This is a character study for Draco; I can't get enough of him lately. Set during DH, during the Christmas holidays. You can read it as a Luna/Draco story if you want, although I don't. There's also a tiny (very tiny, miniscule really) hint of Drarry for those who want to see it; if not it's easily ignored.
Disclaimer: I don't own Draco, Luna, or any other part of JKR's wonder Harry Potter universe. I write only for the love of the characters and the craft, not for any monetary gain.
Lights and Chimes
He almost trips down the stairs, but manages to catch himself just in time. He does stumble a bit, though, and he's making noise, the one thing he can't afford to do just now. He freezes, hand on the wall to steady himself, barely breathing, listening. Silence- he can move again (albeit more cautiously); they haven't heard him.
Only when he is at the bottom of the stairs does he dare light his wand, but it is dimmer than usual, weak. The light looks eerie ricocheting off the stone walls, out of place. His pale hair, pasty skin shining with sweat, they are out of place down here too, should be framed by the deep indigo of the cushions upstairs, resting carelessly against silken sheets. But he must do this, it is consuming him, the guilt, gnawing a hole in his stomach. Most of the time he wants to crawl in said hole, curl into a ball and hide, but he can't; he must be strong at all times. Except now, in the dead of night, when he allows himself this one moment of weakness. As long as she can't see his tears...
He hears his breath rasping out through a dry throat, and if she is not asleep she will hear it too- he hopes. Or does he? He doesn't even know which would be better at this point. The old man will certainly be asleep; he rarely stirs these days, but the girl- she was just brought in today, plucked from the train on her way home for Christmas.
He doesn't even know her name; that's the craziest part. He always called her Looney, everyone did, but that can't be right. He knows only her surname, Lovegood- isn't that ironic? Love and good together... No wonder she allied herself with Potter.
"Draco," she says suddenly, causing him to jump, literally. His feet land with loud thumps, and his heart skitters again. Aunt Bella is a heavy sleeper, he reminds himself, convinces himself.
"Draco." Again with his name and he doesn't know hers and he just wants to turn around and forget the whole thing, but he can't; his feet are rooted to the floor. Besides, he's already come this far.
So he takes a deep, shaky breath and whispers, "Episkey," hears her gasp in surprise as her finger snaps back into place- four Death Eaters and she got away with just a broken finger?
She shifts even closer now, into the feeble wandlight, but Draco cannot look at her. Instead he pokes his wand through the bars on the door and says "Tergeo." He can almost hear the grime siphoning off the floor, squishy and unpleasant. But now they won't have to lie in it; they are people, not animals.
His eyes are firmly fixed on his shoes, once-shiny dragonhide now scuffed something awful. His free hand reaches into his pocket to extract a cup, a tiny tin can really, but it's what he could find in the few moments he had unsupervised today. Imagine his mother's face if she saw a Malfoy, her son, rifling through a pile of rubbish!
He still can't look at Lovegood, so he sticks his hand through the bars blindly, intending to drop the thing and be done with it, but before he can her fingers touch the back of his hand, and he freezes. She doesn't say anything, or move at all, and it is undeniably awkward and unnerving but somehow, strangely, comforting.
Finally, he realizes what she wants, and takes a deep breath to steady his nerves, to brace himself for what he might see, and raises his gaze to her face. To his astonishment, he finds no malice, no accusation, only warmth, understanding, kindness. Her protuberant eyes seem to glow with it in the wandlight.
"Thank you," she whispers, and takes the can. He wants to speak, to tell her that the back corner of the ceiling leaks and she is meant to catch the water in the can, supplement her rations, but his mouth won't work. And now he's shaking again- or is it still? Has he once stopped at any point in these past two years?
His lack of response doesn't seem to bother her in the slightest, because she continues on serenely. "I know you think you had no choice, but you did. All of them up there have the same choice, they just don't make it. But you, you're different than the rest. You're good, Draco, deep down inside. And you're more scared of becoming them than of what they can do to you.
"So I know why you're doing this, why it feels like you had to do it. Had to do something, because the alternative is... well, thank you."
She steps back then, away from the door, turns around, and suddenly Draco can't hold back. "Is Potter alive?" If Potter is still fighting, then there is hope, then Draco's risk means something, then maybe he can consider this whole "good" business. If he's not, Draco might as well crawl in there with Lovegood.
"Yes," she says simply. "Yes, I'm sure Harry's fine. And don't worry, Draco, he will win. I know he will; light always triumphs. He'll win." She pauses, examining her mended finger as if it holds some secret of tremendous importance, before slowly turning around. "You could help him, you know." Her voice has taken on a dreamy quality now, but it somehow makes every word she says much more weighty. "It seems unthinkable at first, of course, impossible, but you can. If you thought about why you're down here, where that question came from- that one, out of all the others- why it's nagging you, you'd know. You can help him."
She smiles softly, blonde hair almost as pale as his but somehow catching the wandlight and magnifying it, throwing it back to him like the moon does for the sun, bathing his face in light and warmth.
He lowers his wand, but he can still see her knowing smile clearly, etched in his mind. Her words running an endless loop, and slowly Draco's own internal voice echoes them, now takes over... I can help him?... I can help him?...
Maybe one day I'll believe that, he thinks, and turns his back on Luna Lovegood- never again will he forget that name. As he's leaving, he sees a rusty nail on the floor. Impulsively, he kicks it backwards, towards the cell door where it hits one of the iron bars with a soft sound like a bell, a pure clear note that reverberates around the tiny space, filling his ears.
Luna's soft, delighted laughter in response is a reminder, a tribute to all Draco had lost thus far, to everything that the world stands to lose. And the chiming ping of metal on metal crescendoes to resemble a gong, a call to arms, an announcement. Signaling a new start, another chance, a challenge. I can help him?
And the light grows brighter as the question mark slowly fades.
Thanks for reading. Reviews are lovely :)