Chapter 9 : The Invite
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“Oh, my feet are aching.” Luna complained happily as she hobbled out of the fireplace leaning on Draco’s arm.
Draco just smirked and deposited her in the arm chair.
“I wish the party hadn’t had to end so soon.” Luna said slipping her shoes off and relaxing back into the cushions.
“Good thing it did or you wouldn’t be able to walk in the morning.” He commented flopping into the chair opposite her.
She sighed dreamily, “But it was such a nice party.” Luna smiled softly, she’d had a fabulous day with Draco, he’d been so nice to her all day, and very attentive making sure she had a good time. The Race’s had been one thing but the party afterwards had been something else entirely, you could practically have gotten drunk off the atmosphere. Everyone had been in high spirits eating, drinking and being merry.
She and Draco had talked, laughed and danced together, they had gotten on so well, like a house on fire, there had been only good feelings between them. As she watched him now through lowered lashes she wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing.
Chewing on her bottom lip she tried to concentrate on what he was saying rather than the new thoughts that were suddenly spinning through her mind. Luna would never have believed she would be capable of having these sort of thoughts about Draco. It never entered her head that his in-your-face rampant maleness could affect her to the point that she found herself uncomfortable in his presence and it wasn’t even anything that he actually did!
“So you had a good time then?”
“Oh yes. My mother always said that the sign of a good party is aching feet, and mine are throbbing.” She giggled wiggling her toes. Sighing Luna took off her hat and carefully peeled her gloves from her hands.
Draco adverted his eyes from her face feeling rather concerned about his sanity at the moment. Every time he looked at Luna’s mouth, and he had been looking practically all day, he felt his self-control slip another notch.
Luna nodded, “Yes please.”
Using his wand Draco cast a spell on the bar in the corner and a few seconds later two glasses bobbed their way over to him, taking Luna’s he stood to hand it to her. “There you go. Glass of water, still not sparkling.” He smiled inwardly at the surprise on her face that he had remembered her preference.
As she reached up to take the glass his fingers made contact with her hand. The tremor that rippled through her body when his fingers slid over the bare skin of her hand was visible.
Draco stood beside her and stopped speaking as her eyes lifted slowly to his, a shock trance-like quality to the usual dreamy blue depths. A tiny choking sound left her throat, a hint of colour ran under her skin as she jerked her hand away clutching at her glass so tightly her knuckles turned white.
Luna took a deep breath and lowered her eyes, she was utterly mortified. It would have been nice if she could believe that Draco hadn’t picked up on the fact that she had been virtually stuck to the chair by lustful longing. Although she reflected it would have been nicer still to pretend that it hadn’t happened at all. But of course that would be extremely difficult when the heat of his touch had ignited burning flames in the pit of her stomach that were just waiting to burst embarrassingly to life.
A loud crash coming from the kitchen made Draco jump and his eyes left her face to focus on the door. “Bloody idiot house-elves.” He muttered twisting back round and seating himself back in the chair.
Draco was totally mortified himself, she had seen it, Luna must have see it in his eyes the thoughts that lingered dangerously close to the surface when she was around. What other reason could there be for the shocked look on her face? At least the compelling urge he had to entangle his fingers in Luna’s hair, pull her face up to his and kiss her senseless had passed. For the moment anyway.
“I’m sure it was an accident.” She commented quietly taking a quick drink of her water.
Luna had been so sure that Draco was going to comment on the look in her eyes, remind her that this whole thing was just pretend that she was totally thrown when his narrowed gazed moved from the door and came back to rest on her face; and his eyelashes touched his cheekbones as his gazed dropped. Luna became extremely aware of the low cut neckline of her dress.
A shard of something like an electric shock shot through her as his eyes burnt into her skin. She took a shaky breath and another sip of water, she had never come across anyone whose body screamed male arrogance as loudly as Draco’s did.
“More trouble than they’re worth half the time.” He replied quietly.
She smiled softly, “I like them.”
Draco rolled his eyes, Luna would like house elves, it was just her way. She was soft wasn’t she. He bit his lip and knocked his glass of fire whiskey to the back of his throat quickly in and effort to drown out other thoughts of Luna and soft linked together in his mind.
Yawning widely Luna stretched in her chair lifting the weight of her hair off her neck, hoping it was possible that these ridiculous thoughts would soon disappear and Draco would remain blissfully ignorant of them.
Draco arched an eyebrow placing his empty glass on the table beside his chair reminding himself that it wasn’t appropriate for him to be sitting here looking at Luna’s freshly exposed neck. Even if it was just asking to be tasted.
“I’m going to bed I think. I’m exhausted.” She said suddenly standing up, taking her hat from the sofa and scooping up her shoes from the floor. “Are you coming, Draco?”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Draco was rather proud of himself that his nerves were clearly not coming over in his voice and he gave her half a smile when he followed her from the room.
What a hell of a night this was going to be!
* * *
Keeping to his promises of a tour of the Manor, Draco was showing Luna the gardens that she had been so longing to see. Pulling open the patio doors he stood back to allow her to pass through them making sure that the gap was small enough that she had to brush against him to get out.
“I’ve been waiting to see the gardens,” She told him a hint of excitement in her voice. “I like being outside don’t you, Draco?”
“Um, yeah, it’s ok.” He agreed closing the door and following her down the path.
Luna breathed deeply the clean air of the Malfoy gardens the scent of the flowers heavy in her nostrils. She smiled happily taking in the brightly coloured blooms, the perfectly manicured grass and the sweeping boughs of the trees. Birds nested in the leaves singing prettily and butterflies fluttered amongst the grass.
“I could sit out here just looking all day, couldn’t you?”
Draco stood near her where he had a good view of her face that was at this moment looking peaceful and relaxed. Secretly he thought that he would really enjoy sitting out here all day looking at Luna. He didn’t tell her that of course but chose instead to say, “Come with me, I’ll show you the best part.”
Luna trotted after him down the path lined with dancing yellow daffodils chattering aimlessly about nothing. She was enjoying her morning immensely, even more so now that she was sure that Draco was unaware of her ridiculous thoughts of the night before. Draco was being extremely pleasant and agreeable, he was smiling a lot, laughing and joking and she enjoyed his company.
It was unusual for Luna to have company, she always spent her holidays alone. She was only with her father if they took a trip together, he still had The Quibbler to run and couldn’t spare a lot of time for hanging around the house with her doing nothing in particular. She had never found it easy to make friends people thought she was loony and weird.
Ginny Weasley was her best friend at Hogwarts but she usually had family stuff to do over the holidays as it was the only time every member of the Weasley family could get together. The only other people at Hogwarts who bothered with her at all were Ginny’s brother Ron, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom and of course the famous Harry Potter. It struck Luna as a bit crazy that she was spending her holiday with Draco Malfoy who was the long running enemy of the only friends that she had, and what was even crazier was that she was enjoying herself and found that she actually really liked Draco now that she had the opportunity of getting to know him.
“What’s the best part?” She wondered as they rounded the corner.
“Right there.” He pointed out across the grass.
Luna sidled round him to see what he was pointing at. She gasped loudly her hand flying to her mouth in surprise. “Oh, Draco. It’s amazing.” She gazed in awe at the large rumbling waterfall that splashed and crashed into a large round pool sending ripples across the clear surface causing the water lilies to shimmy and shake from the force of the water.
Draco watched as Luna left his side and wandered dream-like over to the pool, slipping her shoes off she gingerly dipped her toe into the water. Upon finding that it wasn’t cold she proceeded to swish her foot round beneath the surface. “Do you ever swim in it, Draco?”
“No, I can’t say I’ve swam in it.”
“Are you not allowed?” She wondered glancing over her shoulder at him.
Draco smiled softly at her, “If you want to swim in it you can,” He told her.
Her eyes sparkled at the thought. “Really?”
“Really.” Draco was happy to give Luna anything she wanted, was more than willing to agree to anything she wanted to do. The idea of swimming with Luna out in this natural setting gave him goose-bumps. “Whenever you want. Later today if you like?”
Luna clapped her hands and bounced onto the balls of her feet, “Can we? Today?”
Draco grinned and nodded, “If that’s what you want to do, then we’ll do it.”
“Draco! There you are.”
Draco turned with a frown when he heard his fathers voice. Lucius was crossing the grass towards him his hair pulled neatly back in a black ribbon dressed in his usual black robes and swinging his cane.
“Yes, here I am.” He agreed, silently cursing his fathers timing.
Lucius smiled at Luna when he came abreast of his son, she had swiftly removed her foot from the water and was now stood on the grassy bank with one shoe on and one shoe off. “This came this morning.” He handed Draco a white squared piece of parchment written on with golden ink. “It’s an invitation, to the Ministry’s Summer Ball. I’m sure it will be fine for Luna to come along with you.”
“What?” Draco blinked dragging his eyes from the invite to look at his fathers expressionless face.
“Well I know it doesn’t specify Master Malfoy and guest but I’m sure no-one will mind if you invite Luna.”
“No I don’t expect they will.” Draco replied for want of anything else to say.
Lucius looked up and smiled at Luna feeling an internal satisfaction at the terrified look in her eyes. “I’m sure Cissy will be going shopping for yet another new dress, Merlin forbid she should wear the same thing twice.” He told her dryly. “I’m sure she’ll enjoy the company for a change.”
“Yes.” Luna managed to croak out.
Lucius nodded. “It’s settled then. I’ll write out our acceptance. I’ll see you at dinner.” With that he turned on his heel and walked back towards the house smirking to himself. He was looking forward to seeing how Draco would handle being in public with Luna at such an important affair. He knew that even though the Lovegood’s were pureblood’s Luna and her father did not hold a proper place in society as the Malfoy’s did, and he knew being in the company of high class society could be extremely intimidating.
Luna glared wide-eyed at Draco. “Care to explain?”
He sighed heavily, “The Ministry Summer Ball is one of the most important events of the calendar. Everyone who’s anyone in pureblood society is there. There’s so many rules, there’s like a million ways in which you can insult someone.” He shook his head regretfully, “You have to have grown up with it to know exactly what you can and cannot do.”
Luna relaxed a little at his words, “So your going to get us out of it?”
Rubbing his hand across his forehead Draco gathered all his courage to him. “It’s a really important event and I think you’d enjoy yourself if you went. After everything you’ve done for me I’d like to take you as a thank you. If you’ll go with me?”
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