A/N: Well, it's been a while. This was inspired by that shot in Hallows part 2, where Luna is standing behind Draco, and all of us were desperate for him to stay with the Hogwarts lot. Never written this pairing before, don't suppose I will again, but I had the idea stuck in my head. Just a quick note to those that read Before the Dawn, there's a seprequel, and it's taking a little bit of time to get it worked out, but I'll start posting in the next few weeks. It'll be called One by One. And after that shameless plug I'll let you get on and read the story. Let me know what you think! =]
He has to wait for a long time before he can do it. It has to be one of those nights where his father has slithered off to the other side of the manor, after his mother has bestowed one of her looks upon him that makes sure he is in no doubt that this is all his fault.
It especially has to be one of those nights where Bella is away, probably murdering children or blowing up hospitals (the thought makes a little bit of acid rise in his throat).
Even more especially, it has to be one of those nights where he is out of the country.
He is not brave. He has never been brave, and he doesn't particularly want to be. Brave people die young. He doesn't much fancy that.
But he doesn't particularly enjoy being a coward either.
He pulls on his dressing gown, pushes his feet into his slippers and leaves his bedroom, closing the door quietly behind him. His ears are on high alert for any noise as he creeps towards the staircase, and when one of the floorboards lets out a squeak that sounds so much louder in the dark than it would in the day, he nearly jumps out of his skin.
His heart pounds in his chest as he descends the stairs, his slightly sweaty hand grazing against the bannister. When he reaches the bottom he stops, he listens, and after thirty seconds of the hairs on his neck standing on end, he proceeds to the kitchen, squinting through the darkness. He pushes open the kitchen door, and lights his wand.
When he thinks back to first year, when he had to concentrate on the word as he said it, and now he barely even has to think it, he's rather proud.
Yes, congratulations Draco, you led death eaters into Hogwarts last year and ensured the death of Albus Dumbledore, but well done, you can light your wand tip without saying anything aloud.
Everything always comes back to that. That fateful night on the tower. He knows it will haunt him for the rest of his life.
And so it should.
He shakes off the feeling of a hand on his shoulder. He gets it whenever he thinks about that night. It's a cold feeling, but not unpleasantly so. It just is what it is, and then he does his best to ignore it.
Remembering that he's not supposed to standing around complaining to himself about the cards life has dealt him, he turns the handle of the pantry door slowly, there is a quiet clunk and it swings open.
Maybe, just maybe, this will go some way to easing the guilt that overcomes him every time he thinks of what happened. It's only a small act, but he can't do much else.
He's just trying to make amends.
He looks around, and spots a loaf of bread. Concentrating hard, like he did all those years ago when trying to master the Lumos spell, he whispers, "Germinio!"
Another loaf of bread pops into existence, and he places it carefully on the side, before duplicating some cheese and a couple of flasks of pumpkin juice. He takes them downstairs, to the cellar, his sense of fear growing with every step into the darkness. He reaches the barred door of the makeshift prison, and shines his wandlight into the room, trying to pick out the figures in the darkness. A pair of mucky trainers shifts in the darkness, and moving the light along he can see a mass of dirty blonde hair, and then, when he reaches her face, her pale eyes staring at him, her expression blank.
"Come here!" he hisses.
"Why?" she asks serenely. She doesn't seem all that bothered by the situation. Perhaps she has become accustomed to it, or perhaps she is tougher than she looks.
"I have food," he says, throwing a quick glance over his shoulder to make sure he is still alone. "Quickly!"
She gets up from the floor and walks quickly towards him. He passes the bread, cheese and flasks through the bars and she runs off into some dark corner, hiding it under a ragged blanket that she has apparently given up on trying to use for warmth.
He is about to leave when she returns, and sits down next to the bars. She pats the floor beside her, inviting him to sit too, and after a moment's hesitation, he complies. There is something about her that makes him feel safe.
"I know you're not a bad person," she says in that soft voice of hers. "I do know, Draco."
He doesn't know how to respond to this. He knows all the others at Hogwarts said she was weird, he's heard her being referred to as 'Loony Lovegood' on more than one occasion. She's odd, that's for certain. But she's not crazy. There's a difference.
Bellatrix is crazy.
Luna is quite sane in comparison. She's just very direct.
"Are you scared?" she asks.
"Not really," she says airily. "If they were going to kill me they'd have done it already. I'm probably safer in here than I am out there."
"I can't let you out," he says quickly. "If I let you out they'll -"
"I know," she says, reaching a grubby hand through the bars and placing it on his forearm.
It's been a long time since anyone has actually touched him. The thought makes him feel more alone than ever, and as her hand disappears back between the bars, he almost wants to grab it and hold it, just to feel connected to another human being.
"Don't worry," she says at last. "Harry will win, I'm sure of it."
"Oh I know," she tells him, her eyes meeting his and staring at him so intensely that he almost finds himself knowing it too.
"But where is he?" Draco asks. "No one's seen him for -"
"Exactly," Luna says. "He's clever enough to hide from everyone You-Know-Who has got looking for him. He's not just going to be sitting around, he's going to be working on a way to defeat him. Don't you think?"
"Maybe," he says, though his tone gives away his lack of belief.
"I promise you Draco," she says, reaching through the bars again. This time she takes his hand, linking their fingers together. "This will not last forever."
He thinks back to her earlier question, and decides to answer it.
"I am scared. Really scared."
"I know," she whispers. She squeezes his hand tighter, and shifts towards him, resting her head against the bars, her other hand finding his forearm in the darkness and coming to rest on it. Draco leans his head against the bars too. He's not sure how long he sits there for, but when Luna tells him he'd better head back, he realises it's probably been too long, and the stiffness in his joints when he stands confirms it.
"There will always be a place for you with us," she says. "Don't forget that, Draco. Always."
He nods, and climbs the stairs. The bannister feels cold and unfriendly after he's spent so long holding her hand. He looks back when he reaches the top of the stairs. She's still leaning against the bars, her knees pulled up to her chest. She smiles softly at him, and after a moment that could have lasted several minutes, he tears his eyes away and starts his journey back to his bedroom.
He sleeps better that night than he has for a long time.
Honestly, he doesn't know what to do.
He wishes Luna were with him. He'd feel safer.
It's Harry, there's no doubt about it. No matter how badly he's been stung, or how disfigured his face is, Granger and Weasley wouldn't be found with anyone else, and he's surprised his father doesn't realise this.
"Is it him, Draco?"
Bella is gripping his arm tightly. He doesn't like the contact. It makes his skin crawl.
"I don't know," he says shakily. He's buying time, but for what, he doesn't know.
Potter is looking him straight in the eye and he can almost hear his voice inside his head.
Potter has to live. He has to be the one to defeat him once and for all.
"I don't think -"
"Draco," his father is gripping his shoulder now, his fingers digging into Draco's flesh. "If we are the ones to hand Potter to the Dark Lord, then all will be forgiven."
"But -" He looks to his mother, but she is looking at the floor, her hands clasped in front of her.
When Bella sees the sword, all hell breaks loose. His mother drags him from the room, and throws him into the dining room at the other end of the hall.
"Stay in here," she hisses, slamming the door behind her.
Granger will suffer, and although he has never liked her, the thought does not sit well with him.
However, they have time, and time is all Potter ever needs to wriggle out of things like this. Just like Luna said, he's not going to be sitting around.
He doesn't struggle with the wands. All Draco has been using his for in the last few months is to duplicate food for Luna and the others, but no doubt Potter's already rescued them.
He hopes so anyway.
A dreadful part of him hopes not, though.
He won't feel safe without Luna.
Potter is lying dead in Hagrid's arms. Somehow, Draco is with all the Hogwarts students, staff and Order members.
Potter is with the death eaters.
It is a bizarre switch. One that makes the lump in his throat grow, and his skin tingle unpleasantly.
Bella is beside herself with glee, cackling madly and dancing about. She is completely unhinged. He's known that for a while, but now, now he sees how deep the madness goes.
"I now invite you to declare yourselves." He is talking. He's just as ecstatic as Bella, but he's controlling it a little better.
He looks towards the sound of the voice and sees his mother, her eyes begging him to come and join her.
His father's tone isn't so inviting. It is the sound of a desperate man. He's not sure he wants to be associated with that.
There is a hand on his shoulder. It is warm. He doesn't need to look up to know who it belongs to.
"Now is the time to be brave," she whispers, so quietly that no one, even in the deadly silence, can hear her except him.
He feels brave. Almost.
Voldemort is looking at him with a curious leer on his face, his wand slightly raised.
"What is this, Draco?" he asks silkily. "Are you refusing to join us?"
The hand on his shoulder squeezes, but not uncomfortably. It spurs him on.
"Dissent will not be tolerated." His voice crawls over Draco's skin like spiders, and despite the hand on his shoulder he feels sick.
He doesn't feel scared though.
"Your last chance, Draco."
Feeling braver than ever, Draco makes eye contact, and says nothing.
"Quiet Narcissa! The boy has made his choice."
All his life has been leading to this moment. Brave people die young, he's known that all along. He's amazed Potter has managed to last as long as he has.
Voldemort's wand moves into position, and he knows the words that are coming next. He knows he has to push Luna away, just in case, and he knows where he's going he won't be forced into things he doesn't want to do. It's almost a relief.
Then Potter leaps out of Hagrid's arms, and runs for it. Voldemort follows, and Draco is spared.
Luna takes his hand, and they go and join the battle.
Today is the day he finds out that making amends is the most important thing in the world.
He has his place, at Hogwarts, with the others, but most importantly, with Luna.