A/N: Takes place in the same universe as Ice Castles.
He had failed again.
After the death of Dumbledore, Snape hadn't told the Dark Lord, though the disapproval in the Dark Lord's face was all Draco needed to see to recognise that he knew… He knew… There was no reprimand, no torture, and no threats. That was what frightened him the most. Should he fail again, Draco's life would be forfeit. Was that the way of things--the way of the Death Eaters--an endless vicious cycle from which no one was free until death?
Draco didn't think he was cut out for this, not by a long shot, but there was nothing he could do. Doing his 'duty' was the only way to save himself; to save his family. Everything was lost to him. He wasn't allowed back to school, to the comforts the walls of the Slytherin dungeon brought him. He wouldn't be playing Quidditch anymore or teasing Potter's pathetic band. He had no cronies or faithful followers. He had no Pansy fawning adoringly over him.
Now he was fleeing the scene of the latest crime. He was supposed to take them all out, but couldn't do it. Snape stepped in again and was killed. Draco didn't understand why Snape felt it prudent to follow him. Perhaps the Potions Master knew Draco was incapable of murder. Perhaps the Dark Lord called it ahead of time and wanted to test him. There was no reason. No reason in any of this.
It was late into August now and the sweltering heat of day had faded into an evening fog as he dashed down the doorstep. His fellow Death Eaters would report his failure and how he'd let Snape die. They were in the house now and would finish the task themselves.
A sharp crack resounded and Draco jumped.
It was Potter. He looked just as beat up and weary of the world as Draco felt.
Harry noted the trepidation in Malfoy's face, but before he could question him, Draco admitted, "They're in there. I was supposed to—but I couldn't—"
Harry understood and nodded grimly before dashing inside.
Draco turned on his heels and disapparated.
When he arrived back at Malfoy Manor, he stood in the entrance hall as if struck with an Impediment Jinx. He vividly recalled the white's of Snape's eyes as he went down. They had no mercy.
The stench of burning flesh inflamed his nostrils.
Draco strained to pull himself back to reality. He needed to get his things and run away. The Dark Lord, Death Eaters, Aurors: they would all be after him soon enough. Where could he go? There was a forest nearby; that would be a start. At least it wasn't as obvious as the Manor. Forgoing a bag of possessions, Draco left the manor, tearing down the street, clutching his wand in a tight fist.
As he ran, it was hard to focus on those silly pretends Luna Lovegood had learnt him. Her efforts to keep him sane had proven fruitless. Now amidst the war, Death Eaters and Aurors, spells and curses flying everywhere, he strained for those few moments of peace she'd given him.
Pops and sharp cracks echoed nearby.
Panicked, he raced down an alleyway. He was cornered. There was nowhere left to turn and he tried unsuccessfully to disapparate. They had put up some barrier spell and he couldn't escape.
"You're under arrest," a gruff male Auror said.
"There's no use, Malfoy," said a familiar voice behind the unfamiliar Aurors, edging towards him, aiming their wands at him. "Voldemort's been defeated."
Draco saw it was Hermione Granger. He sent a curse Granger's way, but she was sharp and disarmed him. Simultaneously, another wand's curse sent him flying backwards.
Who was that next to her? Weasley? Draco couldn't tell. His eyesight was waning.
"I thought he was trying to hurt you," Ron apologised with little remorse.
The world faded into darkness.
He was alone.
Lost in a liminal world between the worlds, he saw her. Luna's blurry image shifted and changed. Her voice didn't match the movement of her lips, but the sweat clinging to his temples chilled him. He was growing ever colder. "I'm sorry," he told her. He couldn't understand what she was saying to him. He tried to picture the snow falling around them, her frosty tea cakes, the smiley face drawn on the imaginary window, but it melted away.
She was taking him by the hand, grinning like mad as she pulled him through the Forbidden Forest.
And then they were on a beach. She was speaking to him in an ancient tongue he didn't recognise. "Amharc, Draco!" Luna said, her hair whipping around her in golden waves, so much brighter than he'd ever seen.
Why had he let her slip away?
"Amharc," she said again. Pointing at the moon, she said, "Sí an ghealach. An tús go deiradh..." With her free hand, she laid a hand over his heart. "Tog do chroí, a ghrá."
Strangely, the words were now making sense to him now. A strange warming sensation came over him when she spoke, her hand still on his chest. 'Look, it is the moon,' she was saying. 'From the beginning to the end of time... Take your heart with you, my beloved.'
Draco shook his head. "It's no good, Luna. I'm no good." He didn't realise tears were coming to his eyes.
Luna squeezed his cold hand, willing warmth into it. "Tá mo chroí istigh ionat." 'My heart is within you,' she was saying.
"If your heart is in mine," he thought, "then why am I so cold?" He knew he was dying. This was the end of the line. And the Dark Lord, the great intimidator, the stealer of life, was gone. Countless losses racked up on both sides of this stupid war he'd wanted no part it.
Her eyes never left his. Though she was a head shorter than him, her unwavering determination prevented him from turning away.
"Why, Luna?" He didn't understand. "Why me? I'm not—" 'A good person', was what he wanted to say, but she silenced him with a kiss.
The kiss spoke a multitude of things left unexpressed between them. She believed in him. She believed that there was good in him and that he could pluck up the courage to turn away from the hate. When she pulled away, he saw her illuminating face, growing ever brighter. Her figure became so intense, it was hard to keep his gaze on her and then she was gone.
"Don't leave. Don't leave me…" he implored, but the words were lost on the wind. "Luna…"
The pounding waves crashed upon the shore. The salt water and brine overwhelmed his senses. He looked to the moon, what was left of her light had vanished there. He drew his cloak tightly around him, yet he still felt her hand over his heart, as if she'd left an imprint there. Draco turned back to face the sea, watching the dark waves tumbling.
And from within him, he implored in the ancient tongue, "Fán liom, stay with me go deo, forever, le do thoil, please." It sounded rough, throaty, as though he hadn't spoken in hundreds of years.
It was then her voice echoed back to him on the wind, "Grá mo chroí is m'anam thú go deo, a stór, go deo.You are the love of my heart and soul forever, my darling, forever."
The grey world shifted and billowed into blurry shapes.
"Lonrach, luisniúil, Luna..." Draco murmured as his eyes refocused.
"What's he saying?" asked a young male voice.
"He's delirious," a woman said.
"At least he's alive," another female voice put in.
"He almost killed you," the male attested.
"He was going to surrender…" the second female voice countered.
"None of that matters right now," the first woman informed them. "He's coming to."
A shaft of light from a nearby window was the first thing Draco was able to make out. It was a stark-white room. He was lying in bed. A tentative hand searched upwards from his neck to his forehead to find a bandage there. It hurt to move, but he pushed himself up to a sitting position.
The healer leant over him, performing some sort of test.
Draco then noticed Granger and Weasley were standing clear across on the other side of the room near the door. He was surprised by this because their voices had sounded so clear as if they'd been whispering right next to his ear.
"Can you feel this?" the healer asked when she stimulated his legs with a tickling charm.
"Yes," he replied dryly, not even reacting much at all. His mind was elsewhere. How could this be? He should be dead. He deserved to be dead.
Once the healer was satisfied, she exited the room with a purposeful stride.
Draco glared at Granger and Weasley. "Where's Luna?" he demanded.
"Luna?" asked Hermione, confused by the query. "Lovegood?"
"What do you care?" retorted Ron. "Soon as you're well enough, you're going to Azkaban."
"Ron," said Hermione, holding a staying hand before Ron as she approached Malfoy's bedside.
"Where is she?" Draco repeated.
"She's down the hall," Hermione informed him. "She's in pretty bad shape. Your father—"
No. Gods, no…
Draco rolled to his side in an attempt to get up.
"You're not going anywhere," Ron firmly told him, gripping his wand as if he needed to threaten him further.
Was this how people were allowed to treat him now? It was inconceivable to Draco that the hospital would allow the very same man who had cursed him to stand in this room, let alone that the only protection he had from being murdered was Weasley's girlfriend. What was there to prevent Weasley from doing it now? "Just finish it, Weasley. Finish the damned job if you're going to. The wait is killing me." Draco was being facetious, but the taunt did its job.
Hermione glared at Ron, visually chastising him and that was enough to shut him up.
Draco used all of his strength to wrench himself to his feet, but his legs buckled. He gripped the end of the bed to keep from falling, forcing himself to stumble to the door.
Ron made a move to go after him.
"He's unarmed. He's weak," Hermione reminded him. "You know what damage that curse caused, don't you?"
"Yeah, I know," replied Ron. "I still don't trust him."
"Neither do I," she conceded, "but that doesn't mean— Oh, come on." They followed Malfoy as he found his way to where Luna was. From the doorway, they observed Malfoy staggering over to her beside. "I can't watch this," Hermione said. She put a hand over her mouth and turned away, grabbing Ron's arm.
Luna lay unconscious on a similar bed to the one he'd just left. Her body seemed almost frigid. He noted the now healing cuts on her face and arms, concluding there were doubtless more hidden under the covers. Her dishwater blonde locks cascaded around her pale face, giving her an almost carefree appearance.
"Luna…" Draco uttered. Her hand was cold in his, her pulse faint. What had his father done to her? Part of him didn't want to know. His gaze remained transfixed on her as a healer explained the situation. He was only half listening. He ignored the facts, unbelieving. "This is just another pretend, isn't it, Loony?" He choked on the nickname.
Ron's low voice broke the silence. "Didn't think he cared…about anyone." He held Hermione in his arms, stroking her hair. "We should probably go check on Harry anyway." They would be back to make sure Malfoy was in his room before they left. It didn't seem like he was putting on an act, but Ron didn't understand why he was concerned about Loony Lovegood. Malfoy and Lovegood? That was the oddest combination he had ever heard. Luna had been fighting on their side, with Harry. Malfoy had been with the Death Eaters. It made no sense. He shrugged as they walked down the wing. His brain was still exhausted from the past few weeks since the last, and hopefully final, battle.
Draco's thumb subconsciously rubbed the top of the hand he held as he recalled aloud the different make-believes they had shared together before the death of the headmaster and his flight from Hogwarts. If there were anything he could do to bring her back, he would.
An hour later, a healer entered and, taking in his bandage head, said to him, "We ought to get you back to your room, Mr. Malfoy."
That evening, Draco dreamt of her again.
Draco stood at the edge of lake. When he looked into the water, he saw an image; a face that wasn't his own. It was no longer the image of Draco Malfoy, but of a Celtic warrior of times past. There was a sword hanging from his belt near his wand which was more a twig than a proper wand. Stubble of a beard prickled his hand as he checked it, unbelieving. His hair was also darker and tied with strips of cloth. Before having a chance to get used to this 'other' person's image, she was calling him.
"Aengus, you came."
It was Luna, but not Luna… She wore a white gown tied in the front just under her breasts with a cincture made of silver metal in an ornate style. A sheer kerchief covered her hair, which was much lighter, and fell over her shoulders, down her back.
He met her halfway and let this other persona take over as he grasped her hands. He felt he should call her 'Caer' and he did so. "As if there were any doubt, Caer." He kissed her hands, feeling it inappropriate to do so on her lips, though he very much wanted to.
"I will change soon," she told him in a reluctant tone.
"I know, but you won't be alone this time," he replied.
The rising moon shone brightly, reflecting in the lake beside them. Luna, Caer, changed into a swan. She majestically floated on the cool lake, staring at the human in wonder. "Fán liom go deo,"she said.
"Go deo, Caer...a ghrá,"said Draco. He took his wand and muttered a spell which transformed him into a swan as well.
The two of them circled the lake together in the form of swans before taking wing, flying away from the sorcerer who had imprisoned Caer, forcing her to change into a swan every other year. Now she wouldn't be alone. "Forever, Caer, my beloved."
When Draco went to visit Luna the next morning, she was still there, her condition unchanged. Draco sat by her bedside recalling his dream to her.
"…And all those times you persuaded me out of the castle last year, I told you I was only going because I was bored…" Her hand was still so cold in his that he doubted his presence helped at all. "It was because I wanted to be with you. I wanted to be lost in you and our make-believes." He squeezed her hand to emphasise the point. "You believe in things. You believe in religions. You believe in fairytales and fantastical things. You said you believed in me." The emotions were causing a knot to form in his throat again and he bowed his head to regain composure. "Luna…"
He'd gone along with her pretends, her beliefs. But now it was something more; he realised that now. He didn't know what it was, but he'd become fascinated by her. She would sing in front of him, often something in Welsh or Gaelic. It certainly wasn't that Luna's voice had the ability to lure men like a Siren with her songs. It was her lack of inhibitions that entranced him. Was there anything she feared?
Draco was almost always full of fear and now he was afraid of losing her. He felt completely helpless, just as he so often did before and during the war. Now the healers were telling the Ministry officials it was only a matter of days and he'd be on trial, facing death.
"Why don't we pretend you're a fairy princess under an enchantment," suggested Draco to her unconscious form. He caressed her hair, her pale cheek, and her neck before placing a chaste kiss on her lips. "And this is the part where you wake up," he said as if teaching her how to pretend.
She didn't wake and Draco was filled with utter dread. He wished he remembered the words from his dreams, the lilting ancient tongue that sounded rough from his throat, but so pleasant from hers. He wished he remembered how to profess his feelings for her, but when he tried to speak, no words came out. It was not something a Malfoy was capable of doing. How could he say it? I love you. I'm in love you. I'm so in love with you. He didn't want her to pass away unto that other world without knowing she'd found love. That was the only thing she so desperately wanted out of life: to love and be loved in return. When he found his voice, it was thick as it was in his dream state. "Luna-love—you—" he muttered unsuccessfully. "I'm in love with you."
Before long, Draco was reluctantly ushered back to his room.
Luna remained unchanging for another week and then Draco was taken before the Wizengamot.
There were no longer Dementors to be feared, but a painful death sentence was imminent. He wouldn't be the first to have such a sentence inflicted upon him mercilessly. The Ministry showed no sympathy to Death Eaters, especially if there were witnesses to any of their crimes. For Draco's case, he wasn't surprised they'd blamed him for countless offences he hadn't committed. He recognised many of the accusing faces. Most of them were Muggleborns. It was futile for him to say, "I wasn't there," when their remorseless presence showed him no mercy. He'd teased them in school, said all sorts of evil things about them behind their backs, and even harassed them as a prefect. It was in their right anyway: blame their troubled childhoods on him and have locked away in return.
Draco hadn't killed anyone. Sure, he'd used a few Unforgiveables, but he had never killed. He had tried that with Dumbledore, but Snape saw how well that turned out. Snape was dead though. Now the only person to attest to his innocence, Harry fucking Potter was laid up in hospital. Potter was too good of a person to lie like these sods: Bones, Finch-Fletchley, and some other Hufflpuffs whose names escaped him. Potter was honourable enough that he wouldn't let an innocent person be imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit. Or would he? Potter hated him anyway.
The gavel hammered onto the Minister for Magic's desk.
Draco bowed his head, his ears feeling like they were stuffed full of cotton. He wasn't able to hear the verdict. He already knew. Maybe it wasn't so bad, he mused. If Luna would join him in this sleep of death, then they ought to hurry up and let him go. She would haunt him in his sleep, in his dreams, why not in his death? Or would it all end? Was it all leading to a vacant world of nothingness? He wished he had her faith. Faith in anything would quiet his fears.
It was then that Draco became aware that he did in fact have faith in something. He had faith in her. Faith in Luna and her make believe worlds.
As they led him past the Interrogators, out towards the entrance, Draco saw her.
Draped in white with a grey cloak over her shoulders, Luna stood with her arms outstretched.
"You're right on time," he whispered, falling into her warm embrace.
Luna grinned in her quirky way, stroking his hair. "Come on," she said, taking his hand. "We've got so much lost time to make up for."
Those who witnessed it could only say that the prisoner collapsed. Some said it was the impending doom that made his heart stop. Others contended that the blissful look on his face was enough to prove that inaccurate.
The official document read that Draco Malfoy was pronounced dead at eleven fifty-two of congestive heart failure. It made no mention of the examiners finding an odd mark on his chest in the shape of a shining half-moon, nor did it make note of the connection between his death and Luna Lovegood's.
Luna had died just scant minutes before the end of his trial with the mark of a half-moon on her breast.
"Where are we going?" asked Draco as she pulled him along through the Ministry corridors.
"You should know by now that I'm not going to spoil the surprise by telling you," Luna teased.
Her intoxicating smile caused the corners of his own mouth to creep up into a genuine smile. Relief washed over him and as he inhaled, he revelled in the absence of fear. The farther from the Ministry they flew, the more relaxed he became. And Draco, for his part, didn't really care where they were going, so long as they were going there together.