All right! Another Draco/Luna fic! I love writing Luna - it's quite interesting to try and get inside her head. This one takes place the year after the Battle of Hogwarts, and for the sake of the story I'm assuming that both Malfoy and Luna return. So this is pre-Wrackspurts, but you don't have to read the both of them together.

Disclaimer: I own nada. All characters and locations are property of JK Rowling.

Butterbeer Cork Necklace

She's sitting by the lake, trailing her fingers in the water and admiring the patterns they leave when she hears footsteps behind her.

She wonders for a moment whether they've come to tease her. She had hoped that after the battle people would be nicer, but some weren't. It was harder, because Harry and Ronald and Neville weren't at school anymore. She misses her friends, but she hadn't really expected them to return. They aren't exactly the studying type.

And she has Ginny to sit with between classes. They talk about things like the new Pygmy Puff George is breeding. She notices that the youngest Weasley always avoids going past the spot where her brother was killed. Luna doesn't blame her; she remembers how long it took her to go into her mother's workshop after she died.

And Hermione always has interesting things to talk about - when she isn't studying feverishly for her NEWTs.

Her mind wanders back to the present and she remembers that there's someone behind her. She turns to look at them - always better to face your attacker, she remembers from the DA lessons - and is surprised to see Draco Malfoy standing a few feet from her, looking almost wistfully out across the lake.

She knows he's been having a difficult year. She sees him sitting alone in the windows, sometimes reading a book. And she's heard some of the things people whisper when they think he's not there. It's better, she thinks, to have people openly insult you rather than to have them go behind your back and rip you open when you can't see.

Still, she knows that Theodore Nott, a slight boy in her year, is getting worse because his father was at the front line of the Death Eaters. Or Kenneth Smith, who stood up at the beginning of class one day and said he didn't see why Voldemort's methods were so bad, even if his reasons were quite horrible.

She wonders if he's noticed her or if he wandered here absentmindedly. She turns so she's facing the lake, just like he is, and sticks her feet in the water.

"Hello, Draco Malfoy," she says. She's never thought of him as just Draco or just Malfoy. The two go together quite well, she thinks. She wonders if he'll name his children after constellations.

He turns to look at her. "Loony Lovegood," he says. She wonders if it's meant as an insult, but it's almost become a nickname (at least when Ronald calls her that). Maybe he's come to talk. She's never had a conversation with him, ever. She thinks this could be interesting.

He looks back out at the lake and clears his throat. "Um... I... Well, you see..."

She decides to help him out a bit. "It's been one hundred sixty-one days since I escaped from the dungeon," she says. "I don't blame you, Draco. There wasn't anything you could do."

"They tortured you," he says. "I should have done - something." She notices he's careful not to use names, which is interesting because both of them know who he's talking about.

She looks out at the lake. "Did they? I can't remember."

He turns to look at her, an incredulous look on his face. She can tell what he's thinking - Is she truly mad?

The truth is, she remembers all too well. She even wakes up at night in a cold sweat and has to walk around the dormitory and make sure the windows aren't barred. She reaches up to her neck to touch her butterbeer cork necklace before she remembers she lost it when they took her. She hasn't had enough butterbeer yet to make a new one.

But she doesn't like to remember bad things when she's tying to have a nice conversation. So she just smiles at him and pats the ground next to her. "Sit," she offers. "The ground really is quite soft here."

He hesitates for a moment, then sits next to her, pulling his knees to his chest. "Even if you can't remember, you deserve an apology," he told her. She nods and says, "You sit alone a lot this year."

He laughs, and before now she'd never thought that a laugh could sound so hopeless. "I'm the son of one of the Dark Lo- Voldemort's lieutenants," he says, and she catches the quick change, the way his eyes close when he says the word Voldemort.

To be honest, she knows how he feels. The word gives her shivers, partially because she's heard the story of how Harry, Ronald, and Hermione - however often they're referred to as "The Golden Trio" in the Prophet or Quibbler, she still thinks of them by name - were caught by Snatchers after breaking the Taboo.

"Did you know that Sirius Black's parents were strongly anti-Muggle? They used to hunt Muggles for sport." She never heard this from Sirius himself, but Harry had told her a bit about his godfather after the Ministry. "I think they almost disowned him when he went into Gryffindor."

He laughs again, and she's happy to see that it's more of a real laugh. "That's exactly what I was afraid of when I put the Sorting Hat on," he confesses.

Personally, she hadn't had any clue what House she wanted or didn't want, and when the hat shouted "RAVENCLAW!" she'd almost sat down at the Hufflepuff table.

"But he became one of the most popular people in school," she finishes her explanation. "Or so Harry tells me."

Draco Malfoy turns to look at her. "So what you're trying to tell me is that I should be better, even though my parents weren't?" Luna thinks for a minute. She actually isn't quite sure what she was trying to accomplish when she brought up Sirius Black.

"Actually, I think I was trying to say that people will like you even if they don't like your parents. And you defected, didn't you? Everyone knows how Narcissa Malfoy declared Harry dead," she says, impulsively reaching out to touch his shoulder.

He lets her hand stay there and doesn't say anything for a long while.

Finally, the dinner bell rings and he gets to his feet, extending a hand to help her up. "Isn't it hard?" he asks suddenly. "To have everyone taking your things and calling you insane?"

She shakes her head. "They just don't understand me, so they're afraid of me."

He stares at her for a long moment. "You are a very interesting person, Loony Lovegood," he says, and turns to walk back up the the castle.

Luna stays by the lake for a few more moments, watching the giant squid lazily wave a tentacle in the air. She doesn't think anyone's called her interesting before. Crazy? Yes. Weird? Yes. Odd? Absolutely.

She decides she likes it, and, picking up her cloak, walks happily back to the castle.


Three days later, an owl flutters down in front of her at breakfast and holds out its talon. Attached is a small leather pouch and a piece of parchment. She unfolds the parchment first. On it, in neat, elegant handwriting, are two words: Thank You.

She thinks she knows who sent it, but at the moment she turns her attention to the pouch. When she opens it a necklace falls out, and she's delighted to see it's her old butterbeer cork necklace. She undoes the clasp and fastens it around her neck.

She fingers the old, drying, cracking corks as she looks over to the Slytherin table. Draco Malfoy is seated there, between Vincent Crabbe and Theodore Nott. He looks more relaxed than he's seemed the entire year, and she smiles brightly at him.

He can't help but smile back as he looks at the Ravenclaw, her grin almost from ear to ear. He'd thought she was missing something.