the dragon in the glass cage
part one of 13 moon dragons
written for rare pair shorts claim at livejournal - luna/draco
prompt: the invisible line
by kihin ranno
PG (for now)

There is an invisible line drawn between him and the rest of the world. An unseen border that will not, or cannot, be crossed by those who believe in goodness and light and perhaps a Christian god with crown of blood and thorns. He is anathema to all things righteous.

His very shadow is a poison, and children whisper to their little sisters and brothers that letting it the darkness fall over even a toe will send them scattering into eternal darkness with no one but nameless specter of a Dark Lord for company.

He is so scorned that it really doesn't matter if he does or does not have a Dark Mark. He is Lucius Malfoy's son. He let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts. He is the reason Bill Weasley's face was ruined. And regardless of Albus Dumbledore's questionable health when Snape sent him tumbling over the battlements, he knows that there are more than a fair few who whisper, "Murderer," at his retreating back, nevermind that he was lowering the damn wand.

Draco is never more aware of his imposed otherness than at social functions. He may be a pariah, but it does not preclude him from taking part in these politely drunken rituals. He has to rebuild the Malfoy wealth as well as the Malfoy reputation, for his mother's sake if not for his own. He has to show his face in public and remind people that the Ministry let him go, that they cleared him of any wrong-doing. He has to show them that even if he made some mistakes, that he has grown far and away from that confused, terrified – and yes, he admits that openly – stupid teenager who mended a vanishing cabinet to release the wolves.

Besides, part of him enjoys watching each and every party guest skirt around him, as if catching a whiff of his expensive cologne may cause them to drop dead on the spot.

"Hello, Draco Malfoy."

Well, almost everyone it seems.

He turns and is surprised – indeed flabbergasted might be a better term – to find that someone is talking to him without the scowl poised to fling accusations. He instead sees sparkling crimson lips curled into an effortless, serene smile with a pair of hazy grey eyes hovering above. He doesn't recognize her at first, but it comes rushing back to him with a dim kind of horror that the last time he really looked at her, she was locked up in his cellar.

"Lo—Luna Lovegood," he corrects. He has no idea what to say to her. 'Sorry about the kidnapping' seems inappropriate.

"You're surprised to see me," she says, her voice a ghostly whisper. He glances down at her robes – dove grey silk skirts that are a far cry from the spangled dress robes she wore for the Slug Club Christmas party. He wonders if someone with more fashion sense finally gave her a good shake and made her take advantage of that loveliness hidden behind homemade radish earrings.

"I'm a bit surprised you're not slapping me across the face," Draco drawled. It was always best for him to revert to innocuous sarcasm. No one ever believed his politeness, and they could not abide his most cutting remarks. But a little darkness they could tolerate, though they constantly reassured themselves that still more lurked beneath the well-coiffed surface.

She continued smiling at him, a reminder of why they had called her Loony. "Oh, I don't think much about those few months. Please don't feel awkward. I know it wasn't your fault."

Amazing, how she brushed away 90 days of imprisonment so blithely. More amazing that she called him blameless, and though he knew he had done nothing to put her there, he also had done nothing to help her. He was no Gryffindor; it would have made no sense for him to go riding to her rescue. But everyone looked at him as though he should have done.

The wizarding world had no use for cowards or conscientious objectors. This was the world of Harry Potter. And in Harry Potter's world, all they wanted were avengers on white horses carrying a flaming sword.

"I thought you looked lonely," she said, her bright voice penetrating his dark mood.

He snorted with just the right hint of derision and aristocratic humor. "I am not what one would call especially popular."

She nodded. "Because your father killed people."

"And because I tried to kill people."

She shrugged as if this were of no consequence. "You were seventeen. What did you know?"

"You're surprisingly forgiving." He sensed a plot. Luna may have seemed guileless, but he would have been foolish to forget she was a Ravenclaw.

She sensed his suspicion and laughed in his face. Not cruelly. There was a musical lilt that left part of him longing to hear her sing. "I'm not really suited for espionage, Draco. I'm too honest."

Yes, Luna had lost much of her dreamy nonsensical ramblings, but she was still blunt to a fault. It was, after all, not polite to bring up that one's father was a convicted murderer.

"Why did you come here then?" Draco muttered with a flash of bitterness. "To remind me that not all sins belong to the father?"

She may have looked at him with pity, but it was impossible to tell with her. "I told you why I came."

"Because I looked lonely," he sneered. "Forgive me, but I don't see why I'm so deserving of your charity."

Something brushed against his skin like an angel feather. He blinked and nearly recoiled when he realized she was touching his cheek. Stupidly, he expected it to burn, but it was a cool as a pebble pulled from a glittering river.

"I believe in forgiveness, Draco Malfoy," she murmured, his voice winding through him like a silk ribbon carrying an unbreakable promise. "Especially for those who acted out of fear and love, not malicious intent.

"There's a glass cage surrounding you, Draco," Luna whispered, pulling away. "It's time someone had the sense to break it."

She left him without another word, silks rustling together as she vanished into the crowd. He waited all of three seconds before bursting from his place, nearly sprinting towards the balcony and gulping down the fresh air he found there as if he had nearly drowned.

What Luna saw as a cage, Draco saw as a boundary.

And finally-finally-finally, someone had cared enough to cross it.