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Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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But how is this ever supposed to be the same?
… well, time apart has brought a change of heart.
~ “It’s a Shame” by OneRepublic
The petite figure, clothed in the lime green robes signifying a Healer, stopped and turned towards the secretary.
“This here memo says you’re wanted in the new ward.”
Luna Lovegood’s large eyes widened curiously. “The one on the fourth floor? Irreversible psychological damage?” Her melodious yet vague voice soared pleasantly over the murmur of incoming people in the main entrance hall of St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
The secretary looked at the memo she was holding between bright red fingernails again. “That’s the one. Says that you’re going to be visiting five patients a day in an effort to raise the spirits of the ill.” She looked back up. “You begin today.”
“All right,” Luna responded cheerfully. “Where do I start?”
“Room 409,” said the secretary, handing over a thick folder. “Apparently, the rest of your instructions are in here.”
“Thank you!” said Luna brightly and walked briskly into an elevator.
Once it was in motion, Luna opened the folder and flipped to the description of the patient in room 409. The picture showed a face she knew-- the name was familiar.
All too familiar.
The elevator clanged to a halt and Luna stepped out, still immersed in the patient’s file.
Room 409-- here it was.
Receiving no answer, she guessed it would be all right for her to just walk in.
He was stretched out in an armchair by a large window facing London. He appeared to be much taller and thinner than the last time she’d seen him. His hair was silvery-white as ever, but the haughty expression he had once worn on his face as he strode down the halls of Hogwarts had faded away almost completely. His eyes were closed, his head turned towards the sunlight streaming in through the ever-present clouds, making his already pale skin look even lighter-- especially since he was wearing all black. He wasn’t facing her, so when his storm cloud-grey eyes slowly opened, she didn’t see.
“Mister Malfoy, I’m--”
But she was cut off as Draco Malfoy turned his head, frowning, and looked at a face he had not seen in five years.
“Mister Malfoy? What’s wrong?”
His steady gaze almost seemed to keep her from moving-- she found herself unable to tear her eyes away from his.
He looked away.
“We went to school together, didn’t we?” His voice was soft, with no tinge of derision or malice.
“Yes, we did,” Luna said.
A a fleeting smile danced across his lips. “We were all stuck there, completely unable to do what we wanted to. The whole school was at my feet-- afraid of me, every one of them. They would have done anything I asked of them for fear of me.” He half sighed, half laughed as he turned to look at Luna Lovegood again. He began once more, a little quieter this time. “And now, we’re in the same position-- but, of course, I’m at your power now.” He looked away again.
What had happened to him? What had happened to the Draco Malfoy everyone respected and feared? He definitely wasn’t the same person who had despised Harry, Ron, Hermione-- terrorized children-- tormented anyone and everyone in his path... No.
Luna reached for the file and turned to the “Reported Problems” section for Draco Malfoy. He turned his head at the rustle of paper and smiled faintly.
“How many pages is it this time?”
She counted briefly. “Five and a half.”
He snorted. “Hyperactive Healers, making dragons out of flobberworms...”
Luna began to read the extensive list. “‘Attempts at suicide?’” She paused and looked at him, meeting his eyes. “As in more than one?”
He shrugged and looked out the window. “I guess I tried to hang myself a couple times a few years ago. They stopped me before I could, though.” He cut off abruptly and looked at her. “You’re Loony Lovegood.”
“Healer Luna Lovegood,” she corrected, “but yes. I am.”
He laughed sardonically. “Unbelievable. There we all were, thinking you’d be locked up in here someday... But no, you’re a Healer instead.”
“Strangely enough, all the patients I’ve seen feel better after meeting me.” Luna’s eyes darted back over to the list of Draco’s problems. She looked at him again, eyes and voice incredulous. “You went to a Muggle store, bought every kind of sleeping pill you could find, and took them all at once?”
His eyes darkened and he looked away. “I was desperate.”
She looked further down the list. “You’ve also tried to drown yourself more than once, you’ve thrown yourself off a cliff, you’ve set fire to yourself, you’ve--”
She did and looked at him. His eyes were tired as he ran his hand through his hair. “Look, I know what I’ve done. I’m not proud of it, and I certainly don’t want to relive it.”
“I-I’m sorry,” Luna said softly.
He shook his head slightly. “It’s fine.”
She cautiously walked over to the chair across from him. “May I sit down?”
Draco nodded once, eyes pointed out the window again.
“Why do you keep looking out?”
He turned back to her, pinning her there with his thoughtful eyes. “I’m trying to figure out how thick the glass is.”
Luna didn’t even ask why. With a sinking feeling in her heart, she said, quietly, “So you can break it and throw yourself out.”
He raised his eyebrows. “The Sorting Hat didn’t put you in Ravenclaw for nothing.” He turning his gaze out the window once more and said, almost to himself, “I figure I could get run over by a Muggle’s car-- if I get lucky.”
Luna picked up his file and flipped through the seemingly endless list. “This is incredible-- I’ve never seen so many problems in one place. If you were on medication for all of these at once, you’d be dead in an instant.”
He looked at her sharply. “Stop-- you’re giving me dangerous ideas.” But his eyes sparkled and one mischievous corner of his mouth twitched up involuntarily. At last-- at last-- he began to look like he had five years ago.
Thinking of what he’d been like before, Luna smiled a little, too. He raised one eyebrow, looking more like himself with every second. “What are you smiling at, Loveg-- Healer Lovegood?”
“N-nothing,” she said, concealing her smile. “Just... Nothing.” Deciding that it would be better if she didn’t accidentally blurt out what she was thinking, she hurriedly changed the subject. “Erm-- do you get many visitors?”
She instantly knew she’d said the wrong thing. His face hardened. “No.” He looked at her again. “I’ve been here for more than a year and I haven’t gotten a single one.”
“Oh,” she said softly. She pulled her wand out and stood. Draco looked up at her, a little surprised by her sudden movement. “Stay here.”
He nodded, eyebrows up. She stepped out of the room and closed the door behind her. Muttering a quick Summoning spell, she smiled widely and opened it again, this time holding a large bunch of flowers.
He rolled his eyes, but there was a small smile on his face.
“Draco, how are you? Wow-- it seems like I haven’t seen you in years!” Luna enthused as she put the flowers into a conveniently Summoned vase on the small table next to Draco. He was watching her, amused. “Tell me about yourself,” she continued brightly. “I’ve been all right-- oh, everyone will be so glad to hear that I saw you!”
She took a breath, ready to continue, but he cut her off. “You’re a good actress.” His tone was surprisingly serious, his eyes no longer laughing. “I feel like I should be applauding.”
Luna sat down, the energy that had fueled her attempt at making Draco feel better gone. “I-I’m sorry,” she said in a small voice, not knowing exactly what she was apologizing for but feeling that she needed to say sorry.
He shook his head and looked at her with those endless storm cloud-grey eyes. “It’s fine,” he said softly.
Luna stood, the glitter returning to her luminescent eyes. “I should go-- I have to visit four more people today from this ward.”
Grey met blue again. “When will you be back?”
Luna quickly checked her portable schedule. “A week from today.”
Draco nodded and looked out the window.
“Goodbye, Mister Malfoy.”
“Goodbye, Healer Lovegood.”
A small, bitter smile caressed Draco Malfoy’s mouth as a furtive tear crept out of his eye while he watched the Muggle cars pass. He would never see-- or know-- that at the exact same instant, a single tear fell out of Luna Lovegood’s abnormally large eyes.
Neither of them would ever be the same again.
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