Chapter 1 : Shimerous Night Flies
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Many thanks to the lovey Fieryprincess who was good enough to become my beta reader for this story.
Wonderful chapter image by Sillybeee over at The Dark Arts, many, many thanks
Shimerous Night Flies
The sound of his footsteps echoed down the deserted corridor as Draco Malfoy stalked through Hogwarts castle after curfew on this warm June evening. It was a comfortable night, it wasn’t too hot, sticky or unbearable as other summer nights had been; but Draco still couldn’t sleep. He had too much on his mind to be able to sleep.
He’d seen his reflection in the mirror and he wasn’t sure who the young boy staring back at him was. He knew who it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be Draco Malfoy, almost a man; son and heir of Lucius Malfoy, Slytherin pureblood, and proud follower of the Dark Lord Voldemort. Instead he saw a young boy, lost and confused, who looked paler than usual due to his lack of sleep and all the stress he was suffering.
Absently, Draco’s fingers touched the crisp white bandage he had taken to wrapping round his left arm. It was hot this summer and he needed to wear short sleeves or roll his shirt up; and of course he couldn’t risk anyone seeing the extremely noticeable black skull and snake squirming on his forearm. The Dark Mark, the mark of Lord Voldemort who had himself burnt it into his skin the day he had given him the mission he must complete.
Draco felt the hot tears beginning to form at the thought of his mission, he always thought about the mission, he couldn’t stop thinking about it and it was making him ill. He was halfway there, but he was stuck and didn’t know what to do to make it better.
His fear ate at him every day, his anxiety gnawed at him the way a rat gnaws at cheese and his appetite was fading rapidly. There was no-one to turn to for help, no-one to run to now that everything was going wrong; and he so badly wished for his father to be here instead of in Azkaban so that he could take the tremendous burden from his young shoulders.
Although it was his natural instinct to want to run to his father, as he had done all his life, and wait for his father to make everything better; Draco now harboured an anger towards his father that could sometimes erupt into a burning flame in the pit of his stomach. He was only in this situation because his father had made a mess of everything. He had failed the Dark Lord and gotten himself captured at the Ministry all because of Harry Potter.
Glowering ferociously at thin air, Draco stormed harder down the corridor quickening his pace down the stair case towards the front door of the castle. He figured a stroll in the night air could calm the horrendous feelings that bubbled inside him. The feelings of uselessness and fear continued to remain hot inside his chest everyday as the day dawned and came to a close and he was still stuck. He still couldn’t work out what the problem was, why the stupid cabinet refused to work for him.
Irritably, Draco pushed open the doors and slid through the small gap immediately feeling the cool night breeze caress his flushed face. As he descended the stone steps and began his walk, keeping close to the shadows in case a teacher was peering through the window at the grounds Draco reflected how nice it was to be able to go somewhere without Potter following him around like a lost puppy.
Everywhere he went lately Potter was there, loitering with intent, watching him through narrowed suspicious eyes. A part of him wished he’d kept his mouth shut when he was on the Hogwarts Express and had thought he had caught a glimpse of Potter’s trainer. He should have had better control over himself; but his natural need to be centre of attention and hold centre stage during a conversation had, as usual, gotten the better of him.
He had wanted his friends to know, know that he was important, that he had been trusted with such an important mission. Even though he couldn’t go into details and they had scoffed at the idea of a sixteen year old boy, although now he was seventeen, being recruited by the Dark Lord amongst his Death Eaters, he knew that deep down they still sort of believed him. They knew he wouldn’t make that kind of claim with nothing to back it up; and he enjoyed the envy he knew they held over it.
Frowning slightly as he made his way through the bushes, Draco’s thoughts turned to Snape. Severus Snape, he was almost as bad as Potter, although he had taken to harassing him rather than just suddenly becoming his shadow as Potter had done. Every chance Snape had he was prodding and poking at him wanting to know what he was doing, where he disappeared off to, how everything was coming along. Why didn’t he mind his own business?
It was typical of Snape to be unable to sit back and let someone else have the favour of the Dark Lord. He must be terrified that someone would come along and take his position of the more trusted follower of the Dark Lord. Draco knew all Snape wanted to do was take his glory, come barging in and steal the triumph that was to be his.
Rounding by the Forbidden Forrest, Draco was startled to see a figure moving close by. Creeping with stealth through the shadows and peering into the dimness his muscles tensed with apprehension, he let out a shaky breath when he realised who it was.
“What are you doing out here at this time of night, Lovegood?” Draco demanded. Pulling himself up to his full height and squaring his shoulders for a better effect, he strode across the fresh smelling grass towards her.
Luna spun round in surprise at the sound of his voice, she had thought she was alone out in the night and found the sudden appearance of Draco more of an intrusion than a comfort. “Hello, Draco, what are you doing out here?”
Draco was rather taken aback by the use of his first name, but he recovered quickly. “I could ask you the same thing, Lovegood. Out after curfew, out of the castle as well, a cause for detention I would say.”
Luna tilted her head to the side and observed him for a few seconds, “I suppose. But then you would have to explain why you were out after hours as well, wouldn’t you? And I doubt you’d want to do that.”
Draco stiffened at her words. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked harshly.
“Even a prefect has a curfew, and like you said, it’s after hours isn’t it? You’ll get into trouble as well if you tell that I was out here.”
“Whatever,” he snapped glaring at her, as feeling of relief washed over him; he had thought for one dreadful moment that she knew what he was doing.
Luna smiled easily at him before turning back and staring up at the sky. She swayed lightly where she stood humming softly under her breath, totally ignoring the fact that he was there.
Draco stood behind Luna watching her for a while and throwing glances up at the sky but he couldn’t for the life of him work out what she was looking at. “What are you doing?” he asked irritably.
Luna glanced over her shoulder at him. “Looking.”
She sighed softly. “For Shimerous Night Flies,” she replied in a tone of voice that indicated that she thought he ought to have known the answer to that.
Draco stared stupidly at her for a few minutes. “What?” he said at last, for want of anything better to say.
“You haven’t heard about them? They have the ability to make your wishes come true,” she informed him, before thoughtfully adding. “But only for a short time, whatever you wish for you need to work hard for, nothing worth having comes easy.”
Draco opened his mouth to tell her to stop being stupid but he closed it, she made more sense than he gave her credit for, but she was still loony. “You know that those creatures don’t exist don’t you?”
“No. Do you?” she asked, turning her large blue eyes on his face and gazing over at him with interest.
“Of course they don’t,” he replied scathingly.
Placing her hands on her hips she smiled encouragingly at him, “Prove it.”
Draco blinked, “What?”
“Prove it.” Luna repeated quietly.
“You prove they’re real,” he challenged smirking at her. He was looking forward to this, to seeing what nonsense she came up with to protect her father’s rotten magazine. Considering he had thought he would be left alone tonight to grouch to himself he was finding a much better distraction in mocking Lovegood.
Luna smiled easily at him. “I can’t, can I? But you can’t prove they don’t exist either. Just because you don’t see something doesn’t make it any the less real.”
Draco groaned and ran his hand through his hair. “You are such an idiot, loony. Why don’t you stop living in dreamland and come into reality for once?”
Luna eyed him warily. “Why don’t you come and look for Shimerous Night Flies with me?” she offered, deliberately ignoring his sneering face and scornful questions.
“Oh yes,” Draco began mockingly, “Because I have nothing better to do with my time than look for non-existent grubs. Why don’t we get the whole school in on it as well? It sounds like the perfect way to waste a lot of time.”
Luna sighed gently, twirling a strand of her long blonde hair around her finger. “You're making fun of me, Draco,” she accused lightly.
“Naturally. What other reaction do you expect me to have? Don’t you ever open your eyes to see that everyone makes fun of you?” he snapped crossly, adverting his eyes from her face. Why did he feel the need to look away from her? Why did those big, blue eyes make him feel as though he were being the most horrendous person in the world right now?
“Harry doesn’t.” Luna told him quietly. “Besides, I don’t really care what everyone else thinks about me.”
Draco snorted, “Potter’s a moron,” he informed her. “And I don’t believe you don’t care that everyone laughs at you.” He had to admit that he did admire her backbone at the moment, it had to be tough having everyone laughing at you everyday but she had enough pride not to openly admit it. Not that he would expect her to admit it to him anyway.
“You don’t believe in much do you, Draco?”
Her soft, quiet voice surprised him almost as much as the words themselves. He’d half expected her to get mad, or start crying over his insensitive comments. He knew other people who would have crumbled underneath his strong glare; but Luna wasn’t even flinching. She didn’t seem to be the least bit afraid of him and that in itself annoyed him; why wasn’t she scared of him? Others in her year were. He wondered vaguely what her reaction would be if he suddenly bared his forearm to her, showed her the Dark Mark he wore with pride.
“Why would I believe in rubbish like The Quibbler?” he questioned arching a silky eyebrow at her.
He wished she wouldn’t do that, answer his question with one of her own, it un-nerved him and he had no answer for her which was exasperating. Surely he wouldn’t lose in a battle of wits with loony Lovegood?
“Don’t you ever talk about anything normal?” Draco decided to change his tactics completely; he was beginning to feel uncomfortable under the misty stare of her eyes.
Luna shrugged. “What would you like to talk about? You can tell me what’s bothering you if you like? A problem shared and all of that.”
Draco’s mouth popped open at her offer his eyes widening in shock. “What makes you think I have something bothering me?” he demanded angrily.
“Well, I wouldn’t expect you to be wandering around like this at night if you didn’t have a problem. Plus you’ve had plenty of opportunities to leave and you haven’t taken them, which suggests to me that you want to be around someone so that you don’t have to think about your problem.”
He had no reply to her statement, she was well and truly right on the money and the knowledge momentarily threw him. He wasn’t sure what to do, what he should say, so Draco continued to stand there and stare stupidly at her.
Closing the small gap between them Luna placed her tiny hand against his upper arm. “It won’t go away just by ignoring it you know, Draco.”
Draco still had no words as he looked down at her as she gazed up at him her eyes wide and dreamy, full of concern. Was she, Luna Lovegood Ravenclaw loon showing concern for him, Draco Malfoy, Slytherin pureblood? It was unthinkable, why should she? He had done nothing but insult her all night but she still stood there, offering to listen, smiling serenely at him.
He wasn’t mistaking the look in her eyes, it was concern; and the idea half confused him and half warmed him. It was nice to finally have someone close by to worry about him, his mother worried about him but she wasn’t here was she? She also tried to baby him too much and it wore on his nerves.
At the same time though he couldn’t let Luna start to confuse him, he didn’t want to get stressed out one day and go looking for her and sharing his problems. He had been close to cracking lately and he knew that was a very realistic scenario, despite the fact he would hate himself for doing it.
Gathering all his emotions and confusion Draco sneered down at her. “Don’t touch me, you filthy little blood traitor,” he spat, scowling down at her shocked face. Although for some reason, even having delivered his insult Draco couldn’t force himself to walk away from her.
Luna’s jaw fell open and her hand dropped from his arm her eyes widening in astonishment. She however managed to come to her senses quicker than Draco did. “You don’t have to be so spiteful all the time, Draco. It wouldn’t kill you to let the nice side of you peek through once in a while. You don’t have to be so scared of it.”
Before he could reply she walked around him and disappeared into the darkness calling out “Goodnight, Draco,” as she went.
Draco was too stunned to do anything except stand rooted to the spot. Of everything she could have said he hadn’t expected that. Luna disturbed him, he felt as though she could see straight through him; as though she saw deep inside him and it freaked him out.
There was also something about her that made him want to call after her to come back and stay with him so that he wasn’t alone. It was very strange for him to feel something like this; a sort of dependency upon someone who he had only just spoken to a few minutes ago.
Irritably, he shoved the thoughts away. He was just over stressed and over tired worrying himself half to death over that stupid cabinet. He didn’t care that Luna was concerned over him, he didn’t care that he had hurt her feelings when she was trying to be nice to him.
He didn’t, he told himself turning and beginning to head back to the castle. Draco absolutely didn’t care that the only person to show genuine interest and concern over him apart from his mother was Luna Lovegood. He didn’t care, he just didn’t!!