. ... .
There are six breaths between the boy's words and the girl's response, and there is no such thing as a twelfth chance.
. ... .
Her name is Lillian. Or - Lorraine? No. Her name is LilyLacyLydiaLana - Luna. Luna. Her name is Luna, and she is many things. She shares her mind with many things, rather - sees many things with many other eyes, knows many things from many old, odd brains. (Lives other people's long-gone lives in her waking, in her sleep - sees them and feels them, smiles with them and cries for them. She shares their beliefs and hopes and loves and has none for herself.) There are people and creatures and ghosts in everything, and they all have a memory to bleed into her mind like melted chocolate frogs.
Her name is Luna, and she is not confused so much as her mind is in the wrong plane of existence. She is not mad so much as she is somewhere else, and she has no concept of normality as it is defined by the students of Hogwarts in her body's day and time and reality.
Her name is Luna, and she is the only un-lost girl in the world.
. ... .
He is Draco Malfoy. His name is very important, so listen closely. Remember it. Neither Draco nor Malfoy, but DracoMalfoy; you must not leave off either his claim to individuality or his family name. Family is powerful and important and everything he believes in - he believes in everything Malfoys believe in (shares their convictions and ambitions and cold obsessions and has none for himself). And it is hypocritical that he pronounces his first name so vehemently when everything he is is Malfoy, but everyone is allowed their delusions and self-deceits.
His are just larger than most.
Draco Malfoy is the most helpless, useless little boy in the world.
(Little boys don't fight wars. Little boys stay at school and play with toy soldiers.)
. ... .
LilyLacyLydiaLanaLuna's head is Pangaea.
Luna does know what this means. One of the men she lived once - he was something clever clever clever, more clever than a squirrel, and she knows what she is talking about. (She was at one point in time in possession of a whole mind that only belonged to her - probably. She can't remember. Now it is scattered and fractured, drifting slowly like the continents.)
Her head is Pangaea. This is what she tells Draco Malfoy out of the blue one day. It goes like this.
Draco is sitting in a corner of the library where no one ever goes, looking morose and frustrated and angry and wronged. He is for once not surrounded by his minions and toadies, and Luna stares at the space in front of his face for a good fifteen minutes before she wanders over to him.
He doesn't notice her until she speaks. He is in the middle of a hardcore pity-fest, you see, and the privileged Draco Malfoy doesn't notice crazies like Luna Lovegood anyway unless it is to make a snide and biting comment about said nutter to his adoring lackies.
She speaks, though - and he looks up, and this is when she says with an unfocused lack of concern: "Your head is Pangaea."
Draco is startled, but it only takes a moment for his default sneer to appear on his pale face. "What the fuck are you blathering about, Lovegood?"
Luna just looks at him - and suddenly her big eyes are looking through him like she has unscrewed the top of his head and cataloged his (the Malfoy family's) every thought and hope and dream.
And then she tells him, "It's okay. My head is Pangaea too."
Draco stares. He stares and Luna stares back, and they could go on staring forever except this is when Draco bursts into laughter.
He laughs like - like he has never laughed before, excluding that one time on his third birthday when the house elf tripped into Lucius while carrying a three-tier birthday cake. He laughs and laughs, wheezing and red-faced with tears streaming from his eyes.
Luna smiles indulgently, pats his head, and walks away.
Madame Pince kicks him out when he can't stop laughing, but he doesn't care.
. ... .
After the library incident, Draco takes to going to Luna whenever he is feeling suffocated and wants to get away from his fawning groupies. This is the time of bitter cold, when the snow is dry powder on the ground and the lake is frozen thick.
This is the time of bitter cold and everything is frozen, but Luna is not everything or even really anything.
They are sitting on the stone parapets of the castle roof. Draco is smoking a cigarette that burns purple smoke, and Luna is staring dreamily at the cloud-white sky. It will begin snowing again soon.
Here are the words that the girl's tongue shapes out of nowhere like an accident (but there is always a method to her madness - ): "Do you know how to make a god, Draco Malfoy?"
Draco exhales a billow of violet smoke and watches it float away, bright and sheer against the thick heaviness of the cloud cover. "Tell me, Lovegood."
"Believe in it. You believe in it like you believe in anything else, like you believe in death and money and Malfoy superiority."
The purple haze snakes through the air, fading out.
"Gods are for mudbloods and muggles, Lovegood."
"Do you really think so? I think gods are for humans, Mister D. Only, most have it the wrong way around - the gods didn't create us. We created the gods. We still do. We need them."
Draco lets his head roll back and his gaze fix lazily on loopy, crazy Luna Lovegood. "Who created the Crumple-Snort Flapjack, then?"
She blinks and looks away.
"A serious, sober little boy by the name of Irving Cricket wanted them very badly and secretly - secretly secretly secretly, secret like the Ministry's heliopath breeding program. He even kept it a secret from himself, and now they are entirely abandoned and lonely," she tells the blanket of clouds above them, and he wants to taste her soft, pale lips and see if the freedom of unreality is contagious.
. ... .
Five days later, she finds him on the parapets. (Draco tells himself that the warmth beneath his ribcage when she searches him out is fury. Malfoys are allowed to redefine reality to fit their personal comfort zones.)
He is smoking again. He really has started to go through cigarettes lately. (He doesn't know why he smokes. Don't ask him. And don't even mention its original conceptualization by Muggles.) At first everything seems normal, but then he notices the strange dampering and containment of Luna's perpetual life-dream.
"You." It is an awkward jilt, a pause because Malfoys don't do this sort of tomfoolery. "You - are alright."
He cringes inwardly as his words hang in the air. He meant for it to be a question, but the words were alien and the end went flat and he is so far away from his comfort zone in this moment that the distance has to be measured temporally. In half-centuries.
And then -
Slowly, a smile washes across her face. (She glows like a lantern in the wastelands is his only thought, strangely poetic and eloquent and so true that sparks dance over bared nerves in a figurative exposé on rawness. He wants to take a better look at this too-right simile scraping his rib cage, but then his personality's survival instinct kicks in and he reflexively flinches away from it.)
When they part after a few hours, he covertly asks around before hunting down and hexing a few Ravenclaw sixth years into a fortnight with Madam Pomfrey.
. ... .
And this is something like a month later. Draco has taken to spending time with Luna more and more lately without a real reason, finding the ingratiating brown-nosing of his friends exponentially irritating and lured helplessly by the constant lack of conflict in the utterly mad girl.
And here is the part that has him addicted: Luna is a mass of conflict and contradictions. In Luna Lovegood, chaos lives calmly, accepted and - just accepted. Accepted without a batted eye or twitch of an eyebrow - and she is more welcoming and tolerating than Draco Malfoy (in his complete superiority to every creature without Malfoy blood) has ever come within a mile of imagining.
Before Luna, he never thought to want to imagine such a thing in the first place. She is like hob dust - just a pinch and the blood is thrumming helter-skelter in his veins, and he is weightless and breathless and very probably slightly delusional.
He likes that she doesn't ask obnoxious questions. She doesn't pry or look at him like he is a murderer (because he isn't, and the bleeding Gryffindors can take their glowering, condemning looks and shove them up a lion's arse. Little boys don't fight wars. Little boys stay at school and play with toy soldiers).
So - this is something like a month later and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Draco has learned nothing that he will admit, but hard Malfoy eyes are swallowed by humor in the face of Luna.
He tells her, "Lovegood, every word out of your mouth is a bit of a mind-fuck," and doesn't let himself stare at said mouth.
There is silence for a few moments as Luna continues to waltz with what is evidently a Clododder in this dusty, abandoned classroom.
And now Luna curtsies to the empty space she has been dancing with. Her wispy voice threads through the gloom. "Draco Malfoy, there is no wrong in refusing your name. Your father has been infested with Moffets, in any case."
Draco stiffens and opens his mouth to slice her apart - to rip her into a thousand pieces, to try to strike at the vulnerable point he has never seen clearly - but in this moment Luna begins to twirl.
She does it slowly at first, then faster and faster, long hair fanning out in sunbeams and robe throwing up dust that glitters in the dying light. The vines she has woven into her hair fly out one by one as she spins.
Luna laughs now, high and delighted, and cries in speech patterns that are not her own: "Dear Vincent, you shan't leave! Whatever has gotten into you?"
Draco watches her live a fragment of someone else's life and doesn't say anything, allowing terrible, sharp words to die unborn. There is an ache in his chest as this mad girl showcases said madness, and he doesn't know how to deal with it but will never admit it.
. ... .
This is two days after that late afternoon of flying robes and glittering air. (All that glitters is not gold, some say - but Malfoys don't notice those crazies anyway unless it is to make a snide and biting comment about said nutter to adoring lackies, and Draco has been incapable of acknowledging unconventional beauty until now.) It hasn't been the best day, and it is only lunchtime.
It is only lunchtime, but Draco is about to -
Well. Let's rewind.
It has been a bad day. Draco is full of aimless irritation with the world. Pansy won't stop grabbing onto his arm and rubbing her breasts against him, and the sight of her ugly, overly made-up face trying to be coy and seductive is utterly repulsive. Blaise Zabini is watching his every movement like a hawk, and Draco knows the other boy is simply biding his time until he pounces and slyly interrogates Draco about where he has been disappearing to lately. Crabbe and Goyle are having an eating contest to his right, and there are no words to describe such a sight. Draco pushes away his own full plate and glares at the huge pair for a few moments until they recognize the feel of his gaze and freeze before slowly looking his way.
"Do not," he almost whispers, "ever create such a disgusting spectacle of yourselves again."
He is not a child anymore. He is a seventh year, and even though little boys don't fight wars, he has grown into someone frightening in his own right. So Crabbe and Goyle slowly and carefully scoot down the bench a little and keep their thick heads bowed as they eat quietly.
Draco is slightly mollified until he notices yet again Pansy's attempts at flirting. He shakes her off, and she falls from the bench with a yelp with the disappearance of her support.
"Drakie-poo! How could y - "
He cuts her off with a look. "Stop your infernal yapping before I stop it for you, Pansy."
She cowers on the floor of the Great Hall. She doesn't scramble up until he looks away, and he can feel her fuming at his side. He stares coldly at nothing.
This is when Blaise speaks. "My, Draco. You're in quite a temper."
Blaise's goblet shatters without apparent cause. The dark-skinned boy looks at it askance before wisely renewing his silence.
All that runs through Draco's mind at this moment is that he wants classes to be over already so he can find Lovegood. He absolutely cannot stand the idea of an evening in the common room with his Slytherins.
But - never mind. He doesn't know what is going to happen in the next minute and a half.
Pansy is a rather malicious girl, you see, and she likes to bully people. So when she catches sight of Loony Lovegood wandering down the aisle between the Slytherin and Ravenclaw tables, she sneers and calls loudly, "How goes it, Loony?"
There are a few faint chuckles as the students in the vicinity turn their attention eagerly to the entertainment sure to come. Luna halts in her progression towards the exit and turns to Pansy with a slight, dreamy smile.
"Hello, Pansy Parkinson. I see you've gotten rid of the Tweaking Blorts that have been plaguing you. Did you use celery?"
Titters from the bystanders. Pansy twitches and then smirks deviously at this, and there is a thick feeling in Draco's lungs that he cannot recognize. (This is dread and change and destruction of things that Draco Malfoy wants. This is wrong and bad and sliding with a schnick between his ribs and through but no words come - )
"You are absolutely bonkers. I hear that your mum was even more nuts. That true? Good thing she managed to off herself, in my opinion."
There is a sudden and total silence from everyone within listening distance. This is - this is a line that no one has crossed before. This is a line that has never been an option. This is a line that Pansy has just shot cattily and viciously past, knowing it isn't right and doing it just to vent her frustration.
(Draco has considered this unspeakable option, but he is Malfoy. He is allowed to. And it was only for a moment...)
Luna's face is bloodless in the wake of Pansy's words. She is translucent-pale and -
She is suddenly not his Luna. She is instead a tall girl with a face carved of white marble and big eyes that encompass the universe, that stare through them all -
The quiet continues. Students turn away, strangely engrossed with their food. There is no laughter.
Pansy falters slightly under the alien girl's gaze and the weight of her peers' silence. She scrabbles for support. "D-Drakie-poo! You met her dad once, right? What'd you say?"
Luna doesn't turn to look at Draco. It makes what he is about to do harder. Air is thick in his throat, and his mouth drawls, "Complete and utter basket-case," without his permission. (But he has known it would come to this. He has known. He has known with his Malfoy mind - he has to have known. Somewhere secret, he has known that he couldn't keep her. Right?)
Pansy laughs, too-loud and shrill.
And now not-Luna speaks, and perhaps she is in this moment more herself than she has been in years. Her voice is still dreamy and vague-lilting, but there is a knowing cast to her face that makes Draco wish he - Nothing. Here are the words that fall from her tongue (the method - because Luna saw and acknowledged and wanted him to know but he failed yet again - ): "You created a god in me."
There is a knot in his throat that feels like devastation, and unspoken words float in the wake of her robes as she meanders away. She has not looked at him once. Here: you have forsaken me now betrayed me now abandoned me now like Irving Cricket and his dream and i won't allow you to matter to me anymore but i understand.
He is mute and still-faced and trying desperately to erase the past five minutes from history. When Pansy moves past her bewilderment a minute later and laughs weakly - "What a little nutjob!" -
He leaves. Leaves leaves leaves and doesn't understand why he has just denied Luna in favor of Parkinson. (The answer: it is more politically advantageous. He is more completely Malfoy than should be possible and doesn't even realize it, so natural and him - he is Malfoy like it is his job, like it is his calling and his passion and his dream and his raison d'être.)
The obscene smear of his mouth twists -
There is no beauty here. Look away.
. ... .
He doesn't go to his afternoon classes. Obviously. Instead, he sits on the battlements and smokes cigarette after cigarette while watching the slow passage of the sun into the west. The sheer light violates his retinas agonizingly, but he doesn't blink until green and purple spots overcome the entirety of his vision and his eyes tear in self-defense.
(He doesn't want to stare at the archway. She isn't coming. He isn't waiting.)
. ... .
When he runs out of both of his cigarette packs and tires of staring at the moon, he stands. His limbs are stiff and frozen, and that is the only reason his back is hunched as he slowly and slightly dizzily abandons his post. There is a throbbing headache in the base of his skull, and his eyes ache and burn like acid has been dripped in them lewdly. The wind has stolen all sensation from the rest of his face.
As he unsteadily descends the stairs into the castle proper, he wants -
He wants many things. He is Draco Malfoy. He wants: money and respect and power and to never be prey and the delicacy of Luna's skin under his fingers. He wants: clout and skill and a reputation and to be remembered and Luna humming as she sews strange coins into the hem of her robe. He wants: confirmation of pureblood supremacy and the ear of politicians and strength and to get out of the war alive and chocolate frogs and -
In front of him. She is walking towards him, trailing effervescent fingers on the wall with her eyes closed.
"Luna," he doesn't say.
She hears him anyway. She opens her eyes and smiles at him, small and quizzical and polite. He stares at her because it seems to be his best skill - trying to speak but not quite able, flushed and hollow and only just now noticing that he is missing an essential piece of his instruction manual.
Luna tilts her head after a few minutes, the heavy mass of her daisy-strewn hair sliding across her shoulders. "You called me."
He doesn't know what she is talking about. He says, "Yes," anyway. It is all he can manage.
She looks at him for another moment before she suddenly nods and turns to leave, humming again. (It is always the same song. He can never quite place it, but he knows it in snatches and tatters and at his core like he knows how to make a god.) In this sudden lack of air: his right hand grabs for her of its own volition, and he is touching her now and she is looking at him again and he can feel the heat of her skin through the thick weave of her robe.
These are the words that tumble out of his mouth:
"Stay with me."
There are six breaths between the boy's words and the girl's response, and there is no such thing as a twelfth chance. He tells her to stay instead of asking - tells her with false bravado, like it is all a forgone conclusion because he is desperate not to lose her and this is the only thing he knows to do. (He is Malfoy to his bones.) He tells her these three words instead of certain other three words, and her pale mouth is poised as if to speak as she looks at him.
And then for a moment - for three, four, five breaths - Draco knows that all of Luna is focused on him. She is mapping out his soul and unscrewing the top of his head and cataloging his (the Malfoy family's) every thought and hope and dream. It is a strange, wonderful feeling -
But then: six. And she smiles like she doesn't know him, like she hasn't danced after purple cigarette smoke on the heights of Hogwarts or learned his smile or become sunlight in a dusty classroom or hoped.
A crumpled daisy falls from her hair when she walks away.
. ... .
i won't allow you to matter to me anymore.
A/N: Written for DutchAver. Hope you like, dear! It's something I've never attempted before, so I'd love feedback super-scoop. XD And I'd like to know if anyone picks up on the crazy plethora of symbolism and metaphors that I discovered when I reread this - I may just be crazy. Effin' sneaky metaphors... (wanders off, muttering darkly)
Also: if anyone knows what the title is drawn from WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP, then I will love you forever for you obvious brilliance and greatness. And write you a story.