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Chapter 3 : Chapter 3
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I wish I could be it all for you
If I could erase the pain
Maybe you’d feel the same...
~ “Guns and Horses” by Ellie Goulding
The ceiling was blank. Dull. The moonlight, tinged with blue, cast slight shadows on it, but they were just lines-- no material for even Luna Lovegood’s imagination to work with.
She rolled over and grabbed for her watch. It read 12:03 AM. Luna dropped it over the side of her bed and sighed.
“I’m never going to fall asleep at this rate,” she muttered. Why did the administration have to choose her to be one of the five Healers to spend the night at St. Mungo’s, keeping watch over one of the more unstable patients?
She reached in her small bag of personal belongings and pulled out her wand along with a large piece of blank parchment embossed with St. Mungo’s crest at the top.
“Lumos,” she whispered. A light filled up the small room and she held her wand tip to the paper. “Healer Luna Lovegood.” Instantly, the parchment filled with a detailed diagram of her room. It was a sort of Marauder’s Map-- after the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry had gotten very much publicity for describing his most trusted magical companion. Every Healer had one, so as to keep an eye on their patients. Luna thought briefly. “Fourth floor,” she said softly and the display changed to a less complex map, showing small ink dots labeled with countless patients’ names, ages, and current statuses. “Let’s see-- room 409,” Luna murmured to herself as she searched for it with her illuminated wand, silently thanking whoever enchanted this parchment so that it was possible to use Lumos while controlling the map. The dot in room 409 wasn’t moving, but Luna looked closely at the miniscule writing next to it. Patient: Draco Malfoy. Age: 22. Status: Awake.
With a final tap of her wand, Luna cleared the parchment and put it away. Hastily throwing on her lime-green robes, she locked her door behind her and left her tiny room.
The aging stairs creaked a little under even her light footsteps as the crept up the two flights that stood between her and the fourth floor. She didn’t know if he would be in a mood to talk, but soon decided she would deal with that once she actually got there. A slight giddiness swept through her as she climbed higher-- she usually never made impulsive decisions, and this definitely qualified as one.
Finally, she reached the fourth floor. Heart racing, she stepped silently to room 409 and halted, drawing a deep breath to steady herself. She raised a hand, curled it slowly into a fist, and knocked, once. A soft sound from inside reassured her-- maybe he was awake after all. She reached for the doorknob and turned it, peering around the barely open door cautiously.
He was sitting in his beloved armchair, frowning. Once he saw her eyes widen in relief, he straightened a little.
“Healer Lovegood? What--”
She shook her head. “Nothing’s wrong, I-- well, I couldn’t sleep, and my Healer’s Map said you were awake too.”
He gave her a very strange look, but laughed softly. “Come in, Healer Lovegood.” She did, a little awkwardly. Draco gestured to the chair across from him.
Before sitting down, Luna looked at him sceptically. “Do you ever leave that chair?”
Draco smirked. “Sometimes.”
“I really am sorry for coming so late--” Luna began apologetically, but Draco cut her off, smiling.
“Late? This isn’t late at all for me.” He looked at her, eyes twinkling a little in the moonlight. “Relatively early, actually.”
“But really, Mister Malfoy--”
She looked at him in astonishment.
“Please, call me Draco.” He scoffed and looked at her sternly. “I’ve been telling you my darkest secrets for the past two weeks and we’re still on a last-name basis?”
Luna nodded incredulously. “Call me Luna, then.”
He smiled. “All right.”
She leaned back a little, face relaxing. “So tell me about yourself.”
His eyes widened-- evidently he wasn’t expecting a question like that. He seemed to be at a loss for words for a second, but eventually he gained the power of speech again. “I-in what sense?”
“Well, I don’t know anything about your life since-- well-- since you left Hogwarts,” Luna finished delicately.
Draco sighed and glanced out the window briefly. “I haven’t been doing much with my life. I traveled around a bit before attempting to get a few jobs. That’s about it. Then my girlfriend forced me to check in here, and--” he made a sweeping gesture with his arms-- “here I am.”
She nodded. “What jobs?” His face grew weary.
“I don’t remember most of them, except--” He broke off suddenly, as if torn between remembering and forgetting. “I applied to be an Auror.” Luna raised her eyebrows in shock. “I figured they might want to have someone with real knowledge of the opposition, but they took one look at my name-- one look at--” He stopped and lifted his left arm a little bit. He opened his mouth again, about to continue, until Luna cut him off.
“Draco?” Her voice was soft, a little frightened.
“Draco, are--” She paused and frowned. “Draco, is it true-- are you--”
He smiled bitterly. “A Death Eater?” She nodded. Draco took a breath, closed his eyes, and pulled up the left sleeve of his robes as he lay his arm down on the table. Embedded ominously in his arm was a dark tattoo-- a skull with a snake coming out of its mouth. The tattoo seemed almost alive-- it appeared to swirl a little as Luna stared at it, horrified.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Draco began, but he stopped suddenly as he felt a small, warm hand take hold of his left hand. He froze, paralyzed by her touch-- it was the first time they’d ever touched.
“I doubt it,” she whispered, looking into his eyes with an unfathomable expression. Her hand clenched his tightly and he found he couldn’t move as he looked at her. A few long seconds passed and she broke the spell by looking down at his Dark Mark. “Did it hurt?” she asked softly.
“Yes,” he replied quietly. “More than anything you could ever imagine.”
Luna opened her mouth as if she was about to say something but closed it abruptly, looking at their intertwined hands and thinking for a second. “I was nine,” she began in a soft voice. “My mother was cooking something in the kitchen while I sat and watched her. I loved seeing her make wonderful things happen without really doing anything.” She paused for a second. “She asked me if I wanted to see her latest experiment. She always had something new to show me, a new spell she’d been working on. I said yes, of course.” Luna bit her lip, still looking down, voice still low. “She said some strange incantation and a bubble came out of her wand. It floated in front of her for a few seconds and then it drifted towards her.” She looked up at Draco, who was listening intently, half curious, half afraid of what he might hear. “It covered her arm, her neck, her whole body, even her head.” The words were coming out in a rush-- Luna wanted to stop, but she couldn’t. She’d never told this story before. “She was laughing. I was in awe-- she was so beautiful. The bubble was so pretty.” Luna swallowed. “Then the bubble started growing dark. Small black spots appeared on its surface. They sent little shoots of darkness out that attached themselves to her skin, pinning her to the bubble. She wasn’t laughing anymore. She was worried, saying something, but I couldn’t hear her.” Luna paused again, collecting herself before continuing. “More and more spots and shoots came, tying her in, making the bubble blacker and blacker. She was screaming by then, but I still couldn’t hear her.” A tear escaped from Luna’s eye and slid down her cheek, but she couldn’t stop-- it was as if something was forcing her to keep speaking. “Then, once the bubble was almost completely black, it started shrinking. It grew closer and closer to my mother and I was just sitting there, horrified. I couldn’t move. My mother was moving less and less, eyes drooping as she screamed silently. Then, suddenly, with a strangely noiseless movement, the bubble popped. It left a few dark spots on the floor where they hissed violently as they ate into the wooden floor. The marks are still there.” Luna closed her eyes for a second as another tear slipped out. “And my mother-- my beautiful mother, who so loved experimenting with magic-- my mother, who was so perfect and everything you could ever want a mother to be-- fell. She fell slowly, gracefully-- she fell to the floor and never moved again.” Luna opened her eyes and looked at Draco. “I was nine. I sat there and I let it happen. I watched my mother die.”
“I-I...” Draco’s mind reeled as he searched for words. “I had no idea.”
Luna half-smiled through her tears. “You’re not the only one.”
Draco was at a loss for words again, so he just gripped her hand tighter.
“And then it was just me and my dad.” Luna wiped away another tear with her free hand. “And that’s how it’ll always be.”
“I was... fortunate enough to have both parents, I guess,” Draco said, strangely bitter. “But I don’t think you can really call my father a--” He stopped abruptly.
“A?” Luna prompted.
“No-- please-- let’s not talk about my family,” Draco said pleadingly.
Luna was about to say something, but stopped when she saw his face. It was a heartbreaking mixture of grief and resentment. “I-- all right,” she said quietly.
“I’m sorry,” he said gently. “It’s just a... complicated story and I don’t really want to think about my past life now.”
“That’s your job, though.”
She looked up at him, surprised a little. Sure enough, his eyes were sparkling mischievously in the dim blue light. She allowed a small smile to dart across her lips.
“You’re right, it is.” There was a brief pause as a thought flitted across Luna’s mind. She frowned infinitesimally and glanced at her watch. “And speaking of my job...”
“What time is it?” Draco asked with a slight sinking feeling in his stomach.
“Almost 2,” Luna said regretfully. “And I have to get up early tomorrow, too.” She stood. “I’m sorry for keeping you up so late.”
Draco shrugged. “It’s fine.”
“I’ll see you in a week, then,” Luna said.
Luna nodded. “At the ball.”
A tinge of color appeared on Draco’s face-- he was glad that Luna couldn’t see that in the blue light. “Right.”
“Goodbye, then,” Luna said and grasped the door handle.
“Goodbye,” Draco said softly.
A few seconds passed and Luna looked down at her hand irritably. “It won’t turn!”
Draco smiled and rose from his chair. “There’s a knack to it.” He walked over to her. “This started a couple of days ago, but I figured it out.” Draco pulled on the doorknob, twisted it sharply to the side, and the door swung open.
“Thank you,” Luna began to say, looking up at Draco, but the words were lost as she realized that she was standing much closer to him than she’d thought.
“I--” Draco started, but suddenly couldn’t remember what he was going to say. The air swirled around them as their eyes locked. It was as if they were both in a trance, unable to move away.
Just as unexpectedly as the moment had started, it ended. Luna blinked and Draco took a dizzy step back.
“Good night,” Luna said softly.
With a small smile, Luna walked away and faded into the darkness.
The rest of the night, Draco couldn’t get Luna out of his head. He told himself he didn’t know why-- rather, he didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that he was beginning to feel something... a feeling he hadn’t felt in a long time, if he’d ever felt it at all.
He didn’t quite know what to call it...
A good name, he decided.
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