by Shu of the Wind
It was all her fault, after all. He wouldn't be thinking about this if she hadn't come to speak to him in the first place. He couldn't get away from the look on her face. Couldn't get away from her.
Her. Greengrass. Astoria Greengrass, if he wanted to get technical. Younger sister of Daphne, fifth-year, and all around annoyance. He kept the letter she'd sent him in his trunk, contrary to how he'd behaved at Hogwarts; at Hogwarts it had hardly ever left his pocket. It made his stomach twist to keep it so close, but he couldn't bear to let it go.
It was frightening, how much of an effect she had on him. It was frightening how she'd managed to get so close to him in so short a time. And it was frightening to him to wonder what would happen if anybody ever discovered her. She'd hate him for thinking it – hell, she hated him already – but she was the thing he went to for relief; to forget; to ignore the fury and the terror of the world outside and simply be.
Yeah. She'd really hate that.
He heard the scream of the basement door, and then Ollivander's cry. Rowle was bored again. He wondered if the blonde ape would turn to the Ravenclaw next, or the goblin. Either one would drive needles into his ears.
You have Lovegood. You have Lovegood in your basement?
Shut up, for God's sake. He crammed the pillow over his head and ignored the tickling feeling on the back of his neck. He ignored her. I don't care.
But she'd told him differently, and he was starting to wonder whether or not she was right.
She'd never told him how she'd become involved with the D.A., and the only thing he knew about what she did for them – what she'd done for them – had been gleaned during their Occlumency sessions. It had been Abbott she'd worked with, primarily, the dozy Hufflepuff that had been taken out of class the year before. But sometimes Lovegood, with her popping grey eyes and dirty blonde hair. Those two. She had next to no contact with any other member of the anti-Carrow, anti-Dark Arts student group, but Abbott and Lovegood…they mattered to her. For some reason, Hannah Abbot and Luna Lovegood meant something to Astoria Greengrass.
He'd tried to go down to see Lovegood. Once. A while ago, now. Wormtail, his silver hand gleaming in the torchlight, had turned him away at wandpoint. And yet he lets Rowle in to torture them. I bet Bellatrix likes to hear them scream. And Wormtail was terrified of Bellatrix, so anything that made her happy, he'd do. Treacherous little bleeder. Rodent. Scum. He didn't understand why Wormtail, of all people, was still in this house, when he was clearly wary of every shadow and petrified of every other witch or wizard in the building.
Except Narcissa. Narcissa, he talked down to, and Draco had to keep himself from hexing the rat every time they were in the same room. He fingered the hawthorn wand, and it grew hot in his hands. Wormtail would get his. He'd make sure of it.
Why Lovegood, though? Why Abbott? The first time he'd seen Abbott this year, he'd nearly done a double-take, because she was nothing like the plump, simpering, idiotic Hufflepuff he remembered. She was thinner now, and her hair was mostly black, her eyes ringed in kohl. Rings on her fingers and in her ears. Fury and hatred in her face. Another one to glare at him through the masks of his nightmares. She'd threatened him. To his face. It was impressive, and she'd been tortured for it, but the expression on her face when he'd insulted the Squib Longbottom had been enough to scare him. Almost.
Lovegood…Lovegood was totally different. Completely mad. Floating up in the atmosphere. Short of a few marbles. Her spellwork was wicked fast, though, and she was in Ravenclaw for a reason. Ravenclaw was, maybe, one of the most selective Houses; you didn't get in unless you fit a very specific profile. Which meant she had to be intelligent.
Was that it? Was it her intelligence that made Greengrass care about her? He couldn't see Greengrass tolerating the floatiness much. It had driven the whole school mad. Except for that bitch of a Weasley and the idiot Longbottom, but, of course, what else could you expect from Potter's lackeys?
He swung out of bed, and headed for the door. He kept his wand in his hand.
He met Rowle coming up the stairs, summoned by Snape or the Dark Lord or who the hell knew; the blonde man's eyes narrowed when he saw Draco, and Draco tightened his grip on his wand. He was the one who had tortured Thorfinn Rowle for failing to collect Potter on the night of August fifth. Rowle had never forgiven him for being the one to wield the wand.
Wormtail met him at the gate. "You're not to go down there."
"Get out of my way, coward."
Wormtail grimaced, but held his ground. "You're not to go down there. It's not allowed."
He moved. Draco shoved Wormtail against the wall, and set his wand to the man's throat. He felt Wormtail swallow. It made the tip of the wand dimple the skin of his Adam's apple. They looked at each other for a moment, and then Wormtail, silver hand and all, pulled away. Wormtail backed down.
Ollivander was unconscious. She was sponging the blood off his face with the hem of her shirt. Draco watched her do it for a little while, wondering if that was another thing that made her matter to Greengrass, or if it was just something that she did anyway. Draco closed a hand over one of the bars, and he must have made some sound; Lovegood looked up, her popping grey eyes wary.
"Oh, hello." She said, and sat back on her heels. "You haven't come to help, have you? I'm afraid he's bleeding rather badly."
"No." Draco replied, his voice wooden. He just looked at her for a moment. Lovegood let out a breath, and then stood and vanished into the dark. A few seconds later, she returned with a cup of water and a stained shirt; she washed the cut on Ollivander's cheek, and then set the cloth over it, holding it there to stem the bleeding.
"Do you know, you have the worst concentration of nargles in your hair that I've ever seen. Other than on Harry, of course," she added, and anger leapt up in his throat. That name is never mentioned in my house. "It's quite fascinating."
He had no idea what she was talking about. He looked at her, and scoffed. "You're mad."
"Madness is just another way of seeing, don't you think?" Lovegood shifted, and crossed her legs at the ankle, stretching out by Ollivander. She kept her popping grey eyes fixed on Draco's face. "Why are you here, Draco? Don't you like the upstairs?" She answered her own question, a split second later: "No, you don't, do you? Is it because of Voldemort?"
The words stabbed him in the chest, and the burst of agony made him glance down. He was surprised when he didn't see blood pouring down his shirt. She'd nailed him to the wall, just like Greengrass, and now he had his answer as to why she was so protective of Luna Lovegood. He wondered if she'd picked up that talent of pinning people to the wall and slapping them with their own inequities from Greengrass, or vice versa, or if they'd just found each other. Kindred spirits. Kindred freaks.
He let go of the bars, and took a step back, up the stairs. Lovegood stood, a single fluid movement, and came forward, until she was just on the other side of the bars. There were bruises on her face, and blood was caked in her hair. After a moment, she cocked her head to one side. "You don't have to run away, Draco. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."
"Don't call me that."
"Mr. Malfoy, then." The head tilt grew more pronounced. "The nargles come to places and people that have meaning, that are filled with emotion. Are you all tangled up inside? I think you are, that's why they like you so much. They have great benefits, you know. Nargles know who people need. It was a nargle that lead Tonks to Remus Lupin. They whisper things. In our ears. Who we need." She rubbed the curve of her ear with a finger, and then set her hands on the bars. For once – perhaps because he'd touched it – the Shocking Spell didn't go off. "Is there one whispering in your ear, Mr. Malfoy?"
"Yes," he said.
"Do I know them? The person."
He nodded, his mouth dry as dust, dry as bone.
"Do I like her?"
A jump from 'them' to 'her.' He didn't care. He gave her another nod. "I think." He knew, but he wasn't about to tell Lovegood that.
"Is she at the school?"
"Not anymore." And he could hear the pain in his own voice when he said that, because now when he went back to Hogwarts, Greengrass wouldn't be there to take the anger away.
Lovegood's mouth quirked up in half a smile. "Yes, I think I know who you mean."
"Well, Astoria, of course. She's the only Slytherin I like. Except for you," she added, with an odd look. "I think I like you too."
What was it with these women and stunning him speechless? Draco simply looked at her, and Lovegood tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Those stupid radish earrings were still there, brightly colored against her pale skin. "Of course, you won't let me out, so I don't like you very much. But if she likes you, there's a reason."
"What's the reason?"
"I don't know, I'm not her. But you seem very sad and angry, Mr. Malfoy." A considering look flashed over her face. "Why are you here?"
"I don't know."
"To learn more about her?"
"Astoria's very private. If you have a question, you should ask her yourself."
"Ah." Lovegood bit her lower lip. A shadow flashed into her eyes. "I see. And she left you all alone."
Why was he talking to her this way? Why was she letting him? He was one of her jailers. He wasn't helping her escape, he was letting her be tortured nearly every day, he'd never come to see her before now, and she was acting as if they were out in the garden playing at high tea. Lovegood tilted her head, the other direction this time, and said, "Well, I'm here, Draco Malfoy. If you need a friend. If you don't want to be alone."
She reached through the bars, her hand held out, fingers splayed. Her nails were crusted with dirt. She was holding her hand out to him, and waiting for him to take it. Draco didn't realize he'd tucked his wand in his pocket again; he reached forward. Their fingertips had just brushed when the door at the top of the stairs slammed open again. Draco dropped his hand, and whirled around. It was Wormtail. His mother was behind him; her eyebrows went up when their eyes met, but she said nothing. Her wand was out, held in one hand.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lovegood step back from the bars, her hand falling to her side.
"She said His name." Wormtail said. "Narcissa's been sent to deal with it."
"Fine." Draco replied, and started up the stairs again. That's my mother, you damn rat, don't you dare call her by her first name. He was almost halfway up the staircase when Lovegood spoke. Her voice carried well, floating in the dusty, murky air of the dungeon.
"She's very sad and angry, too, you know." A pause, and then she called after him, "You can come and see me again, if you like."
Draco said nothing. He stepped past Wormtail and his mother, ignoring her questioning look and Wormtail's blink of surprise, and waited until the door shut before nearly bolting back upstairs.
Down below, in the basement or the dungeon or whatever it was called now that it was filled with people and not wine bottles, Luna Lovegood screamed.
So, we've hit over 25,000 hits. Thank you all so much for this...you're all dolls.
I originally had this as a oneshot, and then I thought, what the heck am I doing? It's Antipathy all over. :) So here y'all go.