Draco walked into the ancient runes class room, keeping his head high. He was still a proud Malfoy, no matter what others thought. The class was completely occupied, as this was a common subject for the sixth and seventh year enthusiasts.
Draco sneered as he looked around. Sixth years! Oh merlin! How could he sit with bloody sixth years?!
The students broke into whispers on his arrival. He could barely hear them muttering something like 'death eater' and 'coward'.
Even his fellow slytherins jeered at him, terming him as a 'lousy pureblood' and 'betrayer of the lord'.
He sent a cold glare and walked over to the desk situated in the farther end of the classroom. He'd be at least be at some peace or that was what he thought. He took a deep breath and ran a frustrated hand through his smooth, blonde hair. Brushing some of it, that fell into his face, he sighed. He wished Blaise was there, not that he was scared or anything but at least he would have some company. He sat down, noticing for the first time that the desk was not empty as he thought. He quietly picked up the text book lying on top and looked around. He frowned as he eyed the initials L.L that were engraved on the book.
A muffled noise was heard from the bottom of the desk, followed by a low groan. Draco turned his attention, right in time to spot the girl who was perched on the bottom of the desk, her dirty blonde hair spreading haphazardly on the floor as she continued looking for something. Was she looking for something? Well, that was what he assumed.
She tilted her head, perhaps on locating a pair of neatly polished shoes on the floor that belonged to the person who was sharing her desk.
"Lovegood?" Draco croaked. Of all people, he had to share a desk with her.
"Oh! Didn't see you there, Draco Malfoy!" she smiled at him, in a dreamy way as if it was the most common thing to do.
"Well, did you find the floor more comfortable Lovegood? Or you're looking for some of those weird creatures you love!"
Draco chuckled. Despite the fact that he was mocking her, there was no trace of malice in his words.
Luna smiled again, "uh... no! I was looking for my quill. Though, I've got another one in my bag.. It might be the nargles, I suppose!"
Draco raised a brow. She was still loosing her stuff. Weird girl!
Just then, the door to the classroom opened and a cheerful Professor Twinings walked in. She was tall, her dark brown hair was tied up into a plait. She looked rather pale, in the black wizarding robes that contrasted her white skin.
"Oh, Good morning every one! " she beamed, "I'm Reena Twinings! You can call me Professor Twinings or Reena! Well, I guess you all are excited about the class! Lets begin!"
Draco turned to Luna, "are you going to sit there forever? Now get up, Lovegood!"
Luna nodded sheepishly and got up to sit beside him. Professor Twinings finished her introductory speech.
"Now, you'll write a two feet long essay about the decoding of a simple eighteenth century rune. Write something and submit tomorrow, so I can get to know you in person! And now, open-"
Luna glanced up over her companion. He opened his text wordlessly began scribbling something on is parchment. Why was he even sitting there? Sure the class was filled with sixth year Ravenclaws and seventh year slytherins, but why didn't he choose to sit with his friends?
"Need something, Lovegood?"
She looked up to meet his steel grey eyes that were staring down at her. Those eyes, that were almost blank except for the small amount of pain they carried.
Oh, he was talking to her, right?
"Uh.. What is it?" she asked in a dreamy voice.
"I believe it was you staring at me, Lovegood!"
She shook her head. Oh crap!
"Oh, right sorry!" she mumbled, turning away to look at the professor.
"And you see, its a really interesting subject. It might be even more interesting if you find a right partner in the class. Now, you can translate the rune written over the board! You've fifteen minutes and then you may leave today. Hurry up students! Your bench mates will be your partners!"
Draco's eyes widened at this. Oh great! He had to put up with Potter in Potions and now with Looney Lovegood in Runes! How charming! Not that he minded about his reputation or blood status.
Those believes were completely washed away by the war and he was a changed person. The only thing that didn't change was the name 'Malfoy' and his pride. But still, she was the strange Lovegood girl and on top of all, she was Potter's girl. That irked him.
He turned to look at her only to find her staring back at him with her bright blue eyes, a sad smile playing at her lips.
"What's the matter Lovegood? I know, I'm attractive but did you forget this is class, hmm?" he flashed a grin.
She chuckled as she picked up her quill, "I do find you attractive, Draco! What girl wouldn't find so!"
Who knew, the weirdo could speak stuff like that! He choked, this girl was just.. impossible! At least she was like other girls on one point.
"But, I also know this is a class and we need to translate that!" She pointed towards the board.
He didn't quite press the matter. It was nothing really. He was a Malfoy and all girls worshiped him. Lovegood was no different, perhaps on this context. He smirked. Together they worked in silence.
Luna scribbled the weird symbols and together they analyzed the rune.
Professor Twinings walked over to thier desk, peeped into their parchments, "well done, my dear! That was pretty quick I say!"
"Is this right, professor!" Luna asked timidly.
"Absolutely my dear! You both were perfect! Ten points to slytherin and Ravenclaw! Your name dearies?"
Luna beamed, "I am Luna Lovegood and this is my friend Draco!"
Draco smirked. That girl was unpredictable! He was greatful at least she didn't name him as a Malfoy. The professor would perhaps not appreciate a Malfoy, an ex- death eater like him.
"Oh well! You may leave the class!" Twinings walked away.
He took in a shaky breath as he gathered his things to leave. He turned to face Luna.
"Did you say 'friend' Lovegood?" he managed to say harshly, "that's hardly possible! There's no way we could be friends!"
She smiled, picking up her stuff, "why... don't you want to start things over, Draco! Besides, the dark lord isn't here to force you do things you don't want to!"
"No! " Draco shot back, "and why do you think he forced me? I did all that on my own, I could've sought the order's help.. I didn't. You don't know anything about me! I'm evil."
Luna shook her head, "you were, Draco! You were!"
With that she skipped out of the classroom, leaving a distraught Malfoy to ponder over her words.
Lunch came soon for them. Draco could hardly eat, thanks to some of the slytherins who were jeering at him. He couldn't believe he was now being loathed by his own house (some members of his house, at least) .
"Oh, you must ignore them, Draco!" Pansy remarked, "they're evil. I mean, who will be bothered by them, now that Voldy is gone!"
"She's right mate! Now grab something to eat!" Blaise added while pulling a plate of cup-cakes for himself.
Draco smiled and nodded. He surveyed the great hall casually while sipping his pumpkin juice. His eyes came to rest on a pretty ravenclaw who was sitting beside Potter.
'Odd girl!' Draco mused, 'can't she sit at her own house table? Oh, her friends right!'
She was sitting casually, the dreamy smile plastered over her face. She was reading her magazine, the Quibbler holding it upside down, while munching on her pudding.
Draco shook his head. She was strange, that girl, ignoring all the snide remarks that were passed at her. He wished he could be like that, carefree and happy.
He continued to watch her, she was now smiling at Harry who offered her some juice. Suddenly she looked up his way and smiled.
"Ugh!" Draco spilled the pumpkin juice and choked. Why was he even looking at her? Did she have to smile all the time? So many things were affected during war, but not Loony Lovegood.
He snorted, swearing to himself, he would never look at her way.
The rest of the day was peaceful. Except that they had to take up the 'Advanced defence against dark arts (ADADA)' class in the afternoon session. The class dealt with introductory spells, used for self-defence. The slytherins had to pair up with the griffindors, but Draco was thankful that Blaise was his partner. Professor Harpins was really talented wizard, though he wished it was his god father Snape. He hated the fact that he was indeed missing his professor and his only guide.
The slytherins burst out laughing as Neville crashed into the floor, unable to dodge an expelliarmus charm that Potter had cast.
Draco couldn't help but smile. Everything was returning to normal. Students were having fun, enjoying the feeling of being at home, with out any fears. All as a result of the efforts put by saint Potter and friends. Potter now walked up to his lanky friend and helped him out. He must have felt Draco's eyes upon him, he looked up at smiled. Draco gave a curt nod and turned away.
'Why was Potter smiling at him? May be hanging out with Lovegood rubbed on him too!'
~~~ That evening
The sixth and seventh year prefects hurried along the corridors to attend the prefects meeting with the head mistress.
"I can't believe I'm late! I'm the head girl! But oh, Merlin!"
Hermione cried as she ran towards the stair case. She almost knocked someone off the stairs in her haste.
"I'm sorry!" she looked up to realise who it was, "Oh, that was not intentional, Malfoy!"
Beside her Ron was glaring at him.
"Its okay!" Draco nodded, brushing his robes walking past the trio. Blaise, Pansy followed him wordlessly.
Ron stood there, mouth agape. What just happened. He was expecting some remark, at least a snide comment, but, Malfoy walked away!
"Bloody hell!" Ron breathed aloud, "what's wrong with him? Why didn't he call Herm- Ouch!"
Hermione punched him in the shoulder.
"Ouch! Hermione, I wasn't going to say it! I'm just shocked he isn't calling you names!"
Hermione huffed, "he has realised its over Ronald, you're just thick!"
Ron scoffed, "its only our first day, Herms! Tomorrow I'm sure, he'll be back to calling you-"
He gave up as the brunette sent a death glare. Ginny, Luna and Neville walked up the stairs.
"Come on, guys!"
Once inside, Mc. Gonagall gave them a warm smile.
"Welcome, my dear students! So this year, we are planning a slight change in the patrolling techniques. You all are aware, the death eaters are plotting to attack the school!"
Harry's eyes went wide at her words, "an attack, professor?"
"Yes, the order believes so. Their main target however remains you Harry! You!"
"Me?" Harry gave her a bewildered look, "why me?"
"Because you've finished you-know-who, mate!" Ron replied.
"Yes," Mc. Gonagall nodded, "and you Mr. Malfoy! I'm afraid, you're also on top of their list!"
Everybody was perplexed. Malfoy had a threat to his life.
"I know that, professor! They all treat me as a betrayer of the dark lord!" Draco replied calmly.
"And you regret that?"
"No! I'm not scared of them any more! The dark lor- Voldemort made our family suffer! He forced me doing things.. I didn't want to.."
Blaise placed a sympathetic hand over his shoulder. Draco went on.
"I couldn't kill any one! I was helpless back then! I couldn't choose my way!"
Harry felt a pang of pity for the poor soul. Draco looked like he was about to break at any moment.
"I'm not a killer, professor and they all hate me! I'm sure they want to kill me and mother for siding with Potter!" his voice was still calm, after all he was a proud Malfoy.
Professor Mc. Gonagall walked up to hug his tall form, "Oh, its alright, my boy! You've made the right decision! Its all over! You say, you're not scared of them. Well said my boy! I knew you were always like your mother, brave and proud!"
Draco nodded, "thank you, Professor! I was just.. uh trying to say I know-"
"Its alright, my boy! Its okay to get carried away! So, now.. the prefects will form a pair of two each! And each pair will patrol the halls during their stipulated time and it shall be seen that the patrolling continues till midnight. Dementors will be guarding the castle at night and I warn you to stay away from them. The head boy and head girl will decide the time of patrol. Miss. Granger!"
Hermione pulled out a scroll. This was really difficult task to split up the prefects into pairs of two, keeping in view the freaking 'house unity'.
"Well, its almost dinner time! Off you go! Good day to you all!"
They all wished the head mistress one last time and walked out of the room.
~~~~~~~ During dinner
"Honestly Hermione? This was the best you could come up with?"
Ron and Hermione got into another fit. Ginny and Harry decided to ignore them.
"Uh, how about we go to Hogsmede this sunday Gin?" Harry asked his girlfriend.
"Oh, I'd love that Harry!" Ginny reached up to place a soft kiss on his lips.
"Merlin! You two! Ginny! You do that in the open... Although Harry is the sweetest guy out here, you just-"
Hermione smacked Ron on the head and smiled, " let them live, Ron ! And.. how about we two head somewhere, may be Honeydukes?"
Ron turned slightly pink, "oh, yeah.. I'd love that too!"
Hermione bit her lip and smiled.
AN HOUR LATER
"Guys! I don't think I can do this!" Neville whined, "can someone replace me please?"
"Oh come on, Neville! Its nothing. Malfoy wouldn't hurt you and-"
"I know Harry but still, I don't wanna go!" Neville grimaced. How could Hermione team him up with Malfoy?
They were all standing in a corridor, out side the prefects common room. Luna, Blaise, Pansy, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Terry and Marcus were eying him with interest.
The first patrol would start from 9 pm. And Malfoy, Longbottom had to check things over in the sixth and seventh floors. The other pairs will survey the remaining floors.
"I just can't- I won't!"
Blaise sniggered at this.
"I'll replace him, " said a dreamy voice. Harry turned to look at Luna.
"Are you sure Luna? I know, he isn't dangerous, but? You want to go with Malfoy?"
"Oh yes, Harry. He's my partner in Runes. So this will be hardly anything!" Luna beamed confidently.
"Uh.. okay! Hermione, just change the names please!" Harry checked his watch, "its almost time! Okay, Lune! Stay safe! Terry, who's next?"
Luna waved to her friends as they disappeared into the common room. Slowly she made her way towards the seventh floor.
Draco groaned internally, he had to patrol along with Longbottom? Oh, he shivered at the thought. That guy was insane! Stupid gryffindors, they all were equally sane boasting of their stupid bravery.
He grimaced as he heard foot steps of someone approaching him. What should he say?
Well, he would try to act civil. Finish the stupid patrol and go away. He checked his watch.
"Oh, you're five minutes late!" he called out.
"Oh is it?" came a dreamy reply, "hello, Draco.. nice to see you again!"
Draco turned abruptly only to spot Luna Lovegood. She was at least a foot shorter than him, her long blonde hair was pulled up into a messy ponytail. Her pale face glimmered in the light coming from the chandeliers hung to the wall. She was as usual, smiling at him.
"Lovegood!?" Draco cleared his throat, "I thought it was Longbottom!"
"Oh, well. He doesn't want to patrol with you. So, I've replaced him."
He chuckled, " so you volunteered Lovegood, huh? I wonder why you were not placed in gryffindor? You will do a good job with your sane brain there! Besides, aren't you scared of being around me? "
" No!" she frowned, " why should I be scared? But oh, thank you! I guess, I'll take that remark as a compliment! " she replied dreamily.
He remained silent. It relieved him somehow. He was glad she wasn't scare to be alone with him. He remembered the terrified faces of some first years who fled from the corridor upon spotting him that morning. It felt good, he was at least not scary to her.
"Didn't I tell you Draco? You're not evil. You were!"
He chuckled, despite himself.
"You're weird, Lovegood! Well, getting to work .. you go that way! Call me if something happens, I'll check this side of the corridor!" Draco added quickly, "surely you have your wand Lovegood! We'll meet here in half an hour!"
With that Draco hurried along, his wand tightly clutched in his hand. A good ten minutes passed. He peaked out of a window, to catch a glimpse of outside sky. It was extremely cold. The wind was strong, chilly and he shivered. A strong gale nearly knocked him off his feet. He caught hold of himself and muttered, "stupid dementors!"
He almost reached the end of the corridor when another strong gale blew into the place, blowing out the chandeliers. Draco closed his eyes and when he opened his eyes it was all pitch dark.
Suddenly, he could here foot steps of some person. This couldn't be Lovegood. She was somewhere, right? Who could it be? His heart was pounding faster and he clutched his wand even more tightly.
With in a minute something soft collided with his body and he went still. He breathed a sigh of relief, this person was hugging him while mumbling something.
"Lovegood!" he breathed, lighting his wand. It was extremely chilly. The petite girl looked extremely scared, she buried her pretty face into his robes refusing to let him go.
"Lovegood! Its okay! You can let go of me now!" his first thought was to push her off him, but.. he was a Malfoy and Malfoys don't push women who were scared.
With a flick of his wand the chandeliers were back to life and he slightly pulled her back by her shoulders, "you nearly choked me out, Lovegood! What did you see, a dementor!? Or did merlin himself shoved you here?"
She was looking at him, trying to form a coherent sentence in her head. Her blue eyes conveyed so many emotions. Was she that scared?
"Answer me , Lovegood!"
He couldn't understand why he was talking to her. She looked so scared, almost like a small kid. An year ago he would have happily pushed her, laughing at her stupidity. But so much had changed over a year. His beliefs, his opinions had changed or rather the war had changed him. His life had been a mess, jeers, taunts followed him everywhere inside the castle. He was thankful that he had Blaise and Pansy. Potter and his friends seemed to treat him as an acquaintance which was so noble of them. Then there were the order members who pitied the youngest Malfoy. Last but not the least, there was this girl, who always greeted him with smile. Even during his early years, when he bullied her along with his slytherin goonies, she never fazed. What could have disturbed her ever lasting serenity?
Draco was curious would be an understatement. What if it was a death eater sneaking into the castle? He shook his head. That was impossible.
He was so lost in his thoughts that he failed to see Luna had distanced herself and began speaking.
"I'm sorry! I just- I just saw a Mermoir! I was so scared! And, you were the only one here- so.."
"So you've decided to knock me down! Funny, Lovegood! You're raving mad! What the hell is a mermoir?" Draco was outraged. She had terrified him because of some stupid creature that didn't exist?
"Its a creature that feeds on memories of people!" Luna began with a cheery smile, "it usually lurks in the hall ways sucking the memories of people. I saw one, and I don't want to loose any memories! I treasure them!"
Draco was surprised. She had rendered him speechless. His anger was replaced by disbelief and perhaps regret. She treasured her memories! She was crazy! He would have loved to succumb to whatever creature she mentioned and get rid of his painful past. What happy memories did she have? The one in which she was tortured in his manor or the ones in which she was teased relentlessly. He glanced up at her and a sudden overwhelming feeling arose in his chest. Was this pity?
She smiled again, "you know Draco! Memories can be painful sometimes. But it is them that make even little happy moments precious! Don't you think so?"
Draco was taken aback by her remarks. It was as if she was reading his mind. He had always considered her as a lunatic, but now he could see that she was sensible and genuine, qualities that were must for a ravenclaw.
"Like the moments, now I'm sharing with my friends, with my dad!" she added.
He nodded, that was partly true. He was cherishing the time spent with his friends and his mother. He looked at her, his eyes taking in her dreamy expression. He was amazed how she had managed to engage herself in a conversation with him.
He shook his head, " so will you now get back to work?"
He wasn't sure how much he could stand her. She was confusing him with her nutty (well not totally nutty ) remarks.
"Oh! I forgot that! It was nice talking to you Draco!" she beamed.
Why was she calling him by first name? They were hardly friends.
He ignored her outburst. Deciding to resume his work, he started walking. The wind died down and the hallway was back to normal again.
"How about we patrol together?" Luna asked him.
"Do I have a choice?"
She giggled merrily.
"You can come with me! But on the promise that you'll work in silence!"
She nodded, " I'm sorry, Draco! It was mermoir's fault that I bothered you! It won't happen again. The creatures are afraid of light."
A small smile formed on his lips, she was acting like a silly first year, which he brushed it off.
"What ever, Lovegood."
The patrol went in silence. By ten pm the shift ended and they walked back to the prefect's room.
"Good night, Draco, " Luna gave him a quick smile, "thanks for being there tonight!"
She smiled again. Bloody insane girl!
Draco glared at her, gave a curt nod and turned away from the spot.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Wheee! That was a long chapter!
Hope you like it!
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