10. Hidden Things
AN: Wow, ten chapters! I feel proud of myself. Anyway, I don't own Harry Potter, and am making no money from this fic, so enjoy!
Groaning, I pick myself up from the floor of the Room of Requirement.
I suppose that something in the back of my mind had half-hoped- expected, even- that my second transformations and the full moons following would be progressively less painful as my body adjusted to them. I guess that I was dead wrong. With the strong enchanted chains keeping me in check, I'm considerably less damaged than last time- and likewise in the case of my surroundings. My bones ache and my head pounds, but my cloak is less tattered and my body less battered.
To my relief, the shackles fall easily away as I stand; the Room must know that danger has passed and that its duty is fulfilled. I brush my shoulders off and run my fingers through my soft, silky hair, brushing it back into form. I really wish that I had a mirror and some fresh robes...
No sooner does the thought cross my mind than my desires are laying on the stony floor in front of me; a small hand mirror and a neatly folded pile of green and black Slytherin robes. This gift, however, doesn't fill me with the kind of wonder that the Room used too. It was, I suppose, partially expected that the enchanted chamber would offer me a kind of mask to cover the horrors of last night from my fellow classmates, and the sight of the clothes scare me. Now no one need ever know what's happening to me- know one will be able to read the signs and save me. And as much as I hate myself for it, I wish that they would.
I slip off my filthy cloak, pants, and shirt in exchange for the fresh Hogwarts uniform. Checking my reflection in the mirror, I can see that the shadows beneath my eyes seem even more pronounced, and that there is a small scratch on my temple. Nothing major, and easily covered by my hair. Setting the mirror back down on the messy pile of my old, discarded clothes, I open the door of the Room and slip into the empty corridor. The heavy iron door vanishes soundlessly behind me, and I'm left alone with the pale grey light of early morning streaming down on me from the seventh hall windows. Back to my room for some silver and dittany, and then I'll be thrown into the surging mass of happy carefree young witches and wizards for a day of classes, tests, and homework. But I'll be all alone.
I flop down onto my soft, green-blanketed bed with a sigh. As I predicted in the seventh corridor early this morning, today's classes and activities were even more stressful and pain-filled than ever. I can't keep going on like this- I have to pick up speed on my mission to settle things once and for all... but I just don't know what to do!
Without really knowing why, I find my fingers slipping subconsciously under my fluffy pillows, groping for my golden contact coins, which I know I need to get to Rosmerta before the Imperius that I cast becomes to weak. The Galleons feel surprisingly warm in my hands, and I roll over onto my stomach to study them more carefully. Instead of following the Granger mudblood's idea of putting number codes around the edge of the coins, Lovegood and I simply added all twenty-six letters of the alphabet. Perhaps they make the falsity of the Galleons more significant, but writing messages also become much more simple; all one must do is tap the desired letters in the desired order, and they arrange themselves on all three coins for the respective owners to see.
I hadn't expected to see any message- especially not tonight. But there it is; the tiny raised letters gleaming in perfect, synchronized order on both of my golden Galleons.
"Ive lost something help"
For a moment, I'm confused as to the meaning of this ungrammatical sentence, but then it dawns on me that the coins don't offer any punctuation. Lovegood must have meant to ask, "I've lost something. Help?"
Rolling my eyes in annoyance, I begin to weigh the pros and cons of offering my assistance to her. I hadn't intended to keep up correspondence with her (I'll admit that it was a bad idea to give her her own copy of the coin), but it's kind of nice of her to depend on me- almost like a friend. I hardly know the girl, but what could it hurt? I'm lonely, and she's company. Simple.
"Tell me where" I type laconically.
"The bathroom" Lovegood replies almost instantly, though no less simply.
I almost send another message asking which bathroom she's talking about, but then I remember. A nutcase like Luna Lovegood could only be thinking of the grimy boys' bathroom in which we first met- the place where she told me that she often hid. I stuff the coin in the pocket of my cloak and hop from my bed. Several other Slytherins are huddled around the blazing fireplace, but they don't look up as I pass through the common-room. The clock above the door reads seven forty-two in the evening, but it feels later to me.
I slip from the dungeon common room and through the flagstone-floored halls towards the bathroom where I first met Lovegood.
"Oh, good! You're here!"
I arrange my face into a look of annoyance as Lovegood opens the bathroom door for me. Secretly, I'm almost glad to see her- but if she knew that, it would just go straight to her head. Besides, it's embarrassing for someone as powerful as me to hang out with a girl like Luna. "Well, I didn't have anything else to do." I gripe.
"I know. You don't really do much, do you? I mean, with- friends... Perhaps because you're ill?"
I choose not to answer her, turning the conversation towards her plea for help instead. "Do you need me for something, or did you just want to talk?"
"Ooh, yes. I usually don't ask for help... but this time it's something really big."
I my surprise, Lovegood actually sounds distressed- almost scared about exposing her problem to me. For the first time since, well, probably ever, I look at her. I mean, I really look at her. She's not a pretty girl, homely at best- Pansy would call her just plain strange looking- but there's something... right about her. I don't know; I can't explain it, but she's made in a way that's pleasing. Tall, skinny, without breasts or butt, she looks a bit like the photos of her father, Xenophilius Lovegood, that I've seen in the papers- but with a smaller nose and much longer hair. Her eyes are huge and rather bulging, just a shade darker silver than mine. I guess I've never really noticed the way that her wavy blonde hair curls across her forehead, or that despite her eccentric clothing, her outfits still look flattering.
"-used to it, and I usually don't bother to look for my things till end of term..."
I snap my mouth closed, suddenly realizing that I've been gaping at Lovegood and not even listening to her story. "So you need help with?" I say rather brusquely, feeling thoroughly embarrassed and disgusted with myself.
"Finding what they took. It's- it's a photo of my- of my- mum." Her voice slows, becoming monotone and choppy as she haltingly continues. "My only photo. I'm sorry... I shouldn't have asked." She adds quickly, her cheeks flushing slightly. "I'm fine."
And she wipes her eyes on the corner of her baggy green sweater sleeve.
"It's okay. I'll help you, I guess." I say woodenly. In the back of my mind, I wonder how I would react if some loser stole one of my many father-son photos. Probably not as well as Lovegood- and her parent is dead, whereas mine is just... detained.
"Really?" Within seconds, Lovegood's face is all sunshine and happiness again as she beams at me. "Oh thank you, thank you!" With a radiant squeal, she lunges at me, wrapping her arms around my middle in a tight hug.
"Oh...kay..." I say slowly, detaching her arms from my waist and taking a step back. "Thanks, but I'm not a hugger."
"Really? I'm not a kisser! But I might change my mind on that eventually, and you might change your opinion on hugging, because hugging is really a wonderful thing..."
I turn away as she babbles on, the blood pounding in my ears. "Let's just go. I reckon I might have an idea about where you're stuff is. You said that some seventh year Ravenclaws took the picture?"
Show me the place where hidden things are... Show me the place where hidden things are...
"The seventh corridor? But- but I don't think that the girls who took my picture know about the Room of Requirement! They weren't in the DA..." Lovegood pauses, looking slightly confused.
I stop my pacing and turn to face her. "You said when you first showed it to me that the Room can become whatever you like. So, I was thinking; if it can become a clubhouse, training grounds, library, or-" I almost say "prison", but cut myself short. "-workshop, why not a storehouse? But it has enchantments on it- and powerful ones at that- so maybe its range of power can stretch through the whole school. Just imagine: the students who took your picture stashed it in some hidden niche or something. But when I ask the Room to show me where hidden things are, then possibly it will be able to unearth your photo too. Like, things that have been hidden around the school without a person to find them might be accessible through the Room!" I explain, feeling rather brilliant.
Lovegood's lips part slightly, her arching brows still knit in bewilderment. After a while, she manages to say, "Oh. That makes sense." In a tone that seems to deny her words.
Well, if she's too dumb to understand. I huff a bit, continuing in my focused pacing until a door appears in the wall. Lovegood follows mutely behind me all I yank it open, gazing in wonder up into the massive, high-ceilinged room. Well, "room" might be an understatement. This chamber is so large that our awestruck whispers echo like cannon fire around it; I can't even see the distant walls through the towering pillars of junk. Clothes, trunks, toys, and spellbooks join the thousands of other miscellaneous objects, heaped into wobbling piles from floor to ceiling.
"We should split up. What's the picture like?" I say, still rather brusquely. I'm not the kind of person to let go of irritation easily, and I don't intend to let Lovegood off the hook until she admits that my idea was brilliant.
"It's really pretty; my mum and I are side by side. It was taken a long time ago though... and the glass is cracked in one corner." Lovegood's voice is already growing fainter as she drifts off toward a rickety flotsam structure that seems to be comprised mainly of stuffed animals; their beady glass eyes glint in the dusty light of the room as she passes. Well, so much for an apology.
I roll my eyes and head in the opposite direction, glancing quickly up and down each tower of junk before moving on to the next. There are plenty of photographs, sure- landscapes, class photos, ancient discolored miniatures, and even one that seems to be of an intimate rendezvous right here in the Room of Requirement (I don't dwell on that one long)- but none of a mother and daughter side by side. As the hours pass, I'm beginning to get more and more bored. The trinkets from students past are no longer remotely fascinating, and I have no idea where Luna even is. I'm starting to doubt whether or not this Room acts the way I had figured- Luna's picture is probably still in its hiding place somewhere else in the castle. In frustration, I kick out at a weathered old bookshelf, coughing as a cloud of dust rises from the chipped wood and the many books and small statues littering its shelves. Fluttering my hand to clear the dirt away, I walk right into another, taller cabinet.
"Ouch!" I snap to no one in particular, clutching my stubbed foot and glaring at the dark wood offender.
Wait a second.
This cabinet looks familiar. Really familiar.
"Oh..." I choke, putting my hand on the smooth cabinet door and closing my eyes. Despite bearing all the evidence of being dropped from the ceiling, the Vanishing Cabinet looks exactly like it's sister in Borgin's shop. I gently pry the door open, and look inside. It's clearly broken, but that doesn't matter to me. As soon as we get to go to Hogsmeade, I'll collect the books that Borgin is sure to have sent Rosmerta on Cabinet Repair. "I found it." I say quietly. "I never would have looked here... but I found it!"
Slowly, I walk around to the back of the Vanishing Cabinet, inspecting the damage. The boards have been knocked free and splintered all around the base, and there are scuff marks around the opening to the Cabinet door- probably from when those Weasley twins pushed Graham inside.
"Draco! Draco, I found it- the picture, I found it!"
I straighten up, my heart pounding as Luna grabs suddenly at my arm. "Merlin! Don't do that, Lovegood. You almost gave me heart failure. How did you even find me, anyway?" I snap, shaking her clutching hand from the sleeve of my robe.
"Draco, I need your help. My picture is way up high, and I can't reach it! Come with me and get it, please?" She begs, grabbing at my cloak again, her grey eyes shining with excitement.
"No. Just use your wand- you don't need me." I push her away, stooping down to inspect a long crack running up the side of the Vanishing Cabinet. I've got more important, mission-related things to do now- I don't have time for Lovegood anymore, and I'm honestly not sorry. She's turning into a bloody nuisance.
"I left it in my dorm! Please, please, please help me!" She's dragging at my hand down, trying to pull me of towards her precious little picture.
"I said no." I snap again. "I'm busy. You can figure things out for yourself- you're a big girl."
Lovegood lets go of my hand and takes a step back, her face falling. "I- but-"
"Just go, okay? Go." I yell suddenly, unleashing every bit of pent up anger and pain that I've been dealing with since my transformation on her. "You heard me, get out of here!"
Her mouth opens, then closes. Without warning, she emits a small gagging noise and turns tail, her long hair whipping out of sight behind the mountains of trash.
"Good riddance." I mutter, a horrible feeling bubbling up inside of me. I half expect for her to leap back out at me, all smiles again, her hair swinging and her strange radish-shaped earrings catching the light as she takes my hand again. I try to go back to my inspection of the Vanishing Cabinet, but the lump in my throat won't let me focus on my work. "Look, sorry." I say loudly, turning around and waiting for her response. It doesn't come. "I really am- I didn't mean it."
"Lovegood?" I beg almost hopefully. She can't really be gone- I can't have driven away the only person who seems to really care for me. No loss, I try to tell myself, but I know that it is. A big loss, and it's all mine. "Luna? Luna, please..."
But she's gone.
A/N: Okay, a few points! 1. Sorry about the awful lack of grammar and punctuation in the coin messages between Luna and Draco- no, it's not a typo. The contact coins just don't have punctuation options! 2. When Draco describes Luna as being rather homely, don't think that I'm trying to influence how you picture Luna, or that I'm insinuating that Evanna Lynch isn't a beautiful girl! That's not my intention at all.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and feel free to mention to me if there's anything that you think that I could improve in. Love you all!