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Chapter 3 : How Far?
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Draco sat nervously in the parlour of Malfoy Manor his eyes fixed on the fireplace waiting for Luna to arrive. She had been worried about just suddenly appearing in his fireplace but he had insisted, this way he could be right here to meet her as soon as she popped up.
The humiliation of telling Luna the truth would be worth it when his father saw her. He had the sneaky feeling that his father hadn’t totally believed his story and that annoyed him immensely. His mother on the other hand had been delighted by the news and had warned Lucius not to be scary. That had made Draco laugh, but he had silently thanked his mother for remembering that her husband had the knack of terrifying people just by being in the same room as them.
He glanced up at the clock it was seven o’clock, Luna would be arriving at any moment. He rubbed his hands together willing himself not to mess this evening up.
“What time did you say she would be here?” Lucius asked from the door way.
Draco jumped, he had been so busy watching the fireplace he hadn’t registered his father was even there. “Seven.” He replied, quite glad to find his voice was normal and not squeaky.
Lucius nodded towards the clock. “It’s seven now.”
“I know that.” Draco snapped, “She doesn’t have to be here dead on seven does she?”
Lucuis shrugged and left the room, Draco was positive he heard his father mumble something that sounded like “If she comes at all.”
He glared after his father, he’d show him once Luna arrived. She’d shut him up, and she was just so pretty and perfect his father wouldn’t be able to find fault with her at all.
Draco frowned, suddenly remembering that he hadn’t requested that she change her accessories. He groaned, if she wore those earrings and that stupid necklace his father would have a field day. Normally it didn’t bother him, he thought they made her look quirky and interesting; but his father was a different matter.
“Come on Luna, where are you?” Draco shifted about in his seat, he had a horrible feeling that she had changed her mind and wouldn’t come. There was no real reason why she should help him out was there? But she had agreed to come; and Draco had the feeling that Luna didn’t back away from her promises.
Bright green flames licking in the grate alerted him to someone’s arrival. He let out a long breath of relief. She had come. A little late, but better late than not at all. “Luna!” He jumped up but quickly stopped himself from hugging her. He wasn’t sure he was allowed to do that so he figured it was best to keep his hands to himself.
“Sorry I’m late, I couldn’t find my shoe.” She apologised, brushing some floo power from the pale pink off the shoulder dress she wore. She’d had to rush out shopping to find something appropriate for dinning with the Malfoy’s. With Ginny’s help, (under the guise that she was accompanying her father to an editor’s dinner) she had just managed to clobber together an outfit.
Luna didn’t like to lie to Ginny; but she wouldn’t understand if Luna had told her what she was really doing. She didn’t fully understand her actions herself, and she didn’t want to embarrass Draco by telling his secret.
Draco just stood and stared hungrily at her. Considering her usual creative dress code who knew she could look so elegant and sophisticated? He could find no fault with how she was dressed, she just looked even more beautiful to him now than she usually did.
“It’s ok, I’m glad your here, I thought you changed your mind.”
Luna looked annoyed, “I said I’d be here and my word is good, Draco.”
Draco nodded, “I figured it would be, I was just worrying that’s all. You look nice.” He added uncertainly.
Luna breathed a sigh of relief. She had thought she looked nice but she wasn’t sure if Draco would agree with her. After all, he saw women dressed up all the time and she might not have lived up to expectations. For some reason she could not decipher she wanted him to realise that she could look like all the pureblood women he socialised with, and she wasn’t just some loony girl from school.
“Oh good, Ginny said so but I wasn’t totally sure.”
“Ginny? As in the Weaslette? She knows?” He demanded.
“No of course not. She just helped me pick out an outfit, she doesn’t know the real reason why.” She assured him, a little hurt that he would think she was the type of person to go gossiping about him.
“Sorry, Luna. I’m just really on edge tonight. I’ve never tried to pull off something like this before. I need everything to go smoothly.” Draco explained, running his hands through his hair which hung in floppy strands across his forehead.
Luna smiled easily at him, “It’s ok, we’ll pull it off together.” She promised. Although she had a sinking feeling that something was going to go wrong.
“Come on.” Grabbing her by the elbow he half dragged her from the room, across the huge foyer and into another room where his parents were sitting at a long, white dining table chatting easily together.
They both looked up as Draco and Luna entered and she was quick to spot the surprised look on his fathers face. She felt Draco tense up beside her and guessed that he had seen it as well. “Father, mother, this is Luna.” Draco informed them as he held the back of a chair for Luna to sit.
She slid onto the plush red, velvet seat opposite the most striking woman she had ever seen. Luna had the feeling that even if Draco’s mother wore a black bag rather than the low cut red dress she wore right now; she would still manage to maintain the sophisticated and polished air that hung around her; and it would take a great deal of aging for her to look anything other than youthful and beautiful.
Lucius Malfoy sitting at the head of the table was another matter entirely. Luna found him immensely intimidated and wished that he wasn’t there, or that he wouldn’t look at her so thoroughly. He was making a mental appraisal of her she knew that and it unsettled her.
“Luna, I absolutely love your dress. It’s when I see pretty young girls wearing outfits like that I start to wish I was your age again.” Narcissa told her sipping at her wine. “Draco are you going to stand there all night or are you going to sit down?”
“What? I mean pardon? I mean I’m going to sit down.” He quickly sat next to Luna, part of him wishing he had just come clean and told the truth; while the other part of him was extremely curious to see how the night played out.
Luna smiled at the compliment mentally thanking Ginny for talking her into buying it. The dress had cost way too much, but the fact that a stylish woman like Narcissa Malfoy thought she looked good meant the money had been well spent. “Thank you, it’s new, I’ve been shopping today.”
“Oh shopping with girls was it?” Luna nodded. “Shopping with the girls used to be my favourite pass time.”
“Used to be?” Lucuis asked dryly.
Narcissa nodded, “Yes Lucuis, used to be.” She turned back to Luna. “I usually shop alone these days. It’s difficult to get all the ladies together now that we’re all married with families you see. Perhaps we can going shopping sometime? That way we can get to know each other a lot better without these two hanging round and getting in the way. ”
“Um, yes, that would be nice.” Luna replied, wishing she could kick Draco hard in the ankle. She hadn’t thought his mother would immediately start making plans to get to know her better. “I love to shop as well.”
“Men always get in the way.” Narcissca mused more to herself than anyone else. “But you know all about that dating Draco. He’s always in the way.”
“Sometimes he gets in the way. But mostly I don’t mind.” Luna wasn’t sure if Draco was the type to get in the way or not, so figured she had better play it safe.
“I am not always in the way.” Draco muttered frowning at his mother.
“Oh Draco, don’t frown, you’ll age your skin in double time if you keep frowning like that.” His mother warned taking another sip of her wine.
The conversation ceased when four house elves came bustling in the room with steaming plates of food and began to set up the table and pour more wine. Luna took this opportunity to scan the room, it was bigger than her bedroom and bathroom put together; elegantly furnished with a sense of style and flair anyone looking at the room could only think that the family who owned it were rich. She hadn’t really thought about Draco’s wealth before, but this room couldn’t help but bring it to the forefront of your mind. She had a feeling that was the exact purpose of the room, although it wasn’t done in a showy way, it was very subtle but you couldn’t help but notice.
Once the house elves had disappeared Lucius turned to Luna, “How long have you been with Draco? I can’t remember what he said.”
Luna’s mind went blank, Draco had told her this but she couldn’t remember. “Oh, about um, about six months.”
“Actually, now I come to think of it Draco said three months.” He told her, shooting a sly look at his son.
Luna looked totally unfazed, “Did he? Well, he’s wrong.”
Draco almost choked on his potato, no-one as far as he could remember had told his father anything in that firm tone that almost challenged him to argue the point.
Narcissa laughed, a soft tinkling sound that defused the tension between father and son without even realising that it was there. “Isn’t that just typical of a man? I remember when Lucuis and I had been together for a month and I wanted to celebrate that of course. So, I asked him how long we had been together to see if he would remember. And do you know what he said to me?”
Luna smiled softly, “No, what, Mrs Malfoy?”
Narcissa laughed again, “Oh no darling, you must call me Cissy. Well, his voice went all deep and gravely and he kept clearing his throat so I knew he had absolutely no idea, then he turned to me and said, “a really long time.” At least Draco made an effort and attempted to put a number in there somewhere.”
Lucius scowled at his wife. “I knew it had been a month.” He insisted.
“No you didn’t. And more to the point I don’t expect you can even remember the conversation.” She rolled her eyes at Luna. “Men.”
Luna smiled taking a sip of pumpkin juice. She decided that she liked Draco’s mother very much. She was easy to get along with, a totally different person in her own home than she probably was when she was out; and nothing like the snooty woman Harry and the others had painted for her. Narcissa was open and friendly, doing her best to make Luna comfortable and stop any icy comments from her husband.
Lucius studied the girl sitting next to Draco, there was something that didn’t sit right. Somehow he didn’t buy it that she had been dating his son for six months. He would definitely have heard about it. Draco was lying, definitely lying, the only problem he had was that he couldn’t prove it. Draco hadn’t told him anything about the girl or the supposed relationship; so it was difficult for him to get her to trip up and give his son away as the lying little git he was.
His son had definitely been placed in the right house at Hogwarts. He was very Slytherin, devious and sneaky and he would obviously go to great lengths to cover for himself. Lucius smiled slyly. He was a Slytherin as well wasn’t he? Draco would have to be a really early bird to get the best of him. If his son wanted a battle, then he had one.
“So, Luna, how did you and Draco meet?” He asked innocently.
“At Hogwarts,” She replied, trying to play for time as she racked her brain to try to remember if Draco had said anything to her about how they had met.
Lucius laughed. “Yes I know that, I mean how exactly?”
“Oh, right. Didn’t you tell them?” She asked glancing at Draco.
“No. I meant to, but I never got round to doing it.” He replied weakly.
That was ok, that meant she could say what she liked. Although she was mindful not to over do it and create a lie she wouldn’t remember. She licked her lips nervously. “Well, obviously it was six months ago.” Here she paused and gave Draco a meaningful look, “six months, Draco.” She repeated, making Narcissca laugh and Draco smirk.
Tucking her hair behind her ears she continued, “It was on the weekend which wasn’t a Hogsmead weekend and for once I was up to date with all my homework so I went walking round the grounds and happened to bump into Draco…” she paused for a sip of her drink.
Draco had never been so nervous in his life, where Luna would go with this story was anyone’s guess. His mother was enraptured already, but his father had a disbelieving look on his face which irritated Draco to the point where he would love to just peel the skin from his fathers face to wipe the smile away.
“Literally bumped into him, I can be quite clumsy on occasions. I fell over, naturally,“ She rolled her eyes at Narcissa.
His mother laughed, “Well of course you did. It’s always the same when you really like someone, no matter what you do it all comes out wrong.”
Luna nodded her agreement, “Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all as it gave me a chance to talk to him and he thought it was his fault that I’d fallen because he wasn’t looking where he was going. He was on his way to practice a bit of Quidditch although he never got there.” She giggled and Narcissca leant a little closer over the table her eyes wide and an almost girlish look on her face.
Draco listened with interest to the story. He glanced from his mother to Luna and was surprised to see some form of connection between them, the story obviously meant more to those two than it did to himself and his father. It was almost as if his mother could read something between the lines that he couldn’t see.
“What happened?” His mother prompted.
Luna raised her eyebrows slightly, “I hurt my ankle and couldn’t walk anywhere, so he had to carry me back up to the castle of course.”
Narcissa burst out laughing and waved a hand at Draco. “He fell for it as well didn’t he?”
Luna smiled gently at Draco. “It looks like he did and he’s never said he knew my ankle was perfectly fine the whole time. We got to talking and he never went to practice. It’s not terribly exciting, but that’s how it went.”
Narcissa sighed softly, “I think it’s sweet.”
Lucius refrained from commenting aloud that he thought it was all made up. “Interesting story,” he drawled, smiling lazily at his son.
Draco stiffened in his seat his hands fiddling with the napkin in his lap. His father didn’t believe him he could feel it. A self satisfied smug feeling coursed through him. It didn’t matter if his father didn’t believe him, there was nothing he could do to prove that he was lying. He was just going to have to accept what Luna said, there was nothing else for it.
He felt a bit bad that he had dragged Luna into his lies, she didn’t like lying but she had done it for him because he had begged for her help.
“Why don’t you two go out for a walk or something? You don’t want to be stuck in here with us all night do you? Especially considering you haven’t seen each other for a few weeks.” Lucius added.
“Oh yes Draco, go and show Luna around the grounds.” His mother winked, “just make sure you don’t knock her over this time.”
Draco shot out of his chair gripping the back of Luna’s for her to stand. He had been trying to think of a way of getting out of the room without raising suspicion or upsetting his father. He desperately needed some fresh air to clear his head, and some time from his father to gather his shattered nerves back together.
Luna stood smiling at Narcissa, and allowed Draco to take her elbow and lead her from the room. He closed the doors soundlessly behind them letting out a deep sigh of relief, he felt as though he had just escaped from a nightmare.
“Thanks, Luna.” He crossed the foyer and held the door open for her to leave the house and step into the gardens.
“Your house is lovely, Draco. I should think you love living here.”
“It’s alright, I’m just used to it all, it’s nothing special to me.”
They wandered together down the path; night had set in and stars scattered themselves across the sky. The grounds seemed a little foreboding to Luna not being familiar with her surroundings, and she was glad that Draco was close to her.
Little pools of light splayed across the white washed walls of the Manor from the small candles burning brightly in their holders; and glancing round Luna mused what a romantic setting the grounds of Malfoy Manor would make if it was early dusk instead of night time where all the shadows lurked across the grass.
“I’m really grateful that you helped me out, Luna. Anything you decide you want just let me know ok?” Draco was at a loss of anything to say to her, which rather shocked him. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t daydreamed about the chance to just walk quietly in the night with Luna.
He’d always imagined himself telling her amusing stories or witty jokes, talking for hours on some intelligent subject that would fascinate her, and even taking her in his arms and telling her exactly how he felt towards her.
But for some reason he found it hard to form a simple sentence. He liked Luna, he liked her a lot, and he did not want to come across as some fool who wouldn’t shut up and jibbered about a lot of rubbish. He wanted Luna to see the real him; but the real Draco had disappeared somewhere and his usual confident air had deserted him. So he just wandered along beside her, contenting himself with sneaking little glances at her instead.
* * *
Lucius stood at the dining room window glowering out at the couple walking in the shadows. “If she’s his girlfriend then I’m a mud-blood.” He informed his wife.
“Oh don’t go on about it, Lucius. You asked him to produce a girlfriend and he did. What more do you want?” Narcissa sighed heavily. She was getting fed up with her husband’s constant harping on. He had of course told her about his conversation with Draco the day before; and she had secretly been very pleased when Luna had turned up and temporarily wiped the smirk from her husbands face.
“They’re young and supposed to be in love walking together in the dark and he’s not even touching her! You could fit a giant between them and still have room to spare.” He complained irritably. “He’s lying to me, Cissy!”
Narcissa laughed, “Looks like your teaching him a lesson about lying worked really well then.”
He turned from the window to face his wife, “It’s not fair, Cissy. He’s winning!”
She laughed again at his whining tone. “There’s nothing much you can do about it is there? Just let it go, Lucius.”
“Oh there is something to do about it.” He informed her, moving to stand behind her and absently massaging her shoulders. “And don’t you tell him either. If he wants a war he’s got one.”
Narcissa groaned, “Let it go.”
“Not a chance. He thinks he can get one over on me does he? Well fine Cissy, he pulled a fast one and it worked; as far as he is concerned. The question is, how far is he willing to go to cover himself and keep the upper hand?” Lucius smirked slowly. “How far is he willing to go?”
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