missed him though her aim was perfectly executed. As another stream of light erupted from Greyback’s wand, Harry threw himself to the floor, rolling behind a plush green sofa to avoid the curses.

“STOP OR SHE DIES!”

With the Full Body-Bind curse still in effect, Draco was helpless in the basement; he could hear the commotion above, but was useless in helping. He gritted his teeth together in frustration. He didn’t like feeling this way; he wanted to help, to be in the action, to do good. Instead, he was lying on the floor with the freezing water seeping into his silk robes. He should have told Potter to curse him with something else, something that would leave him unconscious rather than locked within his own mind. He wanted to yell, but his mouth could not move. It was the worst torture. A scampering noise sounded on the stairs, Draco ached to turn his head in order to view the new presence, but he could not. Despite not being able to see, Draco knew it was Wormtail; his frightened muttering gave him away. The rodent of a man walked over to Draco, his eyes wide and fearful.

“Finite Incantatem,” Wormtail stuttered his voice shaking at he pointed his wand at Draco.

As soon as the curse was lifted, Draco jumped up to his full height staring menacingly at the quivering man before him. For a brief moment, Draco felt sympathy and a slight understanding for the man. Like Draco, Wormtail was scared; he was cowardly, always looking to please others in order to fit in. Looking at Peter Pettigrew as he shook before him, Draco knew he no longer wanted to be a coward; he didn’t want to be anything like the person before him. He was going to do whatever it took to keep the people he cared for safe; he was going to do the right thing.

“Give me your wand, Wormtail,” Draco commanded with his arm outstretched.

“Wh—what? I need it for—,” the man stammered but Draco cut him off quickly.

“He saved your life before, Wormtail,” Draco whispered. “Don’t you owe him? Give me your wand, and I’ll do what you should have done years ago.”

Draco saw the hesitance in his watery eyes; however, before Wormtail could hand over his wand or utter another syllable, the silver hand closed around his neck. Wormtail’s face turned red, a chocking sound coming from his throat as the hand continued to squeeze harder. Draco backed away, horrified at the sight before him. Looking down, he saw the chestnut wand lying on the ground. He quickly picked it up, aiming it at Wormtail.

“Relashio!” said Draco, pointing the crooked wand at the silver hand; however, nothing happened. Wormtail dropped to his knees, his eyes rolling upward on his purple face. With a final gasp and twitch, Wormtail fell forward. He was still, dead.

For a split second, Draco stared at the lifeless body before him; his breathing would not return though his mouth hung open in shock. However, he knew he didn’t have time to stare at the horrific sight before him. Forcing air back into his lungs, Draco’s grip on the wand tightened as he walked up the staircase with wobbling legs. Wormtail was dead, killed by his own hand. In the end, Wormtail was, once again, a traitor; this time he betrayed the Dark Lord. A shudder passed though Draco as he thought about Peter Pettigrew’s treacherous ways and what they had lead to. Nothing, they had lead to nothing but death. Draco’s veins filled with ice at the idea of his fate being the same. As he strolled confidently into the drawing room, Draco assessed the scene before him. Bellatrix had a firm hold on Granger, a short silver knife against the muggle-born’s neck. Though her eyes were slightly opened, Granger seemed to be unconscious.

“Drop your wands,” Bellatrix whispered in a deadly tone. “Drop them, or we’ll see just how filthy her blood is.”

Neither Harry nor Ron made a move to drop the wands. Harry’s hand tightened around Draco’s hawthorn piece as he stood from behind the sofa straightening into his full height.

“I said drop them!” she screeched pressing the blade more firmly against Hermione’s neck; small droplets of scarlet appeared.

“Alright!” Harry submitted as he dropped Draco’s wand to the ground beside his feet. Ron did the same with Bellatrix’s. Both Gryffindor boys raised their hands to shoulder height in surrender. The Death Eater grinned madly though never making the effort to remove the knife from Granger’s neck. Seeing Narcissa’s attention change, Bellatrix turned to the hallway seeing Draco standing there quietly.

“Draco? Where have you been? Where is Wormtail?”

“Potter and Weasley both attacked me, stealing my wand, and cursed me with a Full Body-Bind,” Draco spat looking at Harry with menacing, cloudy grey eyes. “Wormtail is dead; strangled by his own hand for his traitorous ways. He released me from the curse and then attempted to come back up in order to help Potter. The filthy rat never got past the first step; the hand knew of his intentions,” Draco delivered with a cool smirk.

“I’m not surprised,” Bellatrix Lestrange said with a haughty tone as she shook her wild hair away from her face. “Well, then Draco, pick the wands up at once. The Dark Lord is coming, Harry Potter! Your death draws closer!”

Harry knew she was right; his scar felt as if it had been lit on fire. He could feel Voldemort drawing closer to the manor; once he arrived, Harry could see no way out. He would die at Malfoy Manor if they did not escape soon. Like Harry, Narcissa knew that once Voldemort laid eyes on Potter, it was over; she needed them out of her house as soon as possible. In order for her family to be safe, the Dark Lord needed to be defeated, and Harry Potter had to be alive to do so. Looking back into the shadowed hallway, Narcissa’s icy blue eyes found her former house elf’s large, ball-like eyes. She looked at Dobby pointedly before casting her eyes towards the large, grand chandelier suspended above the drawing room. Dobby understood at once, and with a snap of his fingers, he was gone.

“Now,” Bellatrix huffed softly as Draco retrieved the last wand walking over to stand beside his mother. “Cissy, I think we out to tie these little heroes up again, while Greyback takes care of Miss Mudblood. I am certain the Dark Lord will not begrudge you the girl, Greyback, after what you have achieved tonight. After all, he—“

But as Bellatrix spoke, a sharp grinding noise sounded from above. They all looked upward just as the crystal chandelier began to shake. Narcissa grasped Draco’s arm firmly prepared to pull him from harm’s way as soon as it was necessary. With a creak and an ominous jiggling, the massive chandelier began descending toward the ground, Bellatrix directly in the middle of its path. Dropping Hermione unceremoniously, the crazed Death Eater threw herself aside with a shrill scream. The chandelier crashed to the floor in an explosion of crystal and metal landing on top of a barely conscious Hermione and the goblin, who still clutched the sword of Gryffindor as if his life depended on it. Twinkling shards of crystal flew around the room; Draco covered his eyes after a few fragments grazed his face.

Ron Weasley ran forward pulling Hermione from the wreckage as Harry leaped over an armchair in order to grab the wands from Draco’s grasp. Despite the blood falling into his eyes from the fresh cut on his brow, Draco opened his grey eyes to stare at Harry attempting to convey everything he couldn’t say aloud. After pretending to fight over the wands, Draco released his grip on the bundle. Harry turned away after a quick discreet nod to Malfoy and aimed the wands at Greyback hitting him with a Stupefy erupting from all three wands. Hit by the force of a triple spell, the werewolf was lifted of his feet, flying up towards the ceiling before smashing to the ground with a sickening crack. Narcissa pulled Draco further back away from harm’s way as Bellatrix sprang to her feet, her face a murderous red, dark hair flying as she brandished the silver knife; however, Narcissa had directed her wand at the doorway where the house elf stood proudly.

“Dobby!” Narcissa Malfoy screamed waving her wand at the elf to gather his attention, Bellatrix attention turned to see what had her sister so upset. “You! You dropped the chandelier? You could have killed me!”

“Dobby never meant to kill! Dobby only meant to maim or seriously injure! You must not hurt Harry Potter,” he squeaked. “Or friends!”

“Kill him, Cissy!” shrieked Bellatrix, but, with another loud crack, Narcissa’s wand flew into the air landing on the other side of the room. “You dirty little monkey! How dare you take a witches wand, how dare you defy your masters?”

“Dobby has no master!” the house elf said proudly lifting his chin, his bat-like ears twitching. “Dobby is a free elf, and Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and friends!”

Harry’s scar had steadily grown more painful; it was nearly blinding. He knew they had to leave now or they would never have another chance. He looked at Draco, as blood fell down his pale face dying his fair eyebrows red; Harry cocked his head in a final offer to join. Draco’s mouth set in a grim line; his head moved to the side once. He couldn’t leave. He wouldn’t allow his mother and father to take the sole blame for this fiasco; it was his burden to bear along with them. He owed his mother that much. Harry, though not surprised, nodded once in return before looking to Ron who was silently waiting for the signal. His arms were holding Hermione upright, her body slumped against his.

“Ron! Catch! Go!” Harry yelled, throwing one of the three wands to Ron as he bent down to tug Griphook out from beneath the shattered chandelier. He threw the groaning goblin along with the sword he was still gripping tightly onto his shoulder before gripping Dobby’s hand tightly to Disapparate. The familiar tug on his naval pulled as they Disapparated. As his vision swirled in the darkness, Harry caught one last view of Draco and Narcissa, their pale white hair gleaming as the mother clutched her son tightly in fear of what was coming. Harry saw a streak of Ron’s read hair, and a blur of flying silver, as Bellatrix’s knife flew across the room at the place where he was vanishing.

Bill and Fleur’s … Shell Cottage … Bill and Fleur’s, Harry repeated in his mind as the darkness swirled all around them. The pain in his forehead was piercing, sharp and blinding. The weight of the goblin weighed down his shoulders, the blade of Gryffindor’s sword pressing against his back. Harry felt Dobby’s hand jerk in his; he wondered if the elf was trying to pull them in the right direction. Harry gave the elf’s fingers a squeeze indicating that it was okay for him to take the lead. Dobby did not return the gesture.

Before Harry could contemplate further, they hit solid earth and smelled the refreshing salty air. Harry fell to his knees, relinquishing Dobby’s hand as he attempted to lower Griphook to the ground gently. Harry asked if he was all right, but the goblin merely whimpered. Harry squinted through the darkness. A cottage was a short way away under the twinkling sky.

“Dobby, is this Shell Cottage?” he whispered, his fingers tightening around the wands he had brought with him from the Malfoy’s. He prepared himself for a fight if necessary. “Are we at the right place, Dobby? Dobby?”

Harry looked around; the little elf stood feet from him swaying slightly. The stars reflected in his wide, shining eyes, glassy and glimmering. Harry followed Dobby’s eyes as they looked down to see the protruding silver hilt of the knife burring in the elf’s heaving chest.

“Dobby! No—help!” Harry bellowed no longer caring if they were in the right place, whether they were surrounded by friends or foes. “Help! Please, somebody!”

Harry was transfixed on the deep scarlet stain spreading across Dobby’s front, the light cloth he wore dripping. Dobby’s wiry arms reached forward, searching for Harry with pleading eyes. Harry caught his thin frame laying him down on the cool, sandy grass.

“Dobby, please, no. Don’t die, don’t die—“

Dobby’s large, watery eyes found Harry’s as his lips trembled with the strenuous effort it took to form words.

“Harry… Potter…” he attempted, his squeaky voice merely a whisper; a tiny shudder erupted his body before the elf became terribly still. His eyes, still wide and looking at the sky, were unseeing, merely reflecting what they no longer saw.

Harry remained there; for how long, he didn’t know. He couldn’t move; his limbs were frozen in shock, in grief, in anger. Dobby was gone, and it was his fault. Harry felt the guilt of it all rest upon his shoulders making him sink deeper into the grass. Tears flowed freely from his emerald eyes as he brokenly repeated Dobby’s name for deaf ears. His voice broke off in racking sobs. It was too much; it was all too much.

Rising from the place on the sand where she had been basking in the unfiltered moonlight and fresh air, Luna heard Harry’s pleas for help. She quickly jumped up and ran to where he was sobbing over the fallen elf. Luna’s heart shattered for Harry, and she sunk to her knees next to him wrapping her long, willowy arms around him as she pulled him closer. He leaned into her, his hands covering his face. Slowly, Dean came forward along with Bill and Fleur to surround Harry as he mourned his friend. Remembering where he was, Harry lifted his head, cheeks red and splotchy from his cries.

“Hermione?” he said suddenly to no one in particular. “Where is she?”

“Ron’s taken her inside,” Bill said looking uncomfortable. “She’ll be okay.”

Harry nodded before looking back down at Dobby; he felt a fresh wave of tears fill his eyes as he reached down to pull the glimmering knife from Dobby’s frail body. Shrugging off his jacket, Harry draped it over Dobby’s body as if tucking him into bed. Harry felt Luna’s arm encase him once more; he didn’t respond. He could hear them all taking around him, but he didn’t have the energy to feign interest. He remained silent, staring at the elf who had saved his life in sacrificing his own. He blinked his eyes as a pale hand reached towards Dobby’s face. Luna’s delicate fingers caressed his ashen cheek before closing both of his eyelids reverently one at a time. She sat back down leaning her head onto Harry’s shoulder.

“There,” she sighed. “Now he looks as if he’s only sleeping. It’s quite peaceful, really.”

Harry didn’t say anything; he couldn’t form words. One by one, the others left to go back inside until only Luna and Harry remained. Her head still leaning on his shoulder, Luna let out a small sigh and she reached over and grasped Harry’s hand in her own. She didn’t talk, for she knew there was nothing that could be said to ease Harry’s grief; she knew that firsthand. Instead, she sat there with him until he was ready to move.

“I want to do it properly,” Harry said suddenly causing Luna to lift her head and look at him curiously. “Put him to rest, I mean. No magic.”

“I’m sure Bill and Fleur have a spade,” Luna said standing. “Shall I fetch it for you? I wouldn’t want Dobby to be alone,” she added wistfully.

Harry nodded once again unable to form words. A few minutes later, Luna returned with the garden tool; she handed it to Harry without words knowing he needed to do it himself. She stood patiently as he tilled the earth, moving it to the side so that Dobby would have a proper burial. After a few minutes, her legs grew tired, and she sat beside Dobby’s body, her fingers reaching out to gently caress his cool cheeks, his floppy ears. Luna felt the tears swell in his misty blue eyes; she never had the chance to thank him for rescuing her.

The only indication of how long they stayed outside was the rising sun. Luna, despite her sadness, lifted her shin when the fresh morning rays of light showed in the sky. It had been far too long since she felt the sun on her skin. Despite the sun’s appearance, the temperature remained terribly cool, the ocean air full of moisture that chilled her skin to the bone. She felt a coat being draped across her shoulders; looking up, Dean Thomas grinned down at her with a sad smile. Ron Weasley was beside him, Hermione wrapped in his arms. Bill and Fleur joined shortly after. Harry looked up, face covered in dirt, as all of his friends stood beside the freshly dug grave. Silently, Harry lifted Dobby and placed him delicately inside.

“I think we ought to say something,” Luna suggested gently; her misty eyes hopeful. “I’ll go first, shall i?”

No one protested but rather looked at her expectantly as she moved closer to kneel beside Dobby’s grave.

“Thank you so much, Dobby, for rescuing me from that cellar. It’s so unfair that you had to die, when you were so good and brave. I’ll always remember what you did for us. I hope you’re happy now,” she ended with a tear falling down her cheek. She slowly stood up on wobbling knees; Harry reached out to stable her as she looked at Ron expectantly,

“Yeah… Thanks, Dobby,” Ron said with a thick voice; he looked to Dean.

“Thanks,” Dean whispered.

“Good bye, Dobby,” Harry said. It was all he could add; Luna had said all that needed to be said. With a raise of his wand, he lifted the dirt allowing it to settle over Dobby in a rounded mound. “Do you all mind if I stay here for a moment.”

No one did, and slowly, everyone retreated back into the cottage. Once again, Luna was the last to leave, but not before squeezing Harry’s hand once more and placing a kiss to his cheek. Pulling the coat tighter around her waif figure, Luna walked back to the cottage sighing in relief as the warmth of the fire surrounded her. She walked over to the kitchen weakly, pulling herself to sit upon a barstool so that she could watch Fleur move around the kitchen in a graceful dance. With her back turned, Fleur reminded Luna of Narcissa Malfoy, with her silvery blonde hair and poised movements. Tears filled Luna’s eyes as her mind drifted to Draco, for she wished he had come with them, gotten away from Voldemort, away from all the evil that plagued his life. She sniffed loudly as the tears fell freely down her sunken cheeks.

“Oh darling, eet will all be better soon. You are safe now,” Fleur comforted Luna wrapping an arm around the emaciated girl. “’Ow about I fix you a bowl of zey soup I made, oui?”

Luna nodded silently; her mouth watered at the smell of the soup that wafted from the large pot on the stove. As it was placed before her, Luna looked up at Fleur, the young woman’s shining blue eyes expectant and hopeful as she peered down at the bruised, tortured girl before her.

“Oh, I forget to say. Zere is no meat in zey soup; I remembered from zey wedding,” Fleur smiled proudly; Luna returned it immediately as she took a hesitant, miniscule bite of the soup. “An’ when you are done, I can heal zey cuts and bruises for you.”

“I’d love that, Fleur,” Luna nodded eagerly, the one bite of soup felt as if it were sloshing about in her stomach. She hate a few more bites before her stomach began to protest; she supposed she should cease eating incase her body rejected its first form of nutrition in months. She looked up at Fleur who had been watching her silently. “I’m finished; I’ll just wash it quickly.”

“Nonsense,” Fleur said with a wave of her hand before picking up Luna’s bowl frowning as she looked at the large amount that remained; however, she didn’t say anything. After she washed the bowl, she turned to Luna as she pulled her wand out of the white apron tied around her thin waist. “Alright, let’s fix you up. Eez your nose broken?”

“I believe so, yes,” Luna nodded remembering the blow that caused it. “It cracked rather loudly.”

“’Ow could zey do zis to children,” Fleur said before casting an Episky. Luna’s nose felt white hot before cooling as it healed into place. “I will never understand.”

Luna didn’t say anything in response, for she didn’t know how to tell Fleur that she wasn’t the only one harmed during the attack. After a few minutes and a few potions later, Luna was physically healed from any lacerations, bruises, and breaks. However, after telling Fleur of the internal bleeding she suffered at once point during her captivity, the French woman insisted Luna drink a potion that smelled like old coins; it tasted like them too. Once Fleur was finished, Luna scooped two ladles of soup into a bowl, wrapped herself back into the jacket, grabbed a blanket, and walked outside to where Harry was still sitting.

Luna sat beside him, depositing the blanket around his shoulders and the bowl of steaming soup into his hands. They sat there for a while in silence, neither wanting to break the quiet. However, Harry eventually caved.

“Thank you for the soup,” Harry said though he had yet to take a bite.

“Thank you for rescuing me,” Luna responded as she continued to look out into the distance; she loved listening to the waves crash against the rocks as she felt the morning sun against her face.

“Your face looks better,” Harry noted, his cheeks turned red. “I mean, it’s healed.”

“Yes, Fleur is wonderful. She could have a future as a mediwitch,” Luna nodded happy that her eyes were no longer swollen. The silence stretched on.

“He was very brave,” Harry said suddenly.

“Yes, Dobby was incredibly valiant,” Luna agreed.

“No, well, yes, but I meant Draco,” Harry clarified.

“Oh?”

“He gave me his wand, actually, so that Ron and I would have something to protect ourselves with. He told me to curse him with a Full Body-Bind, and he allowed us to escape upstairs. He gave me three wands,” Harry said pulling the dark hawthorn wand out of his pocket. “Here, you can hold onto it for a little while,” he said placing it against her long, thin fingers.

Luna trailed her fingers against the dark wood adoringly, a small smile formed on her lips. Bowing her head, Luna brought the wand up to her cradling it against her chest. She released a shaky sigh.

“He wouldn’t come,” Luna said with certainty. “I hoped he would change his mind. I really did, Harry,” she whispered in a choked voice.

Harry watched Luna for a moment. Her eyes were filled with so much emotion he felt as if he were invading a personal moment of sentimentality. He awkwardly reached over, his arm draping around her frail shoulders. He could feel the tremors racking her body as she cried softly. He didn’t know if she was crying for Malfoy, for Dobby, for herself, or a combination of the three. He wanted to say something to comfort her, something to make her feel better, but he didn’t know what to do. He hated seeing her in such a state; Luna was supposed to be smiling, dancing in a field of wildflowers with petals in her long blonde hair. She wasn’t meant for such a harsh world; she was too pure, too good for it all.

“He asked me to watch over you,” Harry said finally. Luna lifted her head, her silvery blue eyes bloodshot and more intense than ever. “He cares about you very much.”

“I know,” Luna said simply. She cared for Draco very much too. Looking at Harry, she could tell he was with holding all the questions he wanted to ask. “I can see the questions in your eyes, Harry. They’re quite telling, you know?”

“Sorry, Luna. It’s just that, well, he’s Malfoy. Are you sure you want to be in a relationship with him? He may have changed, but he’s still volatile.”

“Oh, Harry. Draco and I aren’t in a relationship. We just have an understanding for each other. It’s lovely, really,” she sighed placing her cool cheek against the hawthorn wand; warmth flooded her skin.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, Luna sat with Harry as she held the wand close to her heart. Pride swelled within her chest at Harry’s recounting of Draco’s bravery; she knew he was capable of such greatness. Her faith in him had never waivered. As she sat there, his wand clutched against her chest, Luna wondered if, in another lifetime, she and Draco could have fallen together in a different way, if in this world, he would be clutched against her instead of his sacrificed wand. Maybe in another life they would be together; after all, anything was possible. With her large blue eyes still watching the ocean waves crash onto the rocky shore, Luna sent a silent thanks to Draco for all that he had done for her; she knew she would see him again, and very soon at that. She had a feeling; however, she feared what would happen once they saw each other again. She feared he would lose hope in her absence; she pleaded for him to hold on if just for a bit longer. Placing her lips against the wand, Luna closed her eyes allowing the ocean waves to mask her sobs.

Chapter Text

Being on the receiving end of a wand was never an enjoyable experience. Draco stared at the wooden tip merely inches from his face; it was of a dark color, smooth and glistening under the light of the reassembled chandelier. It was a wand Draco knew well. He knew that the silver snakehead handle had been custom made to fit his father's hand; the emerald eyes were Malfoy family heirlooms. The wand was a familiar sight from his childhood; he had often admired his father's wand for its simple elegance. However, much to Draco's chagrin, the ashen, spiderlike fingers grasping the wand did not belong to his father. Draco's hands were shaking, yet his face remained stoic as he stared impassively at the person holding him at wand point. With seething scarlet orbs, the Dark Lord glared at his youngest Death Eater as waves of fury slithered across his skin at the sight of the young man before him. Though his demeanor was cool, Lord Voldemort could sense the fear emitting from the sallow schoolboy. Bearing his teeth in a wicked grin, a curse echoed throughout the room before Draco dropped to the ground screaming in pain, writhing in agony. The Dark Lord gripped the wand more firmly pressing the curse deeper into Draco's veins.

What was less than a minute seem to last forever to Draco. Though Bellatrix had used the Cruciatus on him many times, all of her curses combined would never reach Lord Voldemort's caliber. Where Bellatrix's curses were excruciating, the Dark Lord's were all consuming, mind numbing, burning, pulsing agony; death was preferable than receiving the Dark Lord's fury. Through his melting mind, Draco considered begging for death; he thought of screaming for mercy, yet his body was not his own. He could feel nothing other than the ripping of his skin, the peeling of his arteries cell by cell; forming words was not an option. Draco hardly registered when it stopped; the Cruciatus curse did not cause the recipient any physical, visible pain, but Draco had pulled at his skin and crumbled into a remaining pile of shattered glass from the prisoner break. Draco felt his body being hauled up by strong, forceful hands; through dulled senses he smelt filth and dried blood with a hit of Firewhiskey: Fenrir Greyback.

Opening his eyes, Draco's vision was blurred; the figure before him with nothing but a blob of black robes with a white oval at the top. With a few lazy blinks, Draco realized he was staring at the Dark Lord once more; his stomach filled with dread at the thought of enduring such pain again. Unable to control his body fully, Draco's head lolled to the side, blood from his pierced skin dripped onto the floor. Voldemort looked at him with such disgust and fury, the youngest Malfoy thought surely he was going to be killed. However, the Dark Lord turned away and gestured to the doors of the drawing room. With the flick of his wrist, the doors slammed shut; Draco flinched at the sound. The Dark Lord turned his attention back to the bloodied Malfoy before him; with a look of disdain, he shook his head slowly.

"Draco, Draco," the Dark Lord said in an eerily calm, high voice. "I had such high expectations for you. How severely you disappoint me. I thought maybe you could keep a few prisoners from escaping, but as before, such a task evades you."

"My Lord," Draco rasped out; his throat felt as if it were filled with dust. "I did everything in my power to—"

"It was not enough," Lord Voldemort interrupted. "Once again, you have disgraced your family's once highly esteemed name; how pathetic your pure blood has turned. I fear I have no use for you any longer. The mere sight of you repulses me."

"My Lord, please," Narcissa erupted from the corner where she had remained silent until that moment. "Please don't," she begged scurrying over to kneel before the snakelike man threatening her child. "I beg of you, please, spare Draco."

"Your love makes you weak, Narcissa," the Dark Lord mocked at the woman before him. "How different you are from your sister; it's a wonder really. What would you have me do with the boy then?"

"Send him back to Hogwarts," Narcissa said looking up at the Dark Lord though her onyx lashes, her blue eyes cold and unfeeling though her voice broke with a strained cry. "Draco is most influential over his Slytherin peers; he can recruit for you, My Lord. He can listen in on places where the Carrows and Severus cannot."

"Ah, interesting," Voldemort said with a mocking gleam in his eye. "And what are you willing to trade for your son's life?"

"Anything, My Lord," she responded without hesitation.

"Weak," the Dark Lord seethed turning away from her, his black robes billowing into her face. Narcissa Malfoy did not flinch. "Be as it may, your mother does propose a valid point. I do think there is use for you yet, Draco. Though you are weak like your mother and father, you are loyal; of this I am sure, unlike that sniveling Wormtail," he spat.

"Thank you, My Lord," Narcissa said in a whisper, her shoulders hunched in relief.

"Drop him here, Greyback," the Dark Lord said ignoring Narcissa completely. "Report to Bellatrix immediately," he addressed the werewolf. "I will be leaving at once. I do not find pleasure in my time being wasted."

Fenrir Greyback dropped Draco to the ground unceremoniously and followed Lord Voldemort out of the room nearly panting like a puppy at the Dark Lord using his name. Because of his half-breed status, Voldemort deemed him unworthy of the Dark Mark; this suited Greyback just fine, yet he couldn't deny the delight he felt in being acknowledged by such a wizard. He nearly felt giddy as he left Narcissa and Draco alone in the drawing room. Narcissa looked back at Draco as she gracefully rose from the ground to walk over to her son lying on the floor. Sinking back to her knees beside her only child, Narcissa stroked Draco's hair gently, her cool fingers pressing lightly to his scalp; a small sigh escaped her.

"Draco, darling, you must come up to your room; you are bleeding all over the floor. Come now, I'll grab some dittany and heal those wounds," she said in a calm voice as she pressed into his shoulder gently encouraging him to move.

Though it took a great deal of effort, Draco heaved himself off of the ground; his entire body protested with each step. Once in the safe confines of his bedroom, Draco slouched down in the plush chair before the lit fireplace. He leaned foreword, his head cradled in his hands, fingertips pressing into his scalp. He struggled to control his breathing; it had all happened so quickly. The escape, Voldemort's arrival… it all seemed surreal; within minutes he had nearly sealed his fate as a traitor and as a dead man. Despite his living status, he was no way in the clear. Though Voldemort thought him to be loyal, Draco wasn't so sure. He didn't know where he stood in it all. He was torn between all he had ever known and what he was being shown, the truths he was discovering; it was all so overwhelming his temples began pounding under the weight of his racing mind.

"Dammit!" Draco lashed out throwing the first thing his hand touched, a crystal bowl filled with luscious green apples.

Draco's hands were pulsing, his heart racing. He nearly lost his life, and for what? What would have been the great pay off? He didn't know what he was thinking letting Potter go like that, allowing him to escape with his beloved wand. As one of the flying apples rolled into his foot, he remembered. Luna, he had done it all for Luna. For her safety and protection, Draco had risked his life; he felt not an ounce of regret for it either.

"Draco, what hap—Never mind," Narcissa said walking into her son's room with a jar of dittany in her hand. Seeing the shattered crystal and scattered apples, she didn't need much of an explanation; Draco certainly inherited the Malfoy temper. "Do sit down, Draco."

Sitting down once more in the chair before the fireplace, Draco obeyed as his mother instructed him to roll up his shirtsleeve so that she could heal his wounds; she didn't flinch at the sight of the Dark Mark on her child's skin. Draco allowed his mother to heal the cuts inflicted from writhing upon the floor littered with crystal and glass shards. She carefully cited the incantation to seal the cuts, fusing his skin together before applying a small amount of dittany to the thin line of imperfection so that a scar would not form. Once she had healed all that were visible, she motioned for Draco to roll his other shirtsleeve; he hesitated knowing what would be there, but only for a moment. Hesitantly, he pushed the rumpled white fabric up his arms revealing the long, puckered scar on his forearm. Though the Dark Mark was no shock to her, this was enough to produce a loud gasp.

Narcissa reached out grabbing her son's arm in both of her hands; she brushed her fingers over the raised scar as she looked at Draco for explanation. Though his skin was the color of ivory, the scar was a pale pink, the edges tinged a shade darker. The scar seemed out of place on his otherwise flawless skin; it didn't look as if it belonged on his body. Draco knew in a way it didn't; he wasn't meant to be the person to save another, to purposely harm himself so that he could heal a broken girl. But he did, and now he had an unsightly scar to show for it.

"Draco, what happened?" Narcissa said after a minute of silence; Draco had not offered any information, so she did the only thing she could: ask. "Who did this to you?"

"Mother, I—I did this," he sighed looking down at the jagged scar remembering the piercing pain of splitting his skin with magic. "I had to."

"What would possess you to do this to yourself? Why would you ever harm yourself? Draco, please, let me help you, my son. Please," she begged gripping his arm tighter losing the cold façade she had perfected before he was born. In that moment, his mother was nearly unrecognizable to him. She was frantic, wide eyed, and desperate; Draco couldn't help but to stare at her in shock.

"I had to save her," he said eventually in a quiet whisper; he didn't feel like a seventeen year old boy but a child being realized in a situation he was warned against. "I couldn't let her die there; I just couldn't, Mother," he said pulling his arm back from her grasp and pulling the sleeve down to cover the unsightly scar once more.

"You did that to yourself to save the girl? Draco, you could have bled out! It's not like you to be so reckless."

He had to agree; it wasn't like him at all. He was calculative and analytical, never acting unless he had gone over every possibly scenario in his head. He wasn't rash or thoughtless in tense situations like Potter or Weasley; Draco had to formulate a plan before taking action. It was the only way to be sure of success. However, where Luna was concerned, Draco threw devising a plan to the wind; there wasn't time, and Draco hadn't wanted to waste was little he had. It was heedless and dangerous, but it had been his only option; it just so happen to work.

"She couldn't die," he responded shortly.

"Why did you not use dittany? The scar is quite horrible, Draco," Narcissa stated bluntly staring at the spot through his shirt. "Do let me rid you of such a scar."

"No," Draco hesitated. "I wanted to keep it."

"Draco, don't be ridiculous," Narcissa sighed. "Why would you want to ruin your skin like that?"

"Don't you get it, Mother?" Draco shouted pushing himself away from the chair. "I'm already ruined. Do you see this?" he asked pushing his arm with the Dark Mark closer to her view. "This is an unsightly scar, this has ruined my skin, hell maybe even my life, this is disgusting. At least I chose to have the other, a decision that rested solely on me and not Father's reputation; at least I did—at least I helped her. It reminds me of the good I've done. It shows me there is something living left inside of me."

Draco's hands found their way to his hair tugging on the roots harshly; his head was pounding, there was a aching in his chest he couldn't place. With a groan of frustration, Draco turned away from his mother; he began pacing before the fireplace, his figure casting shadows on the wall. To her credit, Narcissa remained calm allowing her son to decipher whatever he was fighting himself over. She knew the look; he had worn it so often the past few years. It was a look of confusion and desperation, the look of a lost boy.

After a few minutes, Narcissa could watch him unfurl no longer. Standing up, she walked to his side placing a hand on his shoulder; she could feel him tense beneath her touch. With a push to his shoulder, Draco turned to face his mother's tender face. She looked so unlike herself in that moment, yet the expression suited her far better than any other. Narcissa Malfoy wore caring very well. Raising her hand to her son's face, she dusted her thumb across his cheekbone.

"Draco, every part of you is alive, my darling. You are not completely consumed by darkness. That mark on your arm, his mark, it does not define you if you do not allow it. You did the right thing by helping her; I just wish you would not have been so reckless about it."

"Recklessness seems to be a new hobby of mine," he sighed pressing the heel of his hands into his eyes until he saw stars. "I allowed them to escape, Mother. It was my plan," he sighed feeling his shoulders deflating.

"I know," she nodded. "You didn't do it alone."

"Mother?" Draco said with widened silver eyes. "What do you mean?"

"Seeing such a beautiful chandelier destroyed was tragedy, but it had to be done. I told the Dark Lord I would sacrifice anything for you; a chandelier is hardly irreplaceable."

"You did that?" Draco said with his jaw slightly hanging open in shock. "Why?"

He knew his mother was not deeply loyal to the Dark Lord; in fact, as of late, Draco wondered if she even supported his ideals. She had never taken the Dark Mark; a situation Draco had never given much thought. Despite her lack of official Death Eater status, it was unlike Narcissa to work against Voldemort, for she knew if she were to be caught, her family would be the ones to suffer. Though she headed the Dark Lord's commands, her true loyalties lied with her family, especially Draco.

"You are not the only one to be coerced into a life you did not fully understand. I was raised just as you were, with the ideas of muggles being filth along with muggle borns, the idea that those who defy the their ancestry should be removed from the family, and anyone who disagrees with such is nothing more than a blood traitor, a title as severe as a Mudblood. While I can say I do think we, as purebloods, are above them in terms of pedigree, I do not hold value in their eradication. When your father joined the Death Eaters, I was told that you would always be protected; I thought your father knew what he was getting into. I trusted his judgment, a fault on my part. You have to understand, Draco, I never wanted this to happen."

"Why have you never told me this before? All my life you have instilled the Dark Lord's values into my mind, values you don't even believe in. Why?" Draco asked in desperation. All this time, he assumed something was wrong with him for not always feeling passionate about the Dark Lord's teachings; he thought himself apathetic rather than disagreeing. However, Draco wondered if that was true.

"I did not want to put you in danger, Draco," Narcissa said stepping back from her son; she felt ashamed of herself for allowing her son's life to take the turn it had. "As your mother, I swore I would always protect you. I could not keep you from the Dark Lord, try as I might, but I could keep you away from my beliefs, beliefs that would have caused you a great deal of confusion and a world of danger.

"However, it seems as if you have come to the same conclusions yourself; I cannot say I am surprised. The Black blood has been known to produce a sense of rebellion, a streak of independence. You have always been such an intuitive, clever boy; I often wondered if you would end up in Ravenclaw."

Draco wondered what his life would have been like had he been placed in Ravenclaw. At his Sorting ceremony, the hat barely grazed a piece of hair before shouting out Slytherin; he had always assumed it was because of his nature. Now, however, Draco wondered if the hat had heard the frantic chorus of shouting for Slytherin within his mind. If he had been placed in Ravenclaw, he would have met Luna Lovegood sooner. She would have arrived at the start of his second year, the gangly girl with straggly blonde hair and radish earrings. He wondered if their lives would have crossed paths in such a monumental way as they had now; he wondered if he would have grown to care for her as he had.

"The last time we talked so freely, you stated you did not care for the girl," Narcissa prodded changing the subject away from such perilous topics. "I sense this may have changed."

"No, nothing has changed," Draco sighed. "I was too afraid to admit it in that moment. Yes, I care about her in that I don't want her to die."

"I think there is more to it than that, Draco," Narcissa said unable to deny the pull at the corner of her mouth.

"What else could there be?"

"You depended on her," Narcissa said. "I watched you with her, as terrible as it sounds. I would hide in the shadows to insure that no others would see you in such a vulnerable position. She saw me; Luna knew I was there," she admitted. Draco's eyes widened with shock. "You were so tender with her, so caring and gentle; I have never been more proud of you. You allowed her to comfort you, a gift you rarely bestow. As happy as it made me, I still wonder why her of all people."

"She saw me," Draco admitted hanging his head. "Luna has this way of seeing past every wall, every lie; she has an indescribable ability to read people and look beyond their mistakes. She saw me, not Malfoy or the Slytherin Prince, but Draco, just Draco."

"What a wonderful sight she must have seen," Narcissa sighed reaching out to grab her son's hands. "To look at you the way she did."

Draco said nothing more, for no words would have been able to encapsulate the burning he felt in his chest, the ache or flood of warmth at his mother's words. It was indescribable in that Draco had never felt such a thing before; it was foreign and dangerous, of this he was certain. Yet, a part of him wanted the feeling to consume him, to wrap him up in a burning passion so intense he would never want to escape. He wondered what it would be like, to give in to his desires, his emotions; he knew no such luxury was possible. But still, he wondered.

"Pack up, Draco," Narcissa sighed placing her palm on her son's pallid cheek. "You'll be heading back to Hogwarts tomorrow; I am certain of it.

Draco nodded his head as he began making a mental checklist of all the items he would need. Pulling away from his mother, Draco walked over to his enormous closet waving his wand as garments began to fly out and land within his opened trunk in meticulously precise stacks; no rumples or wrinkles were in sight. Narcissa watched her child in silence wondering if she had made the right choice in allowing him to be raised in such an environment, allowing him to be taught dangerous ideals. She knew she had done the best she could in such a situation, but a part of her wondered if she could have done more. Without saying a word, she slipped out of Draco's room leaving him to his packing and his thoughts.

The next morning, a quivering house elf was sent into Draco's bedchambers to wake him. As soon as the elf's leathery skin touched his arm, Draco bolted upright with a sharp gleam in his silver eyes. Throwing his silken comforter away from his body, Draco stretched out his long legs as they were stiff despite his feathery mattress; his entire body was tense with anticipation and nerves. As usual, his mother was correct; he would be returning to Hogwarts that morning according to the house elf's news. With lead feet, Draco dragged himself into the bathroom for a shower in hopes of relaxing his tense muscles so that his nonchalant disposition would seem natural once he was standing with the Slytherin common room. He didn't want his peers to know what he had done and the punishment he nearly received; he didn't want this failure broadcasted once more.

After emerging from the shower, Draco dressed in silken black robes with a thin lining of wool for the lingering winter chill. Once he was fastened within the dark layers of fabric with a silver and green tie around his neck, Draco descended the stairs into the dining room where a spread worthy of a king awaited him as his mother sat coolly in her seat, the Daily Prophet folded neatly beside her. As soon as his shoes sounded against the cold tiled floor, Narcissa's head snapped up as she looked for the newcomer; seeing it was her son, Narcissa unfolded a cloth napkin, settling it delicately in her lap after giving him a discreet nod. Beside her, Lucius sat at the head of the table, his face unreadable though a small twitch pulled at the corner of his eye once Draco came into view. Sitting next to his father, Draco's posture was rigid as he picked at the food residing on his place. He took meager bites, his nerves not allowing for anything more.

"Eat up, Draco," Lucius said with a clipped tone. "I hear the house elves at Hogwarts have been slacking on their duties, the filthy scum."

Draco said nothing but forced a fork full of eggs down his throat before gulping down a sip of hot tea in order to wash it down. His appetite had been waning for over a year now, and his figure was suffering for it. He still retained his sleek seeker built, toned with lean muscle, but he had lost quite a bit of weight leaving his pointed face sharper and the angles of his body more accentuated; there was nothing soft about Draco Malfoy, at least nothing visible. The rest of breakfast was spent in silence, for which Draco was immensely grateful. No talking was better than receiving a lecture about his wrongdoings and suggestions on what he could do in order to get back into the Dark Lord's good graces.

Once breakfast was over, Draco returned to his room to place the last few items into his school trunk before shrinking it into a pocketable size. A knock on his door sounded before his mother's voice spoke through the dark wood alerting him of her presence. Giving her permission to enter, Draco stood by his bed as his mother entered his bedchamber. She was as poised as ever, yet there was something soft in her eyes: love for her child. She walked over to Draco, her gait long and graceful as if she were floating across the floor. She stopped before him as she flicked a nonexistent piece of lint from his shoulder.

"This is for the best, Draco," Narcissa told him, her voice reassured and confident. "You'll be out of harms way, for the most part at least. Plus, you'll finish your final year."

"I can't imagine there is much learning going on at Hogwarts at the moment," he stated with a shrug.

"I suppose you are correct," his mother sighed as her hands found their way into her robe pockets. "I have a few items for you before you go."

"Oh?"

"Her possessions were confiscated upon her arrival; her jewelry, wand, and so forth. They left her only with the clothes on her back, minus her winter coat. I found these; I'm sure they belong to her, to Luna," Narcissa said quietly as she turned her palm over to place the small dangling ornaments into Draco's palm; the earrings were bright orange in color and resembled the shape of a radish. They were most certainly Luna's.

"And this as well," Narcissa added reaching into her robes to retrieve the collection of Butterbeer caps arranged on a thin rope with multicolored beads and small charms in the shape on animals and flowers; he couldn't hide the incredulous smile from his face. "There is no way for me to get her wand; the jewelry will not be noticed missing, but a wand certainly would. I am sorry, Draco."

"No, Mother," Draco said with a lump in his throat. "This is enough; she'll be happy to have these back."

"Perhaps you should keep them to yourself for a while, Draco," Narcissa suggested. "It might do you good to have a reminder on your person."

"I always do," Draco said as a tingling erupted on his arm where the jagged scar resided.

"Yes, this is true; however, it may be different to be able to hold it in your hands or feel the weight of them in your pocket. Do not give them to her right away, but rather when the time is necessary."

"When will it be necessary?" asked Draco as his fingers dusted over the jagged edges of the Butterbeer caps.

"You'll know, Draco," Narcissa replied with a confident gleam in her icy blue eyes. "Well, you must be getting off; Severus, well, Professor Snape is expecting you. Do you have your trunk?"

"Yes, Mother," Draco said patting his side pocket where the massive green trunk had been reduced to the size of his palm."

"Very well then. Let us go into the drawing room; the floo network has been connected to Severus' office for the next few minutes; I'll see you off."

Draco followed his mother into the room he had changed his fate merely a day before. It had been immaculately restored; the chandelier hanging securely from the ceiling as if it had never crashed into the floor below. The portraits were looking around with boredom as if they hadn't witnessed the excitement the day before. Everything was as it should have been, yet it was earth shatteringly different. Standing before the fireplace, Draco turned to his mother who seemed to be holding back tears. He placed a hand on her thin shoulder giving her a firm squeeze before walking into the hearth after grabbing a fist full of floo powder.

With a final look, Draco threw down the powder, green flames erupting at his feet as he stated "Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts," very clearly. Through swirling vision, Draco saw his mother's face bury into her hands.

"Ah, Draco," Professor Snape drawled with his languid tone. "How wonderful to have you back; I'm sure your arrival will be of keen interest," the new headmaster said condescendingly. "You may go to the Slytherin dungeons; I'll send your schedule over later on in the day. You are dismissed."

Draco nodded before leaving Professor Snape alone in the cold office with the portraits' muffled voices shouting out behind him. He could have sworn he heard Albus Dumbledore's quiet tone as a chill crept up his spine, but it was impossible. As soon as the door shut behind the young Slytherin, Snape turned to the hanging portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black who held a look of contempt on his face.

"So that's my great-great-great grandson, Narcissa's boy, is it?"

"It is," Snape said coolly.

"Well, perhaps he will bring pride back to the Black family tree," Phineas Nigellus Black said with a sharp jerk of his chin.

"I would not count on it," Snape deadpanned. "At least not in the way you hope."

The portrait of the old headmaster said nothing; however, Albus Dumbledore's portrait grinned as he looked around his old dwellings, his half-moon spectacles perched on his nose. He caught Snape's dark eyes and gave an encouraging nod.

"I think he'll do good," Dumbledore's portrait said with a content sigh. No one dared to contradict him. "Are you going to alert the Order of his return?"

"I am," Snape said as he stood up from the large desk. "Phones, do inform the Order of the returning student; I am certain they will be most interested, but be sure to tell them it was Dumbledore’s portrait who sent you. They mustn’t know it was me.”"

Grumbling to himself, Phineas Nigellus disappeared into the portrait to deliver the message to 12 Grimmauld Place. Once he was out of sight, Snape turned to Dumbledore's portrait, his mouth set in a grim line as his greasy hair laid limp on his cheeks.

"Did you see the dirigible plum earring in his hand?"

"It would be impossible to miss if one were looking for such oddities," Snape replied.

"A rather peculiar thing to carry around," Dumbledore's portrait mused with a twinkle in his blue eyes.

"Yes, rather peculiar indeed," Snape agreed as he folded his hands behind his back, his mind churning to try and connect the pieces his brain was not connecting. Dumbledore's portrait stayed silent, but the grin lingered on his face for the remainder of the day.

Chapter Text

For the tenth time that afternoon, Luna fought to suppress her giggles as she watched Harry’s face turn pink with frustration. For days Harry had attempted to master the wand he now possessed; however, after casting spell after spell, the dark hawthorn wand previously belonging to Draco Malfoy still refused to work properly. Every few spells or so, the wand would produce a flicker of magic, but it was inconsistent and weak. Harry cursed under his breath as he lowered the wand after another failed attempt. Shaking her head, Luna placed her woven flowers down on the rock she was perched upon and hopped onto the sandy ground. She held her hand out expectantly once she reached Harry.

“It’s no use, Luna,” Harry grumbled shoving the wand into her hands. “The bloody thing refuses to work; it must harbor Malfoy’s feelings towards me as well.”

“I don’t think that’s true, Harry,” Luna sighed twirling the wand through her fingers ignoring Harry’s implication that Draco hated him. “When you’re casting the spells, what are you thinking of?”

“Winning,” Harry said immediately. “I’m thinking about succeeding in defeating Voldemort and how important it is that the stupid thing works for me.”

“That’s quite a bit of pressure to place upon a wand, Harry,” Luna said peering at him with her wide silvery-blue eyes. “I’m sure it’s frightened to let you down.”

“Luna, I’m sorry but it’s a wand; it doesn’t have feelings,” Harry sighed rubbing his hands down his face.

“That’s simply not true,” Luna replied. “Think about all the pressure this wand has been under for the last year. Think of all the confusing and frightening situations it has been used in. I’m fairly certain this is the most horrified wand there has ever been,” she said in a dreamy tone as she gazed down at the dark wood lovingly. “Do you mind if I try?”

“Be my guest,” Harry replied with a sweeping motion of his hand.

Standing very still, Luna grasped the wand in her right hand and closed her eyes. Letting feelings of security and acceptance rise within her mind, she felt the wand warm slightly under her touch. I believe in you… she said in her mind willing the wand to understand the message; it warmed a fraction more. With her eyes still closed, Luna pointed the wand at the flowers she placed on the rocks.

“Wingardium Leviosa,” she stated clearly envisioning the woven circle of flowers rising steadily in the breeze. Very slowly, she opened her eyes as a serene smile took over her face. Right before her eyes, the flower chain hovered over the rock; Harry looked on in amazement. With a broadening smile, Luna moved the wand over and the flower chain followed; she allowed it to rest on top of Harry’s messy dark hair.

“Brilliant, Luna!” Harry congratulated. “How’d you do it?”

“It’s simple really,” Luna shrugged giving the dark wand a gentle caress before handing it back to Harry. “I just believed in it.”

As Luna walked away humming, Harry looked down at the wand, his mouth set in a determined line. Luna could hear him casting spells behind her as she walked towards the cottage. Once she reached the door, she turned back to see a rock hovering in the air as Harry looked on triumphantly; the flowers were still perched on his head. With a small giggle, Luna pushed open the door leaving the Boy-Who-Lived to practice alone.

Inside the cottage, Luna walked into the kitchen to find Fleur stirring the contents of a large pot; the scent of fresh herbs permeated the room. The young woman was softly singing in French as her silvery hair blew in the breeze from the opened window. Looking at the sight before her, Luna was hit with a sudden memory of her mother. Like Fleur, Pandora Lovegood would stand over her latest culinary creation as Luna sat on the countertop and tossed ingredients in as she desired while they both sang funny songs about magical creatures. After her mother passed, Luna continued to sing while cooking, but it was never quite the same. Thinking about her mother brought a small smile to her face and a pang to her chest.

“Vut are you tinking about?” Fleur asked breaking Luna from her memories.

“You reminded me very much of my mother for a moment,” Luna grinned.

“I vud very much like to meet her one day,” Fleur smiled.

From their spot at the table, Ron froze mid-bite and Hermione looked up suddenly as her book plopped onto the table, her dark eyes were wide as they watched Luna for any sign of sadness or reaction. However, Luna’s serene smile never waivered.

“I would like that too, Fleur,” Luna smiled. “I know she would like you very much.”

“Maybe when theez iz all over,” Fleur grinned back.

“Fleur,” Hermione started but Luna shook her head. Hermione said nothing else, but pursed her lips in frustration as Luna sat next to the Gryffindor girl at the table. “Luna, you need to tell her.”

“Tell her what?” Luna asked with wide eyes.

“Well, you know… about your mother?” said Hermione awkwardly.

“Oh, that she’s dead?” Luna asked bluntly.

“Well, yes,” Hermione blushed looking down due to Luna’s brutal honesty.

“I don’t think there is a point really,” she shrugged.

“Fleur wants to meet her; surely talking about her as if she was, well, you know, alive upsets you. I can tell her if you’d like,” Hermione offered with sincere eyes.

“No, that’s alright,” Luna smiled. “I quite like talking about my mum. Just because she’s no longer physically with us does not mean she isn’t present. After all, nothing is never really destroyed; it merely changes shape.”

“I suppose,” Hermione replied hesitantly. “But now that Fleur expects to meet her...”

“Perhaps she will one day,” Luna offered. “Though I do hope it is far off indeed.”

“Luna…” Ron said around a mouthful of food.

“If I tell her now, it will upset her, and she’ll feel insensitive,” Luna sighed knowing that the two Gryffindor’s would not let the subject rest.

“If you’re sure,” Hermione huffed as she picked her book up from the table; her eyes instantly began scanning the pages at an alarming speed.

Luna said nothing more turned her gaze to look out of the window; after a few moments of staring at the wind chimes swaying in the breeze, Luna’s mind began to wander back to Malfoy Manor. She thought of Draco and hoped he was doing all right considering; she could hardly bear knowing he faced certain punishment for rescuing them even if his true intentions weren’t discovered. They had escaped, and for that, there was a price to pay. Luna closed her eyes and sent waves of positivity and strength to Draco hoping that he would feel them somehow.

“Luna,” a voice said making her eyes open suddenly; Harry stood before her with a look of concern etched into his face. “Luna, are you okay? I’ve called your name several times.”

“Oh dear,” Luna sighed. “It seems the wackspurts have found me once more; I do wish they hadn’t taken my Butterbeer cap necklace. It repels more than nargles, you know.”

“We’ll get you another,” Harry grinned knowing that if Luna was talking about her creatures, she was okay.

“I shall make one for us all as soon as I’ve gathered the necessary supplies,” Luna beamed; she didn’t miss the frown that overtook Hermione’s face, but she did ignore it. “What is it you wanted to speak to me about?” she asked Harry.

“Oh right,” he said as a light blush crept over his cheeks. “I just wanted to say thanks; it’s not perfect, but the wand is responding better with your suggestion.”

“I’m quite happy to hear so!” Luna smiled.

“What was the trick?” Hermione asked. “Draco’s wand can’t be too happy with its new owner,” she chuckled; Luna did not.

“Well, believe it or not, it was just that: belief,” Harry responded.

“Come again?” Hermione said shutting her book and placing it on the table. She folded her hands and awaited Harry to repeat what he’d just said.

“Belief. I had to believe the wand could succeed; I had to have faith in it,” Harry said once more looking to Luna with pride in his eyes.

“Harry, that’s ridiculous,” Hermione said shaking her head. “Surely it was all the practice you’ve been putting in over the last few days. I’m sorry, Luna, but believing things to be true doesn’t make it happen.”

“You’re quite wrong about that, Miss Granger,” a scratchy voice sounded. The four students looked up suddenly to see Mr. Ollivander leaning against the kitchen wall. He was still gaunt and weak, but there was a slight color to his face.

“Mr. Ollivander!” Luna jumped up and skipped to his side. Ever so gently, she wrapped her arms around him. “It’s so wonderful to see you up and well; I’ve missed you so,” she said looking at him with her wide eyes.

“And I’ve missed you, my dear child,” he grinned at her making the wrinkles beside his eyes deeper. “You’re a beam of light in the dark; your presence makes me feel as if I am capable of anything.”

“What a lovely thing to say,” Luna smiled dreamily. “Please do come sit and talk with us,” Luna said ushering him over to the table to take her spot on the end. Ron moved over to the chair closest to the wall so Luna could have his seat, and Harry summoned a chair from the other room. They all looked at the wandmaker expectantly.

“I heard talk of wands and couldn’t resist myself,” Mr. Ollivander said with a twinkle in his eyes. “What was I hearing about faith and belief?”

“I was having issues with Draco Malfoy’s wand, sir,” Harry admitted. “I’ve been working with it for days, but it never produced solid magic; there were flickers, but I couldn’t use it properly. Luna took the wand and was able to produce constant magic with the first spell. She told me to believe and have faith in the wand. She was right.”

“But that can’t be,” Hermione said exasperatedly. “It doesn’t make sense. You have to be direct with your wand, tell it exactly what to do, and then it does just that. Whether or not you believe in it should have no effect.”

“Oh, but it does, Miss Granger,” Mr. Ollivander said. “Wands are not inanimate objects; they’re life forms, an extension of the wizard it chooses. Mr. Malfoy’s wand has been used in some horrible deeds I’m sure, but it has also seen him fail in such duties, a fact I am most happy about. When young Mr. Malfoy held his wand and casted the spells he was ordered to, the wand could feel his hesitation and his resistance. Because Mr. Malfoy was confused, so was his wand. Draco Malfoy doubted himself, and so the wand holds doubts as well.”

“But it’s just a piece of wood with a magic core,” Hermione argued. “It has no brain, no logic, so how can it have a mind of its own?”

“Wandlore is very complicated, Miss Granger,” Mr. Ollivander said softly not at all deterred by the young witches doubt. “There is more to it than facts; wands are very reliant on emotions and feeling.”

“But—“ Hermione began.

“It’s a beautiful thing really,” Luna said wistfully. “A wand always knows.”

“It does indeed,” Mr. Ollivander agreed looking at the Ravenclaw girl with emotions swirling in his eyes; to say he adored her would be an understatement.

Hermione looked at them both with disbelief etched deeply into her features; she had numerous questions turning in her mind, but before they could leave her mouth, the front door opened and Bill Weasley walked in. He looked at the table and nodded once.

“Good, most of you are here already,” he said before kissing Fleur’s cheek softly.

“You have news?” Harry asked. “Should I go get Dean and Griphook?”

“The boy’s sleeping,” Mr. Ollivander said shaking his head. “Let him rest, Mr. Potter.”

“Griphook?” Harry asked looking at Bill.

“No, this really doesn’t concern him, but he can be informed later though I doubt he’ll care. I just received news from Remus; Draco Malfoy has returned to Hogwarts.”

“Draco’s at Hogwarts?” Luna asked in a whisper; she could feel all of their eyes on her, gauging her reactions, but she didn’t care.

“Yes, apparently he flooed in last night; I was old Dumbledore’s portrait sent Phineas Nigellus Black’s portrait to alert the Order and McGonagall sent word as well,” Bill explained further. “Why are you smiling?” he asked suddenly as he stared at Luna apprehensively.

“Well,” Luna said through a giggle. “If he’s at Hogwarts, that means he’s safe; I don’t know why I wouldn’t smile at that. It’s wonderful news really.”

“Right,” Bill said slowly before clearing his throat. “We’ll need to inform the DA.”

“So he can help them?” Luna asked with wide eyes. Her eyes were so blinded by hope she didn’t notice everyone shifting uncomfortably around her.

“They need to be alerted another Death Eater is living within Hogwarts,” Bill said while avoiding a set of misty eyes. “They need to be ready for any attacks.”

“I don’t understand,” Luna said quietly, her voice nothing above a whisper. “We’re here because of Draco; I’m alive because of Draco, Mr. Ollivander, Hermione, Ron, Harry! We’re alive because of him. I don’t understand.”

“At the end of the day, he’s a Death Eater, Luna,” Hermione said in a seemingly gentle voice; Luna felt as if she were screaming.

“A Death Eater?” Luna repeated staring at the Gryffindor girl with shocked eyes. “A Death Eater? Is that honestly what you all think of him?”

“We’re indebted to him,” Harry soothed. “I’ll admit it, but we don’t know if him saving us was to do the right thing or to keep you safe. He wanted you safe; we don’t know where he’ll stand on the battlefield, Luna.”

“How can you not see,” Luna said in amazement as she shook her head.

“Luna, he’s treated us like scum for over six years; you can’t expect us to change our minds about him because he does one good deed,” Hermione attempted to reason.

“One good deed,” Luna said standing up from her chair. Several pairs of shocked eyes followed her movements; they’d never seen her anything but docile. “One good deed is all you think he’s done? I am alive because of him; Mr. Ollivander is alive because of him. One good deed? How could we have survived in that manor for months without him if he’s only done one good deed? You are all so blinded by what you think is right in front of you, why is it that you never look beyond the surface, beyond what is on the outside? I will never understand.”

“Luna, he may have kept you alive, but you weren’t safe; he hurt you extensively. You have no idea how horrible your injuries were; you looked nearly dead,” Harry said reaching for her hand; she stepped back from his grasp.

“I had to force him you know,” Luna said raising her chin to look Harry directly in the eye. “I had to hold his hand like this,” she said reaching for his hand that was holding Draco’s wand; she grasped his arm placing the tip of the wand directly over her heart as she’d done with Draco. “I had to force him to do it; he wouldn’t. I begged him, pleaded; he didn’t want to.

“You have no idea what it was like for him; how he cried and sobbed and ripped himself apart for what he had to do everyday. He hated it; he hates himself so deeply. He stood up to Fenrir Greyback to keep me safe; gave him wand in exchange for me. You may have seen one good deed, but you all barely see what is right before you, so how could you possibly know. He gave you his wand, Harry; it was his only form of protection, and he handed over to you willingly. How can you stand before me and reduce such a good man to nothing more than a Death Eater?”

Luna didn’t realize it, but tears were streaming down her face and her hands were clenched at her sides in anger. Her waif frame was shaking with the pent up emotion she felt at the people before her. Though her voice never raised nor did she show any sign of aggression, everyone in the room felt as if they had been subjected to a Howler. No one said a word as Luna stood there shaking at her outburst; instead, they all stared at her with cautious, wary eyes. Unable to take their shifting eyes and silence, Luna spun around and walked out of the cottage clutching Draco’s wand to her chest. She slammed the door behind her.

“She’s officially gone mental,” Ron whispered.

“Shut it, Ron,” Harry growled giving his best mate a devastatingly harsh look. “She’s right; we don’t know what went on in the manor, and it’s not fair of us to think of Malfoy so one-dimensionally. He laid everything on the line to help us; we owe him a chance.”

“So, we shouldn’t alert the DA?” Bill asked with hesitance. “Harry, they need to know, if only for precaution.”

“No, they should be warned, but tell them to watch him closely; see if he does anything out of character,” Harry suggested. Bill nodded.

“She really needs to break from her Stockholm syndrome though,” Hermione sighed. “It’s not healthy. She believes in people too much.”

“Miss Lovegood is right,” Mr. Ollivander said breaking his silence. “The boy is immensely troubled; when he would come down to the dungeons he would talk to her. She brought out something in him this world is in desperate need of.”

“Which is?” Hermione asked with her chin raised.

“Hope, Miss Granger,” he replied before shakily standing up and walking back into his room.

Outside, Luna sat on the cold sand with knees pulled to her chin; her silvery-blue eyes were closed as she focused on the sound of the ocean waves crashing against the rocks. She timed her breathing with the waves willing for the tears to stop falling from her eyes. The dark hawthorn wand was clutched tightly in her hand; she could feel the slight warmth of it against her skin. It wasn’t the same tingling feeling she got when holding her own wand, but there was a slight hum in the wood; she wondered if the wand recognized her. Opening her eyes, Luna swirled the wand around chanting a charm within her mind causing the sand the rise and swirl beside her. Waving the wand in tune to the water, the gains of sand danced to the rhythm. Hearing someone clear their throat behind her, Luna dropped the wand and the sand fell unceremoniously to the ground.

Turning, Luna saw Dean Thomas standing behind her; she greeted him with a small smile and patted the space next to her. Without uttering a sound, Dean joined the Ravenclaw girl on the cool sand. For a few minutes, neither said a word; instead, they stared at the ocean allowing their thoughts to take over their minds. As breeze blew by, Luna shivered slightly pulling her legs closer to her.

“Oh, blimey, I completely forgot; I brought this out for you,” Dean said with a shy smile as he handed over a patchwork quilt.

“Thank you, Dean,” Luna responded taking the blanket from his hand. “Aren’t you cold?”

“I guess,” he shrugged. “But I’ll be fine.”

“Nonsense,” Luna said wrapping one corner of the blanket around her far shoulder and stretching the other corner around Dean’s broad form as she moved closer to his side. “There’s plenty to share.”

“Thanks,” he sighed pulling the blanket tighter around him so it didn’t fall to the ground. “I just needed some air; I hope I didn’t disturb you.”

“Not at all,” Luna assured him with wide blue eyes. “Your presences is very calming; I am quite grateful for it at the moment.”

“I heard what happened earlier,” Dean admitted looking at Luna under his eyelashes.

“I fear I lost myself for a moment in there,” Luna sighed.

“Your losing it is my normal disposition then,” Dean laughed; Luna couldn’t hide the grin that stretched across her face. “I think you’re right by the way.”

“About the wand?” Luna smiled. “I’ve always been curious about them, you know. Magnificent things wands are. I just wish Hermione would believe me or believe anything really,” she sighed.

“Oh, well, yeah, I think you’re right about that too, “ Dean said scratching the back of his ear. “But I was talking about Malfoy.”

“Oh,” Luna said breathily before a glistening smile broke free. “Oh! I knew other people would see him as I do; he’s really not a bad person.”

“Yeah,” Dean nodded though he didn’t seem too convinced.

“You’re apprehensive?” Luna asked tilting her head to the side.

“I’m not really able to speak on his morality, but I can tell that he doesn’t want to be in the position he’s in. I’ve never told anyone this, but I ran into him last year in the bathroom. He was crying uncontrollably, sobbing really. It was like he was having a panic attack.”

“Poor Draco,” Luna sighed pulling the wand closer to her heart.

“Yeah, it was rough. Moaning Myrtle was trying to comfort him; he was just so out of it. Shaking and crying, I thought he was injured,” Dean recalled staring at the ocean blankly. “Malfoy kept saying ‘He’s gonna kill me; I can’t do this’ over and over.”

“Did you say anything to him?” Luna asked feeling tears prickle in the back of her eyes at the mere thought of Draco feeling such things.

“No, I knew he would threaten me if he knew I was there or hex me to bits,” Dean responded looking down as he drew lazy circles in the sand. “I think about it sometimes; if I would have said something to him or offered help, maybe he wouldn’t have let the Death Eaters in, maybe Dumbledore would still be alive.”

“Dean,” Luna said seriously in her airy voice as she reached over to grasp his hand. “That is too much to put on yourself. You’re right in thinking Draco would have retaliated on you witnessing him in such a vulnerable state; he prides himself on his composure. I don’t think at that time he was open to accepting help; he wasn’t ready yet, as horrible as that sounds.”

“But I could have told Harry or Dumbledore, McGonagall or someone, anyone. No one knew what he was up to; I could have gone back and talked to Moaning Myrtle. I could have done something,” the dark boy said looking down. “I feel so guilty about it.”

“I understand,” Luna nodded honestly. “I do, really. But you mustn’t blame yourself, Dean. Draco would not have accepted anything, and by exposing him, you could have been in grave danger. There really wasn’t a right thing to do in such a situation, I’m afraid. He started his mission caught up in bringing honor to his family name and proving his worth to You-Know-Who, but then the threats started happening and he thought he had no other choice. He did what he did to protect his family in the end.”

“You-Know-Who threatened him? I thought Malfoy was his favorite?”

“Yes, Draco was told if he did not succeed, he and his family would be executed. His task was a set up; he wasn’t supposed to be successful.”

“What do you mean?” Dean asked with furrowed eyebrows; the corners of his dark eyes created deep wrinkles.

“You-Know-Who set him up,” Luna sighed. “He was punishing Lucius Malfoy for his failure at the Department of Mysteries. Draco was meant to fail and to be killed.”

“Blimey,” Dean gasped out.

“I know,” Luna sighed giving Dean’s hand a squeeze. “We have no idea what he’s been through the past year, or his life really. He’s thoroughly confused on where he stands and what he believes, what he’s willing to fight for. I wanted him to come with us.”

“Why didn’t he?” Dean asked without hesitation.

“He wanted to, but if he would have left, You-Know-Who would have killed his parents. He had to stay so that he didn’t look like a traitor,” Luna explained. “But he is; he’s a traitor to You-Know-Who, and I couldn’t be more proud,” she smiled sadly as she looked down at the hawthorn wand in her hand that wasn’t intertwined with Dean’s.

“You and Malfoy—“ Dean said trailing off as he looked down at their intertwined hands nervously.

“Friends, “ Luna assured him. “Surviving is the most important thing right now; surviving and making sure there is a world worth living in when it’s all over.”

Dean nodded at her statement. The two sat in silence for a few minutes mulling over all the information they had shared with one another. Luna felt relieved in knowing that at least one other person knew the truth about Draco or at least some of the truth. It was comforting to know someone could support her claims if it became necessary. However, remembering Draco was alone at Hogwarts with no one to turn to, Luna felt a ball of dread sink in her stomach. He had to be lonely there; he had no one to talk to, no one to be himself around. It was heartbreaking to even consider. Luna knew what she had to do; she could feel the certainty in her bones.

“Thank you, Dean. You’ve been most wonderful, but I must speak to Mr. Ollivander at once,” she said.

Leaning over, Luna placed a quick kiss onto Dean’s dark cheek before standing up and walking inside. The dark Gryffindor boy watched her walk away with burning cheeks only turning to stare back at the water once she had disappeared behind the cottage’s door. He wrapped the blanket tighter around his tall form and was quickly lost in his own thoughts centered on his family.

Inside Shell Cottage, Luna quietly walked to Mr. Ollivander’s room knowing he was alone because Dean was outside. At his door, she knocked softly twice opening the door only when she heard his muffled consent to do so. When he saw her long blonde hair, Mr. Ollivander’s face broke into a broad smile.

“Miss Lovegood, it’s wonderful to see you,” he said genuinely. “I take it the bit of fresh air did you good?”
“Yes sir,” she nodded quickly. “The wackspurts seem to fear salt water; I’ll be sure to tell Daddy next time I see him.”

“Splendid,” Mr. Ollivander nodded. “However, I do feel like this is not a social visit; your eyes are sparking with determination. What is it I can help you with?”

“I want to return to Hogwarts immediately,” Luna said confidently. “But I need to know where I can get another wand.”

“Hogwarts is a very dangerous place, Miss Lovegood,” Mr. Ollivander sighed knowing his warning would do no good to persuade her against leaving.

“He needs me, Mr. Ollivander,” Luna whispered brokenly. “He needs someone to remind him of who he is and who he can become. I fear being isolated by the other students and only welcomed by those who support You-Know-Who will jeopardize all the revelations he’s achieved.”

“You don’t think he can remain on the right path without you?” Mr. Ollivander said raising a white eyebrow.

“I know he can; I have no doubt about it, but can you imagine how incredibly lonely he will be? He’ll have no one to talk to, and I fear his dark thoughts will overtake his mind once more. It took so long to make him see even a glimmer of hope; I’d hate for the shadows to overtake him again,” Luna said feeling her jaw tighten with emotion.

“You were captured on your way back to Hogwarts, Miss Lovegood,” Mr. Ollivander said gently. “They wanted you for a reason; what’s to keep them from taking you again?”

“Daddy is already in Azkaban,” Luna shrugged though she felt the admission lodge in her throat. “They don’t need me for leverage anymore; I have no purpose to them. Besides, I doubt I’ll go to classes; I’ll stay with the DA in hiding. I can help them train; I know what curses Death Eaters like to use now. I can help; I can help them all.”

“You need a wand you say?” Mr. Ollivander asked with twinkling eyes.

“Yes sir,” Luna nodded. “Temporarily of course; as soon as this is over, I’ll be buying another from you; I would have it no other way. I just need to know where to get one for now.”

“Nonsense, Miss Lovegood,” Mr. Ollivander said with a wave of his hand. “For all that you’ve done for me and for others, it would be my greatest joy to make you a wand before you return.”

“I’m flattered, really. But the wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Ollivander; It would break my heart for you work so hard on something only to have it reject me,” Luna replied earnestly.

“I’ve made thousands of wands in my lifetime, Miss Lovegood,” Mr. Ollivander smiled at her. “I’ve noted a pattern with the creation of the wand and the wizard it chooses. In all these years, I’ve never been more certain about giving a witch or wizard a wand as I do you. There is no doubt in my mind the exact wand that is meant for such a bright, caring young woman as yourself, Miss Lovegood. Of this, I assure you.”

“But, your supplies and your—“ Luna objected quickly.

“Let me worry about the details, Miss Lovegood,” Mr. Ollivander said holding his hand up. “Does three days sound alright with you?”

“I will never be able to thank you enough for this, Mr. Ollivander,” Luna cried as she wrapped her arms tightly around him nearly knocking him down in surprise. He let out a sound chuckle and patted her back adoringly.

“You kept me sane and as well as possible in that cellar; you took punishments for me when you knew I couldn’t survive them. It is I who is in your debt eternally. Making you a wand would be my greatest pleasure.”

Luna looked up at him with her wide silver-blue eyes filled with happy tears and nodded her head before squeezing him a touch tighter. She was beyond grateful and touched by the wise man’s sentiment, but she didn’t feel as if her actions had warranted such an honorable reward. However, she wasn’t going to argue with him; though he was just as open minded as she, Luna knew Mr. Ollivander was determined to make her a wand, not only as thanks but because he felt as if it was the only contribution he could make for the cause. He’d already spoken to Harry about the Elder Wand and the lore that went with it, but knowing he could physically help the Order filled him with a sense of usefulness. Luna sensed this, and she could not take such a feeling away from him. Releasing him from her grasp, Luna gave him a bright smile before quietly leaving him to rest.

Once the door was shut, Luna pressed her back against the smooth wooden surface and released a low breath of relief. Three days. She would be back at Hogwarts in three days. She would be there to help Ginny and Neville with the DA, she would be there to train the others so that they stood their very best chance of survival, and she would be there to help Draco in every way he needed her to. At the thought of all that she could do for the people she held dear, Luna felt her heart hammer in her chest in excitement and a smile overtake her face. It was dangerous returning to Hogwarts, but to Luna, it was well worth the risk.

Chapter Text

Two days seemed to drag on for Luna in a monotonous, agonizingly slow blur. More than once she found herself staring at the clock willing the day to speed by just a fraction faster. On the third day, she found herself outside in the garden looking under leaves and rocks for anything interesting. She found only a few beetles that she placed on the tomato plants so that they would not be squished later. Though she often enjoyed such an activity, Luna found herself restless in her search. She wanted to be back at Hogwarts; she wanted to be with Ginny and Neville, she wanted to help where she could. Though she would be eternally grateful to Bill and Fleur for opening up their home to her in such a time of desperation, Luna was itching to get away. The cottage was beautiful and homey, but it wasn't a place of action, it wasn't somewhere she was useful. Luna ached to help her friends.

Looking at the ground, a flash of yellow caught her eye. Leaning down, Luna scooped the brightly colored insect into her hand and smiled brightly at it. She followed the creature with her eyes as it crawled across her fingers, over her wrist, and up her arm as she giggled along. Slowly, the yellow beetle made it's way back down her skin and rested in in the palm of her hand. She knew the little thing was looking at her with hopeful eyes trusting that she would cause him no harm. Luna gave the beetle a serene smile as she examined it closely.

"Hello, little one," Luna said softly at the small creature bringing her hand closer to her face. "Aren't you beautiful! Here, rest on this leaf; you must be exhausted after your journey," she said placing the insect a leaf growing from a bright red tomato. "There, much better."

"Luna?" a voice said slightly in the distance. "Luna? Who are you talking to?" the voice said slightly closer before Dean Thomas came into view; he looked around expecting another to be with Luna in the garden.

"I found this little beetle; would you like to see?" Luna grinned broadly. Dean smiled back slightly and walked closer to examine the insect she'd placed on the tomato plant.

"Is this what you were talking to?" he asked with twinkling dark eyes.

"Yes," Luna replied confidently.

"I'm sure you'll find loads more; who knows how long we'll be here," Dean sighed looking at the beetle a bit closer. When he got too close, the little creature spread its wings and flew away. Luna frowned.

"Dean, there's something I must tell you," Luna said reaching for his hand; over the past few days, they had spent most of their time together and forged a fast, easy friendship.

"What is it, Luna?" he asked with furrowed eyebrows as he intertwined his fingers with hers. "Is everything alright?"

"Yes, well, considering," she said. "Dean, I'm going back to Hogwarts."

"How? Luna, it's dangerous for you to go back; what if they take you again?" Dean asked with widened eyes; his fingers gripped hers slightly tighter.

"I'm no longer needed," she shrugged with a small smile. "Dean, I need to help them," Luna said simply.

"Them or him?" Dean asked bluntly with a set jaw.

"Both," she admitted unashamed.

"Luna, it's not—"

"I'm going, Dean. I just wanted you to know before I told the others; only Mr. Ollivander knows as of now."

"When did you tell him?" Dean asked though he already knew the answer.

"Three days ago, when I left to speak to him. My wand was taken by the Death Eaters; I asked him where I could get another, but he insisted on making me one," Luna told the dark boy with an airy tone.

"I'm going with you," Dean said resolutely.

"Dean, you don't have to," Luna said looking up at him slightly. Though she was tall, he was a head above her in stature. "Like you said, it's dangerous."

"I don't care; I want to help too."

"Alright then," she nodded. "We'll have to tell the others tonight. I'm hoping the wand will be ready tomorrow. Do you have yours?"

"No, it was taken, but I'll figure it out when we get there," he shrugged. A part of Luna felt bad at not having told him sooner; she should have known he would want to go back as well. After all, they were his friends too.

"Okay," Luna said trustingly.

Giving his hand a gentle squeeze, Luna began pulling him towards the shore; he followed without hesitation. When her bare feet sank into the sand, Luna sat down pulling Dean with her as she watched the waves roll in. Hands still intertwined, Luna leaned her head to rest on his shoulder as she closed her eyes imagining seeing her friends once more. She imagined Ginny's face with a glistening smile and bright brown eyes, Neville's goofy grin and warm hugs. She thought of Professor Flitwick and his high pitched twittering and endearing quirks. She couldn't wait to see them. Then there was Draco. With every fiber in her body Luna wanted to see Draco, to see if he was doing well, free from injury and self-hatred. She wanted to feel his cool fingers against hers, to see his shy smile. At the thought of Draco, Luna's eyes popped open and a small gasp left her mouth. Looking over at the blonde Ravenclaw, Dean's dark eyes shadowed in worry. It was clear Luna had been lost in thought and had an epiphany of sorts.

"What is it?" Dean asked keeping his voice level.

"Draco," Luna sighed. "I just realized he's going to have to ignore me."

"Oh," Dean grumbled. "I'm sorry."
"It's fine, really," Luna said. "I just wanted to see if he was doing well, but I don't know how to do that without talking to him directly."

"I'm sure you'll figure something out," Dean assured her with a gentle squeeze of her fingers; he would never understand Luna's deep, unwavering care for Malfoy, but as her friend, he felt the need to support her. "If he's changed like you say he has, like I believe he wanted to, you'll find a way, both of you."

"Thank you, Dean," Luna said snuggling her head deeper into the crook of his neck while keeping her eyes trained on the crashing waves.

"For what?" he asked leaning his head against hers.

"Being here for me, listening to me and not simply hearing the words I say, but truly listening. It's refreshing. You may not know this, but people don't often take what I say seriously."

"That's a shame," Dean responded fully knowing what other people thought and said about the whimsical Ravenclaw by his side; in his opinion, it was their loss for not realizing how incredible she was.

The two teenagers sat in silence for a while longer neither feeling the need to fill the quiet with needless words. They sat on the sandy shore for what they both hoped would be their final day at Shell Cottage for a while. Eventually, the sun began to descend in the sky, and Dean stood up pulling Luna with him. They walked back to the cottage hand in hand knowing that dinner that night was going to be exhausting. Both Luna and Dean knew Harry would object to their leaving. Pushing the wooden door open, Luna released Dean's hand after a final squeeze in order to check on Mr. Ollivander.

Walking down the small hallway, Luna could hear the famed wandmaker humming a light tune to himself; she couldn't suppress the smile that stretched across her face. Gently knocking on his door, Luna heard the melody stop and loud shuffling take its place. She didn't enter until Mr. Ollivander gave her permission to do so.

"Oh, Miss Lovegood," he sighed with a soft smile. "I was expecting you soon. I'm putting the finishing touches on your wand; it's my favorite creation to date, I must admit."

"I'm so grateful, Mr. Ollivander," Luna said brightly. "Really, I will never be able to thank you properly."

"We've been through this before; there is no need for thanks, I assure you," the wandmaker said. Looking at him, Luna noticed a bit more color had returned to his cheeks and his blue eyes were brighter than before, they seemed happy.

"So, it will be ready tomorrow?" Luna asked feeling excitement and nervousness bubbling within her.

"To be honest, it should be ready right after, if not before, dinner; I may have gotten carried away making it; I've missed my craft," he said wistfully.

"Tonight,' she breathed out. "I could return to Hogwarts tonight."

"I suppose so," Mr. Ollivander said reaching out to place a hand on her arm lovingly. "Though I will despise no longer seeing you daily, Miss Lovegood, I know your heart is with your friends."

"You're my friend too, Mr. Ollivander; in fact, I think you might be one of my very best," she said with dreamy eyes.

"That is an honor I will cherish forever," he smiled back. "Now, go prepare for dinner; I'm sure you'll meet your fair share of opposition on the issue. The wand will be ready for you, I promise."

"Thank you," Luna whispered feeling her throat constrict with emotion. She leaned over to place a quick kiss to Mr. Ollivander's wrinkled cheek before leaving him to his work.

Closing the door behind her, Luna wiped the fallen tears from her smiling face. She walked into the living room to see Dean flipping through magazine with far off eyes. Catching his attention, she mouthed the word tonight. She couldn't suppress her giggle as his eyes went wide in shock. Tonight, tonight she would be back with her friends, she would be back at Hogwarts, and she'd be back with Draco or at least as close as she could be. It was overwhelming, but incredibly welcomed. Her stomach filled with fluttering Blibbering Humdingers at the thought.

When dinner was ready, everyone gathered around the large table in the kitchen. Luna reached over and scooped a heaping portion of broccoli and potato hash onto her plate, but she couldn't quite get herself to eat the food on her plate. She was far too nervous for what was going to happen once she told them all of her plans to leave. Dinner passed in a pleasant blur as Luna pushed the food around her plate while listening to the conversation flow around her. Once dinner was over, Fleur brought out a bowl of chocolate pudding dressed with whipped cream and raspberries; when she declined a serving, everyone at the table knew something was wrong.

"Luna, you've barely touched your dinner and you just declined pudding," Harry stated seriously. "Is something wrong?"

"Well, Harry," Luna sighed. "There is something I need to tell you, tell you all really."

"Whatever it is you can tell us, Luna," Harry assured her with worried green eyes. Taking a deep breath, Luna felt Dean's hand reach for hers under the table and squeeze her fingers gently.

"I'm going back to Hogwarts," she said quietly looking directly at Harry. His faced didn't change at first; it seemed as if he didn't process what she said, but as Ron and Hermione looked at him expectantly, the Chosen One realized his ears hadn't deceived him.

"Luna, no," he said simply. "I'm sorry, but it's too dangerous."

"Harry, I need to do something, I need to help," she reasoned. "Please, understand."

"What if they take you again?" Harry asked hitting his hand on the table; everyone jumped in fright. "Luna, if we lost you again, I don't know what I would do—what we would do knowing that you were safe here. I can't risk it."

"It's not your risk to take," Luna sighed reaching across the table for his hand. "Harry, please, I'm not doing this to upset you, but I'm not asking. I'm going back to Hogwarts to help Ginny, Neville, and the rest of the DA. They're my friends, and I can help them."

"Is that the only reason?" Harry bit out. "No one else you're going back for?"

"Harry, don't," Luna sighed. "Draco is part of the reason, yes, but he's not the entirety of it. Please try to understand."

"I don't want you to go back alone," Harry said running a hand through his unruly hair. "You don't have a wand or anyone to protect you on your way to the DA. There are Death Eaters in the school, Luna. They know by now that you've escaped Malfoy Manor; they won't take that lightly."

"Funny you should mention a wand," Luna said with a crooked grin. "Mr. Ollivander has been working on one for me."

"A wand? How long have you been planning this?" Hermione asked with wide eyes.

"Three days," Luna admitted.

"But you'll be alone, Luna," Harry attempted to reason.

"Well," Dean said clearing his throat. "There's a solution to that as well. I'm going with her."

"So you'll both be leaving? Hermione said with furrowed eyebrows.

"That's the plan, yes," Dean nodded.

"Harry, try to reason with them," Hermione whispered rather loudly.

"Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Harry asked looking at Luna and Dean seriously. "Absolutely certain."

"Yes," they said in unison.

"Fine," Harry sighed. "I don't like it, but it's not my decision to make."

"Thank you, Harry," Luna sighed giving his fingers a tight squeeze.

"When is your wand going to be ready?" Harry asked.

"Tonight," Luna replied.

"Tonight?" Hermione shrieked. "But they can't leave tonight, Harry. We'll be leaving as well in the morning. They should stay here; it would be easier on everyone."

"That's not fair, Hermione," Luna said calmly.

"What's not fair?" Hermione asked. "Luna we've been planning this for days; we're trying to help you, help the entire wizarding world! We've all risked our lives saving you, after everything that happened."

"Hermione," Harry warned. "Don't."

"No, Harry," Hermione bristled. "She needs to know the severity of the situation. Do you know why your father is in Azkaban?"

"Hermione!" Ron gasped with wide blue eyes; she ignored him completely.

"He failed in turning Harry, Ron, and me over to Death Eaters; we went to your bloody house to ask him about the Deathly Hallows. He tried serving us up to Vol—You-Know-Who on a broken, multicolored platter and got himself locked up in the process."

"That's enough!" Harry voiced. "Hermione, you had no reason—"

"She should stay here and appreciate what we've sacrificed for her," Hermione said pushing away from the table. "She should help the people who have protected her and not that bloody ferret Malfoy!" the Gryffindor girl shouted before storming out of the room.

All eyes followed her except for Luna's wide blue eyes that were unfocused with shock. A large lump had formed in her throat; she could hardly breath after everything that Hermione said. She felt as if someone had slapped her and ripped her heart out; no curse or attack within Malfoy Manor had hurt as badly as that moment. Her father betrayed Harry Potter and for what? She felt sick at the thought of it; she was thankful she hadn't touched much of her dinner, for she knew if she had, it would have made a reappearance.

"Luna, I'm so sorry; I don't know what came over her," Harry said walking to her side. He squatted down beside her placing a hand on her arm.

"Is it true?" she whispered in a watery voice.

"Luna—"

"Is it true?" she asked with more severity.

"Yes," Harry sighed.

"Oh Merlin, Harry," Luna sobbed. "I'm so sorry; I'm sure Daddy didn't mean it—"

"Luna, I forgave him the moment it happened. He did it to get you back. I can't lie; I would probably have done the same thing if it were my child. I think we all would. I don't blame him, and I don't blame you," Harry told her sincerely.

"Well, clearly Hermione does," Luna sniffed.

"'Mione is wrong to treat you like that though, Luna," Ron said looking forlorn. "It's bloody scary when she gets like that."

"I just can't believe Daddy would do such a thing," Luna whispered more to herself than anyone else. "I just can't."

"It's war, Miss Lovegood; we all do things we aren't proud of," Mr. Ollivander said quietly from his seat. During the entire exchange Mr. Ollivander, Bill, and Fleur remained silent in shock. "I think I have something that will lift your spirits," he said softly reaching into his robe pocket.

Slowly, Mr. Ollivander extended his hand toward Luna as he grasped something within. As soon as her skin touched the wood, a warm hum ran through her blood and her hair swirled delicately around her. As her fingers wrapped around the handle, she marveled at the intricate woodwork Mr. Ollivander had done. The wand was a light color and smooth; the handle was shaped as a tulip, the petals flared out slightly at the ends. Luna felt her lip tremble at the beautiful piece wondering how such a wonderful thing could belong to her.

"It's beautiful, Mr. Ollivander," Luna gasped. "Absolutely exquisite."

"It's made of pear, a wood that produces a most splendid magic in the hands of the warm-hearted, the generous, and the wise. The core is that of a unicorn, a creature of purity. It is thirteen inches long and slightly springy. This is the wand made solely for the likes of you Miss Lovegood. Go on; try it out, my dear child."

"Avis," Luna said watching gleefully as a flock of birds erupted from her wand and flew around the kitchen chirping merry tunes.

"Remarkable," Mr. Ollivander whispered as he watched the birds.

"Bill," Harry said suddenly. "Can you contact McGonagall and ask her the best way to get two students back into Hogwarts?"

"Yeah," Bill said hesitantly; it was the first word he'd voiced since Hermione's outburst. "Just give me a moment," he said getting up and walking into the other room to floo call the Head of Gryffindor House.

While Bill was making the call, the others watched as Luna cast spell after spell making multicolored bubbles erupt from her wand and puffy animal shapes. When all of a sudden, the urge to cast a patronus filled her mind. Without hesitation, she thought of a happy memory, as she uttered the familiar incantation. Out of her new wand came a bouncing silver hare. Fleur gasped in delight as the shining creature hopped around the kitchen walls leaving a trail of light in its path. When the eldest Weasley child walked back into the room, Luna called her patronus back into her wand and held her breath.

"The floo connection into McGonagall's office will be opened tonight starting at eleven; it will only be open for five minutes, so the two of you should be ready to go by then," Bill relayed with a tight smile; it was clear he didn't like the idea either.

"Oh, Luna," Fleur said gently walking to the young Ravenclaw. "I will meez you so," she said wrapping Luna into a warm hug; no matter what she had been doing, Fleur always smelled like vanilla and freesias. "Pleeze be careful, ma chèrie," the beautiful French woman whispered into Luna's hair giving her a tight squeeze.

"I promise," Luna assured her.

At ten minutes until eleven, Luna paced before the fireplace eager to be on her way. Everyone but Griphook and Hermione was in the living room to send Dean and her off, but Luna felt as if she would never leave as the seconds felt like hours. She had never paced before in her life; she was always calm and collected, very go-with-the-flow, but in that moment, she felt as if she could burst from her skin with anxiety. It felt odd to have such a foreign feeling invade her, but Luna knew it was futile to fight against it. Luna's wand was tucked securely behind her left ear and tangled into her blonde hair; she felt somewhat whole again. She longed for her Dirigible plum earrings and her Butterbeer cork necklace, but she knew a wand was far more useful.

Luna could hear the clock in the corner ticking away seconds; she felt as if the sound were in her head and pounding against her skull every second. Looking at the clock, she saw only two minutes had passed; she fought the urge to groan out loud. Looking around, Luna saw that Harry was staring off into the distance most likely caught up in his own thoughts; she thought it best not to disturb him. Ron seemed disinterested in what was happening around him, but she knew he was thinking of the row he and Hermione had a few hours prior; the entire cottage had heard. Bill and Fleur were walking to each other in hushed voices, and Mr. Ollivander was reading through a book; circular spectacles were perched on his nose. The only person who seemed as keyed up as she was Dean; he was seated in a chair, his leg bobbing up and down quickly.

As another tick filled her brain, Luna looked to the clock. They had five more minutes until the floo connection opened. Five more minutes, and she would be back at Hogwarts with her friends. Five more minutes and she would be of use for the cause. Five more minutes and she would be back in the castle she had called home for six years. Five more minutes and she would be in the same building as Draco. Five. More. Minutes.

"Luna," Harry said softly from behind her.

Turning around, Luna saw that he looked crestfallen and wan. Without hesitation, Luna extended her hand towards him smiling slightly when he took his hand into hers. She waited for him to speak knowing that he would do so when he was ready; what ever he had to say wasn't going to be easy.

"Teach them everything you know," he started. "Help them learn everything they can to give them their best shot. I know you can do this."

"Thank you, Harry," Luna whispered. "I will."

"Tell her hello for me," Harry added looking at his trainers.

"I will," Luna nodded not needing a name to know whom Harry was talking about; the blush on his cheeks told her all she needed to know.

"You ready?" Dean asked from behind her. "Two minutes."

"Bill, Fleur," Luna said looking towards the beautiful couple. "Thank you so much for everything; I don't know how to ever repay your kindness and hospitality."

"Never worry about eet," Fleur said. "You are welcome any time you weesh to come back."

"Goodbye, Luna," Bill said with a nod in her direction. "Until next time."

"Mr. Ollivander," Luna said extending her other hand toward the wandmaker who was sitting close to Harry. "Thank you, for everything."

"I shall say the same to you, Miss Lovegood," Mr. Ollivander nodded. "Be well, my dear child. Keep yourself safe."

"Goodbye, Ronald," Luna waved letting go of Mr. Ollivander's hand; the youngest Weasley son waved back with a small grin.

"Goodbye, Harry," Luna said giving him a tight embrace. "Thank you for rescuing me and forgiving Daddy; you're an amazing friend."

"As are you, Luna," Harry repelled squeezing her tighter. "Tell everyone hello for us."

"I will. Please tell Hermione goodbye for me," Luna said letting go and walking toward the fireplace just as the clock struck eleven. Grabbing a handful of floo powder, Luna watched as Dean stepped into the fireplace and gave her a nod.

"Bye, everyone. See you again," Dean said before tossing down the powder at his feet and saying "Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall's office," very clearly.

Once Dean was gone, Luna stepped in his place giving a final wave to everyone before doing the same as Dean. Her vision swirled around her and Luna caught a glimpse into several homes before appearing in Professor McGonagall's office. She looked at the Head of Gryffindor for a moment unable to move her feet due to excitement. Suddenly, Luna flung herself at Professor McGonagall embracing her tightly.

"My, Miss Lovegood," the Transfiguration teacher gasped in shock breaking her severe façade. After a few seconds, the professor returned the embrace with a small smile on her face. Soon, however, she cleared her throat and stepped back giving a nod to replace her usual disposition. "Well, it's wonderful to see you both, but I'm afraid this visit has to be short; Professor Snape will most likely know about your arrival come morning if he does not already," she clipped. "I'm sure the both of you know where to go?"

"Yes, Professor," Dean said grabbing Luna's hand in his own. "Thank you."

"Yes, thank you, thank you so much!" Luna chirped as she was pulled from the office room.

Once the door was shut and the floo connection disconnected, Minerva McGonagall stood before the tall window overlooking the shadowed grounds with a crystal glass in her hand. Knowing that two more of her students were alive and well caused tears to fill her eyes. Though she would never tell the students directly, she considered them all her children and felt the need to keep them all from danger. Knowing that two more were under the castle both relieved and frightened her. Taking another sip of the amber liquid, Professor McGonagall watched over the grounds as she had every night since the beginning of the school year alert for anything that might transpire while hoping all would remain calm.

"Luna," Dean hissed as they ran down the barren corridors. "We have to hurry."

"Oh, right," Luna said allowing him to pull her away from the portrait she was observing. "I've just missed it all deeply."

"I know," he said softly giving her fingers a squeeze as they ran up the staircase as it began to move; luckily, it switched in their favor. "Almost there."

Luna felt a rush of calm overtake her knowing she was back in the castle and would soon be reunited with her friends. A serene smile overtook her face as she looked up at the Gryffindor boy. Reaching the top step, Luna and Dean jogged to where the tapestry hung on the wall and walked before it three times. The door appeared immediately; behind it, they could hear frantic whispers. Releasing a deep breath, Dean opened the door to reveal Dumbledore's Army Headquarters; they were welcomed with wands aiming at their face.

"Inside," a voice said fiercely. "Now!"

Dean and Luna ran into the door and shut it behind them; turning around, the wands were still pointed directly at them. Almost immediately, Luna spotted Ginny due to her flaming red hair; she felt her stomach flip at the sight of her best friend. However, Luna knew that if she were to make any sudden movements, she would be hit with a jinx or hex. Instead, Luna waited patiently with a dreamy smile on her face. Dean, however, was not nearly as calm as Luna; he felt exposed and defenseless without a wand despite the fact that he wouldn't need to protect himself within the room.

"State your names. You first," Seamus Finnegan said pointing his wand directly at Dean.

"Uh, Dean Thomas," the dark Gryffindor boy said hesitantly.

"Alright then," Seamus said, his mouth in a grim line. "In fourth year, Professor Lupin had us face our greatest fears. What was yours?"

"A severed hand," Dean said immediately. "A severed had walking on its own."

Seamus immediately lowered his wand and raced towards Dean wrapping him in a fierce embrace. Dean laughed and returned the gesture dropping Luna's hand in the process. The serene Ravenclaw watched joyfully as the two best friends were reunited. Turning away from the two Gryffindor's, Luna focused her wide eyes on Ginny Weasley who had not smiled at the exchange.

"And you?" she said harshly. "State your name."

"Luna Lovegood," she said airily.

"Where are your radish earrings?" Ginny asked starting at her with steely brown eyes.

"They're Dirigable plums," Luna informed her. "But they were confiscated when I was captured before Christmas. Curious things they are," Luna smiled. "They enhance one's ability to accept the extraordinary."

"No further questions," Ginny smiled before running to Luna and enveloping her in a tight hug. "I've missed you so much," the Weasley daughter said into Luna's hair.

"I've missed you," Luna said in return wrapping her long arms around Ginny. The two friends hugged for a moment before another body joined the embrace. Luna didn't need to look up to know it was Neville; she could feel his caring aura.

"Good to have you back, Luna," he said quietly before stepping back awkwardly to allow the two girls to separate. As they did, Ginny reached over and grabbed Luna's hand tightly in her own.

"It's wonderful to be back," Luna smiled. "Harry says hello," she announced to everyone while giving Ginny's hand an extra squeeze. The redheaded girl blushed slightly.

"You've seen Harry?" Neville asked with wide eyes.

"We have, yes," Luna said nodding her blonde head towards Dean who was now enveloped in a hug from Lavender Brown.

"Did he break you out of Azkaban?" Ginny asked. "We haven't heard anything in about a week."

"Azkaban?" Luna asked tilting her head to the side. "I was never in Azkaban."

"Where were you?" Ginny asked. "We just assumed…"

"I was at Malfoy Manor," Luna smiled serenely. However, her admission caused a response that was anything but serene.

"Malfoy Manor? That's why that bouncing ferret is back," Ginny hissed. "He was probably sent away for failing once again, the git," she bit out; Luna felt as if she'd been slapped. However, she kept her face unaffected. "Did you see him while you were there?"

"Yes," Luna admitted feeling Dean's dark eyes on her. "I saw Draco Malfoy," she said adding his last name as too not seem to friendly with the Slytherin boy; she knew now was not the time to discuss their friendship.

"Did he hurt you?" Ginny asked while attempting to discretely check Luna for injury. Ginny had noticed immediately how thin Luna looked when she first entered the DA Headquarters. Luna Lovegood had always been thin, but after spending months in the cellar, her weight had plummeted severely; a few days at Shell Cottage had enabled Luna to gain a few pounds back, but not nearly enough to makeup for what she lost. Although her wounds had been healed, she still bared a stray bruise and cut that was not severe enough to heal with magic. Ginny noted there was something else off with her best friend. Her eyes were not as innocent or carefree as they once were. Though Luna's wide, silvery-blue orbs still shone with dreaminess, her eyes held sparks of intensity and focus as if she were on a mission. It was not a new sight for Ginny, but rather one she'd only seen in Luna during the Battle of Mysteries and other times of conflict. Luna only wore this expression when someone needed protection, and this intrigued Ginny.

"No," Luna said quickly as her eyes darted to Dean Thomas who was watching the scene before him with caution. "No, he only ever brought us food."

"Us?" Neville voiced.

"Oh, well, Mr. Ollivander was with me, you see," Luna responded with a smile.

"So that's where he's been!" Ginny said.

"Yes," Luna nodded. "But he's safe now."

"That's good to hear," Ginny nodded. "Did anything else happen?"

"Dobby died," Luna said quietly.

"Dobby?" Neville gasped. "Blimey," he sighed sadly.

"How'd Harry take it?" Ginny asked.

"As well as he could, of course," Luna voiced. "We all buried him together and held a small memorial. It was lovely, very peaceful."

"I'm so sorry you were taken, Luna," Ginny said giving her hand a squeeze. "We sent people out everywhere looking for you."

"You didn't need to do that," Luna whispered feeling the weight of her friends' love for her.

"Of course we did," Neville said. "We were worried sick about you."

"Thank you," Luna said reaching for his hand as well.

As she held two of her best friends' hands, Luna's mind drifted back to her bedroom at Rook House where their portraits were painted on her ceiling; she felt her mouth pull into a smile at the thought. Neither Ginny nor Neville responded but merely smiled back at her happily knowing their friend was safe. For the rest of the evening, Luna, Neville, and Ginny sat and talked about what had transpired while Luna was away. Although things were bad at Hogwarts when Luna left, they had gotten worse in her absence.

Most of the DA stayed within Headquarters during classes no longer feeling safe enough to leave or attend lessons. The Carrows had continued teaching Unforgivables and allowing students to use them on each other; most of the Slytherins opted for a Gryffindor target. The hospital wing was almost always full with students suffering from curses and injuries; Madam Pomfrey was finding it difficult to keep up with all of her charges. It was clear lessons were no longer being taught not only in Defense Against the Dark Arts but in other classes as well. Due to fear and injury, class attendance had dwindled to almost nothing. Due to the circumstances, no professor wanted to risk their students' well being and never forced them to attend lessons. After all, their jobs were to ultimately keep the students safe. As they told her about how much life at Hogwarts had suffered, Luna held on to the small sliver of hope that things would turn around soon. She had to believe it, not only for her sake but for them all.

Chapter Text

The Slytherin common room had always been a comfort to Draco. Beginning his first year, he would walk in with a confident gait and smirking face as he traveled to his favorite chair, and everyone would make way. Even the older students obeyed this silent order; they knew the power behind the Malfoy name and the consequences, both social and physical, in not respecting such. However, though he still sat in his favorite chair, the oversized emerald chaise with the best view into the Black Lake, and he continued to plaster the self-satisfied smirk on his face, Draco felt anything but at ease. Every scratch of quill on parchment, every crackle of the fireplace, every time the door closed, Draco felt as if he was going to jump out of his skin. Despite his internal fright, Draco remained cool on the outside as he’d practiced for nearly seventeen years.

Feeling the velvet cushion beside him sink, Draco lifted his eyes from the book he was staring at to peer at the person beside him. He should have known; he smelled her sweet violet and summer rose perfume before he saw her. Beside him sat Pansy Parkinson; her black hair gently floating above her shoulders as she peered at him with her dark olive eyes. He stared back at her noticing her pursed lips and raised eyebrows. Knowing the girl as well as he knew himself, Draco waited for her to speak knowing her expression meant she either knew something or she wanted to. Eventually, she released a small sigh and her face softened fractionally. Her hand reached over to rest on his covered arm; her smooth, pale flesh starkly contrasting with his black robes.

“Draco,” Pansy said softly. “Do tell me what’s wrong.”

“What are you talking about, Pansy?” he asked with an uninterested tone; he watched her eyes harden slightly.

“Don’t play dumb,” she said. “I know you. I know you as well as anyone. Don’t shut off from us again.”

“I’m fine, Pansy,” Draco snapped; a thread of guilt plagued him as she wrenched her hand away from his arm and her eyes darkened even more.

He knew he had hurt her feelings in that moment, but it was unavoidable. This was another reason he dreaded being back within the Slytherin common room. Pansy had watched him since his return; for nearly a week, her dark eyes had followed him everywhere observing his behavior and gauging his moods. He could feel her everywhere. Though he knew she was merely concerned for his wellbeing considering how his health had declined the year before, he found it suffocating. She’d always watched him, for they grew up together. They were as close of friends as either would allow, and he had to admit he held some token of affection for her. However, he couldn’t indulge in her; it was too dangerous. She was right in saying she knew him; however, she didn’t know how he had changed in his absence. That was dangerous for them both.

“Malfoy,” Theodore Nott greeted with a nod before burying his face in the scrolls of notes before him. From the corner of his eye, Draco saw Pansy close her mouth keeping whatever she was about to say silent. Draco had never been more thankful for Theo’s quiet presence.

Closing his book, Draco stood up from his spot and turned to observe the scene beyond the windows. Though most would deem it miserable to take notice of a society one could not participate in, Draco found the depths of the Dark Lake fascinating. Though Ravenclaw and Gryffindor students were able to observe Hogwarts grounds from their tower dwellings, the Slytherins were the only students permitted to see within the lake. It was special and a luxury the other houses were kept from. As a silver fish swam by, its glistening scales shining from common room’s light, Draco saw a Grindylow jet by; its skin was sickly green and eyes bright yellow. Draco thought he saw a semblance of a smile on the creatures face as its sharp fingers caught the fish tearing off its head. The blonde Slytherin boy looked away immediately.

“Blimey, those creatures are sickening,” Blaise Zabini said as he sat down beside Theo. “I do wish the mer-filth would keep them on tighter leashes. I nearly lose my appetite when one of them scurries by. Disgusting,” he scoffed taking a delicate sip from the steaming mug he held.

“Watch it,” Theo said as Blaise nearly placed his mug on the scrolls he had spread across the table before them.

“Why do you even bother, Nott,” Blaise scoffed. “You know the Carrows are going to give us high marks.”

“Some of us actually enjoy succeeding on our own rather than relying on our good looks to get us by,” Theo smarted as he etched more words onto the scroll before him.
“You think I’m good looking?” Blaise smirked.

“That would be the only thing you got from that statement,” Theo huffed not looking up from his parchment.

“Really, Nott,” Blaise smirked. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were acting like that Mudblood Granger,” he said flicking his dark eyes to Draco for approval; Draco forced a smirk onto his face.

“Don’t compare me to her,” Theo said half-heartedly. Though one could reduce his nearly platonic reaction to his focus, Draco didn’t miss the lack of offence Theo took at Zabini’s remark. In that moment, Draco began to wonder if Nott Sr.’s excuse of his son not being ready was true or merely a cover story to Theo’s less than eager desire to join the ranks.

Although they were his friends, Draco felt unease around Pansy, Theo, and Blaise; they were sharp and attentive. They noticed something was off with him, and they weren’t afraid to point it out. Because of this, Draco found himself spending more time with Crabbe and Goyle when he forced himself out of his bedchambers. They tended not to notice any thing off with him, nor did they feel the need to voice opinions or thoughts in general. Both of the imposing Slytherin boys were content in mocking anyone they found worthy, or rather unworthy, and applauding Draco for merely existing. Around them, Draco could allow himself to breath properly. Unfortunately, they were nowhere in sight.

“Have you seen Crabbe and Goyle around?” Draco asked nonchalantly as he scanned the room with lazy grey eyes. “I’d like to hear about their cursing the Hufflepuff girl again,” he smirked.

“Last I saw, they were in the Great Hall stuffing their fat faces with piles of tarts,” Blaise shrugged. “I’m sure they are out lurking the corridors. They’ve been trying to catch the Weasley girl alone for months in hopes of revenge.”

“Revenge?” Draco asked with a raise eyebrow.

“Oh, the oafs haven’t indulged you with that tale?” Blaise grinned mockingly. “The second week of school they were practicing the Imperious on Lavender Brown, attempting to force her in removing articles of clothing in the hallway. The Weaslette hit them both with a hex that had bats flying from their noses for hours!”

“It was repulsive,” Pansy shuddered.

“Truly,” Theo Nott agreed. “Although you don’t have to share a room with them, Parkinson.”

“Don’t think we couldn’t hear their whining in the girls’ dorms,” Pansy replied haughtily. “I nearly lost my wits with Millicent Bulstrode’s complaining.”

“Poor you,” Theo deadpanned not looking up from his scroll; Draco envied his calm demeanor and his seemingly lax outlook on life. Not Jr. had nothing to worry about; at least that’s what it seemed.

“I’m going out for some air,” Draco said feeling the collar of his shirt rub against his neck making him antsy to unbutton the stiff fabric.

“It’s nearly after hours,” Blaise commented.

“As if anyone will reprimand him,” Pansy smirked; the pride in her voice was evident. “He shares a similar marking as those who rule Hogwarts now. Right, Draco?”

“Right,” he nodded heading for the door feeling his palms sweat; though he knew it was only in his mind, he could feel the Dark Mark burning.

As he reached the final stair on the top of the staircase, Draco stepped into the hallway as he gulped in a large breath of cool air. Reaching up, he unfastened the top two buttons of his oxford shirt and loosened his green and silver tie. Slowly, Draco closed his eyes and released a breath feeling as if he could do so freely at last. After a few moments, Draco allowed his feet to carry him away from the entrance of the Slytherin dorms. He wandered through the empty corridors allowing the burning torches to light his way. Draco had avoided using the wand he now carried, for it belonged to his mother. He didn’t want to admit to his friends his wand was now in Harry Potter’s possession. Due to his aversion to using the wand, Draco had grown accustomed in doing things without magic. Walking without a Lumos guiding his way was one.

As he walked on, Draco noticed his feet had carried him across the castle. He now stood near Ravenclaw the staircase leading into Ravenclaw tower. With a deep huff of annoyance, Draco turned to walk away irritated that his feet had brought him there; however, the sound of voices caught his attention. Quickly, Draco ducked beside the staircase allowing the tall shadows it created to shield him.

“Minerva,” the distinctive voice of Severus Snape sounded. “This is far from Gryffindor Tower is it not?”

“Am I no longer allowed to walk within the castle, Severus?” Professor McGonagall replied with her usual stern tone.

“I cannot keep you from doing so,” Professor Snape replied. “Though I do wonder what has brought you to Ravenclaw Tower. Looking for Filius, perhaps?”

“And why would I be doing so?”

“I only wonder if you’re looking for him due to news of incoming guests; I have heard reports of students entering the castle through your office.”

“Have you now?” the Transfiguration teacher questioned.

“I have, yes,” Snape drawled lazily. “If they are to be true, you do understand that I can have you removed from your position immediately. Such acts will not be tolerated at Hogwarts under my watch, Minerva.”

“Of course not, Severus,” Professor McGonagall replied coolly.

“I’m happy we understand each other. If I so much as lay eyes on Miss Lovegood or Mr. Thomas, I will remove them from the castle myself. Permanently. Good night.”

At the news he heard, Draco felt his mouth go dry. She was here; she was here within the castle walls. The items he carried within his robe pocket seemed heavier; her Butterbeer cap necklace and vegetable earrings seemed to pull at the fabric they were within. Draco felt a pulling within his stomach; a sensation he rarely experienced. He felt as if he needed to find her, to see her with his own eyes. His feet itched to find their hideout, to barge in there and see her misty eyes and hear her voice. However, the more logical and reasonable side of him knew he would not be welcomed where ever she may be. If he were to turn up there, he would surely be cursed into oblivion. He remained motionless as a rush of ideas and emotions surged within him; he lost track of how long he stood there beside the Ravenclaw stairs. It wasn’t until a deep voice sounded that he snapped back into focus.

“An odd place to wonder around at night, Mr. Malfoy” Severus Snape drawled with his slow voice as he stared at Draco who was still hiding within the shadows of staircase.

“I was looking for Crabbe and Goyle,” Draco replied calmly as he stepped into the warm glow of the torches. “They hadn’t returned to the common room.”

“How noble of you, Draco,” Snape deadpanned. “I just passed them in the corridor however, so your efforts will no longer be needed.”

“Of course,” Draco replied with a heat burning his cheeks. “Thank you, Professor,” Draco said turning to leave; however, a cold hand reached out and touched his forearm, the one with the jagged scar.

“Have you anything to tell me, Draco?” Professor Snape asked with narrowed eyes. “Anything at all?”

“No, Professor,” Draco said, his silver eyes finding Snape’s black; though his mother told him to trust Severus Snape, Draco felt that his response to Luna’s returning to Hogwarts was not something he wanted the Headmaster to know.

“Very well then,” Snape nodded releasing Draco’s arm. “Be on your way.”

Draco turned from his Head of House and made the long walk back to the Slytherin dorms silently. At every noise, Draco scanned his surroundings for long blonde hair or willowy, pale limbs. He could feel his jagged scar tingling though he knew not whether it was a mental reaction or a legitimate feeling. He felt a simultaneous relief and fear in knowing she was at Hogwarts. He also felt a bolt of anger towards Potter; the Gryffindor promised he’d keep her safe, yet she had returned to the castle where dangers lurked at every corner for a personal of her allegiance. However, Draco knew Potter would keep her under his protection as long as she wanted it; however, he did not have the means of controlling her. Draco knew Luna would want to be with her friends; selfishly, he wondered if his return to the castle had influenced her return as well.

On the first floor, he passed the room he’d spent a great deal of time within the year prior. He wasn’t sure why, but something told him to enter the room. For once, Draco didn’t think about consequences, but rather he listened to his instincts. Walking into the dark room, he heard singing coming from one of the stalls. After clearing his throat, the voices stopped and a silvery head peaked over the top of the wooden door. With a loud shriek, Moaning Myrtle soared above him happily. After circling him quickly, she stilled before him with a wide smile on her translucent face.

“Draco, dear,” she squeaked. “I thought you’d forgotten about me and our long, tender moments together last year,” she sighed wistfully floating closer.

“I don’t think that would be possible, Myrtle,” Draco said honestly.

“I knew they meant as much to you as they did to me,” she said with closed eyes. “You’re so sensitive and sweet, Draco, dear. So many tears.”

“Right,” he blushed remembering his hysterical sobbing and Moaning Myrtle’s constant attempt to sooth him; several times he’d confided in the ghostly girl when he felt particularly lonely in his impossible task.

“Oh, don’t worry, darling,” Myrtle cooed. “I’d never tell a soul, never.”

“I appreciate that,” Draco nodded genuinely.

“How have you been, my sweet,” Myrtle giggled as her fingertips disappeared within Draco’s cheek as she attempted to dust his skin; it felt cold and invasive. “You look loads better; though you could never look bad being the handsome man that you are.”

“I’ve been fine, Myrtle,” Draco replied trying not to flinch away from her nonexistent touch. He looked away from her eyes hating the adoration that showed in her lifeless gaze. Looking down, he noticed the tie around her neck. Though her entire existence was silver and transparent with no distinguishable color, he noticed an eagle crest on her robes. The question tumbled out before he could stop himself.

“You were in Ravenclaw,” he said staring at the eagle on her chest.

“You noticed my pin, I see,” she grinned sticking her chest out slightly. “Naughty boy.”

“Do you have access to Ravenclaw tower?” he asked ignoring her flirtations. “Can you get inside?”

“What for?” Moaning Myrtle asked defensively, her eyes flashing angrily. “You have another girl up there? You want me to spy for you? After everything we’ve been through?”

“Myrtle, no,” Draco said hastily in attempt to stop her yelling. “No, please. Nothing like that.”

“You’re gone for months, and you only come to visit me when you need something! Typical! Typical boys! You’re all the same!” she wailed floating up and diving into her stall. Draco heard the water splash angrily as he released a sigh of frustration.After waiting for her to reappear to no avail, Draco turned around and walked out of the bathroom. He didn’t stop until he reached the stairs leading into the Slytherin dorms.

Walking into the dungeons, as the chill of the Black Lake permeated into the common room, Draco saw that his companions had not moved from their spot beside the window. However, Crabbe had taken over Draco’s chaise; he was so massive that Pansy was perching on the very edge in attempt to keep her place. Goyle was beside Blaise pushing the dark Slytherin closer to Theodore Nott who had seemingly abandoned hope in completing his essay. Crabbe looked up with his beady eyes and upon noticing Draco stood up from his spot immediately and traded it for an armchair. As Draco sat down in his previous spot, Pansy shifted more steadily onto the chaise and closer to Draco than she was previously, her pinky finger lightly touched his.

“Enjoy your outing?” Pansy asked him quietly.

“It was nothing special,” Draco shrugged though his stomach tightened at the thought of the news he heard in the shadows.

On the other side of the castle, Luna Lovegood was growing increasingly restless. She’d been within the Room of Requirement for only a few days, yet she felt as if it had been a lifetime. The dreamy Ravenclaw was thrilled to be reunited with her friends, yet she felt confined within the room that was constantly gaining inhabitants. Hammocks were hanging from every feasible surface, and food was running short. Aberforth never seemed to have quite enough food, and none of the students had perfected the multiplying spell. However, they all made it with what they had.

Sitting in her hammock, Luna swung her legs over the side and kicked making the fabric bed swing back and forth. Her dwellings hovered above Ginny’s hammock that hovered above Neville’s. Luna was the highest, and she enjoyed the feeling of floating while she slept. In the mornings, she felt as if she were flying; the thought never ceased to put a smile on her face. Looking down, Luna saw Dean Thomas looking up at her; smiling, she waved her hand beckoning him to join her. As he made his way up, Luna scooted over to make room for his long figure. Once he was seated, Luna grabbed his hand and continued to kick her feet too and fro.

“I feel like I’m going to be sick if you keep doing that,” Dean laughed.

“Oh don’t be such a Zaggering Lumpskig; they’re scared of heights, you know,” Luna grinned.

“Is that so?” Dean challenged with a raise of a dark eyebrow.

“Of course, that’s why they bury themselves within the ground. They prove to be very difficult creatures to find.”

Dean said nothing more, but merely nodded at Luna’s admission. He had never heard of such a thing, but he knew saying so would not deter Luna’s belief in the slightest, nor would he wish to do so. He liked that she believed in everything so wholly, everything and everyone. With her long, pale fingers wrapped around his, Dean felt completely at ease; his previous restlessness and claustrophobia forgotten.

“I do wish we could walk through the castle,” Luna said looking at the people below them. They seemed much smaller than they were.

“Same, but you know it’s dangerous,” Dean sighed.

“It seems that everything is dangerous now; simply being here is dangerous,” Luna said turning her misty silver-blue eyes to his black orbs. “I just want to get out of this room.”

“I know,” Dean said giving her hand a squeeze as he shifted their grip so her hand was encapsulated in his.

“Maybe I could go for a walk soon when everyone is asleep,” Luna mused. “I’d love to visit with Helena; I’m certain she’s been exceptionally lonely.”

“Luna, no,” Ginny voiced as she climbed within her hammock getting settled for the night. “Absolutely not.”

“I’m rather good at disillusionment charms,” Luna said ignoring her friend.

“Luna,” Ginny said in a warning tone that made her sound more like Mrs. Weasley than she cared to admit. “No one knows you’re here. What would happen if you stumbled into Snape in the hallways or the Carrows?

“Well, I will decide what to do should that happen,” Luna responded with a shrug.

“What if you ran into Malfoy, Luna?” Neville asked as he peered up at her from his low hammock. “You know he’s got to be livid you escaped the Manor; he’d attempt to curse you or tell the others to take you back. You know how he is; he’s scary when he’s been beaten or feels the need to prove himself.”

“Yes, I do know how he is,” Luna agreed; she could feel Dean’s sharp look though she didn’t turn to look at him.

“So you won’t go?” Ginny prodded hopefully. “We can’t lose you again, Luna.”

“I’ll stay,” Luna said. For tonight, she added silently within her mind.

Ginny nodded before telling the others it was time for lights out. With a swish of her wand the lights were dimmed followed by grumbling. Dean gave Luna’s hand a tight squeeze before jumping off of her hammock landing on the floor below with a loud thud. Once everyone was settled in their hanging beds, the lights were extinguished. Soon, the only sounds filling the large room were the rustling of sheets and soft snores. Luna found herself tossing and turning all night, her restlessness seeping into her attempts to fall asleep. Instead, she found herself staring at the ceiling above as she tried to create a plan that would allow her outside of the room. Though she’d never admit it to the others, even Dean Thomas, she just wanted to see him, if only a glimpse to insure that he was all right. She needed to know; she had to know.

“Luna,” a voice sounded as she felt her arm being shaken. “Luna, wake up.”

“But dreams are so much more pleasant, don’t you think?” the blonde Ravenclaw sighed in her sleepy state. “I rather liked the one I was having.”

“I know,” Ginny giggled. “You were mumbling in your sleep.”

“Well, I suppose it’s better than sleepwalking,” Luna shrugged as she sat up stretched her arms. “Floating is such a wonderful way to sleep; it lends itself to marvelous visions,” she smiled dreamily before yawning.

“I’m glad you approve,” Ginny smiled. “Come on now, sleepyhead. I believe you said you had something to teach us. A bit of learning would be great around the school about now.”

Luna smiled back as Ginny lowered herself back into her own hammock before hopping down onto the stone floor. After another stretch, Luna climbed down landing next to her best friend. The girls went to the bathroom facilities the Room of Requirement had provided and took quick showers and changed clothes. After the morning routines had been completed, Ginny rounded everyone up in a circle around her, Luna, and Neville. Looking at her two friends beside her, Luna felt a swell of joy knowing that she was back where she was meant to be. With a nod, Ginny silently told her to begin.

“Hello, everyone,” Luna smiled brightly. “It’s so wonderful to be back again. For those of you who don’t know, while I was away, I was kept within Malfoy Manor by You-Know-Who—” she began before the crowd of students started booing and yelling foul names about the owners of the mansion.

“Bleeding cowards,” someone shouted.

“Bastards to the wizarding world!”

“Bloody no-good ferret!”

Luna stared back at the people before her feeling nervous as they continued to yell, yet she kept the dreamy smile on her face. She waited for the shouts to die down before she cleared her throat to speak again. Catching Dean’s dark eyes, he gave her a nod and an encouraging smile.

“Though I appreciate your support, I do wish it wouldn’t be so negative. I learned a great deal while in the Manor. Wonderful things, and though there were times of great darkness, there were times of light as well. The things I learned are vital. I want to share them with you, so that when the time comes, we are prepared.

“The Death Eaters are each fond of particular spells; I was exposed to many of them in my time. With this knowledge, I want us all to learn how to block such curses. It is vital that we learn how to protect ourselves against such things, so I ask that you all take these lessons seriously.”

“What’s Malfoy’s favorite? I’d love to reflect it back to that bloody wanker! Give him a taste of what he’s put us through!” a voice shouted followed by sounds of agreement.

“That’s enough!” Dean Thomas shouted from the crowd as he looked to Luna’s shocked face. “Luna wants to help you lot; the least you can do is pay attention!”

“Thank you, Dean,” Luna said softly. “Let’s start with Bellatrix,” she said looking to Ginny who gave her a nod.

For hours they practiced under Luna’s guidance. She warned them about the scalding ropes Bellatrix could cast from her wand and the steel chains Dolohov preferred. She warned them about Greyback and how they should do their best to never let him close enough to touch them. His use of magic was subpar, but his physical strength was nearly unbeatable. As she was explaining, she could almost feel his arms crushing her again, the stench of him, and the nauseating feeling of his tongue against her throat. She told them of Rodolphus’ preferred method of blinding or deafening the person he was attacking to make the pain even more unbearable and to never allow them to see or hear what he was going to do. She warned them of Lucius Malfoy who enjoyed breaking bones only to mend them back to break again.

As she explained everything she’d learned, Ginny and Neville both stared at their friend, the dreamy girl who talked about her capture as if she were on a short vacation, with a mixture of admiration and guilt. Though they knew Luna was a strong girl and capable of defending herself if needed, the utter strength and dexterity she showed in surviving the Manor was beyond anything they thought possible. Ginny watched Luna with slightly misty eyes realizing that everything Luna learned was from experience. She had gone through terrors unimaginable, yet she was still the wide-eyed, lovely girl she was before. It amazed Ginny to say the least.

Once Luna was finished and lunch was being passed around, the blonde Ravenclaw sat next to Ginny on the stone floor with a cup of vegetable soup and bread in hand. She gave the red headed Gryffindor a smile before digging into her soup. Slowly, her appetite had started coming back, and she was able to eat a little more at each meal. Luna knew she had gained a two or three pounds back, and she was thrilled at the thought, for she knew she looked sickly thin. Neville, Dean, and Seamus soon joined the two girls, yet no one spoke as they ate. Eventually, Seamus broke the silence and stated what they were all thinking.

“They did all of that to you?” the Irish boy said looking at Luna. “All of it?”

“Yes,” Luna said quietly.

“How are you not angry?” Seamus asked with a perplexed look in his blue eyes. “I would be boiling over if I were you!”

“I don’t think that would do any good,” Luna said with a serene smile. “I’m not angry at all, really. Like I said, it wasn’t all bad.”

“You were in a bloody dungeon! With Malfoy living above you,” Seamus responded. “I can’t think of things much worse than that.”

“You should work on your imagination then,” Luna said. “As soon as I can, I’ll have you some Dirigible Plums; I’m sure they’ll help,” she smiled brightly as Seamus looked at her dumbfounded.

For a moment, the circle of friends was completely silent until Ginny Weasley let out a peal of uninhibited laughter. Soon, they all followed suit until their sides were splitting and Ginny had tears in her eyes from laughing so hard. Luna simply tilted her head to the side and wondered what she’d said that was so incredibly funny.

That night, sleep came much easier to everyone than the night before. There was hardly any grumbling as Ginny dimmed the lighting, for everyone was exhausted. After lunch, their lessons had resumed and everyone worked together to come up with the best counter spells and blocks for each obstacle Luna described. It was tiring work, but it was of upmost importance. As she lay in her hammock, Luna had hardly closed her eyes before she plummeted into a deep sleep.

Across the castle and down several floors, Draco Malfoy was having a rather difficult time falling asleep. Each time he closed his eyes, he saw visions of Dumbledore falling from the Astronomy Tower; though he was away from the Dark Lord’s presence, Draco’s sleeplessness had not subsided. Just as the Manor, Hogwarts held very troublesome times in his mind. As both Crabbe and Goyle snored at a deafening volume, Draco stood up, wrapped a black cloak that reached the floor around himself, slipped on his shoes, and crept out of their shared room undetected. Neither Theo nor Blaise stirred an inch as the door shut silently behind him.

Out in the common room, not a sound was present. Everyone had retired to be hours ago; looking down, Draco’s watch, a gift from his father, read a few minutes past one. It was late, dreadfully late, but Draco’s mind would not let him rest. With a sigh, Draco fastened his cloak tighter to hide his silken pajamas and walked up the stairs to exit the Slytherin dungeons. Once he reached the main floor, Draco wasn’t sure where to go. He started walking much like the night before letting his feet carry him with a blank mind. Not a soul was in the hallway, not a ghost, or even Peeves. He supposed if he should come across anyone all he would have to do is show his Dark Mark and they would leave him be. It was tragic really how much he’d desired that sort of power only a few years before; now, he wished he had anything but.

Looking up, Draco should have known he’d end up there. The Astronomy Tower and what it represented to him was the cause of his restlessness. With a sigh, Draco began climbing the winding staircase needing to see it, needing to see the place where his life changed, where a large portion of his innocence was lost. Around and around, high and higher he walked until it was right before him. The ledge Dumbledore fell over after being hit by the Killing Curse by Professor Snape. It was this spot that he lowered his wand, this spot where he couldn’t be the person his father wanted him to be, the person he thought he wanted to be. This is where it all changed for the worse and in some ways for the better. At least now he realized that; this is where he first acted on his doubts. This was the beginning of his changing, the beginning of his evolving. This one spot held it all. It was overwhelming.

Unable to take it any longer, Draco turned to leave, but a soft sigh made him freeze. Pulling his mother’s wand from his coat pocket, Draco turned slowly casting a silent Lumos. He couldn’t see anyone, but he knew someone was there. Now that he was no longer focused on his emotions and thoughts, he could sense another presence. Someone was here, and he needed to know who. Silently, Draco stepped to the right lighting every nook with the light emitting from his wand; he found nothing. With a racing heart, Draco walked around the railing to the other side. Immediately he saw a lump on the ground. Bare feet were tangled with each other and mismatched pajamas in all sorts of wild patterns were visible, yet, though it was different than he remembered, it was the long, blonde hair that caught his attention. He recognized her immediately as his heart jumped into his throat.

Before he could fathom what was happening, a million questioned popped into his mind. Why was she out here? Was she hurt? Had someone cursed her? Was she dead? Forcing himself to take a deep, calming breath, Draco kneeled down to rest on his knees. With the tip of the wand he held, Draco gently touched her shoulder causing her to mumble incoherently. She was shivering in her sleep, the thin pajamas not holding up against the cool winter air. With the wand, Draco lifted a section of her hair to reveal her face. He released a breath he didn’t know he was holding at seeing her face once more. She was healed. No black eyes, no broken nose, no trails of blood drying against her pale skin. She looked like herself again; he’d forgotten what she looked like before.

Placing her hair back against her face, Draco reached over to press a hand to her shoulder before shaking her gently. She didn’t wake, but she released a small, content sigh from her pouting lips. He nearly smiled at her; he would have if her lying there wasn’t so dangerous especially in her sleeping state. Shaking her again, he said her name in a harsh whisper.
“Luna,” he said hating the way his voice echoed around the tower. “Luna, get up.”

She responded with nothing but grumbles and by rolling from her side to her back. He shook shoulder again as his wand shone brightly in her face. He could see her large eyes moving beneath her eyelids and her mouth pursed in annoyance at the disturbance. He shook her once more causing a loud sigh to escape her.

“Ginny, won’t you let me sleep,” she groaned. “I’m having such lovely dreams.”

“You need to wake up, Luna,” Draco said. “It’s not safe out here.”

Luna furrowed her blonde eyebrows and seemed to freeze for a moment as she processed what she’d just heard. After a few seconds, her eyes shot open as she bolted upright with a gasp. Draco nearly fell back at the shock of her sudden movement, but he managed to catch himself. With her hand against her heart, Luna looked over at him with wide eyes and an open mouth. She seemed to shuffle through every emotion before landing on joy. Before he could register what was happening, she propelled herself onto him, wrapping her long arms around him tightly. Draco remained motionless for a second before hesitantly wrapping his arms back around her.

“Oh, I’ve missed you,” Luna sighed burying her face into his neck.

“Yeah,” he replied lamely threading a hand into her hair. It was softer now and freshly washed. It fell past her waist in loose waves.

Pulling back, Luna placed one of her hands on Draco’s cheek fanning her fingers across his sharp cheekbone. Sitting back on her knees, she trailed the other against his jawline as a soft smile pulled on her full lips. Luna laughed lightly as she looked at his soft yet guarded silver eyes.

“It’s really you,” she whispered tucking a loose strand of white hair behind his ear.

Draco felt exposed, shattered by her presence. He was more vulnerable now than he had ever been, and he couldn’t find it within him to pull away. He’d craved her presence, her understanding, and serenity. He couldn’t control himself; he pulled her against him tighter than before as he rolled back to sit on the floor. He released a shaky breath against her skin as Luna melted against him immediately as she sat in his lap.

“What are you doing here?” Draco asked her as he held her against him.

“I tend to sleepwalk,” she whispered. “I usually wear shoes to bed, but I forgot.”

“At Hogwarts, Luna,” Draco corrected himself. “Why are you at Hogwarts.”

Pulling her head back from where it was resting above his heart, Luna looked at him fully. It was evident the panic he felt, for it was shining in his eyes. She felt the corner of her mouth lift slightly as she peered back at him with clear eyes.

“I wanted to help,” she said simply.

“What do you mean?”

“I wanted to help my friends,” she replied pulling one of his hands away from her back to thread her fingers with his. She rested their intertwined fingers on her curled up knee. “I wanted to help you.”

“I don’t need you here, Luna,” Draco said sounding harsher than he intended. “I don’t need you in danger because of me.”

“It’s not just for you, Draco,” Luna sighed as she rubbed her thumb against the skin of his hand. “Ginny, Neville, Dean, and everyone else, I had the ability to help them; I couldn’t ignore that.”

“Snape knows you’re here,” he blurted out. “If he sees you—“

“I know, Draco. I haven’t left the room in days,” Luna sighed.

“You’ve been here for days?”

“Just a few,” Luna nodded. “I’ve been aching to walk around the castle; I suppose my feet tricked me into doing so while I was dreaming or maybe it was the gargles.”

“You should go back now; it’s not safe for you out here,” Draco said though he made no motion to move.

“It’s safe enough at the moment,” Luna said leaning her head back down to rest on the crook between his neck and shoulder. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” Draco replied immediately; even he didn’t believe himself, and he knew Luna didn’t either. “I’m a mess,” he admitted hesitantly. “Every noise sets me on edge, Pansy, Blaise, and Theo all know something is off with me. I’m beginning to notice Blaise and Theo aren’t as crazy about the Dark Lord as I thought they were but I can’t bring it up without exposing myself, so I spend most of my time with Crabbe and Goyle which is like talking to trolls,” he said all in a giant rush.

Luna remained quiet; she had opened his hand to lay face up on her knee as she drew lazy patterns in his palm. Every once in a while, his long, pale fingers would twitch as if she had caused a tickle though he never laughed. She waited patiently for him to let out what else was bothering him, for she knew there had to be more. With Draco, there was always more.

“I can’t sleep,” he said finally. “I close my eyes and all I can see is—is Dumbledore falling. Being back in the castle reminds me of that. Everyone treats me like I’m some sort of hero, that this thing on my arm is a badge of honor, and I can’t take it,” he added brokenly as he tightened his arm around her pulling her closer.

“What happened when we left?” Luna asked quietly after Draco remained silent for several minutes; she felt him stiffen beneath her.

“It’s not important,” he said sliding his fingers down a section of her hair.

“It is,” Luna said lifting her chin to gaze up at him; she noticed he’d clenched his jaw. “How bad was it?”

“Bad,” Draco said; Luna didn’t feel the need to press for more details. She was sure her worst nightmare would match to what Draco had to endure.

“Thank you,” Luna whispered lifting her fingers to trace his jaw once more; she felt the muscles relax under her touch.

“I’d do it again,” Draco said fiercely. “I’d do it all again without a second thought. You’re my—you’re my friend, Luna.”

The two students stayed in the Astronomy Tower for two hours more until Draco deemed it was too dangerous to stay any longer. The more time they spent in the tower, the more likely it became that someone would find them. He didn’t want to know what would happen should they be found. After reaching the bottom step at the entrance to the tower, Draco turned to Luna with a severe look on his face.

“Please be careful,” he told her to which she gave him only a dreamy smile.

“I’ll see you soon,” Luna replied before reaching up and placing a quick kiss on his cheek.

She said nothing more before skipping down the hall, her bare feet silent against the stone ground. Draco watched after her until she could no longer been seen. With a heavy sigh, he pulled his cloak tighter around him and made his way back towards the Slytherin dungeons. Draco was so caught up in his mind he missed the shimmering silver figure hiding behind a towering statue. He descended the stairs into the dungeons and stealthily made his way into his room. Once inside his bedchambers, he fell asleep immediately not plagued by a single nightmare for the first time in over a year.

Chapter Text

Dreaming had always felt natural for Luna; it was a moment in time where her thoughts could take over completely creating fantastic images and landscapes unknown to the outside world. She dreamed of fields of flowers that changed colors with the wind, pastel pink snow that was warm to the touch, and curling up on a crescent moon with a shimmering book. She dreamed often of her friends, of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, of Ginny, Neville, and Dean; they would always accompany her within her dreamscapes and lounge on the twinkling stars and the dancing fields of color. She was never called “Looney” in her dreams; she was simply Luna in her most natural state of whimsy. Like everyone else in the Room of Requirement snoring away, Luna was sighing contently in her sleep as shimmering animals ran through a meadow of puffy clouds. However, a fierce whisper began to seep into her consciousness.

“Luna,” a voice said as a warm hand touched her shoulder. “Luna.”

Opening her eyes groggily, Luna looked into the dark eyes of Dean Thomas. Her mouth started to form a bright smile until she noticed the severe expression he wore. Sitting up, Luna noticed that no one else in the room had awoken, and Dean had stacked three chairs together in order to reach her hammock. Looking back at her friend, Luna’s eyes were shining with question. Dean said a phrase she had never heard before, yet it spread shards of ice through her veins.

“We need to talk,” Dean said lowly. “Now.”

Now fully alert, Luna followed Dean accepting his help down as she sat on the stack of chairs. His strong hands led her safely to the ground with only a gentle thud. She followed behind him until they reached a secluded corner of the room where a single door she had never notice before stood. Opening the wooded feature, Dean ushered Luna into a small room no larger than a supply cabinet. It was lit only with a single torch that hung from the ceiling. Looking at Dean, Luna raised her pale eyebrows encouraging him to speak.

“I woke up last night,” Dean began. “I woke up last night just as the door leading out of the room was closed. I got up and looked in your bunk, Luna, and you were gone. You promised you wouldn’t leave.”

“Dean, I—“

“Do you have any idea how worried I was? I tried to follow you, but I couldn’t find you anywhere. You completely disappeared. Where did you go?” he asked with fire in his eyes. Luna could tell he was exhausted; he looked as if he had only a wink of sleep the night before.

“Dean, I’m so sorry,” Luna said honestly reaching for his hands. She felt warmth spread in her chest at his fierce concern for her. “I promise I didn’t leave the room on purpose.”

“Luna, please,” Dean sighed exasperatedly. “I waited hours for you to return until I passed out from sheer exhaustion. Why did you leave?”

“I was sleepwalking,” Luna said with sincerity in her wide silvery-blue eyes. “I promised you all that I won’t leave, and I kept that promise while awake, but I suppose my feet made no such agreement.”

“Sleepwalking?” Dean said apprehensively though he couldn’t deny the shining truth in her eyes.

“Truly,” Luna nodded. “I typically wear shoes to bed; I started doing so after stepping on a pot of ink my first year. It took ages to rid my feet of the purple stains though I can’t say the rug in Ravenclaw Tower faired as well.”

“I believe you, Luna. I trust you, I do, but I was so worried about you. I nearly woke Ginny,” Dean confessed.

“Why didn’t you?”

“I’m not sure,” Dean admitted. “Maybe my mind has been filled with wackspurts, but something just told me not to wake her. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t worried sick.”

“Thank you,” Luna said giving his large, warm hands a tight squeeze. “Ginny would have taken to tying me up at night.”

“Don’t think I’m not tempted to do the same,” Dean said sternly though there was a slight twinkle in his eye. “Obviously you didn’t get yourself into trouble; do you know where you went?”

“Oh yes,” Luna said with a bright smile. “I was woken up in the Astronomy Tower.”

“Woken up?” Dean said alarmed. “Please tell me it was Professor McGonagall or someone we can trust.”

“Yes, it was a trustworthy friend,” Luna nodded. “It was fate that I left the room when I did, for Draco was the one to find me. He was in dire need of an ear to listen.”

“Of all people,” Dean muttered under his breath as he closed his eyes. After releasing a breath, Dean looked at her calmly. “I’m glad you were able to see that he’s surviving, but please don’t go out looking for him, Luna. It could get you into serious trouble, and what would we do without you.”

“I promised that I wouldn’t go on my own will,” Luna responded. “However, some things are aligned without us knowing they’re to happen. Who am I to mess with what is destined to be?”

“Luna, are you saying you and Malfoy are soul mates?” Dean asked with a confused expression. Luna let out a rush of laughter at his words.

“Well of course not,” Luna said with a smile still plastered on her face. “But we were destined to be friends, and we are.”

“You tend to be fearless when it comes to protecting your friends,” Dean said apprehensively.

With a serene smile, Luna reached up and placed a quick peck on Dean’s smooth cheek before releasing his hands. She turned towards the small door and wrapped her hand around the brass knob. As she opened the door slightly, she looked back at Dean with a spark in her eyes.

“Yes, I am,” she agreed before walking out into the main room. As Dean followed muttering to himself incoherently, the door disappeared from its place on the wall.

Seeing as she was fully awake, Luna took advantage of the empty showers. After showering and changing into fresh clothes, the blonde Ravenclaw also took advantage of a reversed situation: she was awake while Ginny Weasley was still sleeping. As a bright smile danced over her face, Luna grabbed a chair and quietly sat it to the side beneath Ginny’s hammock. Climbing onto the wooden seat, Luna peered into Ginny’s bed to see the redhead fast asleep. Just as she was about to wake Ginny with a singing tale of nargles infesting her hammock, one of Ginny’s warm brown eyes opened to peer at her.

“How did you know?” Luna said as her smile turned into a dramatic pout.

“I have six older brothers,” Ginny said in response as she threw off her blankets. “I’m always ready for an attack,” she smirked before sliding out of her bunk and jumping to the floor below. She landed gracefully and with a flip of her bright red hair, Ginny leaned over to wake Neville who grumbled deeply and rolled over.

Soon everyone within the room was awake and going through their morning routines. Neville stumbled through the portrait hole with breakfast, and everyone gathered around to survey the rations. The clumsy Gryffindor carried a basket full of muffins and a large bowl of porridge; he gently placed it onto the table before stepping back as everyone eyed it warily. There was clearly not enough for everyone in the room, and the multiplying spell was still proving to be a bit of a problem for everyone. With a spark of an idea, Luna stepped beside Neville and placed a hand on his arm.

“May I try something?” she asked with a bright smile.

“Um, yeah, of course,” Neville said hesitantly knowing that, like her mother, Luna liked to experiment with spells.

“Engorgio,” Luna said pointing her pear wood wand at the bowl of porridge. It immediately tripled in size; the serving spoon Neville held in his hand seemed miniature in comparison. Turning her wand to the basket of muffins, Luna said the spell once more watching as the basket and its contents tripled in size. Each muffin was now the size of a cake.

“Great thinking, Luna!” Ginny said proudly. “We only ever thought of multiplying the food; we could have had giant muffins this entire time! A hundred points to Ravenclaw for your impeccable cleverness,” Ginny winked. The Ravenclaw students within the room gave a bright cheer though Ginny had no authority to appoint House points.

“Well done,” Cho Chang said shyly as she passed Luna; the two Ravenclaw girls shared smiles in return before Luna stepped up to cut the muffins into thick slices for everyone.

“This is amazing,” Dean said sitting down beside Ginny, Neville, and Luna; he had piled a massive piece of blueberry muffin onto a plate along with a steaming bowl of porridge.

“I can’t believe no one else ever thought about simply enlarging the food,” Ginny said for the tenth time since Luna had sat down beside her. “It seems so obvious now.”

“Things always do when they come to pass,” Luna shrugged. “You all would have thought of another solution; I’m sure of it.”

“Thanks, Luna,” Neville laughed though they all knew it wasn’t true. “Say, would you fancy going down to meet Aberforth today? I’m sure you’re aching to get out of the room for a bit.”

“I’d love to,” Luna said before sneaking a glance at Dean who stared back at her with guarded eyes.

“Great, you can help bring up lunch!” Neville grinned.

After breakfast had been cleared and the muffin basket and porridge bowl returned to their normal size, the hiding Hogwarts students practiced their spells and counter spells, jinxes and hexes learned the day before. Luna was amazed at the skill level and the rate of improvement shown by everyone in the room; she was proud of each of then, and she knew, without a doubt, Harry would be too.

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Throwing his books onto the desk with an audible thump, Draco slid onto his stool in Potions class. Beside him, Pansy was already seated as she read over the instructions for a potion they were to learn today. With her face relaxed in concentration, she almost looked like a different person. Her mouth wasn’t pinched in a tight smirk nor were her eyes narrowed in a scowl; she looked prettiest when she relaxed. He nearly told her so, but he knew it would either lead her into thinking one of two things had changed: he now had feelings for her or he was a better person than he once was. Both were to be avoided. Instead, Draco looked over her shoulder at Blaise and Theo who were speaking quietly to one another; a drop of dread fell into his stomach at the possibility of being the topic of their discussion.

“You know,” Pansy said not moving her eyes away from her Potions book, “it’s not polite to stare. What would your dear mother think?”

“I wasn’t staring,” Draco said turning away from her and pulling his eyes away from his fellow Slytherins.

“Interesting,” she smirked making her mouth pinch at the sides. “Because I could have sworn I felt two eyes burning holes into the side of my face.”

Ah, Draco thought to himself, she thinks I was staring at her and not Blaise and Theo.

“Interesting indeed,” Draco smirked back; she said nothing in return but merely studied him for a moment.

“Something’s different about you today,” Pansy said after studying him through squinted eyes. “You seem… happier?”

“What makes you think that?” Draco said forcing the smirk to stay on his face though his eyes hardened considerably.

“I know you,” Pansy shrugged before turning back to her Potions book. “So, tell me what has you kept you from brooding this morning?” she asked nonchalantly. Draco turned away from her and looked to the front of the classroom with a hard stare as Professor Slughorn came fumbling into the room.

“I don’t think your clearance level is quite high enough for that information,” Draco smarted back just as Professor Slughorn opened his mouth to speak.

“Good morning, good morning,” the man with a nod of his head as he stood before the class. “I hope you’ve all come prepared for a difficult lesson today. We’ll be brewing Draught of Peace, a most difficult potion due to the exactness associated with its brew.”

“We’ve already learned how to brew Draught of Peace,” Millicent Bulstrode huffed from her seat. “Professor Snape taught us our fifth year.”

“Yeah, when are we going to learn something new? Something that can be used against the blood traitors left in Hogwarts,” Goyle asked in a booming voice.

“What you’re speaking of, Mr. Goyle is poisons, and no such things will be taught in my classroom. But, yes, of course, Miss Bulstrode. I’ve been told so by previous classes,” Professor Slughorn nodded. “Now tell me, did any of you brew a sufficient potion able to be used? Honesty, please.”

The class was eerily silent as everyone knew their potions in fifth year had been graded for closeness not exactness. Professor Slughorn clapped his chubby hands together after the silence rang on for a moment too long.

“Yes, as I suspected,” Professor Slughorn said. “Now, if you all will turn to page—Ah, Professor Snape, what a splendid surprise! Come to check out your old dwellings?”

“I haven’t the time for reminiscing, Professor Slughorn. I have a school to run,” Professor Snape said from his place at the door. The dark classroom did nothing to brighten up the sullen man wrapped in black robes. “I need to speak with Mr. Malfoy at present.”

“Of course,” Professor Slughorn said with an overly enthusiastic nod. “By all means.”

“Bring your books, Draco,” Snape said before turning and walking out of the classroom.

Draco could feel the other students staring at him curiously, but he ignored their stares as he walked out of the room. As the door slammed shut, he heard the murmur of whispers before Professor Slughorn called the class to order. Without a word, Severus Snape turned on his heal leaving Draco to follow behind. They walked in silence until they reached the entrance into the Headmaster’s office. In a hushed whisper, Snape said the password just low enough so that Draco was unable to hear. As the statue revealed the hidden staircase, Snape walked forward; Draco followed behind silently.

Once within the office, Professor Snape took a seat at his desk and motioned Draco to sit in the chair across from him. Draco did as he was told knowing the gesture was more of a command than a suggestion. Once seated, Professor Snape looked at the boy before him seemingly calm and collected though he detected a bit of apprehension and caution in his silver eyes.

“Draco, I’ll skip the small talk and get right to the point as I’m sure the news will be heard around Hogwarts come lunch time. Harry Potter was caught breaking into Bellatrix’s vault at Gringotts,” he said.

“Harry Potter was caught?” Draco asked keeping his voice level though a panic began to rise within.

“No, as usual, Mr. Potter has evaded capture. This time on the back of a dragon.”

“Always a bloody showman,” Draco huffed throwing himself back into the chair. “Why was he in Aunt Bella’s vault?”

“That is something of which you need not know; what you need to know is that he was successful in retrieving what he wanted,” Snape said with dark eyes.

“My family,” Draco said fiercely his previous lax posture rigid and leaning towards Snape. “What’s happened?”

“Bellatrix was punished of course for not protecting what the Dark Lord asked her to,” Snape explained. “Though I can’t imagine his punishment was any worse than what Bellatrix will do to herself knowing she disappointed him.”

“Yes, but what of my mother?” Draco asked impatiently not caring about the fate of his insane relative.

“Narcissa is perfectly unharmed,” Snape assured him. “As it was not her vault nor her responsibility, she has not been punished for the loss of the item. Your father has not been punished either,” Snape added watching Draco’s face for any signs of acknowledgement at the additional news.

“Yes, that is good news as well,” Draco said in response as relief flooded his body at the mention of his mother being safe. “Though I would expect them to be punished should they disappoint the Dark Lord.”

“Yes, of course,” Snape deadpanned as his eyes continued to scan Draco’s body language meticulously. Draco could feel his nerves heighten at the obvious stare.

“Is that all? Can I return to my lessons?” Draco asked wanting to be away from the analyzing Headmaster.

“You’re dismissed,” Snape said gesturing towards the door. “Though I don’t know why you would bother. Your execution of the Draught of Peace fifth year was nearly flawless.”

“Nearly, sir,” Draco said. “But I want it to be perfect.”

However, Draco did not return to Potions class; instead he found himself in the bathroom on the first floor splashing water on his face as he stared into the cracked mirror. He willed himself to remain calm and collected. His family, at least the ones he cared about, was safe and unharmed for the moment. He was safe. Harry Potter was still free to save the wizarding world. Everything was going as well as it could be. After regaining his composure, Draco began walking to the Great Hall for lunch. Strolling into the once full room, Draco was once again shocked at the small number of students that remained. The Slytherin table was the fullest, the Gryffindor table was all but empty, and the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables were slowly dwindling in number. He wondered where they all were; where they with Luna?

Ignoring his thoughts, Draco slid into the spot Pansy saved him. Though it was beside her, it was directly across from Theodore Nott’s seemingly harmless gaze; however, the slight glint of knowledge caused a threatening feeling to well within Draco. He noticed Blaise was nowhere to be seen.

“I’m sure you’ve heard the news,” Pansy sullenly as she folded her cloth napkin delicately in her lap.

“Of course,” Draco said leaking the proper amount of arrogance into his voice. “Professor Snape and I were just discussing it within his office,” he added as he spooned a serving of herbed potatoes onto his place.

“I heard all the goblins and watching Death Eaters were killed by the Dark Lord,” Crabbe added. “Can you imagine all those little idiots running around with blood everywhere?” he laughed. The potatoes in Draco’s mouth tasted like ash at his words.

“What do you think of it, Draco?” Theo asked.

“I think Potter better hope the dragon he escaped on eats him whole, for when he’s within the Dark Lord’s grasp, he’ll be begging for so merciful a death,” Draco said before shoving another bite of food into his mouth so that he seemed unaffected by the news. The tremble in his hand was almost undetected.

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“Aberforth, you really should put up some mistletoe,” Luna said as she sat on a barstool in the vacant Hog’s Head. “It would keep all the nargles away from your Butterbeer.”

“It’s not the nargles who’ve been taking my Butterbeers,” Aberforth Dumbledore grunted as he attempted to wipe the bar top clean. “It’s those bloody snatchers that have been setting up in Hogsmeade waiting for Potter to show up.”

“Well, they’re not very bright,” Luna grinned. “Hermione would never allow him to do something so reckless.”

“Speaking of reckless,” Aberforth said giving Luna a pointed look. “What are you doing here? Don’t you know it’s the Hogsmeade weekend for Hogwarts?”

Ever since Neville had introduced Luna to Aberforth Dumbledore a week before, she had made it a point to visit him every few days to just sit and talk. She wanted him to feel appreciated for all of the support he had shown the students hiding within Hogwarts with food and water. Though she would never say so aloud, Luna could see past Aberforth’s hard demeanor; she could tell he was lonely, and she did her best to alleviate that loneliness. She could tell he liked her too, for he always gave her a Butterbeer when she walked in and had even given her a heavy cloak to wear within the pub so that a passerby wouldn’t recognize her.

Although she did visit Aberforth in order to show thanks for his generosity, it wasn’t an entirely selfless act. After spending months within the Malfoy Manor dungeons, Luna craved sunlight. Though the pub was dark and musty, it had windows, and after sitting at the bar for a while, Luna could feel the rays of light seeping into the thick cloak and warming her back. Outside, the winter snow was melting into piles of mush and the crisp spring air was arriving. However, despite it being late March, weather was much cooler than usual. Luna knew the Dark Magic happening all around Great Britain had a hand in the strange weather.

“Do students come here often?” Luna asked tilting her head to the side.

“No, I reckon not,” he grunted. “Though I have become more popular with the staff.”

“Do the Carrows or Professor Snape come in?” Luna asked.

“Of course not,” Aberforth said throwing the filthy rag into the bucket of water at his feet. “Snape wouldn’t dare show his face in here. Not after… Well, you know,” he added looking around him for something to do, something to keep his hands busy.

“Then I should be fine,” Luna smiled pulling the dark hood tighter around her face. “That is if you’ll have me.”

“Sure, sure,” Aberforth waved his hand; he would never admit he enjoyed her company. “Where is that bloody boy?” he grumbled walking to the back to look for Dean who had taken to helping Aberforth in his down time.

Luna giggled as she took another sip of her Butterbeer enjoying the feeling of the foamy bubbles popping in her mouth. As the door creaked open, Luna hunched her back and ducked her head deeper into the cloak to hide her face. She casted a small disillusionment charm on her face before coming down to the pub through the portrait hole, but she had no way of knowing if the spell was still in tact or if it had faded over time. As she hid within the dark fabric, she felt safer and not as exposed. She heard Aberforth come back into the main room and address his customers.

“Minerva, Fillius, Pomona,” he nodded from behind the counter. “What can I get for you?”

“Oh, I think just three Firewhiskeys will do,” Professor McGonagall sighed; Luna could tell by her voice alone she was exhausted.

“That kind of week?” Aberforth asked.

“I think it applies to the year, Aberforth, I must admit,” McGonagall replied.

“I’ll make it an Odgen’s Old then,” the burly bartender said as he pulled out three glasses and began pouring the deep, amber liquid. He gave a pointed look to Luna as he walked over to the table containing three of her former teachers.

“Ah, thank you,” Professor Flitwick squeaked before taking a sip followed by a loud hiccup.

“How’s everything in the castle?” Aberforth asked once all the drinks were handed out. “People have been talking around the village.”

“Yes, well, I’m sure what they’re saying is not far off from the truth,” McGonagall said as she placed her glass down.

“The Carrows still allowing Unforgivables to be practiced amongst the students?” Aberforth asked.

“Yes,” Professor Sprout said with a shuddering breath. “My poor Hufflepuffs, they have all come to me sobbing and terrified; it’s so unfair to them all.”

“Irrefutably,” Professor Flitwick agreed. “I fear just about all of our Houses have disappeared within the walls at this point.”

“I see the Malfoy boy returned,” Aberforth said in a clipped tone as he looked out of the window. Luna heard rustling fabric as all of the professors turned to look out at the scene before him.

“Yes,” McGonagall said darkly. “Draco Malfoy has returned.”

Though she dared not turn around, Luna felt a feeling well within her that she could not place. It wasn’t excitement or joy nor was it trepidation, but it was more of a need. She needed to see him to make sure he was all right. News of Harry’s breaking into Bellatrix’s vault had been a cause of celebration within the Room of Requirement, but Luna found herself worried more so than excited. She feared Draco’s reaction to such an event, and for a week she had tried to think of every way possible to contact him. An owl was far too risky and he didn’t possess a DA coin. Plus, Dean had been extra alert at night due to her sleepwalking a week before. There was no way to sneak out of the room, conscious or otherwise.

Slipping off of her barstool silently, Luna walked down the narrow hallway leading to the back of the pub with her head down. She saw Dean organizing a dusty shelf in the back room as she walked slowly past as to not make a sound. Once out of view, Luna slipped out the backdoor and stood in the shadowed alley between the building next door. Without dwelling too much on her lack of a plan, Luna pulled out her wand from within her robe pocket and cast the patronus charm. She smiled brightly as a bouncing hare emerged from her wand and hopped joyously around her feet.

“Hello to you too,” Luna giggled. “I need you to do me a favor.”

As the silvery hare looked at her with a twitching nose, Luna relayed her request to the creature. Once she was finished, the small hare bounced off blending in with the remaining snow. Luna waited patiently as she walked away from the Hogs Head and deeper into the dark alley. She kept the dark hood around her face to shield her from anyone who may pass by, but she kept her eyes alert for the person she wanted to see, the person she needed to see most.

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Walking though the slushy snow, Draco Malfoy had his hands shoved deep within his pockets as he half listened to Pansy as she rattled on about gossip he had no desire to know. The latest scandal she’d uncovered was Daphne Greengrass and Cormac McLaggen Christmas fling. She had been rattling on since they’d left the castle about the secret affair that had come to pass at the annual Greengrass Christmas Gala. Due to his high society connections, the Gryffindor playboy and his family had been invited, and according to Pansy, Daphne had certainly taken advantage of his attendance.

“Can you believe it? A Gryffindor,” Pansy scoffed. “Though I must admit, McLaggen’s taste in women has seemed to improve as apparently he no longer interested in Mudblood Granger.”

“Right, can’t blame him on that one,” Draco replied halfheartedly.

“And I suppose Daphne is pretty,” Pansy said in reasoning. “Though everyone knows Astoria is prettier.”

“Pansy,” Blaise sighed. “Haven’t you any girl friends you can talk to about things like this? No offense, but we really don’t care.”

“Well, I can’t really talk to Daphne about her own indiscretions now can I?” Pansy smarted with a clipped tone. “I thought you of all people would be interested, Blaise,” she added knowingly.

“You thought wrong,” he stated simply denying Pansy the reaction she hoped to extract. “Sorry, Pans,” he shrugged not seeming sorry at all; she huffed in annoyance.

“You look exhausted, Draco,” Pansy commented turning her attention to the tall blonde to her right. “Have you been sleeping at all?”

“I suppose I’ve gotten accustomed to sleeping in silence at home,” Draco shrugged. “Blaise’s unrelenting snoring has kept me up at night.”

“I do not snore,” Blaise said glaring at Draco. “It’s obviously Crabbe and Goyle.”

Though Draco pointed the blame at Blaise, he knew the dark Slytherin did not have a snoring problem; beginning their first year, Crabbe and Goyle had bothered their roommates with their roaring snores. However, in directing the attention towards Blaise for a moment, Pansy would stop analyzing Draco’s face for a reason for his sleep deprivation. He would never admit to the nightmares, but even he had to admit that wasn’t the reason he’d been lacking sleep as of late. Draco had taken to walking around the castle at night; he told himself it was to clear his mind and let his guard down, but that wasn’t the entirety of it. While on his walks, he always hoped he’d run into Luna again. He hadn’t seen her in over a week, and knowing she was within the castle but out of reach was the worse than any Cruciatus.

He despised the way he seemed to crave her presence. The absolute serenity she projected was a drug to sooth his constant anxiety; he wanted to close his eyes and hear her ramble about creatures she believed in and about the joke of a magazine her father owned. He yearned for the feel of her fingers tracing patterns in his skin and how she would seek out physical contact despite his hesitance to return the gesture. She knew how to calm him without calling attention to his obvious distress. She would listen silently never feeling the need to divulge in petty gossip or pointless small talk. She was unapologetically herself, and he admired her for such. He craved her genuine gentleness. He felt all of these things and hated every second of it. However, he knew nothing could be done to erase such feelings. He’d opened himself up to her, and he knew there was no going back. They were friends now; he no longer possessed the self-control to keep his distance.

Out of the corner of his eye, Draco saw a something bounding in the soggy snow. It bared the look of a rabbit, yet it was translucent. As he peered at it, it stopped moving and stared at him intently. With a twitching of its nose, the silvery hare wiggled its ears before tilting its head to the side; it resembled someone very much when it did so. Shaking his head, Draco continued to walk with his Slytherin mates until he heard a soft whispering of his name coming from the direction of the hare. It was a voice he knew all too well.

“I completely forgot to pick up a few Sugar Quills at Honeydukes,” Draco said suddenly internally cringing at his weak excuse. “I’m going to head back,” he added lamely.

“Oh, I’ll come with,” Pansy offered.

“No,” Draco said quickly. “I really can’t bare to hear anymore gossip. I’ll be quicker on my own,” he said before turning away. He could feel eyes linger on his back as he walked away leaving Pansy, Blaise, and Theo staring dumbly at his retreating form.

As he left them behind, Draco walked in the direction of Honeydukes all while keeping an eye on the bouncing, shimmering hare that seemed to be made up of silver wisps. Every once in a while the hare would whisper his name in a dreamy tone though no one he past seemed to hear it. Turning back briefly, Draco saw that his Slytherin companions were no longer in sight. He quickly ducked into the dark alleyway as the hare bounced before him. In the shadowed area, Draco could see that the creature wasn’t sliver colored, but rather it was transparent. In a sudden rush of realization, Draco knew he was looking a patronus. A smile small formed on his lips as his legs carried him a fraction faster.

Walking deeper into the alley, Draco saw a cloaked figure at the end, and he came to a sudden stop. A thought crossed his mind that perhaps this was lure to get him away from the protection of witnesses. Looking behind him, Draco saw that other than the heavily cloaked figure, there was no one else in the alley behind the Hogs Head and other shops. The silver hare bounced around his feet and a soft chuckle erupted from the end of the alley.

“Come on now, little one,” the sweet serene voice said. “You’ve done a beautiful job; thank you.”

At once, the hare bounced towards the figure before dissolving into swirling wisps of silver. Slowly, the person pushed the hood back from her face to reveal a calm smile and happy silvery-blue eyes. Luna reached towards Draco enticing him to come closer; he found his legs moving before he realized he was doing so. Quickly, his long legs carried him to her, and he found his hand within hers. Her smile brightened impossibly more.

“Lovely to see you,” she said as if seeing him in a dark alley was a normal occurrence. Draco found himself chuckling at the oddness of her statement.

“As it is to see you,” Draco replied shyly giving her cool fingers a gentle squeeze.

Luna looked down at their intertwined hands with an amused glint visible in her large eyes. Without warning, she dropped his hand in favor of wrapping her arms around his torso and pressing her cheek against his chest. Draco complied immediately to her embrace and wrapped one arm around her waist and buried the other into her hair still hidden behind the hooded cloak.

“This is a much better greeting, don’t you think?” Luna asked; Draco felt her words against his skin despite wearing heavy woolen robes.

“I’m not opposed to it,” Draco replied tightening his arm around her waist a bit more. Luna laughed into his chest.

“Friends can greet each other with an embrace, Draco,” Luna said pulling back slightly to look up at the young man before her. She reached up and traced the sharp angle of his cheekbone as she always did. She giggled when his ivory skin blushed pink.

Draco leaned his head slightly into her touch as he closed his eyes to block out the intensity in her eyes. He supposed friends could embrace upon greeting one another, but it was something he had avoided his entire life deeming it inappropriate. However, feeling Luna’s fingers against his face, Draco thought perhaps he was correct in thinking so, for this felt far too intimate for a friendly embrace. He couldn’t find it within him to care though, at least not in the moment.

“I’ve worried over you,” Luna said honestly; Draco opened his eyes to see her peering at him with an unwavering gentleness.

“Why?” Draco asked.

“I heard of Harry’s breaking into Bellatrix’s vault,” she replied staring at her fingers as they slid down a lock of his white hair. “Is your family okay?” she asked connecting her eyes once more with his.

“Yes, they’re fine,” Draco nodded. “Bellatrix was punished of course; whatever Potter was searching for, he found it.”

“I’m sorry your aunt was punished,” Luna said honestly; Draco stared at her in disbelief.

“I’m not,” he replied. “She had it coming to her after everything she’s done. I hope it was ten times as powerful as what she cursed you with. I hope she was left unable to walk or even think,” he said feeling white-hot anger boiling in his chest.

“Don’t,” Luna said placing her palm over his heart, fingers resting lightly against his collarbone. “She may have done horrible things, but no one deserves that.”

“She does,” Draco retorted. “Trust me, Luna. What you saw is good compared to what she’s done. She’s the reason Longbottom—“

“The reason Neville Longbottom has grown up without a mother and father. Yes, I know,” Luna replied. “But at the end of the day, she is a person, and I wouldn’t wish the fate she met upon anyone despite his or her past offenses.”

“Unbelievable,” Draco sighed leaning his head down to rest upon hers; he wished the hood wasn’t covering her messy blonde hair. “Simply unbelievable.”

“Nothing is beyond belief, Draco,” Luna whispered tracing his collarbone. “But your mother, she’s unharmed?”

“Yes, she was not harmed in any way from what Snape tells me,” Draco said pulling a strand of her long hair out of the hood.

“I’m very happy to hear so,” Luna smiled. “She’s a lovely woman.”

Draco said nothing but nodded instead, his cheek rubbing against the rough fabric of the cloak she wore. It was dark and dingy, smelling slightly of stale firewhisky and old age. He assumed she found it somewhere or another gave it to her. However she came by it, Draco didn’t care; he simply hated it. It was too dark for her, too heavy and shadowed. She belonged in bright colors, in white and yellow, purple, pink, and blue. She didn’t belong in black; that was a color he reserved for himself.

“Are you alright, Draco?” Luna asked lowly.

“I am right now,” he replied honestly.

This was what he had desired more so than anything. He just wanted her near, to see she was faring well on her own. She looked healthier. She had gained a little weight back as her face didn’t seem as sunken in. Her jawline was softer in a delicate oval shape, and her cheekbones were not as jutting as they had been within the Manor. She was still exceptionally thin, drowning within the overly large cloak, but she was getting better. She looked stronger and impossibly brighter than before. He could have stayed there all day in her embrace, feeling her chest rise and fall against his, but fate was never so kind to him.

“Draco?” a familiar voice called. “Draco, where are you? Theodore Nott called.

With wide eyes, Luna stepped back pulling the hood tighter against her face, and Draco quickly grabbed his wand out of his pocket ready to curse Theo if necessary. Luna turned to run, but Draco saw that Theo was already blocking the exit out of the dark alley. Reaching into his robe pocket, Draco picked up one of her earrings before grabbing her hand. He tried to convey everything he couldn’t say with his eyes as he slipped the earring into her fingers just as Theo emerged. Draco shifted his grip from Luna’s fingers to her wrist in a seemingly tight embrace as if he were gripping her from running away.

“Draco?” Theo questioned. “Who is that?”

Playing her part, Luna tried to pry her wrist from Draco’s grasp, but he held it tighter though not painfully. With a hard yank at her arm, the hood slipped back revealing her face slightly. Draco nearly cursed; before her face was shown, he could have said it was anybody, but now, Theo saw exactly who was trapped within Draco’s grasp.

“Isn’t that the Lovegood girl?” Theo asked. “Looney Lovegood?”

“It is,” Draco replied trying to convey disgust he didn’t feel in his voice. “She looks a little different from the last time I saw her. Though I suppose not being covered in blood has that effect,” he chuckled darkly hating the way her face fell at his words.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Turn her into Professor Snape and be done with her,” Theo suggested; Draco could tell he regretted stumbling into this situation.

“No, that would be too easy,” Draco grinned releasing Luna’s wrist after softly running his thumb across the soft skin where he could feel her steady heartbeat; she wasn’t scared at all. “I have a better idea,” he said raising his wand to her face. Luna took in a deep breath making her eyes wider with an appearance of fright.

“Please don’t,” Luna whispered loud enough for Theo to hear.

“This is for my family you filthy blood traitor,” Draco sneered. “I hope your little friends find you here convulsing in waves of unbearable pain. Crucio!” he yelled as a jet of light erupted from his wand and hitting Luna directly in the chest.

Luna fought with everything in her not to laugh at the tickling sensation, but instead, she did what she knew she was meant to do: she screamed loudly as if the light caress was complete agony as she fell to the cold ground below her. She screamed and screamed as the ghostly caress continued to dance across her skin though all she wanted to do was giggle. It wasn’t painful, not in the least bit for Draco did not truly mean the curse, therefore, she felt nothing other than a gentle touch.

“Let up, mate,” Theo laughed though a twinge of nervousness edged his voice. “You’ll kill her if you don’t stop; you don’t want to clean up that mess.”

It was obvious that Luna’s screams were very convincing. Theodore Nott had turned extremely pale with a tint of green to his face. He was not the only one to be convinced. From his place in the back room of the Hogs Head, Dean Thomas heard Luna’s screams and recognized her voice immediately. Throwing a crate of Butterbeer to the ground, Dean ran out of the back room and into the alley as he followed the sound of Luna’s screams. Seeing Draco Malfoy’s wand pointed at her as a menacing look overtook his features, Dean lost all control, and in a reckless fashion rushed forward pushing Draco against the brick wall of the building beside them.

As he was distracted, the curse broke and the tickling sensation stopped as did Luna’s screams. Dean had Draco against the brick, his hand wrapped around his neck as Draco’s wand pressed under the Gryffindor’s chin menacingly. Both young men stared at each other with fire in their eyes neither willing to appear weak before the other. Draco heard Theo robes rustling as he searched for his wand with fumbling hands.

“Leave it, Theo,” Draco spat as Dean continued to stare at him with murderous eyes. Quickly, Draco cast a nonverbal spell that sent Dean stumbling back as he clutched his head within his hands. She’s fine, Draco said into his mind. It felt like nothing more than a tickle, I swear. I wouldn’t hurt Luna.

Free from Dean Thomas’ grasp, Draco dusted off his robes nonchalantly as he continued to send silent messages into Dean’s head hoping one would find it’s way through the pain. He assumed Dean had never experienced the evasion of his mind; Draco knew from experience that Legilimency being used against you the first time was extremely painful. However, in this situation casting Legilimens was necessary. Walking towards Theo, Draco gestured his head towards the alley’s opening where the center of Hogsmeade awaited them. Draco fought against every instinct to not look back at Luna once more. Once out in the open, Theo turned to Draco with an unreadable expression.

“What spell did you use against Thomas?” he asked with guarded eyes.

“Sorry, Nott,” Draco replied nonchalantly. “Merely being the son of a Death Eater only gets you so far,” he replied before walking towards Honeydukes to get the Sugar Quills he had supposedly intended on.

Once Draco Malfoy and Theodore Nott were out of view, Dean Thomas heaved himself off of the ground with a pounding head. He was dizzy and his vision was unfocused; he’d heard Draco’s mental messaged and felt the horrid pain that came with it, but part of him didn’t believe what the Slytherin said. Stumbling, Dean made his way over to Luna only to stop short at the view before him. Sitting with her face in full view was Luna Lovegood with a radiant smile as she stared transfixed at the vegetable shaped earring dangling from her fingers. Dean opened his mouth several times, but couldn’t force any words to come out as he looked at her dumbfounded. She was really alright; Malfoy was honest.

“Come on now,” Luna said standing up happily. “I could go for a Butterbeer as my throat is quite parched,” she said slipping the earring into her robe pocket and extending her hand out towards Dean. He didn’t know what to do, so he took her hand in his and followed her into the Hog’s Head.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fifteen

Though she would never admit it, Luna had avoided talking to Dean throughout the day. They had sipped their Butterbeers in silence as heavy cloaks draped around their faces. Luna kept staring at the Dirigible plum earring in her hand as if it would disappear or vanish from her possession. Several times Dean attempted to ask her something, but she would turn her head and look out the nearest window or stare at a picture; something else always grasped her attention. That night, when they were safely back in the Room of Requirement, Dean climbed into Luna’s hammock as she stared down at her hands lying still in her lap; without looking, he knew she was staring at the earring. Once comfortable, Dean bumped his shoulder with hers.

“Whatcha got there?” he asked.

“It’s my earring,” Luna said lowly so no one else would hear. “The earring the Death Eaters took when I was brought to Malfoy Manor.”

“How did you get that?” Dean asked with interest.

“Draco,” Luna whispered. “He slipped it into my hand right before he pretended to curse me after Theodore Nott came into the alley.”

“Did you go looking for him?” Dean asked staring at the earring along with her as he clenched his jaw.

“Not exactly,” Luna responded lightly looking up at Dean with wide eyes.

“Luna,” Dean sighed.

“You would do the same,” Luna said with a certain tone. “If it was Seamus, Neville, Ginny, or me, you would do the same, Dean. Please understand.”

“I’m trying,” he replied earnestly. “But Luna, you don’t know how devastated we would be if anything happened to you. I wasn’t here for the first time, but I can only imagine how torn Neville and Ginny were. I might be selfish in saying so, but please don’t make them go through that again or me.”

“It wasn’t my fault the first time,” Luna said slightly hurt by his words.

“No, absolutely not,” Dean agreed. “But if you continue to seek him out knowing the possible consequences, it might be. You were lucky it was only Nott. If it was Snape or the Carrows, I don’t think a pretend Cruciatus would fool them.”

“He’s my friend, Dean,” Luna said with fierce eyes.

“So are we, Luna.”

“Are you asking me to choose?” she implored.

“No, never. I would never ask you to do that, Luna, ever. I just want you safe; we need you. We care about you. I’m not asking you to choose him or us, but I am asking you to be cautious. Hogwarts is not the same.”

“I know,” Luna nodded reaching out for his hand. She was relieved he hadn’t asked her to choose, because she didn’t think she would have been able to.

“You’re really okay, though,” Dean asked claiming her fingers.

“Perfectly fine,” Luna assured him as she stared lovingly at the earring in her free hand. “It’s going to happen soon, Dean. The end of it all; I can feel it coming near,” she said looking over once more at the boy beside her. His eyes darkened as he nodded his head once.

“I know; I can feel it too,” he replied gripping her fingers fractionally tighter.

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After wandering around Hogsmeade in search of his Slytherin companions, Draco, along with Theo, trailed back to the castle. The Sugar Quills were heavy and unappetizing within his robe pocket. Theo was talking about something he had no desire to hear, so Draco tuned him out. Nott Jr. could have been rattling off a way to defeat the Dark Lord and Draco would not have heard a syllable. He was beyond reach. Though he knew he hadn’t hurt Luna, Draco felt awful putting her in that position once again. Doing so had brought back so many memories of sleepless nights and the sounds of her screaming reaching his bedchambers as Bellatrix and the other Death Eaters cursed her night after night. Draco knew tonight was going to be another sleepless night, and his muscles were already protesting at the realization.

Continuing to push his legs further, Draco reached the stone castle steps and turned towards the Slytherin common room. Theo had finally stopped talking, and Draco didn’t have the energy within him to feel guilty at having ignored his mate for nearly twenty minutes. Walking down the chilled steps into the dungeons, Draco pushed open the door and allowed the cool air to fan over his face. It brought him back to reality allowing him to see a very annoyed Pansy Parkinson waiting for his arrival with crossed arms and pursed lips.

“Finally,” she clipped as Theo shut the door behind them. “I thought you’d been captured by a team of bloody Gryffindors.”

“No such luck, Pansy,” Draco shrugged as he slid his arms out of the thick woolen robe; it was just cool enough to need it outside, but inside it felt suffocatingly hot.

“What took you so long then? Surely Sugar Quills aren’t that time intensive,” she smarted.

“Draco here found a little moonbeam where she didn’t belong,” Theo said clapping Draco on the shoulder in a gesture of pride.

“Lovegood?” Pansy said at once raising a dark eyebrow. “Did you report her to Snape?”

“No,” Draco smirked though it felt unnatural to do so. “Where’s the fun in that?”

“Get on with it, mate,” Blaise said from his spot on Draco’s favorite chaise. “You’re practically bursting.”

“Well, I saw her slip behind the Hog’s Head, and I followed her. I was just about to hex her when Theo walked up; he witnessed my using the Cruciatus curse. She always was an exceptional screamer,” Draco chuckled.

“Then Dean Thomas came running out of nowhere and slammed Draco into a brick wall,” Theo added.

“Are you going to leave off the part where I sent him to his knees with a nonverbal curse, Nott,” Draco sneered. “Or did you forget that part just as you forgot you owned a wand during the altercation?”

“Sod off,” Theo said narrowing his green eyes. “I was getting there, mate. No need to get all sensitive.”

“It’s a shame she was raised as she was,” Pansy sighed deeply causing all the Slytherin boys to look at her in shock. “What? It’s so rare to come by a decent pureblood witch these days.”

“Taken a sudden interest in witches have you, Parkinson?” Blaise smirked.

“No, Zabini,” Pansy smarted back. “But I do wish people like the Lovegoods would simply live up to their lineage; they’re purebloods, yet they want to dilute their magical blood with that of muggle plainness. I don’t understand. If we all reproduced with muggles and half-bloods, eventually, the magical world would be obsolete. Centuries of history and culture gone from the world.”

Draco expected to feel revulsion at her words, to hear Luna’s counterargument echo in his mind, but it never came. He agreed with Pansy, and that scared him more so. He briefly wondered if he was reverting back into his old self, or rather back into the person he once thought he was. However, Draco knew he wasn’t the same, but that didn’t mean he was a full supporter of muggle greatness. He thought for a moment about what Luna would say to him, but he couldn’t find the words within his mind. It was all terribly confusing and left a dull ache in his left temple.

“You don’t have to preach to us, Pansy,” Theo said from beside him. “We all think the same.”

In his mind, even Draco had to acknowledge the fact that Theodore Nott wasn’t lying; they did all think the same. With a mumble about being starved, Draco walked into his room and changed out of his heavy clothes for dinner. All the while, he went over Pansy’s statement several times trying to find some fatal flaw in her argument; unfortunately for his conscience, he couldn’t find any.

Dinner was a seemingly uneventful to say the least. Draco ate his root vegetables and meat without really tasting and drank pumpkin juice whenever he felt the need to do so. He resigned to let Theo and Pansy recount the story of him cursing Luna to any one who would listen. Eventually, the entire Slytherin table was whispering about the event. In typical Hogwarts fashion, the table closest, which happened to be Ravenclaw, overheard the whispers and started giving Draco steely glares; he knew he deserved them. However, he felt a heavier set of eyes on him; turning, he met the black eyes of the Headmaster of Hogwarts. Professor Snape was peering at Draco with upmost interest, and the young Slytherin could detect a spark of annoyance in his eyes. Quickly, Draco turned away.

Draco tried to keep his eyes on his plate and on his companions around him, but he could feel everyone glaring at him. He assumed the Ravenclaws had spread the word to Hufflepuff who then spread the news to Gryffindor. Though no one would dare to curse him outright, Draco felt the creeping proclivity to watch his back for the next few days. Their glares may have been a bit hypocritical seeing how they all had treated Luna for the past six years, but he supposed the rest of the students had never gone further than teasing and hiding her belongings; they had never resorted to cursing her so painfully. Apparently, he had brought forth a sense of protection for Luna from the other students. In his opinion, it was too little too late.

As the entrée platters disappeared, the tables flourished with every sort of pastry and dessert imaginable. From the corner of his eye, Draco saw Crabbe’s massive fist close around a towering stack of chocolate cookies while Goyle dropped a heavy piece of pie onto his plate. Draco was no longer hungry, nor did he crave the sickly sweet sugar found within all of the desserts. He looked over to where the Bloody Baron stood in the corner, the dark shadow of blood running down his clothing as he face maintained a grimace of misery even in death. Draco’s eyes drifted slowly around the room observing the ghosts who floated around the Great Hall. At once his eyes ceased roaming as he locked gazes with the Grey Lady of Ravenclaw. Draco’s blood ran cold as her silvery translucent eyes bored holes into his being; she was glaring directly at him with a look that could quite possibly kill had she been alive. With a panicked need to do something, Draco plopped a massive heaping of chocolate and cherry pudding on his plate and shoved a large bite in his mouth. Pansy looked at him quite strangely as he sat there with whipped cream on his pointed chin.

Back in the Slytherin common room, Draco’s mind was muddled with conflicting thoughts he couldn’t rid himself of. He started repeating Pansy’s words in his brain over and over, dismembering every syllable until a pounding erupted in his temple. He stared into the Black Lake for nearly an hour before giving up with a huff. Making his way to his trunk, Draco draped a cloak around himself and walked out of the Slytherin chambers. Thankfully, no one questioned him anymore.

In the dark corridors, Draco didn’t feel the usual sense of relief he had grown accustomed to. Instead, he found himself looking behind statues as he passed and growing weary of the aching silence. He’d seemingly hurt one of Potter’s friends; there was a larger target over his head now. With anxiety rushing through his veins, Draco pushed his legs to walk faster through the dark stone passageways. He wasn’t looking where he was going and stopped suddenly when his entire body erupted in a deadly chill. Looking behind him, Draco’s body became rigid as he stared into, or rather through, the dark eyes of the Grey Lady. Snapping his mouth shut, Draco started to turn on his heel to walk away before her cold voice sent chills up his spine.

“You could say you’re sorry,” she said. He had expected her voice to be hard and inflicting, but instead, it was light and soft. However, the gentle tone did nothing to drown the fire she felt. “It’s very rude indeed to walk through people.”

“Right,” Draco said slowly. “I apologize.”

“You’re a very strange boy,” she said causing Draco to furrow his blonde brows. “I knew a boy like you many years ago.”

“You know who I am?” he asked hesitantly before squaring his shoulders. “Of course you do, I mean. How could you not? I thought you didn’t talk to other Houses?”

“Yes, I do remember every Slytherin who mistreats one of my students,” the Grey Lady clipped. “I’ve learned to do so over the years, and I typically don’t, unless it becomes necessary. I especially avoid Slytherins; you all tend to have a proclivity in targeting Ravenclaws.”

“What are you talking about?” Draco asked growing impatient with her sly riddles.

“Luna is kind; she is caring and compassionate. She is intelligent, and she loves people despite everything they’ve done to her. People take advantage of her,” she said. If she hadn’t been a ghost, Draco was sure he’d be turning red with anger.

“Why are you preaching to me about Lu-Lovegood?” Draco asked putting a note of disgust in his voice. “I couldn’t careless about her.”

“I suppose she knows that now too,” she said. “I saw you both in the Astronomy Tower a few night ago; she stayed there with you for hours listening to all your problems, yet you curse her the moment the opportunity arises. You don’t deserve her.”

“You-You saw us?” Draco asked scanning the hallways for any signs of life or afterlife. They seemed to be alone, yet it did nothing to calm Draco’s frayed nerves.

“I did; I always follow Luna while she sleepwalks so that she doesn’t go anywhere that could cause her harm,” she nodded. “I saw you tell her to be safe as she headed back into hiding and you walked back to your rooms. She was happy; Luna’s always happy. I thought you were too, but I was wrong. I’m always wrong when it comes to people like you.”

“People like me?” Draco responded in shock.

“Yes, charming and cunning, sly and willing to do whatever it takes to get what you want no matter the consequences,” she ranted as her dark hair seemed to blow around her. “Stop treating Luna like she is disposable. She is a person; she’s better than you all.”

“Helena,” Draco said softly; the Ravenclaw ghost was taken aback at the use of her first name. “Luna, she talks of you often,” Draco explained seeing her shocked reaction. “Helena, it’s not what you think, I swear,” he added as he checked the hallway once more.

“Is it not?” Helena asked. “I may be dead, but I’m not deaf nor blind, Mr. Malfoy.”

“Is there somewhere else we could talk?” Draco asked anxiously. “If I’m seen out here with you—“

“The elusive Grey Lady,” Helena smarted as she seemed to shrink into herself. “Me talking to another Slytherin; how the others would mock you.”

“It’s not like that,” Draco said pleadingly. “Luna, she’s my—my friend. I would never hurt her if I had the choice. I didn’t mean the curse; it didn’t work, I swear. I can’t—I can’t hurt her; something in me won’t allow it.”

“It didn’t hurt her?” Helena asked apprehensively; Draco could see the swirling questions in her translucent eyes.

“No, it was nothing more than a tickle,” he assured her. “When you see her again, ask her.”

“She would not betray people she thought were her friends,” Helena said crossing her arms in defiance.

“No, but she wouldn’t lie either, and you know that,” Draco said. Helena said nothing more but continued to stare at Draco as if the written truth would appear on his forehead. “We’re friends; she’s the only person I can be myself around. She’s the only person who will listen, genuinely listen to me without judgment or repulsion. She’s the only one who can calm me when I get worked up or stressed beyond recognition. I would never hurt her if I could avoid it.”

“Your friend seems to believe you hurt her; one of them, the dark haired boy, he witnessed it.”

“Theo did yes,” Draco nodded. “But Luna knew what I was doing; she knew to make it seem realistic. And they’re not my friends, not really. They wouldn’t be if they knew about her and everything.”

“You’re willing to risk exposure to protect her,” Helena asked with squinted eyes.

“Yes,” he responded immediately.

“I must tell you, Mr. Malfoy, Ravenclaw and Slytherin don’t have the best of history. There are two ghosts here from Ravenclaw House killed by men from Slytherin. One killed for power and the other in the name of love. Those who do not understand often fear intelligence and individuality, and they seek to destroy it.”

“I don’t crave power, and I’m not in love,” Draco said.

“You’re wrong,” Helena said though she didn’t specify what it was he was wrong about; this irked him more than anything. “I must go,” she said turning from him and floating away. His mouth reacted before his mind could stop him.

“Do you know where she is?” Draco called to her retreating form.
“Yes,” Helena responded as she stopped in the middle of the hallway though she didn’t turn to face him.

“Tell me,” Draco said breathily. “Please, I need to know.”

“You are not welcome there,” she said.

“Could you give her a message for me?” Draco pleaded.

“I cannot,” Helena said sadly before continuing her retreat. Draco stared after her until her silvery form was no longer visible in the distance; he faintly heard the words I’m sorry whisper into the empty air.

He felt heavy; his throat tight as his only connection to Luna floated away out of sight. Helena Ravenclaw knew where Luna was, yet she wouldn’t indulge him in such knowledge. The despair he felt doubled; he was so close to knowing where she was. So close to not having to search for her every night, so close to being able to go to her whenever it all became too much. He was so close to her, yet he was just out of reach. The thoughts were suffocating him in loneliness.

Wishing he had the ability to turn off his brain completely, Draco turned his foot intending to walk back to the Slytherin dorms. He didn’t want to be in the hallways any longer; he felt as if one unwanted encounter was enough for the night. However, fate did not agree with him. As he rounded the corner near Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, a shadowed figure was standing by a statue of the Hogwarts’ crest. Draco slowed down apprehensively, and the figure stepped away from the stone sculpture. The burning light emitting from the lanterns hanging on the wall illuminated the face of Seamus Finnigan who looked eerily calm.

“Hello there Malfoy,” he stated with a grimace. “I guess that mark on ye arm keeps ye out of trouble; it’s afterhours isn’t it?”

“Then why are you out here, Finnigan?” Draco challenged resisting the urge to grab the wand in his robe pocket and send a Confundus towards the Irish Gryffindor. “Take a few pages from Perfect Potter’s handbook, have you?”

“Leave Harry out of this,” Seamus fumed; Draco realized the Gryffindor was already holding his wand, his grip tight with resistance. “This isn’t about him.”

“That’s new,” Draco deadpanned. “What’s this about then, Finnigan? Or do you simply enjoy standing in dark hallways?”

“I prefer hallways to alleyways, that’s for sure,” Seamus smarted through gritting teeth.

“Ah,” Draco said as he realized what Seamus’ business with him was. “I see news travels to your little hideout. You must have reporters hanging about the school.”

“Doesn’t matter, Malfoy,” Seamus fumed. “You didn’t get enough of her while you had her trapped under your bloody mansion, did ye? Didn’t hurt her enough?”

“Is that what she told you?” Draco asked with a smirk though he felt his body tighten at the thought of Luna saying what a horrible person he was to her. Even though she would have been right in saying so, thinking of those words falling from her mouth hurt him deeply.

“Of course not,” Seamus laughed humorlessly. “Luna said you only ever brought food down, but I doubt that’s all you did, Malfoy. There was a Potter supporter, Little Looney Lovegood, in your dungeon; how could you resist, right? Just admit it.”

“I see Dumbledore’s Army is having trust issues,” Draco said snarkily before he could stop himself; he saw Finnigan’s cheeks flush darker. “Pity. I thought you were all best mates for life, heroes of the world and all that muck.”

“Just admit you tortured her,” Seamus retorted back; the tips of his ears were burning red. “Just admit it, Malfoy. Admit the monster you are, already!

“So what if I did,” Draco said noncommittally. “What are you going to do about it, Finnigan?”

“Admit it and you’ll find out,” the Gryffindor boy gritted.

“Don’t you know Slytherins have a proclivity for self-preservation? Why would I admit to something knowing you were going to attempt to hurt me for doing so?”

“Good enough for me,” Seamus shrugged before lifting his wand to point at Draco. “Impedimenta!” Seamus yelled before uttering something under his breath. However, Draco didn’t feel himself being thrown back, but rather slightly frozen to the spot he was standing, but he did feel hot, burning hot.

“What did you—“ Draco started until he felt his leg sear in excruciating pain. “Fuck!”

Draco’s knee buckled as he fumbled for his wand and muttered a flimsy Aguamenti at his leg that was on fire. However, the pain did not subside, but rather continued to travel up his leg as wails of pain echoed through the stone passageway. As usual Seamus’ spell casting resulted in fire; though Draco suspected it may have been intentional this time as Seamus didn’t make a move to stop the flames. Yelling out in pain, Draco looked up to see Seamus Finnigan staring at him with a mixture of disbelief and contentment in his eyes.

“Be glad you have quick reflexes, because I wasn’t going to stop it until it burned that Mark off your arm,” Seamus spat. “That was for Luna, you bastard.”

With that, Seamus Finnigan stomped off leaving Draco sprawled out against the cool stone floor with a burned leg. For a moment, Draco lay there in pain; it was like nothing else he’d ever felt. It was like his entire leg was charred yet pulsing and twitching as his raw skin touched the night air. Draco pushed himself up, but the rustling of the burned fabric against his scalded skin caused his eyes to glaze over in black and bursting stars. He’d rather both of his arms be broken by wild hippogriffs than have severely burned flesh. Inhaling and exhaling two deep breaths, Draco attempted to push himself up again, only to fall back down due to a burst of pain. A scream of pain fell from his lips.

“Draco, what’s happened,” a quiet voice said beside him. Looking over through blurry eyes, Draco saw Moaning Myrtle floating in the entrance of her bathroom.

“Myrtle, I need you to get someone, anyone,” Draco grunted out.

“Why should I help you?” Myrtle said putting her nose into the air. “You only come to me when you’re lonely or need help finding another girl to spend your time with. I should leave you here to rot,” she said before looking down at his leg. “It seems you’ve already started doing so. I’m dead, and even I can smell the scent of burning flesh.”

“Please,” Draco begged through gritted teeth trying to convey sincerity in his eyes. “Myrtle, please,” he gasped as he moved his leg to the side and a surge of pain shot through the left side of his body. He heard her high pitch voice rattle off something else before his vision left followed by his hearing. In the place of utter darkness, Draco could still feel the burning of fire on his skin.

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Ginny had never seen Luna in such a state. The dreaminess from her eyes was gone, the serene aura she always carried had disappeared; instead her usually unfocused eyes stared unblinkingly at Seamus Finnigan with such force, Ginny wondered if she were still alive. Slowly, Ginny walked to her best friend and put a lightly freckled hand on her shoulder; Luna didn’t respond to her touch.

“What have you done?” Luna finally said lowly.

“Luna, I did it for you; after what he did to you today, the bloody wanker deserved it,” Seamus said putting his hands up in a show of surrender. “He used an Unforgivable on you! I wasn’t going to let him get away with that!”

“I never asked you to do that,” Luna whispered. “I never asked because I didn’t want it to happen. Why would you do this, Seamus?”

“He was just standing up for you, Luna,” Ginny said gently. “I know you don’t condone violence or anything, but—“

“No, Ginny,” Luna said softly turning to her friend. “You all don’t understand.”

“Tell us then,” Ginny coaxed. “Help us to understand, Luna.”

Looking around the crowded room, Luna saw that every set of eyes was on her. They were all watching for her response, her reaction, and the reason she was so upset for Draco Malfoy’s pain. Luna felt overwhelmed; she could feel their interest and desire to know every secret she was keeping. She couldn’t stand it; it all felt so raw and intrusive. She needed to be away from everything and everyone. She needed to see him; he needed her.

“I can’t,” Luna whispered backing away. “I have to go.”

“Go where!?” Ginny called after her in panic. “Luna, you can’t leave! Please!”

“I have to, Gin,” Luna said with tears filling her wide eyes. “I have to see him; I need to make sure he’s alright. He can’t—He needs me. I can feel it.”

“Who, Luna?” Ginny asked hesitantly as Luna pushed the door open. Ginny’s voice rose as she rushed to grab Luna before she walked out of the room. “Luna, who needs you?”

“Draco,” Luna whispered before shutting the door on her friends’ frantic and shocked faces.

Ginny stared at the door as it slammed behind Luna; it shook the walls around it, but the Weasley daughter barely noticed, for the door shook her world even more. She didn’t move for a few moments, and everyone within the room seemed to freeze in silence. Ginny couldn’t believe what happened. There was no way Luna and Draco were civil with one another. Feeling a hand on her shoulder, Ginny looked up to see the unmoved face of Dean Thomas.

“You knew,” Ginny said with certain; Dean responded only with a nod. “Why didn’t you tell us? Why didn’t she—“

“Because she knew this would be the response,” Dean admitted.

“He must have tricked her,” Ginny reasoned with herself. “He did something to her because there’s no way Luna could be fooled by Malfoy on her own. She’s smarter than that.”

“Ginny,” Dean sighed. “There’s so much you don’t know.”

“Then tell me, Dean,” Ginny growled as the tips of her ears turned red.

“It’s not really my story to tell,” Dean shrugged as he backed away from the boiling redhead. “Luna has to be the one.”

“So you know about them, about everything?” Ginny shouted making a few people in the room jump in fright. “You knew this whole time, Dean, and you kept it to yourself. Why? You know how she is! She’ll sacrifice her life to protect people she cared about. And you’re willing to let her die for sodding Malfoy? Because I’m not!” Ginny shouted at the tall Gryffindor boy before following her best friend and exiting the safety of the room. She left a room of shocked silence behind her.

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After casting a Disillusionment Charm on herself, Luna stood just within the door of the Hospital Wing blending in seamlessly with the walls. She watched at Madam Pomfrey worked over Draco’s leg. From her spot at the door, she could see the chard bits of skin, the unnatural redness, and the blisters that covered the surrounding areas. She wanted nothing more than to sit in the empty chair beside him and hold his hand while his wounds were tended to. Severus Snape stood off to the side, watching intently as Madam Pomfrey covered Draco’s leg in a deep, green salve. His leg jerked as she applied the concoction though he did not make a sound or open his eyes.

For nearly half an hour, Madam Pomfrey muttered incantations over Draco who winced a few times in his sleep. Professor Snape never said a word; he merely looked on with a guarded expression. Soon enough, she was finished with her mending and Draco’s leg was wrapped tightly in white bandages up to his upper thigh. Once finished, the head nurse looked at Snape with a dull expression.

“Mr. Malfoy will keep his leg, obviously,” she stated. “However, I want him to stay here for a few days so I can insure that his skin heals properly and doesn’t scar anymore than necessary.”

“See to it then,” Snape nodded as he turned to leave.

As he reached the door, he stopped with his hand on the door handle as his eyes traced over the spot where Luna stood hidden. Luna held her breath and willed her heart the cease beating as his cold stared wandered over her. Deciding there was nothing worth seeing, Professor Snape pushed the door opened and walked out of the Hospital Wing. With a gentle pat to Draco’s good knee, Madam Pomfrey placed a burning candle next to his bedside before retreating into her private quarters. Luna stayed hidden for a while longer to make sure that everyone had truly left before walking away from her hiding spot and over to Draco’s sleeping form. She sat down beside him in the once vacant chair and reached her hand out to grab his.

“I’m terribly sorry this has happened to you,” Luna whispered as she wrapped her long fingers around his. “Seamus thought he was defending me, but clearly he didn’t know we are friends. I feel as if this is my fault; had I been honest with them, maybe this wouldn’t have happened,” Luna sighed as she brought Draco’s hand up to her face; she placed their intertwined hands against her cheek. “I’m so sorry, Draco.”

Though Luna couldn’t see, Ginny was standing behind the slightly opened doors. Through the narrow opening, the Gryffindor could see clearly into the Hospital Wing. Thankfully, Draco Malfoy’s bed was directly across from the door. As her best friend talked to the young man who had made Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s life miserable for the past seven years, Ginny struggled to hear Luna’s soft whispering. She wished she had thought to bring one of Fred and George’s Extendable Ears. Ginny remained silent as she stood in the doorway; however, Luna knew she was there. Just as she always knew Narcissa Malfoy was waiting in the shadows of the manor, Luna knew her friend wouldn’t let her go so easily.

“You can come in, Ginny,” Luna said not taking her eyes off of Draco. “I know you’re there.”

Feeling thoroughly foolish, Ginny walked in sheepishly bending her head and causing a veil of red to shield her face. It was so unlike Ginny that Luna felt herself smiling at the sight. Conjuring a second chair, Ginny sat down next to Luna and waited for the Ravenclaw to speak. Ginny noted that Luna seemed lighter; the dreaminess had returned to her eyes and a soft smile stretched across her lips. She looked like the Luna she was accustomed to.

“I know you’re waiting for an explanation,” Luna whispered as she reached her unoccupied hand to straighten the rising hemline of Draco’s hospital top. “But I’m afraid it’s much to long to share at the moment.”

“Did he ever hurt you? Physically?” Ginny asked.

“Yes,” Luna said honestly. “But not today.”

“It doesn’t matter, Luna,” Ginny said.

“He did it so Bellatrix wouldn’t,” she added. “He did it after I begged him to so he wouldn’t be hurt himself. He’d gone through so much already, I didn’t want him to become a shell. He was so close to nothingness, Ginny. His eyes were dead; his spirit was nearly gone.”

“It’s not your responsibility to protect him,” Ginny replied gently. “He has friends who never leave his side, his family—“

“Is in shambles,” Luna finished for her. “His mother and his father have conflicting ideas; Draco never told me, but I know it. Mrs. Malfoy was always kind when others weren’t around, but Bellatrix is a mad woman who will stop at nothing to please You-Know-Who, and he wants Draco. Mr. Malfoy is trying to repair the Malfoy name in You-Know-Who’s eyes, and it’s harder than he thought. Draco was—is—under so much pressure, and all the while, he didn’t know what he wanted.”

“What does he want?” Ginny asked.

“The opportunity to choose for himself, I think,” Luna replied.

“What’s his choice?”

“I don’t know,” Luna said honestly. “But I believe in him; I have to.”

“Why is that?” Ginny questioned.

“You say it’s not my responsibility to protect him,” Luna whispered looking at Ginny for the first time. Her eyes were swimming with unshed tears. “But it is, because when it was his responsibility to destroy me, he protected me. Now it’s my turn, and I won’t let him down.”

“He’s not a good person, Luna,” Ginny sighed standing up from her chair.

“I’m not saying he’s good, but I’m not saying he’s bad either, Ginny. He’s neither; he’s a person, and no person is ever merely one thing.”

“Spoken like the one and only Luna Lovegood,” Ginny sighed though she couldn’t hide the grin creeping onto her face. “I trust you, Luna, but I don’t trust him.”

“I understand,” she nodded.

“If it ever comes to it, I’ll curse him to pieces,” Ginny threatened. “I won’t hesitate.”

“I would expect nothing less,” Luna responded.

“I’ll leave you here for now; if you’re not back within the hour, I’m coming for you. Hogwarts isn’t safe, Luna,” Ginny said as she walked to the door. As her hand touched the door handle, she turned to look at her friend. “You really should reconsider your taste in men, Luna.”

“We’re just friends, Ginny,” Luna assured her. “Like you and Harry.”

“I don’t think of Harry as just my friend,” Ginny whispered before slipping out of the door.

“I know,” Luna said in a hushed voice so that no one could hear. She brought their intertwined hands away from her cheek to press her lips gently against Draco’s hand. Only when she placed his arm back on the bed did she hear the door shut with a soft click.

Pulling her chair closer to Draco’s side, Luna gently tucked a stray piece of hair behind his ear. Her fingers lingered on his skin as she traced over his jaw. She itched to paint him, the capture every angle and curve of his face on parchment. He looked so peaceful and relaxed; Luna surmised hat she had never seen him so serene, nearly angelic as the warm candle light cast a soft glow on his pale features. Knowing Ginny’s threat of returning was true, Luna stood up to leave.

She rested her fingers against Draco’s hand and gave him a light squeeze, but as she was turning to walk away, she felt cool fingertips caress her wrist. She turned around to see his silver eyes still hidden behind his eyelids, but the corners of his mouth were slightly turned up. He was happily dreaming; with a gentle smile, Luna leaned down over him planting a soft kiss to his forehead.

“I’ll try my best to come tomorrow night,” she whispered to him trailing her fingertips across his cheekbone and over the shell of his ear. “Sleep well, Draco.”

With her final goodbye, Luna left the Hospital Wing and walked the well-memorized path to the Room of Requirement. She was mulling deeply over the conversation she had with Ginny and thinking about what she was going to tell the rest of the refugees. As her mind began to ache, Luna shook her head to clear her thoughts as she told herself it would all come together as it should. As a serene smile took over her face,, Luna skipped the rest of the way to her friends. Because of his heavy black robes, she didn’t notice Professor Snape standing in the shadows watching her with curiosity.

Chapter Text

From the moment Draco began to awaken, it was clear he was not in his bed within the Slytherin dorms. The mattress he was lying on was far too thin, and the room was far too quiet; not a single snore from neither Crabbe nor Goyle could be heard. Allowing himself a few moments to fully wake, he began to feel a burning sensation in his leg that caused him to grimace. Then he remembered: Seamus Finnigan had set him on fire, on purpose. Shifting slightly to the left, Draco bit his tongue roughly to keep from crying out as a rush of pain flickered up his leg stopping at his upper thigh.

Slowly, Draco blinked his silver eyes open seeing the blurry hospital wing come into focus. He deduced it was early morning because outside the windows, the sun was just peaking over the horizon. He turned his head to see two empty chairs beside his bed; he began to wonder how long he'd been in the infirmary. As the pain continued to pulse through his leg, Draco looked around for Madam Pomfrey hoping she would supply him with some sort of relief. Just as the thought flashed through his brain, a door on the far end of the room opened and the head nurse walked diligently into the room holding a few potions in her arms. Draco wondered if she had a trace of sorts on her patients to track their pain levels; it was very probable.

"Mr. Malfoy," Madam Pomfrey greeted with a curt nod as she placed three glass bottles on his bedside tray. "I won't be having any of your dramatics this time," she said. "You're going to survive with your leg, but your recovery is going to hurt."

"Yes ma'am," Draco nodded; the matronly nurse merely stared at him in shock.

"Well, alright then," she nodded though her eyes looked a bit lost; she'd clearly expected him to fight with her. "Take this pain potion now; it should help with the burning sensation," she said handing him a red bottle.

Obediently, Draco drank the entire bottle noting that it tasted like sage and honey. In a lovely wave, peacefulness settled over his body and the pain in his leg disappeared altogether. He noticed the muscles in his shoulders relaxed; he leaned back against the pillows unable to remember when his body became so rigid with pain. His eyes felt slightly droopy and his mind dazed. Satisfied with his relaxing, Madam Pomfrey began to unwrap the bandages on his leg. Draco noticed his hospital issued pajamas had been cut to allow access to his burnt leg. As she began to unravel the bandages, the nurse stopped suddenly and cast her eyes at Draco with a cautious gleam.

"You may not want to look, Mr. Malfoy," she warned him. "It's rather ghastly."

"That bad?" Draco sighed as he leaned his head back hitting the headboard.

"Quite," she responded before resuming her task.

Draco fought with himself as she removed the bandages. He wanted to survey the damage, yet he knew he didn't want to see the disgusting shape his leg was in. If it were on someone else, he could handle it, but knowing it was his own body that still smelled like rotting flesh made his stomach churn. Unfortunately, the pain potion did nothing to counteract his nausea. After what felt like hours, she was done and stood up to grab a second potion from the tray.

"I applied a heavy layer of dittany to your leg last night. It healed the tissue that had been damaged along with your third layer of skin. However, the second layer, if damaged, causes the most pain," Madam Pomfrey explained as she pulled out the cork and reached for a dropper. "This may burn a little, but the pain potion should relieve most of it."

With a steady hand, the head nurse skillfully dropped the brown liquid all over his leg. Though he was looking at the ceiling, Draco could see a greenish smoke rise in the air. It did sting a little, but just enough that he could feel it. He'd felt much worse before. Once she was finished and looking rather pleased with herself, Madam Pomfrey placed the stopper back into the bottle and stood up to retrieve another role of bandages. She expertly wrapped his leg within a minute.

"The third is a bottle of Dreamless Sleep," she said gesturing towards the purple bottle on the tray. "I won't ask, but it is clear your injuries were not accidental. Should you need it, the potion is there for your use," she said with a nod.

"Thank you," he responded. "Will it scar too badly?"

"No, it shouldn't as long as dittany is continuously applied," she said gathering her supplies. "It will be much like your injuries from last year," she said before walking back towards her private quarters leaving Draco with the memories of his last visit to the hospital wing; he was covered in lacerations from Potter's Sectumsempra.

He'd only been awake for a half hour at most, but Draco was already bored out of his mind and still slightly drowsy from the pain potion. He hated just lying around. When he was younger, Draco would have reveled in this situation knowing he would be able to rest up as much as possible and receive endless supplies of chocolates and sweets from his mother; Pansy would have visited him every day tending to his every need while staring at him like a devoted puppy. Crabbe and Goyle would have clung to every syllable of his elaborate tales of how he'd ended up in the infirmary. However, due to its vacantness, the large room felt more like incarceration than a vacation.

Looking at the two chairs once more, Draco wondered if Pansy and the others had visited him last night. However, it had been well after hours, so he deemed it highly unlikely. With a huff of annoyance, Draco looked down at this leg wrapped in heavy white cloth, his imagination creating gruesome images of what his skin looked like beneath. Luckily, the large doors opened to reveal Professor Snape proving to be a great distraction from his thoughts. With a dark gaze, the headmaster looked him up and down before pursing his lips slightly.

"I see you've already had visitors," he said gesturing towards the two chairs.

"Not that I remember," Draco shrugged.

"Interesting," Professor Snape deadpanned. "I expect you have a name to give this morning regarding your injury?"

"No," Draco said without thinking. "It was extremely dark; I couldn't see much."

"There was a sconce right above where you were found," Snape said squinting his black eyes slightly.

"Was there?" Draco asked. "He or she must have extinguished it before cursing me with fire."

"You don't even remember if your attacker was male or female?" Snape asked.

"No," Draco said shaking his head. "There wasn't much talking."

"Very well. I've alerted the seventh year Slytherins about your injury; I'm sure you'll have many visitors this morning and afternoon." Snape said. "Oh, and might I suggest limiting your time outside of the Slytherin dorm after hours, Mr. Malfoy," he added before turning to leave with his robes billowing around him.

"Right," Draco mumbled as he considered taking the Dreamless Sleep to avoid any visitors he might have. However, a House Elf popped in with breakfast a few moments later; his stomach growled loudly erasing all thoughts of easing into a peaceful sleep.

Once the poached eggs and bacon were situated nicely in his stomach, the visitors started arriving. Pansy was the first person to reach him. Her olive eyes carried a rather worried expression as she sat down in the chair closest to him. She reached out and grabbed his hand; he didn't pull away. Blaise sat in the chair beside her while Theo opted to stand. Crabbe and Goyle were nowhere in sight.

"Who did this to you?" Pansy asked as she glanced at his bandaged leg. "Does it hurt terribly?"

"I don't know," Draco answered. "And it did, but I've taken a pain potion, so I don't feel much now."

"What do you mean you don't know?" Blaise asked with furrowed brows.

"It was rather dark, and we didn't exactly have a conversation before he or she decided to nearly burn my leg off," Draco smarted.

"Will it scar?" Pansy asked.

"Not really," Draco shrugged. "Madam Pomfrey is applying dittany, so it should heal normally. Why are you all here anyway? Haven't you got lessons?"

"Please contain your excitement," Theo said with rolled eyes. "We have Dark Arts at the moment; Professor Carrow excused us to visit."

"Right," Draco nodded.

"Is there anything we can do, Draco?" Pansy asked with sincerity dripping from her olive eyes.

"Not really," he shrugged noncommittally. "I've only been awake for two hours or so, and I'm already bored to bits."

"Has your mother contacted you?" Blaise asked looking around for a box of the delicious sweets Mrs. Malfoy always sent.

"Not yet," Draco shook his head. "But it's only a matter of time."

Draco was not wrong. Soon after Theo, Blaise, and Pansy left with promises to return later, a letter was delivered with the Malfoy crest pressed within the wax seal along with a heavy box, the same box he'd received nearly every day his first year. With a sigh, Draco opened the letter to reveal his mother's handwriting.

My Darling Boy,

Severus has informed me of the situation and of your injuries. I am horribly sorry to hear that someone has done such a horrid thing to you, my son. Please be more cautious of your surroundings. I despise knowing you are in pain, yet there is nothing I can do to help. Please take care, darling. Owl back if there is anything you require or want to help your recovery. I wish I could be there to take care of you. I love you beyond all. Never forget that.

All my love,

Mother

The message was clear to Draco. She wanted him to come home, yet he was not permitted to do so nor was she allowed to leave the Manor. With a defeated sigh, Draco tossed the letter and the box of truffles onto the tray beside his bed. The infirmary was rather cold, yet the heavy bandages on his leg kept half of his body warm while the other half was frigid. He couldn't get comfortable, and it was beginning to wear down his patience. To make matters worse, the pain potion had fully worn off and a blistering pain was pulsing in his leg causing him to grind his teeth together. However, this time, Madam Pomfrey was nowhere in sight.

For nearly half an hour, Draco sat in agony; he'd called for Madam Pomfrey once, but she never came into the hospital wing. He supposed she'd taken off for lunch, but what if he started dying? Would she come then or continue eating only to find his corpse upon her return? What if there was an emergency? With a defeated sigh, Draco reached over for the purple potion and downed half the content. Without delay, his body warmed and his eyelids felt incredibly heavy. He closed them once, and that was all it took.

What felt like minutes later, Draco woke to the feeling of warm fingers sliding against his. He assumed Pansy had honored her promise and returned wanting to offer a bit of comfort. He allowed her fingers to grasp onto his while her other hand tucked a lock of hair behind his ear. However, when Pansy ran her fingers up his cheekbone and then across his jaw, he realized it wasn't Pansy at all. Blinking his eyes open, Draco saw nothing more than a foggy halo of messy blonde hair. After a few moments, his eyes adjusted to the faint light of the candle beside his bed, and he was able to see his visitor clearly. Luna Lovegood sat in the chair with a bright smile etched across her face.

"What are you—" he said quickly causing his gravely voice to crack. Luna held a finger to her lips and pointed at the dark windows behind her. "What are you doing here?" he whispered.

"I came to see you of course," Luna answered simply. "Before you start to worry, I set a barrier down the hall that will alert me if anyone comes near."

"Where'd you learn that?" Draco asked releasing her hand to push himself up so that he was no longer lying down. Once situated, he reached for her hand again. She stared at their intertwined fingers for a moment before answering.

"Ginny taught me actually," she said softly. "She learned how to cast it in order to keep her brothers out of her room."

"Does it work in the castle?" he asked.

"I guess we'll find out," Luna shrugged without a care. "How are you?" she asked giving his hand a tighter squeeze.

"I'm alright," he lied; since waking, the pain in his leg had surfaced once more causing a harsh ache to climb through his skin.

"I think this is a pain potion here," Luna said gesturing towards the red bottle on the bedside tray. "You should take some. I did smell it while you were resting; I think there's a bit of Dreamless Sleep mixed in."

"No, I'm comfortable for now," he said knowing the potion would leave his mind out of focus and eyes drowsy.

"I'm so terribly sorry, Draco," Luna said gently leaning forward to rest her elbows on his bed as she brought their intertwined hands to rest against her cheek.

"What for?" he asked with furrowed brows.

"Seamus," Luna replied. "He thought he was defending me, but he was sorely mistaken, I'm afraid."

"I understand," Draco nodded at her. "I'm not angry."

Luna cast her eyes to meet his as the words registered in her mind. Draco looked back at her and saw a mixing swirl of awe and admiration in her wide grey-blue eyes. Slowly, a small smile pulled at the corner of her full lips before she placed a quick kiss on the back of his hand. She shook her head slightly.

"Draco Malfoy," she sighed. "Oh, how you've changed."

"I guess," he shrugged ignoring the burst of pride he felt in knowing the look of amazement in her eyes was directed at him.

"When did you become so modest?" she asked with a raised eyebrow; he merely shrugged again.

"My mother sent a letter today," Draco said wanting to talk about anything other than his moral progression; he was still trying to wrap his mind around Pansy's words the day before. "You can read the letter there if you'd like."

"I'd rather you tell me," Luna smiled shyly. "You have such a lovely voice."

"Right," Draco said as a blush ran across his cheeks. "Well, she basically said she wanted me to come home, but I wasn't allowed nor was she allowed to come to me."

"She said all that?" Luna asked tilting her head to the side.

"In her own way," Draco admitted. "But I got the message."

"Do you miss her?"

"A bit, yeah," he admitted. "What about you; do you miss your mum?"

"Yes, I miss Mummy quite a lot," Luna nodded with a serene look in her eyes. "She's dead, you know."

"Merlin, Luna," Draco said quickly feeling his entire body burn red from embarrassment. "I'm so sorry; I didn't—"

"It's alright, Draco," Luna said smoothing her thumb over his hand. "We don't know that much about each other, do we?"

"I suppose not," he said slightly defeated.

"Well, shall we?"

"Shall we what?" he asked.

"Get to know each other, of course," she responded as if it were the obvious answer. "We're friends after all."

"It feels a bit unconventional doing so now," Draco said gesturing at their intertwined hands that were resting against Luna's cheek.

"I quite like unconventional," she replied dreamily. "Ask me a question."

"Uh, what's your favorite color?" he asked lamely.

"White," she answered immediately.

Draco stared at her for a moment in disbelief. The girl who wore multiple patterns at one time, radish earrings, and a Butterbeer cork necklace loved the color white most of all? Luna, a girl who was every color under the rainbow all at once favored the most boring of colors? He found her admission strange, to say the least.

"White," he repeated slowly.

"Yes, of course," Luna smiled. "White, like the color of spring flowers, puffy summer clouds, and fresh snow. Did you know white is the all of the colors combined? Hermione told me that once; she said muggle scientist discovered that light is a combination of every color in the rainbow, some of which we don't have the ability to see."

"Really?" he asked in disbelief. "Muggles discovered that?"

"Yes," Luna said nodding her head enthusiastically. "I think that's why I like the color so much; I never can pick my favorite, so I choose them all. Therefore, I choose white. What about you?"

"Green," Draco said immediately without thought; Luna tilted her head to the side again.

"Is it really?" she asked.

For a moment, Draco sat there with a dumbfounded look on his face. Of course green was his favorite color. It was the color of Slytherin, the color of the Malfoy crest, the color of the jewels within the Malfoy tiara. It was the color of his bedding, his curtains, and velvet fabric covering his lounge chairs. It was the color of the apples growing outside in the garden. It was the color of his Mother's dining room set, and the color of the rugs in the parlor. Green was, without a doubt, his favorite color. Except it wasn't. Sitting there, Draco searched within his mind thinking of a time where a color, other than green, brought him joy.

"Blue," he said hesitantly. "Light blue."

"Like the sky?" she asked.

"No, not as bright. Just like, a pale blue," he said thinking back to his childhood where he found a robin's nest within the apple tree.

Every day he would check on the nest, never touching the soft blue eggs for fear they would break. He would sit on the sprawling tree limbs as his feet dangled in the air and simply watch the nest while the mother bird was away gathering more sticks and leaves. The soft blue eggs had been his only companions that spring many years ago. He remembered the sheer bliss he felt when the eggs finally hatched; he'd felt a sense of pride knowing he'd kept the nest safe from any predators that may have attacked while the mother bird was away.

"Mm," Luna hummed. "That's a very calming color," she smiled.

Draco looked up to see that her eyes were closed. He took the time to study her face. Illuminated in the warm candle glow, Luna's skin didn't look as pale, but rather it was saturated with amber light. Her eyebrows were pale, nearly translucent, and he thought it made her look rather odd, a bit like an otherworldly being. In a way, she was. Her cheeks and lips were rosy, and he thought this is how she was meant to look. She looked warm and healthy; she belonged in the light. His mind flashed back to the manor and how the moonlight would reflect off of her skin. Even then, he thought she embodied the glowing light. It had always suited her.

"Where did you go?" Luna asked breaking Draco out of his own mind. "Your eyes turned rather dark. Bad thoughts? I've suspected there was a wackspurt invasion in here for years."

"Just thinking," he replied.

"I get lost in my mind sometimes too," Luna said gently giving Draco's hand a soft squeeze.

"Do you have a question for me?" Draco asked.

"If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?"

"Anywhere?" Draco repeated to himself in a low whisper. "I think I'd be here."

"Why is that?" Luna asked.

"I don't think people would accept me anywhere else," Draco admitted. "Not with this thing on my arm. It will always label me, no matter how this war ends. It will always define me.

"I don't think that's true," Luna said.

"It doesn't matter," Draco sighed. "What about you? Where would you be?"

"I think I would be here too," she smiled. "There's nowhere I'd rather be."

"Nowhere?" Draco asked.

"Nowhere," she grinned giving his hand anther squeeze.

"You're strange," Draco said shaking his head though a smile spread across his face.

"All the best people are," Luna shrugged; Draco didn't disagree. "I came to visit you last night, do you remember?"

"You did?" he asked. "I don't remember anything after passing out in the corridor; I woke up here this morning."

"I see," Luna nodded. "Ginny and I both were here."

"Weasley was here?" Draco asked in disbelief; however, now the two chairs at his bedside made sense. "Why?"

"She followed me here; I think she took quite a shock when I told her we were friends before running through the castle," Luna grinned.

"I bet. Was she angry?"

"I think concerned is a better word," Luna offered. "You see, I've done something I shouldn't have. I kept a secret from my friends."

"They don't have to know everything," Draco said cautiously.

"No, but by not telling them, you nearly lost your leg," Luna counter-argued.

"It's not that bad."

"You've flinched or grimaced every thirty seconds since you've been awake," Luna replied pointedly. "I do wish you would take the pain potion."

"It makes me drowsy," he admitted. "I want to be conscious while you're here."

"That's very sweet of you," Luna whispered. "But I want you to be without pain. Please take it. I'll stay here until you go to sleep. I promise."

"Fine," he surrendered grateful that Luna had the ability to see past his words; he truly was in a great amount of pain. Luna handed him the opened bottle, and he eagerly drank the warm liquid. He sighed as the effects took over; his leg was numb and his body was at ease. However, his mind was a bit woozy, his vision slightly blurred.

"Better?" Luna whispered from beside him.

Turning his head, he looked at her noticing a loose wave had fallen into her face. Before he could stop himself, he reached out and twirled the lock of hair around his finger transfixed as the light reflected on her blonde hair. She giggled watching him so enthralled with the movement. He smiled back as he was too at ease to be embarrassed. He leaned over tucking the strand of hair behind her ear allowing his fingertips to trace over the shell of her ear as she had done to him so many times. Trailing his fingers down along the side of her face, Draco placed his warm palm against her cheek as his thumb traced over her full lips.

Luna never reacted; she kept her wide eyes on him without blinking. In his altered state of mind, Draco thought he might like to kiss her; however, he shook the thought completely. It was the potion taking over his mind and causing him to think such things. He hadn't the time for silly school romances; he was too busy trying to stay alive. Slowly, Luna's free hand came up to wrap around his wrist as she leaned her face into his hand. Her eyes never closed, and he found himself speaking words as quickly as they came into his mind.

"I talked to Helena Ravenclaw last night," he said.

"Did you now?" Luna questioned; her warm breath tickled his palm.

"She told me relationships between Ravenclaws and Slytherins don't work out too well," he said in a rush. "Do you think she's right?"

"I think she speaks only of what she knows. Most often tragedy is remembered more so than joy; it leaves a lasting memory, heartache. She and Myrtle met horrible endings, and they both live every day with their fates."

"She says I want power; that or I think she believes I'm in love," Draco said before he could stop himself.

"Are you?" Luna asked curiously.

"I don't know," he whispered. "I haven't the faintest idea of what it feels like."

"I don't either," she said softly.

"I think you might be the best friend I've ever had," Draco said as his eyes started to shut; the potion was fully taking over at this point.

"I shall cherish that forever," Luna whispered running her fingertips through the fine hair beside his temple.

"Come back tomorrow," he said in a breathy whisper as he slid from his upright position to lie down. "I miss you."

As is breathing evened out, Luna held his hand where it was against her face reveling in the warmth of his skin. Closing her eyes, she imagined she could take him back to the Room of Requirement. She would never have to sneak out or risk her safety to see if he was doing well. She would help him with all of his doubts and troubles, and he would help with hers. She imagined they lived in a world where there was no Dark Lord and no Boy-Who-Lived, no Chosen One. They could just be great friends, Luna and Draco. She wanted that for him; she wanted that for herself.

With a quiet sigh, Luna planted a kiss on his knuckles before placing his arm carefully on the bed. She stood up and pulled the blankets up to his chin smoothing out any wrinkles. She gave a long look to his bandaged leg wishing there was something she could do to ease his pain and discomfort. She felt horribly guilty even now looking at the expansive amount of skin that was heavily burned. She couldn't imagine how excruciating it must have been. Gently, Luna placed her fingertips onto his knee as she pushed positive and healing energy through her body hoping that Draco would absorb some from her. She cast her eyes back to his face and leaned in placing her forehead against his temple.

"I don't know what falling in love feels like," she whispered into his hair. "But perhaps one day we'll both find out," she smiled placing a kiss on his forehead before walking out of the Hospital Wing as she cast a disillusionment charm on herself.

Walking in the deserted corridors, Luna marveled in the cool moonlight and the feeling of fresh air in her lungs. She walked diligently back to the Room of Requirement, yet she took her time doing so. She'd missed the nights where she was permitted and safe being alone in the castle allowing her subconscious to take her where it most desired. Although she was immensely thankful for the friends she had, Luna missed having times of quiet contemplation. As an only child, she and her father often spent days together in a studious silence as they each conducted their research. When she wasn't helping her father write articles for The Quibbler, Luna enjoyed spending time in her room adding to the murals on her walls or out in the garden with the towering flowers and trees. She was happy surrounded by friends, but she was also happy to be alone; she enjoyed the balance.

However, Luna found herself craving solitude after spending weeks within a room full of people; she cared for them all deeply, yet she missed having time alone with her thoughts. The cool stone walls and fresh air supplied her with the peacefulness she had craved so strongly. As she skipped up the staircases with ease having memorized their rotations, Luna found herself walking slower as her skin prickled. She could feel someone following her, but she never felt a sense of danger. With a knowing smile, she looked around her for a shimmering sight of grey translucence. As she stepped onto the seventh floor landing, Luna saw Helena Ravenclaw shying behind a bust of her mother.

"Hello, Helena," Luna whispered with a bright smile as she skipped over to her house ghost. "Nice night for a stroll, yes?"

"Not for you, Luna," Helena said sadly. "You're not—"

"Safe, I know," she grinned. "I've been told that a lot lately."

"You've been in the infirmary," the shy ghost said as she clutched her arm to her chest; it wasn't a question. Helena knew where she had been.

"I have, yes," Luna nodded. "I have a dear friend who has been terribly injured."

"He was telling the truth," Helena Ravenclaw said with perplexed eyes.

"Oh yes, he said you talked," Luna sighed dreamily. "I'd nearly forgotten."

"He told you?"

"Why of course," Luna nodded.

"You need to be wary of him, Luna," Helena said. "I trusted a young man from Slytherin once as did my mother; they don't understand people like us. They will destroy what they cannot possess. He— Someone is coming," she said suddenly rushing around the bust to stand closer to Luna. "You must run now; I don't want them to find you."

"Watch over him for me," Luna said suddenly without thinking. "Please, Helena. He's my friend."

"I—I will, for you, Luna," Helena nodded quickly. "But you must go now."

"Thank you," Luna said breathily as she ran down the long, shadowed corridor. As she turned a corner, she heard footsteps far behind her, so far back that she had made it into the room with the door disappearing behind her before they'd rounded the corner.

"Who's there?" she heard Ginny shout as she stood in the middle of the room with her wand pointed at the door.

"Oh! Sorry," Luna giggled as she released the Disillusionment Charm.

"Thank, Merlin," Ginny sighed lowering her wand. "You alright? Looking a bit rosy."

"I had to run a bit," Luna shrugged with a wide smile. "I think someone was searching for students out of bed."

"Did they see you?" Neville asked with a panic expression on his soft face.

"No, Helena warned me in time," Luna said.

"Good," Ginny. "Luna, I was hoping we could have that talk now, all of us. I-I think we're ready to listen," the redheaded girl said shyly, an expression Luna had rarely seen on her freckled face. Seamus and Neville nodded beside her as Dean gave her an encouraging nod.

"Lovely," Luna said happily. "We'll be needing a place to do so."

"I think I know a place," Dean said looking over the Ravenclaw's shoulder nodding at a yellow door that emerged on the opposite end of the room.

"Yellow," Luna grinned. "The perfect choice, I think," she said as she skipped over to the sunny door and opened it before following her friends inside.

Within the newly formed room, Luna saw cushions of all sizes and patterns along with cozy blankets. It was brightly lit with floating candles and smelled of rosemary and lemongrass; it was the perfect room for a calm conversation amongst close friends. Luna was quite pleased with herself and remained hopefully optimistic. Once they were all comfortably situated, Luna felt Ginny, Neville, Seamus, and Dean all look at her to begin. She took a deep breath allowing herself a moment to close her eyes and organize her thoughts. Opening her wide blue eyes, Luna began her story.

"I will ask that you let me get it all out, and then I will answer any questions you may have," she said waiting for them all to nod in agreement.

"We promise," Ginny whispered.

"Right. So, you all know I was taken by snatchers while on the Hogwarts Express right before Christmas. I was taken directly to Malfoy Manor where I was put within the dungeons along with Mr. Ollivander…"

For nearly a half hour, Luna explained every detail of her stay within the Manor. She told them of her purposeful questioning that caused Bellatrix to choose her to torture rather than Mr. Ollivander. She told them of Draco's hesitance in cursing her, the confusion in his eyes, and the way his hands would shake when he was commanded to do so. She told them of the time Bellatrix kicked her in the ribs causing the bones to pierce her lung, how Draco had healed her bones despite the act posing a great deal of danger for him had he been discovered doing so.

She told them of the apple and the fresh bread, of the panic attacks she knew he was having, and the doubt he showed for the teachings he'd been exposed to his whole life. She told them of his vulnerability. Luna explained how she was deemed useless once her father was in Azkaban and it was decided she no longer had a purpose, how Mrs. Malfoy cunningly convinced Bellatrix to give her to Draco, and how he pulled her from Bellatrix's grasp on several occasions. She told them on Fenrir Greyback and how Draco rescued her from his disgusting grip sacrificing his wand and his pride before the werewolf and Mr. Malfoy.

Luna told them how Lucius had forced Draco to strike her in threat that he would do so himself should Draco disobey; she explained to them how he cried and hated himself after every attack and how he would try to comfort her the best way he knew how. It was hard for them both, but Draco suffered far more than she ever within the Manor. She told them about the birds and how it was her idea to use them, how Draco cut open his arm so that the elves would give him a Blood Replenishing Potion he could give to her. She told them everything up until Draco refused to identify Harry and went so far as to help them escape with wands.

At the end of her tale, everyone sat there in absolute silence with far off gleams in their eyes. Luna gave them time to process, for she knew it was substantial information to digest all at once. Luna watched as Ginny opened and closed her mouths several times to speak before thinking better of it. Finally Seamus was the one to break the silence.

"He could have pretended, ya know," Seamus said with a hard face. "He didn't have to curse you all those times. He's still a slimy git who tortured you, Luna."

"I was checked for injuries every day," Luna said gently. "Besides, a fake Cruciatus would not have fooled the Death Eaters; they specialize in Dark Magic. It would have been quite obvious to them."

"He punched you, Luna," Ginny said. "He physically hurt you."

"Yes, I know," Luna nodded her head. "Under different circumstances, I would never standup for him, but this was a painful situation, impossible really. Ginny, if someone said to punch Neville in the face or they were going to hurt you or your family, what would you do?"

"I don't know—I-I'd probably punch Neville and beg for forgiveness after," she replied honestly.

"Exactly. Neville, if Ginny was told to hit you or be hit herself or have her family attacked, what would you have her do?" Luna asked turning to her pale friend.

"I'd tell her to hit me of course," Neville admitted quietly.

"There's no difference, you see?" Luna reasoned. "Not really when you get to the basics of it. The only part that isn't the same is that you two are friends, so it seems obvious that you would want to protect each other, your family, and yourselves at the same time."

"But, Luna—" Ginny began.

"Ginny, Draco is my friend. He's committed terrible curses and acts of violence, some of them directed at me; I'm not oblivious to that, but they weren't his idea, they weren't what he wanted. I will never be able to properly explain to you just how broken he was; he was unrecognizable."

"What Bill said," Neville sighed casting his eyes towards Ginny. "It makes a bit of sense now."

"What do you mean?" Luna asked tilting her head to the side.

"Well, Bill sent a message through Aberforth; said to keep an eye on Malfoy," Ginny shrugged. "We just assumed he meant that he'd received word about a mission he was on or something. We never thought it meant—"

"That he changed," Luna nodded sadly.

"Right," Ginny whispered. "What should we tell the others? They're all whispering about it already; they're going to want answers."

"I think for Draco's safety, the less people know the better," Luna said resolutely. "Let them think I'm loony; most of them already do," she shrugged nonchalantly.

"Luna," Ginny sighed. "You're not crazy; the people who matter know that. Don't worry about what they think."

"It's fine. Honestly, it means people don't really question my actions; it comes in handy most of the time," she grinned as she stood up while looking around the room. "I wish we could keep this room; it's nice to have a bit of quiet. Shall we?" she asked as her hand wrapped around the doorknob.

"Yes, we should head back in; people will notice we've gone missing if we stay too long," Ginny agreed as she and the others stood up and walked out of the room; Seamus stayed behind.

"I won't fight along side of him," Seamus gritted out. "He's done nothing but torture us for six years, you know. I don't trust him; I'll never trust him," he said before storming out of the room leaving Luna to shut the door sadly behind her.

For the remainder of the night, Luna noticed that Seamus stayed to himself; several times, Dean attempted to engage the Irish boy in conversation, but he never would return the effort. Eventually, everyone left him alone. Luna wanted to give the boy a hug or offer words of advice, but she knew she would not be well received. She wondered if Seamus felt guilty for cursing Draco as he did. She wondered if he was more upset at himself now. However, she never asked; she simply hoped that by shedding light on the truth, her friends would begin to see Draco Malfoy in a different light or at least give him a chance. Luna felt he deserved such; perhaps her friends would too.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seventeen

In all of Madam Pomfrey’s time, no student had ever refused a pain potion. They all begged for it; they desired the floating feeling it left behind and the sweet and herbal taste. From cuts and bruises to broken bones and deep lacerations, her pain potion had never been turned away until Draco Malfoy sat before her with his arms crossed and pointed chin in the air. No longer dressed in the hospital issued pajamas, the emerald silk of his nightclothes reflected the candlelight from beside his bed illuminating the scowl plastered on the nurse’s face.

“Mr. Malfoy,” she huffed once more. “I must insist. You need your rest in order to heal, and to do so, you need to be without pain.”

“I’m fine,” the Slytherin student gritted out willing himself not to grimace in pain from the aching in his leg; it was clear Madam Pomfrey didn’t believe a word he said.

“Mr. Malfoy—“

“Just leave it by my bedside then,” he exclaimed exasperatedly. “I’ll take it when I’m ready.”

“I need to watch you take it; for all I know you could be hoarding it to share with your classmates. I’ve seen it before,” she reasoned.

“I think my friends would rather undiluted Dreamless Sleep,” Draco said with a cold stare; the motherly nurse’s face softened a fraction no doubt thinking of the horrible sights the Slytherin students must witness in their homes.

“Very well then,” she finally surrendered. “I’ll leave it for you just this once, but tomorrow night, should you still be here, you are taking it before I retire to my chambers. Is that understood?”

“Fine,” Draco sneered though he celebrated his small victory internally.

With a defeated sigh, Madam Pomfrey turned on her heel and retreated into her bedchambers on the far end of the hospital wing. Once her door was firmly shut, Draco slumped back against the mountain of pillows Pansy had situated for him earlier that day. Not only had she made sure he was comfortable with his forest green Egyptian cotton linens and plush pillows, she’d also brought him a set of silk pajamas. Above his heart, a silver snake was embroidered; every once in a while, the serpent would slither into another position before freezing once more.

Despite his luxuries, Draco still found the hospital wing to be nearly unbearable do to boredom. Throughout the day, Blaise, Theo, Pansy, Crabbe, and Goyle all visited telling him of the latest gossip or stories of Dark Arts class; at once point, Daphne Greengrass stopped in just to say hello only to leave three minutes after she arrived; Millicent Bulstrode only stayed for two. In the quiet moments between visitors, Draco would stare at the ceiling counting the number of candlesticks floating above or gaze at the floor counting the number of stones. He was nearly losing his mind in the monotonous blur of nothingness. Nights were all he had to look forward to; it was the only time he could see her.

He knew she would bound into the wing with a bright smile and swinging blonde curls in a ghastly outfit of far too many colors and patters while somehow pulling it off with ease. She would plop down on a chair beside him and ask silly questions about his life while a curious gleam sparked in her blue-grey eyes; she always wanted to know more, but she never pushed. He couldn’t have been more thankful. He knew he could bear the pain so long as he could see her for just a while. She made him forget the pain for a little while; she made him forget it all.

Staring at the ticking clock in the corner, Draco willed the large wooden doors to creak open and have her thin frame squeeze through the small opening. The arms ticked on, but the doors never opened. The pain in his leg continued to throb in uncomfortable bursts, but still he refused to swallow a drop of the pain potion beside him. In an attempt to ignore the restlessness he felt, Draco closed his eyes as he continued to listen to the ceaseless ticking of the clock.

“Draco,” a slow, calm voice called. Immediately, his eyes opened in shock, for he hadn’t heard the doors creak open. Before him, in a hazy glow stood Helena Ravenclaw.

“Helena,” he said slowly trying to formulate an answer as to why the Ravenclaw House ghost was visiting him in a hospital wing. “Luna, is she—?”

“She’s fine,” Helena said, her eyes never meeting his; he noticed how sad she always looked. “She asked me to look out for you, and I promised to do so.”

“Do you know if she’s coming tonight?” he asked; the potion was tempting him more with each second.

“If there is a way to do so, I know she will,” she replied most unhelpfully.

“Right,” Draco sighed as he closed his eyes and let his head fall back to the pillows. “She asked you to look after me, you say?”

“Yes,” Helena said calmly though she looked rather sad at being in the hospital wing.

“What for? I mean, you can’t—“ Draco started before clamping his mouth shut as the Ravenclaw daughter gave him a steely look.

“Protect you? Help you?” Helena questioned back with a raised brow as she drifted over to the darkened windows; the pale moonlight shimmering through her translucent form. “No, I suppose I cannot.”

“I didn’t mean to offend,” Draco sighed knowing Helena was rather sensitive though not as much as Myrtle. “I apologize.”

“It takes a strong man to admit he’s wrong,” Helena whispered still glancing out the window. “Though often times, it’s far too late.”

“I have a feeling you aren’t speaking of my offending you,” Draco said pushing himself up slightly so he could watch her closer.

“No, Mr. Malfoy,” Helena sighed turning from the window to face him once more; her dark eyes held a deep sadness Draco had never seen so obvious. “I fear I get lost in the past sometimes, do forgive me.”

“Luna does that too,” Draco said as reassurance. “She says she often gets lost in her mind; she says things that don’t make sense, but then, days later, something happens and her words do.”

“A true Ravenclaw,” Helena smiled softly as she looked to the ground. “She’s everything my mother would have loved. Creative, free-thinking, in constant search of wisdom.”

“Were—Are you not?”

“I am,” Helena replied. “But living up to a family name is no easy task; surely you understand.”

“I do,” Draco nodded pushing down a lump in his throat. “I understand that more so than anyone.”

As Helena started to open her mouth, a loud clanging erupted from outside followed by a loud grunt. Draco’s body instantly tensed as his hand went to grab the wand under his pillowcase. Helena looked at him with guarded eyes before turning around and floating towards the large wooden doors. Assuming she intended upon seeing what caused the ruckus, Draco whispered her name harshly causing her to turn around with a sad smile sitting on her lips.

“They can’t hurt me, Mr. Malfoy,” she sighed. “I fear I’m already dead.”

With those words, she drifted through the door and escaped his sight. Alone, Draco felt his heart beating throughout his body; his fingertips aching with the erratic pulsing, his hurt leg numb due to the adrenalin rushing through his body. His eyes remained locked on the door willing it to open just a fraction so he could see the events taking place outside. It was silent; no whizzing of spells or muttering incantations. It was eerily, creepily silent. Waiting for a sign of life outside, Draco held his breath until it became necessary to take another. His brain began to filter through all possibilities. Luna could have been outside the door before she was attacked, she could have been on her way to visit him, the Carrows could have cursed her, hexed her, killed her… He felt lightheaded as all the possibilities ran through his mind. He felt sick with worry, sick with guilt.

Slowly, Draco saw the door push open, an amber sliver of light stretched across the floor. His muscles tensed anticipating an attack, and his mind began to organize defensive spells to utter once it began. A figure started to walk in very slowly, feet dragging across the floor. When the candlelight touched its face, a sigh of relief escaped him. It was Luna with a sharp bruise on her cheek, a busted lip, and a bright smile.

“Good evening, Draco; nice breeze out tonight,” she said. In a shock of realization, Draco noticed the limp figure she carried in her arms. It was a house elf dressed in a filthy cloth. “Oh, yes. I think the elf was sent to deliver something to Madam Pomfrey.”

“What happened?” Draco asked as he turned to watch Luna place the collapsed figure on an empty bed. She placed the elf’s head on a pillow and drew the blankets up to its chin.

“Well, the perimeter spell works,” Luna grinned as she plopped down in the chair beside his bed. “We tried a new one tonight; it stuns anyone who crosses it.”

“And the elf crossed it,” Draco finished for her.

“Yes, poor dear,” Luna said gently turning to look at the creatures lifeless form. “She should wake in an hour or so. I was looking at the ceiling searching for the source of the hospital wings wackspurt infestation, and I tripped over her falling right on my face.”

“Are you alright?” Draco asked reaching his hand out to softly turn her chin to the side so he could assess it better.

“Perfectly fine,” Luna shrugged. The implied I’d survived worse echoed in Draco’s mind.

“Can I heal it for you? They’re minor enough for my abilities,” he said.

“If you’d like. But, Draco, you’re an exceptional healer,” Luna said breathily. “Luckily so,” she added.

“Come here then,” he said patting the side of his bed opposite his injured leg. Once Luna was situated on the hospital bed with her legs crossed and arms folded in her lap, Draco leaned closer to see the full extent of her small injuries. “Lumos,” he whispered before using the light to fully see. There was a definite bruise climbing up her cheekbone and her lip was bleeding from a split in the middle. Overall, they were nothing much to worry about.

“Be still,” he whispered before muttering the healing incantation he’d perfected for bruising and minor cuts. He trailed the wand over her cheek watching as the budding blue and red disappeared into her creamy skin. He did the same for her bottom lip watching as the blood disappeared and the skin sealed itself back together.

“Much better,” he nodded though he didn’t remove his hand from the side of her face he used to keep her steady.

“Thank you,” she whispered stretching her healed lips into a bright smile. Her hand reached up to gently grasp his wrist, her cool fingers tickling his skin. “It seems we are always in a state of healing, the two of us.”

“I suppose we are,” Draco agreed watching her fingers touch his skin.

“You look a little better; has the pain gone away?” Luna asked gaining his attention once more.

“No,” he said honestly trying to shake the dazed feeling overtaking his senses. Now that there was no longer a threatening presence outside, the adrenalin had subsided and the pain was throbbing through his leg. “No, it’s not yet gone, I’m afraid.”

“Has it lessened?” she asked leaning into his hands as a smile danced across her face. “Have you been taking your potions?” she asked eyeing the full bottle sitting on the tray beside his bed.

“Yes, it has, and I have been, mostly,” he replied.

“Mostly?” Luna chuckled. “What do you mean by ‘mostly’?”

“Well, I’ve taken them all other than this one,” Draco shrugged as he slid his hand from her cheek, down her jawline and neck. Her hand fell from his wrist, and he took the opportunity to intertwine their fingers. “I wanted to be awake in case you decided to visit.”

“You should take your potion, Draco,” Luna sighed her grip on his hand tightening fractionally. “It will help you heal faster.”

“Then I’ll go back to the Slytherin dormitory, back to classes where I’m expected to hurt people, back to my friends who say things I don’t want—never mind. Just forget it,” he sighed turning his face from her. He was weak to think this way; he should have been elated at the thought of getting out of the hospital wing, but he wasn’t.

“What do your friends say, Draco? What has upset you?” she asked reaching over to gently place her other fingertips on his pointed chin. “Talk to me, please,” she said softly caressing his jaw in attempt to get him to look at her once more.

“You wouldn’t understand, Luna,” he whispered.

“Don’t you trust me?” she asked gently.

“Of course I do,” Draco said shocked. “I trust you more than anyone.”

“Then talk to me; I can help you figure it out.”

“I’m worried you won’t like the resolution,” Draco admitted finally turning to look at her. Luna’s wide eyes were soft with trust and gentleness swimming in her silvery blue orbs. No one ever looked at him the way she did.

“I trust you, Draco. I trust that you aren’t the boy you’ve had everyone believe you are; I trust that you’re a compassionate person who protects the people he cares about. Just because we believe in different things doesn’t mean I will no longer be your friend. You have to trust me,” Luna said encouragingly. “Please.”

For a moment, Draco simply stared at Luna, with her open eyes and caring smile, he didn’t want to break the friendship they had. He never wanted her to turn away from him or leave him alone. She was the only person at Hogwarts who truly believed in him, knew who he was, and genuinely liked him. He wondered how he’d gotten so lucky as to have a friend like Luna Lovegood, to have a person who would stand by him until the end. He feared should he admit the truth to her, she would abandon him. However, as he looked at her face beaming with support, he found the words tumbling out of his mouth before he could stop them

“I still agree with some of the things my parents have taught me to believe,” Draco admitted. “Not all of it, but some things, I do, and it scares me. I’m supposed to be changed.”

Luna’s face did not change; she made no sign or gesture that she’d heard him, but rather, she looked at him with a neutral expression. Slowly, her eyes closed, and Draco felt his heart sink. She was disappointed; she was hurt by his admission. As the corners of her mouth rose, Draco awaited the words that would fall from her lips with dread pooling in his stomach. As her large eyes opened, he prepared for the worst.

“Draco,” Luna said softly. “I don’t think you realize how much you have changed. I see so much good in you. Why don’t you?”

“I agree with them, Luna,” Draco reasoned with her. He could feel his skin heating up against her cool hand. “The people who treated you like dirt, the people who treat everyone like scum. How can I be changed if I agree with them?”

“Do you think people should die because of their blood status?” Luna asked with a calm expression. “Do you think muggles are filth?”

“No, I guess not,” Draco answered honestly. “They don’t deserve to die.”

“What is it that you believe then?” Luna asked as her eyebrows knitted together.

“I think that in procreating with muggles, eventually the magic wizards possess will be eradicated,” Draco said hanging his head.

“Ah,” Luna nodded. “I see where you’re coming from. However, have you ever thought about what would happen if wizards only mated with the same gene pool over and over? Soon we would all be related, and that could lead to serious issues genetically speaking.”

“What are you talking about?” Draco asked.

“Well, it’s a fascinating study muggle scientists explore, that of genetics,” Luna grinned with a spark of light burning in her eyes. “You see, most of the wizarding Britain are related already by marriage; this eventually, will lead to blood relations once the families begin to have children. I don’t really know the logistics of it, but when two people who have very similar genetic makeup procreate, there is an increased rate of birth defects, most of which magic cannot cure.”

“Pansy and I are eighth cousins,” Draco paled.

“By marriage?” Luna asked tilting her head to the side.

“I don’t know,” Draco admitted trying to remember what Mrs. Parkinson told when he was merely eight at the Greengrass Christmas Gala. “I can’t remember.”

“Just something to think about,” Luna shrugged. “But, Draco, you’re not a bad person for believing in different things than I do. It’s how you treat people because of your beliefs that matter.”

“How do you do that?” Draco asked squeezing her fingers lightly. Seeing confusion in her eyes, Draco shook his head. “How do you just accept everything so easily?”

“I just listen to people,” Luna shrugged. “I find that you can discover incredible things in talking less than you listen, and always be open to ideas. The gift of humanity is free will and freedom of thought; it’s imperative that we all use it to help rather than harm.”

After a few moments of silence, Draco let out a loud sigh of breath causing Luna to lean towards him; the small hospital bed gave a loud creak, but neither of them paid it any attention. Dropping his hand, Luna placed both of her palms on either side of his jaw gently turning his face to face her. From under pale lashes, his silver eyes met hers.

“You are a good person, Draco,” Luna assured him. “You have the capability to do good. Never forget that.”

“Thank you,” he whispered in a voice so hushed Luna barely heard him. Giving him a gentle smile, Luna planted a quick kiss on his cheek causing it to blush pink.

“Now please take your potion; you need to get better,” Luna said releasing his face. She leaned over him grabbing the purple bottle and pulling out the cork stopper. “We need you, Draco. The war is going to end soon; I can feel it,” she said gesturing the bottle towards him.

“What if I can’t fight with you,” he said looking down. “My parents, my family, everyone, I don’t know—“

“Draco,” Luna sighed lifting his chin with her finger. “Who you fight with, who you fight for is your choice and yours alone, but either way, you need to be well in order to do so.”

With a slow nod, Draco reached out grasping the glass bottle in his hand and pulling it to his lips. In a quick gulp, the contents of the bottle were emptied into his stomach. Ever so gently, his eyes fluttered as the taste of sage and honey tickled his tongue. His shoulders relaxed, and he felt his bones melt into the mattress below him. Luna began to hum a slow melody as she stood up and pulled the blankets up to his chin. Smoothing the blankets out around him, she leaned over from her standing position and smoothed out his hair. With her fingers softly etching his scalp, Draco let out a deep sign and leaned his head into her fingers as she continued to hum.

“I’ve heard this song before,” he mumbled.

“I hummed it often in the cellar,” she admitted breaking the tune for a moment before resuming the slow melody.

“It’s beautiful,” Draco whispered.

“You’ll fight with me in the end, Draco,” Luna said tracing the shell of his ear.

“I hope so,” he breathed. I’ll fight for you, a foggy voice echoed in his mind; they seemed so real he hoped he hadn’t spoken them aloud.

“I know so,” she chuckled as his breathing slowed into a steady rhythm and his mouth opened slightly due to his heavy sleeping.

Luna resumed her sitting position on the bed once more to continue her calm brushing of his hair marveling at the fine, silk-like quality of his hair. Compared to her thick, wavy hair that had the tendency to appear stringy and frizzed, Draco’s white locks were like threads of luxurious fabric. Slowly, Luna pulled her hand away from Draco, for she could feel a pair of eyes on her back. Without moving, Luna let out a soft sigh.

“I know you’re there,” she whispered hoping it wasn’t someone who could cause her bodily harm, yet she knew it wasn’t Ginny, Dean, or Neville. She knew what their stares felt like.

“So it’s you,” a high-pitched voice sounded from behind her. “The Loony Bin has captured my Draco’s heart?”

“Myrtle,” Luna sighed in relief before turning around to face the ghost.

“Relieved are you?” the ghost questioned in her shrieking tone. “After all, sad, horrible Moaning Myrtle can’t hurt you because she’s already dead right? I knew it had to be a Ravenclaw; Draco wanted so badly to get into Ravenclaw Tower, but I never dreamed it would be you,” she sneered.

Luna knew there was no use trying to reason with the hysterical ghost, so she remained quiet as she listened to her rant. Reaching over, Luna draped her hand over Draco’s as she touched the wand in her robe pocket casting a Silencing Spell around him should Myrtle’s squealing disturb his slumber. She realized too late she should have removed her hand before the ghost noticed.

“What does he see in you other than touchable flesh? You’re not very pretty!” Myrtle screeched. “We had a connection, Draco and I. He promised to visit me, but you kept him away!”

“Myrtle, please,” Luna said finally. “You mustn’t yell; you’ll wake Draco or Madam Pomfrey.”

“I don’t care!” Myrtle shouted slightly louder. “Let them wake! Let them see you here! You’re not supposed to be here; you’re not even supposed to be in Hogwarts! I thought they captured you on the train!”

“They did,” Luna nodded. “Draco helped me escape.”

“Well I hope they take you again!” Myrtle shouted. “You’ve ruined everything! Everything!” she screamed louder than before.

Luna cringed as the piercing shrill rattled in her ears. In her peripheral vision, Luna saw a flicker of light shine in Madam Pomfrey’s quarters. Immediately, Luna scrambled off the bed nearly tripping over her own feet; without giving it a second thought, Luna leaned over placing a quick kiss to Draco’s forehead as she wished him a goodnight. This angered Myrtle further causing a horrible scream to echo throughout the room. Luna bolted out of the hospital wing not bothering to close the large doors. Outside the wing, she could hear footsteps echoing down the hallway. Pulling out her wand, she cast a Disillusionment Charm on herself and pressed her body into the shadows.

Luna dared not breath as a shadow twisted around the corner. Amycus Carrow’s squat, round silhouette appeared across the stone floors; she could hear an excited wheeze escape his throat. Encasing herself deeper within the shadows, Luna watched as the stout man shuffled towards the sound of Moaning Myrtle’s bellows that were turning into hysterical sobs; however, when he crossed the invisible barrier just before Luna, he fell to the ground with a echoing thud. With no time to release a breath of relief, Luna jumped out of hiding, swished her wand while saying the counter spell to the warding perimeter, and sprinted towards the Room of Requirement.

Feeling the Disillusionment Charm fading, Luna pushed her legs harder willing them to speed up impossibly faster. She could hear voices echoing from a nearby corridor. As she rounded the corner, Luna’s chest collided with something solid and steadfast sending her sprawling to the ground grasping for breath as a sharp pain erupted from her left shoulder. Her wand tumbled from her fingers and head collided with the stone floor below causing her teeth to rattle. Without anytime to waste, Luna flipped over and crawled to retrieve her wand as quickly as possible. Just as she stood up, her knees wobbling slightly, she directed her wand right at Alecto Carrow who had also been knocked to the ground. The new Muggle Studies teacher grinned a sinister smile at Luna as her dark wand pointed at the Ravenclaw student as she stood up, a knot already forming on her forehead.

“Lovegood, is it?” she asked in a raspy voice. “How nice to see you. Have a pleasant Christmas?” she mocked.

“It wasn’t so bad,” Luna said keeping her wide eyes trained on the woman’s every move. Her squat figure was swaying side to side preparing her attack.

“Perhaps we’ll send you back, in pieces should I get my way,” the Death Eater laughed. “You’re a stupid, stupid girl for coming back here,” she taunted as she pulled her wand back.

Protego!” Luna yelled quickly.

Crucio!” Alecto Carrow shrieked.

Luna felt her footing falter as the spell hit her shield with a bright burst of light; however, she hadn’t expected a loud thump. With a few quick blinks, Luna saw Alecto Carrow sprawled upon the stone floor, her beady eyes open as the rest of her body was frozen. Tearing her eyes away, Luna looked further down the hall to see a dark cloaked figure standing with a wand pointed towards her. Whether the figure was friend or foe, Luna knew not, and she wasn’t going to wait to find out. Instead, she turned around and quickly fled the scene in hopes of reaching the Room of Requirement unscathed and unfollowed

Running up the stairs two steps at a time, Luna’s legs were burning but she pushed on. Jumping on instinct, she soared over the trick step and continued to bolt up the staircase. Only a few steps from the top, it began to shift to the left, but Luna couldn’t take the chance of wondering around the castle. In a grand leap, she just made the landing as her heart jumped into her throat from the fear of falling. Once safely on solid floor, Luna’s exhausted legs carried her to the Room of Requirement where she paced three times before the tapestry reciting the desire to find a room safe from the Carrows and those who support their teachings. Within seconds, the door appeared, and Luna quickly tumbled inside nearly falling to the ground in eagerness.

Slamming the wooden door behind her, Luna leaned forward placing her hands on her knees and attempted to catch her breath. Her chest was heaving, legs wobbling from effort, her face red and blotchy from exertion, lungs aching. Squeezing her eyes shut, Luna leaned forward and dropped her head willing herself to take deep slow breaths. She was in no way an inactive person, but she was no athlete. After a few moments of recollection, Luna stood up straight ignoring the fluttering black dots in her vision. Instead, she saw the entire room staring at her with concern and confusion. Ginny stared at her for a moment before gesturing her to the side with a quick nod.

“Nice night, everyone,” Luna chipped happily though she retained a slightly breathless tone. No one said anything back to her, but instead turned away to continue what they were doing before. Unperturbed, Luna walked over to meet Ginny.

“What happened?” the red head asked fiercely. “Are you alright?”

“Peachy,” Luna grinned. “It really is a nice night.”

“Why are you so out of breath? Were you nearly caught?”

“I wouldn’t use the word nearly,” Luna shrugged as if her capture would not have been a big deal. “The perimeter stunning spell was a success though.”

“I don’t care about the spell right now, Luna,” Ginny huffed in annoyance. “Tell me what happened.”

“Well, I was visiting with Draco and finally convinced him to take his sleep and pain potion. Right as he fell asleep, Moaning Myrtle appeared, and she was not so happy to see me. She must be affected from the wackspurt infestation in the hospital wing. I’ve been telling Madam Pomfrey for years she should—“

“Luna,” Ginny said bringing the dreamy blonde back to reality.

“Oh, right,” Luna grinned unembarrassed. “Anyway, she began to shout, scream, and wail—“

“Her specialty,” Ginny mumbled.

“—and she became increasingly angry when I touched Draco’s hand to place a silencing spell around him and when I told him goodbye,” Luna said with furrowed eyebrows.

“Why would she be annoyed that you said goodbye?” Ginny asked perplexed.

“I don’t know,” Luna shrugged. “I did as I normally do, a quick kiss and wishes of pleasant dreams. She referred to me as ‘touchable flesh;’ extremely off putting if you ask me.”

“You kissed Malfoy?” Ginny whispered harshly.

“Yes, on the forehead,” Luna answered seemingly unaffected. “Myrtle became quite upset, I assure you.”

“Oh Merlin, Luna,” Ginny sighed raking a hand through her thick red hair. “Myrtle has a massive crush on Malfoy; Harry will be thrilled to hear such news.”

“That makes sense,” Luna nodded replaying Myrtles accusations in her brain. “She did accuse me of keeping him away from her; she also said Draco had questioned her about how to get into Ravenclaw Tower. Myrtle thinks he was searching for a girl.”

“I have no doubt that he was,” Ginny huffed with a roll of her brown eyes. Seeing Luna’s confused gaze, Ginny repressed the overwhelming feeling to roll her eyes again. “You, Luna,” she said. “Draco was more than likely searching for you.”

“You think?” Luna asked tilting her head to the side.

“Who else would he be looking for?” Ginny challenged.

“I haven’t the slightest clue; he’s very charming.”

“Gross, Malfoy is not charming; he’s a right foul git,” Ginny cringed. “Oh, right sorry. Old habits,” Ginny blushed seeing Luna’s fallen expression.

“It’s fine, Ginny,” Luna grinned softly. “Really, it’s all fine.”

“But you’re alright, yeah? No wounds in need of healing?” Ginny asked with a raise eyebrow.

“No, I had a few upon walking into the hospital wing – I tripped over a fallen elf who’d wondered over the perimeter – but Draco healed those up for me,” Luna shrugged.

“Luna, if you’ll look down at your arm, you’ll see that you’re bleeding; there’s blood on your hand,” Ginny sighed.

“Oh, look at that,” Luna giggled seeing the crimson lines tracing over fingers. “Well, I suppose you know me better than myself. Let me take these robes off,” she said before shrugging out of the too large Ravenclaw robes.

Once she was free of the long, black garment, Luna saw that the entirety of her left sleeve was stained in red. Ginny gasped at the sight before pulling Luna to the outskirts of the room saying that she was going to need a closer look. At once, Luna noticed the yellow door appear from before, and she and Ginny quickly darted inside.

“I’m going to need a closer look,” Ginny said quietly. “I can go get you a blanket or something for modesty if you’d like.”

“It’s fine,” Luna shrugged as she lifted the hem of her long sleeved shirt over her head leaving her torso covered only in a thin camisole. Looking to her left shoulder, Luna saw a sizeable gap trailing down her upper arm. Assessing the wound, Luna deducted that she’d scraped her arm after falling from her collision with Alecto Carrow.

“Blimey, Luna,” Ginny sighed. “How do you not feel that?”

“I don’t know,” Luna whispered unable to tear her gaze away from the injury. She could see Ginny muttering incantations while aiming her wand at the cut, but nothing happened. “Is it beyond your repair?” she asked as the bleeding intensified slightly.

“No,” Ginny muttered, her forehead wrinkling with concentration. “I’ve healed worse, far worse. How did you get this?”

“I’m not sure. I ran into Alecto Carrow, and fell to the ground, but I don’t know if it could have caused this,” Luna replied.

“I don’t either. It looks like a cursed wound; did she stab you or cut you with anything?” Ginny asked with a fierce gleam in her brown eyes.

“Maybe,” Luna said honestly. “When I knocked into her on accident, we both tumbled to the ground, but I did feel a stinging sensation in my arm. I just assumed it was from the fall.”

“No,” Ginny said in a hushed voice. “That monster probably cut you with her wand after dipping it into some kind of poison or with a silent curse. I’ve never seen anything like this, Luna. I don’t—I don’t know what to do,” she replied with a shaking voice.

“It’s alright,” Luna said gently. “Go get Dean and Neville; perhaps they’ll know something about this.”

“Perhaps,” Ginny said under her breath as she walked out of the small room leaving Luna alone in the flickering light.

By herself, Luna could feel the blood loss causing her brain to become light and hazy. She picked up her stained shirt from the floor and began tearing it into strips to act as a tourniquet for the cut in hopes of slowing the bleeding or stopping it all together. As she was tightening a strip around her arm, the door burst open distracting her momentarily. Through blurry eyes, she saw Ginny rush forwards unraveling the knot and wrenching the fabric from her hand.

“What are you doing?!” Ginny gasped, but Luna simply looked at her in shock. “Luna, answer me! What are you doing!?”

“I’m—I’m not,” Luna choked out surprised at the raspiness in her voice and the way it hurt to talk.

In a panic, Luna shot her eyes to the door where Dean Thomas stood in shock, his dark eyes wide, muscles frozen with obvious tension. Beside him, Neville Longbottom stared at her with tears welling in his eyes, his body shaking, mouth agape. Luna reached her hand up to touch her throat and winced at the burning sensation it caused. Her skin was tender and raw, painful just to touch.

“Luna, why? What—Why would you—I don’t understand,” Ginny sobbed.

“Ginny, I don’t think she realizes,” Dean said walking into the room slowly as if any sudden movement would alter the space completely. “Luna, what were you trying to do?”

“Tie my arm,” she responded hoarsely wincing at the pain the movement caused her.

“Your arm?!” Ginny shouted. “Your bloody arm?”

“Luna, you tied your neck,” Dean said softly reaching his hand up to touch her tender flesh; her large, misty blue eyes stared at him in shock. “You were turning blue, Luna; your eyes are bloodshot.”

“I didn’t—I’m sor—“ she tried to say but her voice cut off.

“Don’t touch her arm!” Neville yelled suddenly causing everyone to jump in fright. “You see that? Her wound, smoke is coming from it.”

Sure enough, a smoky red was rising from her arm in wispy clouds. The edges of the laceration had turned a dark green with black etching tracing the inner segments of her arm. The bleeding had stopped, but instead of crimson, a dark, black substance was leaking from the cut. Not one of the students said it aloud, but it was obvious Luna had been cut by a weapon dipped in poison, a poison that caused black goop to leak from wounds, red smoke to rise, and hallucinations to mask killing oneself. A poison of which they knew nothing about and thus knew no way to cure one from it. They all knew it, but none wanted to be the first to admit it.

“We’ll find a way,” Ginny voiced in the strongest tone she could muster. “We always do. No exceptions.”

“No exceptions,” Dean said; Neville gave a resolute nod of agreement.

“I’ll go see if Aberforth has any knowledge of such ailments, perhaps there’s a plant that could help,” Neville said.

“I’ll write to McGonagall,” Dean said nodding towards a small desk where parchment and ink appeared.

“Dean, can you hand me a bit of parchment so I can write to Bill; maybe he’s seen something like this before while working in Egypt,” Ginny said as another quill and ink appeared on the desk.

“Draco,” Luna rasped, but no one heard her. Neville was busy fastening his coat while Ginny and Dean scribbled furiously on the parchments before them. “Draco!” she said louder though her voiced ached in protest. Ginny nearly knocked over the inkwell in shock.

“Draco?” Ginny asked. “What about Draco? Do you think he had something to do with this?” Luna opened her mouth to protest Ginny’s thoughts, but her voice would not allow it. Instead, Luna reached for a blank piece of parchment and grabbed the quill from Ginny’s fingers.

Absolutely not, Luna wrote. However, Draco is probably familiar with this area of Dark Magic and perhaps with Alecto Carrow’s use of such curses. Tomorrow, when he wakes, go to him or send Helena. He will help.

“Are you absolutely certain he can be trusted,” Ginny asked with pleading eyes. Resolutely, Luna nodded her head before writing once more.

I have, and will continue to trust him with my life. Without question.

“Okay then,” Dean nodded reading the note over her shoulder careful not to touch her infected flesh. “We’ll send for him in the morning. Until then, I think we should stay in here with one of us keeping watch over Luna.”

“It’s for your own good,” Ginny sighed after Luna made a strong sound of protest. “If I hadn’t come in, Luna… Merlin, I don’t even want to think about what could have happened.”

“It’s not your fault, Luna,” Dean sighed. “But we can’t let you hurt yourself.”

“Yeah,” Neville agreed. “We need you.”

“Fine,” Luna croaked in agreement.

Ginny tucked a lock of dark red hair behind her ear as she looked at Dean and Neville. Luna sensed a form of silent communication was transmitting between the three, and Luna knew she was the topic. With a deep sigh, Luna lied down on the plush, multicolored pillows and looked up at her friends expectantly. After a few moments, they all looked down to see her waiting patiently with her eyes wide and trusting.

“It’s okay,” Luna rasped with a gentle nod. She knew they were trying to decide the best route possible to keep her safe and comfortable. “Bewitched sleep,” Luna whispered serenely. Ginny it her lip but nodded as she pulled out her wand and began muttering the advanced incantation.

Closing her eyes gently, Luna felt a lovely sensation take over her body as her muscles relaxed and her mind went blank. Then, there was nothing. Not even a flutter of breath or a spark of life. Luna was completely still just as Ron and Hermione had been beneath the Black Lake during the Triwizard Tournament. She was fully at ease and unaware of what was happening around her. Ginny was relived knowing her best friend wouldn’t see the heavy tear fall down her freckled cheek.

Petrificus Totalus,” Neville said softly with his wand pointed at Luna’s body. “Just to be safe,” he nodded at the other two.

“She’s just sleeping, right?” Ginny asked her friends warily as Luna looked completely lifeless under the spell.

“Just like the Fairytales she loves to tell the younger kids,” Dean nodded reaching his hand out towards Ginny who cautiously took it. “It will be fine, Ginny. We just have to decide what course of action we want to take, but Luna is safest when she isn’t conscious at the moment. She could have killed herself.”

“I know that, Dean,” Ginny snapped. “I’m sorry,” she sighed. “I didn’t mean to snap; I’ll go to Draco before sunrise. The castle should be calmed down by then. Neville, you should still go to Aberforth to see if he knows anything. I’ll resume my letter to Bill.”

“Got it,” Neville nodded as he stood by the door awaiting the letters.

“Come on, Gin,” Dean said pulling her hand towards the desk where their half written letters lied forgotten. “She’s just dreaming.”

“Ron said it was just blackness, like a blink of an eye and then nothingness until the spell is over,” Ginny whispered with a watery voice.

“It’s Luna though,” Dean grinned. “When is she not dreaming?”

With a loud sniff, Ginny nodded her head and turned to resume her writing. She signed her name with urgency and handed the bound parchment off the Neville who then left the room. Ginny turned away from the desk to sit upon the pillows next to Luna. Reaching down, she stroked her best friend’s long blonde hair and she slept peacefully.

“We’ll fix this, Luna,” Ginny promised.

“I’ll take the first shift,” Dean stated after he finished writing to Professor McGonagall. “You have to be up soon to get to the Hospital Wing.”

“Right,” Ginny nodded. “Thank you.”

“Anytime,” Dean shrugged leaning against the wall where he had a perfect sight of Luna and her hands should they try to harm her again.

Hours passed and Luna never once twitched; she remained still and silent, a sight that did nothing to soothe the worry welling within Dean. Had the rosy hue not remained on her cheeks, he would have assumed her dead, for she was so still. No fluttering eyelids, no sighs or giggles he’d become accustomed to, and absolutely no sleepwalking. She was just still, lifelessly still.

When Ginny started to wake, Dean jumped at the sudden noise. He’d been staring directly at Luna’s face for over and hour; his eyes were burning and stinging. He needed to sleep, badly. With a fierce yawn, Ginny stretched her arms above her head before giving Dean a nod of acknowledgement. She leaned over to rouse Neville who barely protested. After little encouragement, Dean lied down and instantly fell asleep.

“You have about two hours until sunrise,” Neville told Ginny. “You’ll be alright, won’t you?”

“Don’t worry about me,” Ginny grinned pulling her dark Gryffindor robes around her. “Luna said the defensive perimeter worked; I’ll set it up as I’m going into the hospital wing.”

“But Malfoy,” Neville said nervously looking away from the redhead.

“Luna trusts him,” Ginny said sounding resolute though she shared the same reservations as her friend.

“Luna trusts most people,” Neville mumbled.

“Well, we have to trust her now,” Ginny responded. “Take watch while I’m away. I’ll be back soon.”

Out in the main room, everyone was still fast asleep in their hammocks. There were symphonies of snoring and sighing, the rustling of blankets and the huffs of aggravation at not finding a comfortable position. Ginny gave the room a quick look over before ducking out of the door and walking out into the shadowed hallways of Hogwarts. Pushing her shoulders back and readying her wand, Ginny began the newly perilous walk to the hospital wing to find answers.

 


 

His mouth was parched, dry like the summer days in Cairo where he once visited with his father. Draco squeezed his eyes shut attempting to fall back into the colorful dream he’d left behind; it was to no avail. Huffing with annoyance, Draco reached up to rub the sleep from his eyes pressing firmly against his skin.

“It’s about time,” a voice said from close beside him; he could hear the rustling of paper. “I’ve been waiting for over half an hour.”

“Ginny,” Draco said opening his eyes at once.

The Weasley daughter had purple signs of exhaustion beneath her worrisome brown eyes; her lips were drawn into a thin line and her hands had a slight tremor to them. Draco looked to the windows to see that the sun had to rise. Something was wrong, something was terribly wrong for Ginny Weasley to be there so early without Luna.

“Luna,” Draco whispered. “What’s happened?” he asked, panic seeping into his voice.

“I’m hoping you’ll help me with that,” Ginny said softly folding the Daily Prophet back together and placing it on her lap. “As of now, I have no idea. We need your help, Draco.”

Staring at the girl before him, Draco could see how much she cared for Luna, how much she loved the strange girl as one of her own. Without hesitance, Draco nodded his head rapidly ignoring the rush of pain in his leg. Ginny continued to look at him, though her expression changed slightly. She still looked tired and scared, but more so now, she looked surprised and hopeful. She gave a curt nod to which Draco responded.

“Anything for Luna,” Draco said softly, fiercely. “Anything.”

Chapter Text

Waking up to Ginny Weasley was not an occurrence Draco had ever hoped to experience, nor was it one he wished to repeat. Even in his sleep, he could feel her brown eyes staring at him attempting to burn more wounds into his skin. She was severe in that moment, scared and frightened. Her freckled skin was paler than normal, a green undertone had spread across the pallor; Ginny's brown eyes were shadowed in purple exhaustion and concern. At once Draco knew her visit was not personal but involving Luna, specifically in a bad way; Ginny confirmed his suspicions immediately.

"How can I help?" Draco said quickly.

"Do you remember any disturbances from last night?" Ginny asked.

"No," Draco replied with furrowed brows. "Should I?"

"The Sleeping Drought is rather effective. After you fell asleep, Myrtle arrived and began screaming at Luna for seeing you. Her screeching alerted the Carrows."

"What did they do to her?" Draco said with wide eyes. He began to kick the blankets off of his body ignoring the cool morning air and the stinging in his leg. "Where is she?"

"I'm getting there, Malfoy. Would you sit down? You're not going to do any good in your silken pajamas," Ginny huffed. "Right, well, the perimeter spell we used stunned Amycus, but Luna did run into Alecto, literally. Luna didn't notice at the time, but the bitch cut her arm with either her wand or a blade of sorts. We think what ever she used was dipped with poison."

"You said the cut was caused by Alecto?" Draco asked as he felt the blood drain from his face.

"Yes. Are you familiar with her use of such?" Ginny asked leaning closer.

"Possibly," Draco replied hoping the poison the Carrow sister used on Luna wasn't the same as the one she used on a captured blood traitor in the Manor. "What symptoms did Luna show? Anything specific?" Draco peered at Ginny with desperate silver eyes, but the redhead dropped her eyes to the floor; he barely made out her lip quivering.

"It was awful," Ginny whispered wringing her hands together. "She was bleeding; she didn't notice, so I took her to a room and checked her arm. The gash was huge, pouring blood. I tried to heal it with several healing spells and charms, but nothing happened. I've healed wounds as bad before, but it just continued to bleed. I went to find Neville and Dean to see if they could help. When I came back, Luna—she—" Ginny's voice broke as she buried her face in her hands.

Draco was beyond uncomfortable. Ginny was never emotional, at least not in the crying way. He had seen her skin flash as red as her hair in anger before, he'd seen her lash out at Ron and the twins, he'd seen her temper flare during quidditch, but he had never seen her cry. He knew not what to do, so he reached over and patted her knee awkwardly. The gesture caused Draco's cheeks to blush red and Ginny to jerk her head up in shock. With a shaky breath, Ginny wiped her face on her long sleeve.

"She had a piece of cloth around her neck; it was tied so tightly her skin was turning blue, her eyes were red. Luna was just holding the ends and pulling tighter and tighter. I don't know how long she was like that, but she had no idea what was happening. She thought she was making a tourniquet around her arm. She could have died."
"Ginny, where is Luna now?" Draco said severely. "Is she being watched?"

"Yes, yes," Ginny nodded fiercely. "We put her in a Bewitched Sleep and a complete body bind. Neville, Dean, and I took shifts sleeping last night."

"After you found her, what else happened?"

"She wasn't bleeding anymore, but this black goo was oozing from the wound and smoke billowed from it. The wound is cursed, we know that, but we just don't know what caused it or how to fix it. Have you ever encountered this before?"

"Yes," Draco said solemnly. "Only once before. Alecto used it on a prisoner that was brought to the Manor."

"What happened?" Ginny asked despite knowing what his answer would be.

"He died," Draco said in a small voice.

Draco looked at Ginny in her hysterical state and knew that he could not tell her the truth of what happened to the man. For three days, he tried killing himself. He would pound his head onto stones. He gouged his eyes out, bit chunks of flesh out of his arms and legs, anything he could reach really. He ripped his hair out, his fingernails and toenails. The man wouldn't scream until after his attempts at death had been stopped; he had no idea what he was doing the entire time. He wouldn't bleed; only black tar would slowly secrete from his veins.

"What does the poison do?" Ginny asked.

"Ginny, you don't want to know; it's better if—"

"I want to know, Malfoy," she said with a fierceness that Draco could not deny.

"It makes the victim hallucinate so vividly they aren't aware that they are trying to kill themselves. They actively rip themselves apart piece by piece. Alecto uses this particular poison because she likes to watch."

"Luna, she—she can't do that—we have to do something," Ginny said shakily. "Is there a cure?"

"I don't know," Draco said honestly. "But I'll do everything in my power to make this right. I promise. I'll make them pay for it; they can't do this to her and get away with it," he shouted as he slammed his fist onto his bedside table. Ginny didn't even flinch.

"You really care about her," Ginny said staring at Draco. He only stared back at her with heavily guarded eyes.

"So do you," he replied calmly. "So does Neville, Dean, Potter… The list goes on really," Draco said with his usual mask of indifference.

"I suppose it does," Ginny nodded.

"Madam Pomfrey will be waking soon," Draco said looking away from the Weasley daughter. "You'd better go."

Understanding Draco's unsubtle hint to leave, Ginny quickly stood up and gave him a curt nod. She turned to walk towards the large wooden doors; however, halfway there, she turned around to look at the Slytherin student who had tormented her and her friends for over six years. Peering at him, she noted how tense his jaw was with anger, his fists balled tightly by his sides. He was beyond angry, furious; it wasn't the first time she'd witnessed such a reaction. Every time Harry caught the snitch, Gryffindor won the House Cup, or his family's status was questioned, Draco would react in the same way. However, he'd grown up; his reasons for anger were no longer trivial but rather a threat to someone he cared for deeply. Ginny never thought it possibly for Draco Malfoy to show such emotion over another person. With a sigh, Ginny dug into her pocket and walked back to Draco's bedside. She thrust a coin into his hand.

"Tap it to send a message; I'll do the same if I need you," she said before turning to walk out of the Hospital Wing. "Heal up, Malfoy. We need you," she said before slipping out of the heavy wooden doors.

Draco stared at the door until his eyes began to burn; with a few heavy blinks, he peered down at the unassuming galleon Ginny have him. Flipping it through his fingers, he noticed that it was not extraordinary in anyway. Rolling his eyes, Draco slipped it into the chest pocket on his emerald silk shirt. What did Ginny want him to do with a Galleon? Buy something useful? Though it was very early morning, far earlier than Draco desired to be awake, he no longer desired sleep; he wanted to get out of the hospital wing, he wanted to help. Weasley was right; he wasn't going any good in his silken pajamas. With a frustrated sigh, Draco slammed the back of his head into the wall behind him; the blow was softened only slightly by one of his pillows.

Why can nothing ever go right? he asked himself.

Opening his eyes once more, Draco began to think about what could be in such a potion and what ingredients could counteract them. A medley of ingredients could cause each of the symptoms, but what combination could enact off of them without counteracting or eliminating the other. Potions and poisons were a delicate balance; one wrong ingredient would make a new elixir all together. Placing the heels of his hands into his eyelids, Draco pushed until his vision erupted in stars; with a frustrated groan, he opened his eyes and began to analyze his options.

Draco knew the quickest solution would be to inquire about the poison from Alecto Carrow, but he was concerned his sudden interest would spark suspicion. If he asked her, she could possibly alert Snape, his father, or Bellatrix. Professor Snape was the second option, but Draco remembered the curious way he had been acting lately, as if he knew something Draco did not. Professor Slughorn's chubby face flashed through Draco's mind, and he knew the new potions professor would be his first to implore. He had no one to report to other than the other professors not tainted by the Dark Mark; based on reputation alone, they would not be surprised by his questions should Slughorn know of the poison. With somewhat of a plan in mind, Draco allowed his shoulders to relax slightly as he forced himself to take deep breaths; she would be okay, she had to be okay. Time ticked on and the sun slowly revealed itself through the murky winter clouds. It was snowing outside, and the castle developed a bit of a chill as it normally did this time of year. Rustling noises alerted Draco to Madam Pomfrey's waking, and he sent a silent thank you to anyone who happened to be listening.

Finally, he thought to himself, I need to get out of here.

Staring at the stonewall before him, Draco willed the doors entering Madam Pomfrey's bedchambers to open; he would beg her to release him today if she did not deem him fit to do so. He knew he would do whatever it took to get out of the hospital no matter how much he dreaded returning to the Slytherin dungeon. After what seemed like a millennia, the tall wooden doors opened revealing the motherly nursed dressed in her typical outfit. She carried her wand in the pocket of her white apron as healing supplies floated behind her.

"Good morning, Mr. Malfoy," she greeted unsurprised to see him awake at such an early hour. "Sleep well?"

"Yes," he replied curtly. "As well as to be expected."

"Are you experiencing pain during the night?" she asked with a curious look.

"No, this bed is rubbish compared to my own," he responded being sure to add a tone of haughtiness to his words. "I find it hard to relax on such."

"I see," Madam Pomfrey grumbled.

"You've told me time and time again how important rest is to recovery," Draco smarted. "Perhaps you'll release me from these confines so I can actually progress in my healing."

"Clearly your eager to be released from the hospital wing, Mr. Malfoy," Madam Pomfrey stated. "However, I would not be doing my job properly should I allow you to return to the rest of the castle before you are well enough to do so."

"Am I not healed yet?" Draco inquired with a snarky bite. "Surely if you were doing your job properly I would be by now. It's been days."

"I am not going to entertain such accusations," Madam Pomfrey clipped. "Now hold still, Mr. Malfoy, I need to change your wrappings, and check your healing progress."

Draco did not respond, but rather he turned his eyes to the ceiling hoping that he had healed enough to be discharged today. Yesterday, his skin was still raw and inflamed, deep scabs and repairing nerve endings, but the rotten flesh had been cleared away, his layers of skin restored to existence. Surely with yesterday's layer of dittany and healing charms and potions he would be permitted to leave. He could feel Madam Pomfrey prodding his freshly rejuvenated skin; it felt disorienting as if such spots were disconnected from his person. When her cold fingers touched a particularly fresh patch of skin, Draco held back a threatening flinch of pain worried that if he showed pain or discomfort, he would reside in the wing another day.

"Your skin is healing quite nicely," Madam Pomfrey approved. "However, there are quite a few scabs that are rather large."

"I've had worse from quidditch practice," Draco scoffed not daring to look at his leg.

"I doubt that," the matronly nurse smarted. Raising her hand, a bottle flew into her grasp and she uncorked the top. "This will speed the process even more so than dittany."

"Why have you not used this before?" Draco glared.

"It must be applied to skin, Mr. Malfoy," Madam Pomfrey responded not glancing up at the young man. "You had none remaining before now; it would have eaten through your muscles and tendons leaving far more damage than before. No need to thank me," she said. An invasive prickling sensation ran up Draco's leg causing him to shudder in discomfort, but he dared not voice his pain.

"It will feel like that for a little while," Madam Pomfrey addressed his hidden distress. "Best to just deal with it, as it is very effective. I can give you a bit of beewort tea to calm your anxiety."

"I'm not anxious," Draco lied; Madam Pomfrey only shrugged in response.

"Very well, Mr. Malfoy," she nodded. "It needs to seep in the new skin for an hour or so. I'm sure you're breakfast will be delivered shortly."

Draco nodded, his teeth clenched painfully together. The school's nurse responded with her own terse nod before leaving the young Slytherin to his own devices. How she thought he could eat with such a sensation claiming his body left Draco perplexed and a bit annoyed. Willing his body to ignore the pain, Draco closed his eyes and began to count the seconds. Just as he surpassed 900 seconds, a soft, tentative voice called his name.

Opening his grey eyes, Draco peered at Pansy Parkinson standing before him with a silver breakfast trey in her hands; it looked rather out of place with an emerald bracelet wrapped delicately around her wrist and genuine silk ribbon tied through her hair. Pansy had never carried a trey or served anyone in her life; seeing her with such would have made Draco laugh aloud had the grating pinprick sensation not been present.

"I saw an elf carrying this up here; I think I'd lose my appetite should one of those grotesque creatures ever served my breakfast. I thought you'd rather wake to my pretty face," Pansy smirked. Draco resisted the urge to roll his eyes at her complimenting herself.

"They do serve your breakfast, Pansy," Draco smarted through his pain. "Or do the Parkinson's no longer possess House Elves?"

"Why of course we do," Pansy narrowed her eyes. "I just prefer not to see their faces before I eat. They're rather ugly, don't you think?"

"Extremely," Draco nodded.

"Well," Pansy said awkwardly placing the tray on his bedside table. "Here you are."

"Thank you, Pans," Draco replied, remembering the manners his mother taught him while forcing his trademark smirk onto his face.

"Of course, Draco," she said sincerely, olive eyes melting slightly. "Are you feeling any better? Pain free?"

"Nearly," Draco shrugged; he didn't think she noticed his slight flinching when the serum's effects hit a rather sensitive nerve.

"You must be terribly bored in here," she said looking around he bare wing; rarely anyone reported injuries anymore preferring to heal within the confines and security of their dormitories.

"You have no idea," he huffed.

"It's been rather quiet without you; Crabbe and Goyle are much like lost puppies," Pansy smirked. "I've been rather bored myself."

"Have you?" Draco asked with a raised eyebrow ignoring her implication.

"Very much so," she nodded smoothing a lock of her straight dark hair behind her ear. "Everyone bores me."

"Everyone, you say?" Draco asked amused with a raise eyebrow, his pain momentarily forgotten.

"Be serious, Draco," Pansy glared. "I'm trying to talk to you."

"There's nothing to talk about," Draco shrugged; seeing Pansy's pained face caused him to flinch more so than the bodily pain he felt. "I didn't mean it like that," he said quickly glancing toward her stone eyes. "I can't right now."

"Your mission is over, Draco," Pansy reasoned. "You said—"

"I know what I said," Draco interrupted. "Things change, Pansy."

People change, his brain added.

"I understand," she nodded, the hurt nearly erased from her delicate features. "Just know I'm always here for you should you need me."

"I know," Draco nodded.

"Right, well, I should be going to breakfast," she said with a sigh. "I do hope you are released soon. It's odd not having you around."

"I hope so too, Pans," Draco waved halfheartedly.

Once her petite form was on the other side of the large doors, Draco released a shaky breath he'd withheld; part of him wanted to believe it was merely caused by the suppressed pain, another knew it was partially provoked by the conversation he'd just had with Pansy. He knew it had to happen sooner or later, and the easiness of it all surprised him slightly. She didn't fight him on his decision; although this could be reduced down to an act of self-preservation, Draco had a feeling that Pansy was not as emotionally invested in their romantic relationship as he previously thought. Maybe she missed the familiarity of it, but in some way, he knew she noticed that something was different, he was different. Either way, it was a relief. Romance or not, Pansy had always been one of his closest friends; he wasn't ready to let that go. Not yet.

Not bothering to look at the contents of the breakfast tray, Draco closed his grey eyes again and began to count once more. Several times his brain forgot the numbers as his brain drifted to his conversation with Ginny Weasley. We need you, she said with such conviction and certainty it shocked him. Like Luna, she thought he would fight with them; he wished he was as certain as they were. Part of him hoped they were right. After counting past 500 three times only to forget his place, Draco gave up counting and opened his eyes as Madam Pomfrey's shoes clacked against the stone floor.

"It's been an hour now, Mr. Malfoy," she stated. "Has the pain dulled down to a slight ache at this point?"

Focusing on his body, Draco was surprised that his pain had all but disappeared; he was still a bit uncomfortable with the sensation, but it was bearable. Responding that it had, Madam Pomfrey gave him a curt not before applying another serum that left his leg feeling slightly chilled and blissfully painless. He resisted sighing in relief. After wrapping his leg once more, Madam Pomfrey stood back and looked at him with a determined gaze.

"I would like to keep you another night to be sure of your progress, " she began; Draco's face fell. "I'm sorry, Mr. Malfoy, but as the school nurse, I am obligated to keep you here until you are physically well enough to be discharged. Another day and night will not kill you."

No, it won't kill me, Draco thought bitterly. The same can't be said for others.

"Madam Pomfrey," Draco pleaded. "Please, I'll come back tomorrow for a check up, but please, I—"

"My answer is final, Mr. Malfoy," Madam Pomfrey interrupted.

"There's nothing I can say then?" Draco spat with steel grey eyes, dark and unflinching.

"I'm afraid not," Madam Pomfrey clipped. "As I said, that is my final answer."

"Very well then," Draco gritted out. He wasn't staying another second; he couldn't.

"You'll be in your own bed sooner than you think," Madam Pomfrey stated with a nod before cleaning up the area around him and returning to her chambers.

With out a moment of hesitation, Draco made his move. Swinging his legs off of the bed, Draco delicately placed his feet on the cool stone floor before easing himself up. His leg was weak and sore, but it felt good to be standing. Taking a hesitant step, Draco felt his leg muscles protest slightly, but he pushed more. Madam Pomfrey insisted he stay another day and night, but he didn't have a choice; he had places to be, and his leg wasn't going to stop him. Gathering his things, Draco shrunk his bedding and pillows down to portable size before placing them within his breast pocket. Transfiguring his emerald silk pajamas into a black slacks and a dark grey button up, Draco slipped on his dragon hide shoes that had not been destroyed in the fire and left the sallow hospital wing. His lack of socks caused the hard material to dig into his feet uncomfortably, but he didn't care, he couldn't.

Slipping through the tall wooden doors, Draco released a sigh of relief at the familiar smell of the castle. The hospital wing had it's own distinct smell, that of medicinal herbs and iron, but the castle was different. It was a combination of home and fresh air, parchment and aging stone, bitter chills and failed potions. It was something unique and unable to be reproduced outside of the castle. However, Draco knew he would have to revel in the freshness later; Madam Pomfrey would realize he was missing soon enough. He knew he would get into trouble later for leaving the hospital wing, but he had no other choice. Luna needed him.

With a newfound sense of determination, Draco made his way towards the potion room hoping to catch Professor Slughorn before his first morning class. His leg ached with the new movement and strain, but Draco merely gritted his teeth against the pain and continued on. Nothing could deter him now. As soon as the potions room came into view, after climbing multiple sets of stairs, Draco upped his pace and slipped into the room. As he had hoped, Professor Slughorn was preparing brewing stations for the first class of the day. He was too busy mumbling to himself to notice Draco's presence.

"That goes there," the potions professor whispered. "And this here, and, oh where did I put that? Merlin's beard, I swear I—"

"Professor," Draco drawled languidly; despite his calm tone, the chubby professor jumped in fright.

"Oh! Draco, um, Mr. Malfoy, you gave me a nasty shock there," he wheezed out as his face flushed red. "You're all well now, eh? Ready to get back into potions?"

"Yes sir," Draco nodded being sure to amp up the manners his mother instilled into him at a young age. "Actually, that's what I came to ask you about."

"Your work as always been impeccable, nearly perfect even," Professor Slughorn professed, small beads of preservations appeared at his temple. Draco knew at once that his presence made the professor nervous. "Surely your not worried your absence will effect your exam results?"

"No sir," Draco assured him. "I'm merely curious about a potion and wondered if perhaps you could tell me something about it."

"Potions are my forte," Slughorn chuckled anxiously. "To what potion are you referring to then?"

"I'm not sure actually," Draco confessed. "But I know its effects."

"Alright then," Slughorn nodded encouraging Draco to continue.

"Well, Professor, it, um—" Draco struggled to find the right words to assuage the potion professor's nerves; Draco feared Slughorn would think he wanted to make the potion. "It causes hallucinations of sorts, numbness. That sort of response."

"Well, Mr. Malfoy, there are a number of potions that cause hallucinations, as I'm sure you're aware," Slughorn sighed as he lifted a cup of tea to his lips; Draco wondered if there was more than just tea in the cup. "I'm afraid I won't be able to tell you about a single potion with just that description."

"Right, well, these hallucinations are rather specific, for they make one unaware of self-harm," Draco continued looking down. "The person who comes into contact with this potion more-or-less self-destructs."

"What you're talking about is a cursed poison," Slughorn bellowed as the teacup and saucer rattled in his shaking hands. "As I've told your friends throughout the year, I will not be teaching such brews. Not only is it against school policy, but it is unethical!" he stammered. "I-I think it's best if you go, Mr. Malfoy. I'll see you in our lessons. Out you go," he shooed the Slytherin toward the door with a red face.

"I want to know how to counteract it," Draco blurted as Slughorn touched the door handle; his plump hand stilled.

"Counteract?" Slughorn questioned in a whisper as he stared at the door not daring to look at the student beside him. "If you wish to do so, that must mean the poison is already in use," he reasoned to himself. "It is, Mr. Malfoy? Is this poison being used within the castle?" he asked in a quivering voice.

"It is, Professor," Draco confessed.

"Merlin's beard," Slughorn whispered. "Who? I need to know who is using it. They must be dealt with immediately."

"There's nothing that can be done," Draco replied with meaningful gaze. "I just need to know how to counteract it. Please, Professor. It's vital."

"It's been used on a student then," Slughorn rasped. "How long ago?"

"Last night."

"There's still time," Slughorn nodded going over to his cabinet. "Bring the student to me at once or I can go to the Slytherin dorms myself."

"The student isn't in Slytherin, sir," Draco responded quietly.

"Who is the afflicted?"

"I can't tell you that," Draco confessed looking away.

"Mr. Malfoy, you must—"

"I can't, Professor. I would if I could, but I can't. Trust me on this."

"Very well," he sighed with apprehension. Picking up a piece of parchment, Draco watched as the professor scribbled messily with a trembling hand. "Here are the basic ingredients used for the brew. Unfortunately, there are many variations of the cursed poison; it's called the Caecusium Deleo, or, rather, the—"

"Blind Death," Draco winced clutching the parchment tightly within his grasp.

"Correct," Slughorn nodded somberly. "Blind Death."

"So, if it varies, how do you know which ingredients to use in order to counteract the potion?" Draco asked with furrowed brows. He felt like he was wasting time; Luna needed the cure, the counter-potion before it was too late.

"Therein lies the problem," Slughorn sighed. "You don't. You have to discover the exact ingredients used to make the poison before it can be reversed or cured."

"What if the exact in ingredients can't be found out?" Draco asked urgently.

"I-I don't know," Slughorn exasperated reaching his plump hands up to scrub his face.

"It's not an option," Draco said resolutely. "I'll find them out. One way or another."

"Be safe, Mr. Malfoy," Slughorn murmured lowly, as if he knew his words were empty.

"It's too late for that," Draco responded. "Thank you for this," he added lifting the parchment slightly.

"Should you need any ingredients, you know where my chambers reside."

"Thank you, Professor," Draco nodded. "I hate to ask, Professor, but could you keep this between just you and me?"

"I—well, okay," Slughorn nodded hesitantly. "Be on your way now."

Without a word in response, Draco ducked out of the potions room glancing around the corridor for any sign of Madam Pomfrey; he was sure she was aware of his escape by now. Perhaps she didn't care; Draco knew he didn't. As he took another step, Draco felt a burning sensation against his chest. Ignoring it, he continued to walk, but the heat only intensified leaving a horrid scalding in its wake. Digging into his breast pocket, Draco pulled out the galleon Ginny Weasley gave him; he nearly dropped it as the surface sizzled against his fingers.

Anything yet? it read.

As Draco read the words, the coin cooled to a reasonable temperature; this is what Ginny meant by touching it. Shaking his head at the cleverness of it all, Draco scanned the corridor quickly before pulling out his own wand as he thought of a response to send. There was only a limited amount of space on the coin, and he struggled to think of message that was both clear and concise.

Called the Blind Death. Going to find out ingredients now.

After only half a minute, the coin warmed in his hand.

Ingredients? Ginny responded.

Need ingredients to counteract them. Must be exact.

Alecto is the only one that will know, Weasley sent back.

I know. Keep her safe. Draco said; he hesitated in adding the second part, but he knew it's what he wanted to say, needed to say.

We will.

Shoving the coin back into his pocket, Draco made his way down to the Slytherin dorms in order to change into something other than transfigured pajamas. He also worried that his belongings would tumble from the breast pocket at anytime; he couldn't deal with anything else at the moment. He needed to focus. Luckily, the first class of the day had just begun and the dormitory was blissfully empty. Draco quickly slipped into his shared room before rummaging through his wardrobe for suitable clothing. Throwing on a white button down, black slacks, and his robes, Draco felt more in control as a wave of confidence overtook him. He could do this; he had to do this. Looking in his mirror with resolution etched into his face, Draco gave himself a curt not before leaving the dormitory. The charmed galleon was situated snugly in his robe pocket.

Once more, he trekked through the stone corridors with a determined expression as he made his way to the Muggle Studies classroom. Though his face was like stone, Draco could feel the clamminess of his palms, the increasing rate of his heart, and the panicked dread situated in his stomach. This encounter determined everything, and it was one that could end very badly at any moment. He made it to the room five minutes before class was to be dismissed, so he stood outside the door listening to the lessons. However, everything Alecto Carrow was teaching to the class was something he'd heard before at his home.

"Muggles are perhaps the lowest of the low," Alecto Carrow's voice sounded within the classroom. "They are idiots incapable of anything; they're too stupid to notice the magic around them. They are barbarians, animals…" she droned on, but Draco stopped listening. After all, he'd heard it all before.

However, he did find it curious that the class was rather silent; no one asked a question, no one dared to contradict Alecto Carrow, and there was really no teaching at all. Running his hands through his hair, Draco released a deep sigh. She had no proof, he realized; her entire lesson, if it could be called such, was based entirely on her own opinion, her own bigotry. He wondered how he'd never noticed such before. As far as Draco knew, he'd never met a muggle, but he knew wizards raised by muggles. They seemed to disagree wholly with the teachings of his childhood; perhaps they were right to do so. After all, they were the ones who had firsthand experience with muggles.

Too much right now, Draco thought to himself. I have to focus.

When the students were dismissed, Draco found himself watching as less than twenty students exited the room; most were Slytherins. However, he was quick to hide his shock, for as the last student, a mousy Ravenclaw with watery eyes, exited the room with his head bowed low, Draco slipped through the door. Standing at the front of the room was Alecto Carrow, a plump woman with slumped shoulders and red hair; her face twisted into a cruel smirk when she saw Draco Malfoy stroll into her classroom.

"Malfoy," she gave a curt nod of greeting.

"Professor Carrow," Draco responded forcing himself not to grit out her name.

"Come for a Muggle Studies lesson?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"No, unlike others in this school, I was taught properly since birth; thank Merlin they finally appointed someone who can actually teach this forsaken course," Draco huffed with feign annoyance. "I've actually come for some advice."

"Advice?" Alecto asked with an interested gleam in her normally dull eyes.

"Yes, advice or rather just a bit of knowledge. I remembered this summer how a prisoner of yours was afflicted with this fantastic magic. He ripped his nails off, gauged his eyes out, and banged his head on the stonewall all day. I am wondering what influenced him to do so."

"Ah yes," Professor Carrow said with a sadistic smile. "I know exactly the man, if you can call him that, of which you speak. Muggle sympathizer," she spat. "I'll tell you, Draco, it's a potion, some would say poison, that causes hallucinations to where they attack themselves unknowingly. It's incredible to watch them come to reality after an episode where their fingers are chopped off, their teeth have been ripped out, or eyeballs are rolling around on the ground," she explained with a wheezing laugh.

"What kind of potion is this?" Draco inquired as he added a spark of excitement into his grey eyes while forcing down the bile that rose in his throat. "That sounds like the kind of effects I'm interested in."

"Someone in mind?" Alecto asked, the sides of her mouth quirked up in elation.

"I have a few," Draco shrugged nonchalantly. "Could you help me, Professor?"

"It's known as the Blind Death," Alecto told him; he nodded along as if he'd never heard of such. "It's a unique potion because it has base ingredients but others can be added to amplify or add other side effects."

"I see," Draco said. "What do you add to yours?"

"What makes you think I add anything to mine?" she smirked.

"I don't foresee a basic potion being good enough for you," Draco replied in false flattery. "Not when there is the opportunity for greater effects that show off not only a knowledge of potions but the creativity associated with such."

"So much like your father," Alecto chuckled. "However, you are right. I have my own secret ingredients to add within the potion base."

"Which are?" Draco prompted; however, he detected a slight edge of desperation in his own voice. Judging by Alecto's narrowed eyes, she did too.

"My own, Malfoy," she said.

"Sorry, Professor," Draco responded with a nod. "I didn't mean to pry. I just found the effects to be outstanding."

"Yes, they are," Alecto nodded. "What has you so interested in this potion all of a sudden?"

"I find that there are people within the castle that need a reminder of who they're dealing with. I'm sure you've heard of my stay in the hospital wing?" Draco inquired.

"I did, yes," Professor Carrow nodded. "I do wonder how you planned on retaliating against who ever attacked you; last I heard you had no idea who the person was."

"I have my suspicious. Whether I subject the guilty person or a friend of theirs is of no consequence to me. The message remains," Draco responded with an air of nonchalance.

As soon as the words left his mouth, Draco saw Alecto's face light up; he could tell she wanted to say something because she pinched the corners of her mouth together tightly. Her hands remained clasped behind her back, but he could tell she was twiddling her fingers out of his sight. She was like a child with a secret, bursting to tell at any moment. Instead, her mouth remained pursed and she flicked her wand to tidy up the papers on her desk; Draco's eyes followed her every movement. Finally, she looked at him, and her pinched smile grew wide.

"You'll be happy then to hear about the newest inflicted," Alecto said with a vicious grin. "The girl who was kept in the cellar, the Lovegood girl, I ran into her last night and snagged her arm with my wand. She didn't realize it at the time, but I'm sure she's off somewhere now pulling out that straggly hair," Alecto laughed wheezily.

Draco stared at the squat woman before him; he could feel his anger rising in his stomach. His chest felt tight, his skin hot. Alecto was proud of what she'd done to Luna, found it funny. Draco's finger's tensed in attempt to restrain himself from grabbing his wand. He wanted nothing more than to curse the vile woman, leave her blubbering and incoherent for her brother to find. After all, Amycus was the only one who would care.

"Maybe she'll pull one of those big eyes out! Oh, wherever they are hiding, I'm sure her friends are having a grand time with her!" she laughed harder, her breath coming out in small pants. "Oh, Draco, don't look so sullen. You couldn't keep to yourself forever."

"No, I couldn't," Draco said through grit teeth.

"She's better left dead anyway," Alecto shrugged. "This world has no room for people of her kind. Ignorant, stupid idiots, all of them! Like I said, better dead than alive. Although, I'm sure Greyback would love to have another go at her. He wanted to tear her limb from limb. Perhaps we should find and hand her over."

"No," Draco spat before his mind could stop him.

Alecto's dark eyes met his quickly. He knew what she was seeing. Draco Malfoy, red faced and obviously bothered at the mention of a blood traitor's death. He was seething. He felt every inch of his body burning with hatred for the woman; she stood there with defiant eyes and a sarcastic smirk. It only made his blood boil hotter.

"No?" she challenged. "What has you so bothered, Little Malfoy?" she taunted.

"You attacked a student," Draco stated, his grey eyes nearly black. "Doesn't that go against your position as a professor?"

"People like her shouldn't be at Hogwarts," Alecto seethed. "Salazar Slytherin fought for it to be so, but the other three weak imbeciles allowed anyone who could cause a leaf to flutter within the castle! They don't deserve magic!"

"She's a pureblood," Draco blurted out; his hand grasped the wand in his robe pocket so tightly he thought it nearly broke in half.

"Her? A pureblood? I doubt it," Alecto chuckled. "Liars, the lot of them! Don't tell me you've grown soft towards the girl? Was it her big blue eyes? Her plump lips? Did she do whatever you asked of her? Whatever you forced her to do with that wand of yours?" she teased him with a smirk full of accusation.

"What did you put in the poison, Alecto?" Draco glared.

"You will never find out," Alecto spat. "You don't have the guts for it, Little Malfoy. You never have, and you never will. Put your wand away before I show you how to use one."

"What is in the poison? What did you add?" Draco repeated. "Tell me!"

"Weak little boy trying to play with the grownups still?" Alecto Carrow teased. "Give it up, Draco; I'll make your suffering dull in comparison to the stupid girl's."

"I won't ask again," Draco warned. "I'll force it out of you if I must."

"You don't have the guts," Alecto smirked. "You'll never truly be one of us."

As she continued to taunt him, Draco felt every disappointment he'd ever caused. He could feel his father's steel grey eyes on his back, the heavy burden of being the only Malfoy heir, the son of Lucius Malfoy. Draco knew he'd yet to live up to his father's expectations, and he wondered if he ever could, if he even wanted to. As Alecto Carrow, the woman who wanted to kill Luna Lovegood, stood before him mocking him and the severity of the situation, he knew she was right. He didn't have the guts for it. He didn't have what it takes to kill innocent people, he didn't have the ability to torture people for fun, to watch people die over and over again. He didn't have what it takes to worship a man who wanted nothing more than power and control over people, to kill those who opposed him. Draco wanted none of it; he couldn't do it. However, there was something he could do: He could save Luna.

"You're right," Draco agreed. "I won't be one of you."

Without hesitation, Draco pulled his wand from his robe pocket and aimed it directly at Alecto Carrow. He shouted the disarming spell as she aimed her own wand at him; she may be more experienced, but he was faster. Without a means to protect herself, Alecto Carrow scrambled for her wand, but once again, Draco was faster.

"Incarcerous!" Draco cast before watching ropes shoot from the end of his wand to wrap around Aleco Carrow's squat frame. Struggling against her confines, she glared at the young man before her with so much hatred and fury, he could feel the heat of her stare. "Tell me what you added, Alecto," he asked once more.

"I'm going to enjoy killing you," she fumed.

"Very well," Draco said with a nod. With a deep sigh, he knew he only had one option left; it had to be done. "Imperio."

As the spell left his lips, Professor Carrow's face, previously contorted with resentment, relaxed and adopted a tranquil sereneness Draco was sure had never before been on her face. However, he could see her eyes resisting the Unforgiveable Curse, so he pushed his magic deeper into the wand. Her eyes glazed over at once. He knew it was wrong, unforgivable most would say, to take control of another human in this way, but there was no other option. He had to save Luna.

"Now," Draco said severely, "tell me what you added to the potion."

"Coca leaves and poppy petals," Alecto said sweetly; Draco was taken aback at the softness of her voice. "They are both used to make muggle potions called drugs. I thought it would be ironic."

"Did you do anything else to the potion? Alter it in any way?" he asked tightening his grip on the wand his mother loaned him.

"No, I just dipped my wand into it and stabbed that girl. Such an odd thing, she is. Don't you think? I hate her; I hate all of these children," she sighed wistfully.

"The feeling is mutual," Draco gruffed. "Remember none of this; you never saw me today," he commanded before lowering his wand and releasing her from his hold. As he walked towards the door, he flicked his wand over his shoulder making the ropes wrapped around her disappear.

Closing the door behind him, Draco let out a huge gust of air trapped in his lungs. His hands were clammy once more; he wiped the nervous perspiration on his black trousers before raking a hand through his hair. He did it; he knew the additions to the potion. Now all he had to do what counteract the original and get it to Luna as quickly as possible. With no time to waste, he grabbed the galleon from his pocket and tapped it with his wand.

Got the ingredients. Going to make the counter potion now, he sent to Ginny; he response was immediate.

Hurry, Malfoy, was all she replied back; it was enough for him to know that something was going wrong. The poison, even in Luna's Bewitched Sleep, was progressing; he had to act quickly. Shoving the coin back into his pocket, Draco ducked his head and made his way to the potions classroom eager to get the brew going so that he could save her, so he could see her. His leg protested the entire way, but he ignored it with ease. It was nothing compared to the pain he'd feel should anything happen to Luna Lovegood; he knew this.

I'm coming Luna, he thought to himself. Just hold on a little longer.