Author's Notes: Written for the 4H level of Lady Phoenix Fire Rose's One Hour Challenge on the HPFC forum, with the pairings Draco/Astoria and Draco/Luna and the prompts "Insanity, Night, Walk among the clouds"
Also for Lolaaaa's Harry Potter Fanfiction Festival on the HPFC forum with the category of Draco/Luna multichapter, and the prompts "Ice, Soul, Hollow, Reflection, Drowning".
Dedicated to the Druna Appreciators Society forum, and especially to my dear friend Alphadoggg, as a rather belated birthday present… hopefully the length will make up for the lateness?
Banner: http: / /pics. livejournal. com/gamma_x_orionis/pic/0000ph5p
10 000 words all told. Contains infidelity, fade-to-black sex and possibly clinically insane!Luna. Enjoy!
Draco came home late one night to a manor with a light blazing in his wife's window.
He had been expecting Astoria to be asleep by the time he arrived – in fact, he had been counting on it to help him avoid an altercation. He should have known better, though… his wife was hardly the sort who would have gone to sleep if she thought that he would be out late. She would (and had, he realised) stay up until the moment he came in, to demand where he had been.
Why Draco should have to justify himself to her in his own house was beyond him, he thought, as he unlocked the door and crept slowly up the stairs, dreading what would meet him when he came to his and Astoria's bedchamber. He was the man of the house, and yet Astoria seemed to hold him accountable to her, even though marrying her had been below Draco's station, and she should have been constantly grovelling at his feet, trying to prove to him that she would be a devoted wife and worth his hand in marriage.
He opened the door of the bedroom and peered in. Astoria was in bed, lying beneath the quilt with her nose buried in a book, and she did not look up when Draco came in, but she did speak.
"I know that," he said rather more snappishly than he had intended to. He pulled off his travelling cloak and threw it over the back of a chair, trying to avoid his wife's eyes.
Astoria set down the book she was reading and gave her husband a sharp glare, as cold and piercing as icicles. "You never speak to me anymore. You're always out on business."
"I am not!" Draco protested with more than a hint of annoyance, turning back to her. "And my work for the Ministry is very important, as you ought to know. It's no easy task having to rebuild your family's reputation from the ground when everyone knows that they were Death Eaters."
"So you've told me," said Astoria coolly. "You've told me over and over and over again, and I still don't understand why having to rebuild your family's reputation means that you can't be bothered to spend any time with your wife."
"You are being stupid, Astoria," Draco told her, a note of sheer impatience joining the annoyance in his voice. "Why is it that you cannot accept the idea of me having any life outside this house?"
There was a silence, and Draco felt a sinking, twisting feeling in his chest that suggested he had just crossed a line. Astoria's hands began to shake, and her nails dig into the deep green silk of the bedspread, a flush rising in her cheeks.
"You know, Draco," she said, and he could hear how she was forcing herself to sound calm, "It's just possible – and only just possible, I'm sure," she added, her voice dripping in sarcasm, "that maybe I don't like you being out night after night because I know adultery runs in your family."
Draco's throat tightened and his stomach sank. "How dare you even say that, Astoria?" he whispered, physically trembling in anger. "How dare you?"
"Don't pretend like you don't know just exactly what I'm talking about." Astoria sounded more than a touch smug. "Your mother and your uncle, for example… I heard that they had a very… intimate relationship–"
"What my mother did with her brother in law is none of my concern and even less of yours!"
"Or your father and that woman… what was her name? Alice something…"
"Be quiet!" Draco ordered. He grabbed his wand from the pocket of his robes and aimed it down at Astoria. She only laughed at him, an ugly sneer curling upon her lips.
"You do know what I mean, then," she breathed. She was like a spider, Draco thought, trapping him in a sticky web until he was forced to confess that he had heard of his parents' adulterous behaviour. His mother's especially – her all too well publicised love affair with Rodolphus Lestrange – made him ill to think of– and it was something he'd thought about far more than he would have cared to.
"I've heard some even worse rumours about your father, actually," Astoria continued. "I've heard not only that he'd been unfaithful to your mother, but also that he's happened to take some very… unusual… lovers."
"I'm sure that I don't know what you mean."
"Oh, don't you, Draco? There was that little incident with the p–"
Draco whirled around and started for the door.
"Running away from me?" Astoria demanded. He heard her feet hit the floor and then felt her hand on his shoulder, twisting him around to face her again. "You're running away, are you? You think that you can get away from those accusations about your parents just by stalking out? And do you think – are you really so damn stupid–"
"You watch your mouth when you speak to your husband!"
"So damn stupid that you'd believe that what your parents did shouldn't make me wonder if you'd do the same to me?"
Draco was silent, and so was Astoria. They glared at each other, her having to tip her head back so she could look up and meet his eyes.
"No," he hissed. "I'm not going to listen to this, you little bitch. Do you hear me? I'm not unfaithful and I won't take your accusations that I am!"
Astoria opened her mouth to say something more, but before she could get a word out, Draco had pushed her backwards and stormed away.
"Don't you walk out on me!" she cried, but he did not listen, and he slammed their bedroom door behind them, and then stormed down the sweeping spiral staircase and out the front door. Only when he was out of the house, feeling the night air against his face, did he stop, calm himself, and lean against it, resting his head on the metalwork that decorated the wood.
Bloody Hell, why did things have to be so hard?
He knew well enough that he would not be welcome back into the bedroom tonight. Knowing Astoria – that spiteful little bitch – she'd probably locked the door from the inside to be sure he couldn't get back in.
Well, good. Fine. He didn't want to sleep in the same bed as her in any case. He'd far prefer to spend the night in one of the dozens of spare rooms in Malfoy Manor – there were ones far better than the one he and Astoria (Astoria, really – he had had little choice in the matter) had chosen as the master bedroom. Ones far away enough from where his wife was to sleep, he thought with a sneer, that he might even be able to have lovers in them and she would never know.
But he did not keep lovers, because what woman would dare to be the wrecker of Astoria Greengrass's – Astoria Malfoy's – home? She, Astoria, and Draco were too well known for an affair to be carried out in secret, even with the most discrete of ladies. And most ladies were not discrete.
It was hardly how Draco would have preferred things to be – but then, it did mean that Astoria was not keeping lovers either. Perhaps there was some benefit to it, then.
Really, though, if Astoria did keep lovers, would he care? What did it matter to Draco if she was having a dozen men in her bed? He had long since admitted to himself, in the very darkest and most brutally honest corners of his heart, that he didn't love her – such was the downfall of marriages made for political reasons of preserving reputations – and so, objectively, he should not have cared if she were unfaithful.
And he didn't care much, if he examined himself honestly. He disliked the idea of his wife having lovers because it would indicate that he, Draco, was not good enough, but there was no reason that he would be angry Astoria personally for keeping them.
Oh, but what miserable thoughts were these.
He had come out to clear his mind of these ideas, he reminded himself, so that he might sleep. Thinking nothing but angry and melancholy thoughts about his wife would do him no good, and only make him angrier and thus less likely to sleep well.
He breathed in a lungful of the warm, fresh July night air, seasoned with the smell of roses and fresh grass and all the flowers that Astoria insisted on being grown in the gardens, held it for a moment, then let it out in a slow whistle, then sank down onto the ground and plucked a stray blade of grass out of the earth. He twirled it lightly between his fingers, wondering idly if it was presently worth trying to work out how to whistle with it. Blaise Zabini had shown him how to when they were in third year, back at Hogwarts, but Draco had never really gotten the knack, though he had managed a few feeble notes when Blaise's hands had been firmly over his to keep the blade of grass in place. And he had not practiced in years and years – more likely than not, he would simply produce one of the ridiculous and disgusting sputtering noises that he had made when first learning.
He did raise it to his lips though, and gave a tentative blow, then jumped and nearly dropped it as an ear splitting shriek from the blade of grass pierced the air. It fell from his fingers and his heart pounded as he stared down upon it with some degree of trepidation.
Maybe he had picked up the knack after all…
The loud noise had set his heart to thumping once again, and he dared not pick up another piece of grass, for fear of making another such incredible noise – and Astoria would kill him if he tried to pick a flower from her precious beds.
Perhaps he would walk around for a bit to calm himself. That would give Astoria a chance to calm down as well, and then he could go back in and pretend utter shame and repentance for his behaviour – though he felt nothing but sullen irritation at the way that she had treated him – and then Astoria would sigh and say that no, it was all her fault, and Draco would tell her that it wasn't while internally saying that it was, and then they would embrace and perhaps make love, and all would be forgiven. Oh, it would only be forgiven until the next night when Draco was not home early enough for his wife's satisfaction, but surely that was better than nothing.
He stood up and started down the steps and along the garden path. It wound about the grounds in a labyrinth so complex that if you were concerned about stepping on flowers (which Draco, luckily for him, was not) then you might get all the way to the other side of the grounds while still wandering the maze and never work out how you came. You might not even be able to get back, if you were particularly concerned about the wellbeing of the flowers, even though from even the furthest corners of the grounds, you could see the manor.
Of course, Draco was more than willing to trample across flowerbeds – his wife's carefully manicured and tended ones, at any rate – to get back to the house. He had no particular care for them.
He set out along the winding path, intending to follow it until he grew bored and then cut across the flowerbeds to get back in. As he walked, he stared with dazed, glassy eyes upon the ground.
There were the narcissus that he had insisted be planted in his mother's honour. Astoria had balked, saying that narcissus did not fit with a proper English garden, not amongst roses and pinks and such, but Draco had been firm, and so they had been given a small patch, nearly out of the sunlight entirely, but still present.
Draco felt a surge of indefinable anger, quite separate from either the exasperation's with his wife's accusations of infidelity or the injustice that Draco should have to argue so vehemently to get so much as one single, small patch for his mother's honour in a garden so large that, by rights, belonged to him. He brought his foot down hard and smashed a quickly going to seed crocus beneath his shoe.
At that moment, for reasons alien to Draco, he hated Astoria completely. Everything wrong in his life – even the way in which he was treated by the others at the Ministry of Magic, which had everything to do with his parents being Death Eaters and nothing whatsoever to do with Astoria – was her fault, and he was ready to kill her for it.
Draco stopped in the path and let his head fall back, breathing deeply. That was foolish. Astoria was not at fault for every wrong in his life – some of them, yes, like that he could not stay a minute late at work for fear of being interrogated upon stepping inside, or that his own manor had been taken forcibly from him, but far from all – and it was nothing short of foolish for him to treat her as though she was. She had not caused the second war, she had not forced his parents to side with the Dark Lord, and her other crimes… why should he be so angry about them in any case? He had no interest in the gardens, except for the patch of narcissus, and as for his supposed affair… it need not worry him, he told himself. After all, he had nothing to fear as long as he had nothing to hide.
And he was quite innocent. Quite innocent.
He was still, contemplating his own innocence, but his heart all but stopped when he heard a quiet rustling from some distance down the path.
Draco jumped at the sound, his hand springing to his wand again. He stood as still as the statues that lined the gardens (Greek statues, gifts from his father to his mother many years ago, and very handsome in their stately and classical poise) and waited to hear it again. Perhaps, he thought, gripping his wand so tightly that he could feel blood draining out of his knuckles, it was simply a small animal that had wandered in. Perhaps it was nothing more than a fox, he told himself. Yes, that was it. It was surely simply a pest – an irritant, yes, but nothing to be so nervous over.
Then there was another rustle.
It came from the rosebush.
The rosebush was Narcissa's, and before her, it had belonged to some other woman in the family, and before her it had been some other woman, and now it was Astoria's, though she hardly ever cared for it. She had not planted it, and thus, it did not interest her.
"Who's there?" Draco called, aware that if it was indeed no one, then he would feel extremely foolish, and if it was someone, there was every chance that they would not answer and an equally great chance that the answer would be something he did not like.
There was no more sound, but, squinting down the path at the bush, he thought he fancied to see a pair of hands slowly parting the branches as though to peer out at him.
He started forward in long strides, holding his wand out in front of him. If it was – as he doubted, but still hoped – simply an animal and the hands were a figment of his imagination, then no harm done. He would go to the bush and see nothing more than a frightened little fox, he would scare it away – perhaps stun it and throw it over the garden walls – and then he would go back to bed, satisfied that there were no intruders in his grounds. And if it were not an animal… if it were indeed a human trespassing upon his property… well, then, his reaction would have everything to do with who exactly it was.
Draco reached the rosebush at last and stepped around it, staring down at the ground to see his uninvited guest.
He had to say, it was not a sight that he had been expecting.
A pale girl, barefoot and wearing an icy white dress that made her already fair complexion look positively pallid, was kneeling in the flowerbeds, slowly plucking white roses off the bush, apparently oblivious to the blood running down her fingers. Her head was bowed, and blonde hair, glinting in the light from Astoria's window, shielded her face from Draco's sight.
"You!" Draco shouted, holding up his wand. "Who are you? Get out!"
The girl seemed not in the slightest startled by his shout. She lifted her head very slowly and turned around, and he was met with a pair of large, protuberant, all too familiar silver grey eyes.
"Yes…" Her voice still had the dreamy, serene quality that it had always possessed, but it was thinner than it had once been, strained slightly, as though she had not used it in a long time. There was an eerie lilting tone to it as well – half song as well as half speech.
"Why are you here?" Draco demanded. His voice shook for reasons he could not understand, and he raised his wand in a trembling hand to point it at Luna.
She looked up at him and stood slowly, floating forward. The white roses she had been gathering in her arms cascaded to the ground and she stepped through them, pausing ankle-deep in icy petals. She looked, from the delicate, almost ethereal way she moved, like she was walking among clouds rather than against the murdered corpses of flowers.
"I came to see you, Draco Malfoy," she told him, tilting her head to one side. Her pale hair streamed across her face and shoulders like a white waterfall, glistening in the lamplight from Astoria's room inside.
Oh God, Astoria… what would she think if she saw this?
It was like being inside an illustration in one of the fairy tale books that Draco's parents had bought for him when he was a very small child. He had distinct memories of gallant knights running across girls like Loony Lovegood – or, rather, Luna, Luna Lovegood, the eerie creature before him – and finding them out to be vengeful ghosts, killed, perhaps, by some act or family curse, and the gallant knight had to do something to prevent them from wreaking havoc upon the good, civilized world.
But Luna Lovegood did not look vengeful. Frightening, yes, but not in a way that would have suggested to Draco that she might ever contemplate revenge upon him or his family or anyone, really. She looked far too delicate and frail to want revenge.
"What do you want with me?" he asked. "Why do you want to see me?"
"I should think a lot of people would want to see you," she mused quietly, turning away as though she were no longer speaking to Draco at all. "I should think that a great many people would want to see Malfoy Manor, after what happened here…"
"Oh…" Draco let out a soft, half hiss, half sigh of understanding. Yes. Malfoy Manor. Perhaps the Lovegood girl wanted revenge after all – after all, she had been a captive here. It would not be unwarranted. He glanced around quickly. Perhaps she meant to murder him out here in the gardens and leave his body as a warning to others who might dare to entrap a poor, innocent naive little girl simply because she had not realised that she should have fought on the other side of the war from that she did. He tightened his grip on his wand, preparing himself for battle.
But she had no weapons. Her hands were empty, except for the streaming blood from where she had sliced them open upon the thorns of the roses she had been picking.
"The people who kept you here don't live here anymore," he told her, as though he expected that to make any sort of difference. She was crazy after all – always had been – why would he think she would care about who lived here and who was responsible? But he spoke anyhow, with a note of desperation growing in his voice. "I wouldn't have kept you here if I could have made a difference."
"What?" Luna said softly. "I don't understand you."
"If you're here to…" Draco's voice broke and he could barely keep going, "to exact revenge on me, then it won't work. I'm not the one who did those things to you. It's not my fault!" His voice rose almost hysterically at the end.
Luna blinked at him.
"I know it's not your fault," she told him. "I'm not here for revenge. I don't want revenge."
That had not been what he expected her to say. He stared at her, perplexed. "Pardon?"
"I don't like revenge much," she said softly, bending down and picking up a rose. She twirled it slowly between her fingertips. "I think forgiveness usually makes people happier, you see."
"Then what in the Hell are you here for?" Draco demanded, losing patience. As much as he had dreaded hearing that she was here for revenge and was going to kill him and leave his body out here among the flowers for Astoria to find in the morning… at least that would have been a reaction he could have understood. He didn't – couldn't – understand why Luna Lovegood would want to forgive him.
"I just wanted to talk," Luna said. Her voice shook slightly, and she tilted her head the other way. Draco watched her hair slither down her shoulders and back, mesmerized like a snake before a charmer.
"What do you want to talk to me for? I barely know you." He managed to force a note of scorn into his voice. "I thought you had the Weasleys for friends to talk to."
"Ginny Weasley is very kind," Luna told him in a soft tone. "But she's also not the sort of person I want to talk to right now."
"What sort of person do you want, then? An ex-Death Eater? Am I supposed to believe that?"
"Why wouldn't I?"
"Want to talk to an ex-Death Eater? I can think of a few reasons." His voice began to rise again. "For example, because it's because of us – of them," he added, correcting himself, "that you spent months trapped in a basement, just because we – they – thought that Potter would come to try to save you."
"You – or they – were right," Luna said simply. "Harry did save me."
"Harry Potter was brought to my parents," Draco snapped. "He didn't come to the manor for you!"
"I know," Luna said softly. She closed her hand into a fist, crushing the delicate flower within, and Draco saw blood dripping down her hand. "That's why I didn't go to him, you see. I knew it would be better for me to go to you…"
"I'm sorry for ruining your flowers," she told him, as though she hadn't even heard his question. "I didn't mean to hurt the flowers, but I wanted some of them…"
"Don't worry about the bloody flowers!" Draco snapped. "Just tell me why you're here!"
Luna began to hum softly. She closed her eyes and held out her arms, spinning around in slow circles. "I remember being here," she whispered at last. "I remember when they took me in."
"You're mad," Draco whispered, stepping backwards warily. She did look mad, utterly out of her mind, spinning around in bare feet – feet that kept getting stabbed by the thorns of the roses, feet that were streaming blood, though she seemed not to even notice.
"People say that to me rather often," Luna told him, her voice still unbearably serene and sweet, though Draco thought she should have been screaming in pain for the state her feet were in. She must have had thorns digging right up into the muscles – how was she even able to stay upright? Draco had a distinct memory of pricking his finger upon a thorn from his mother's roses when he was young, and crying for hours – he still suspected that there was some kind of venom inside those flowers that made the cuts hurt all the more, though Narcissa, Astoria, Professor Snape and all the books in the library on plants had proved him quite categorically wrong.
But the thorns didn't seem to be hurting Luna – at least, not in any way she was registering. The petals beneath her feet were turning scarlet from her blood now, the clouds she was walking among being stained.
"Stop," he ordered her. "Stop spinning. Stand still. Merlin's sake, you're going to tear the flesh right off your bones. Stop it!"
Luna stopped spinning abruptly. She stood very still, staring at Draco with her head cocked lightly to one side.
She had to be. There was no other explanation – even the mad girl from Hogwarts that Luna Lovegood had been in Draco's memory hadn't been like this. Stupid, naïve, yes, but not… not like this.
"Come inside." He dropped his voice to a whisper, glancing nervously over his shoulder at the window where Astoria's light still shone. He would find her a spare room, lock her up in it, and when he had a chance, he could get her out… get her to St. Mungo's, maybe.
Luna had had her arms out gracefully by her shoulders, but at Draco's words, she dropped them to her sides. "I wouldn't want to bother you or your wife."
"My … how did you know I was married?" Draco demanded, flushing slightly. He should not care that she knew, he chided himself. It does not matter, because she is Luna Lovegood, and Luna Lovegood is most certainly not someone whom I would ever have romantic thoughts about.
He wasn't taking her inside for anything even close to a romantic reason, he thought almost mutinously. He was just taking her in because the girl was liable to kill herself if left to her own devices – or to ruin the rosebushes, which would be tantamount to suicide if Astoria ever caught her.
"You're wearing a ring." Luna pointed at it with one finger, but her eyes were not accusing. Her lips were curving up into a larger smile than Draco had ever seen her wear before in her life – and she had always seemed to be smiling when he knew her.
"She won't mind," he told her.
This was a flat out lie and they both knew it. Astoria most certainly would mind having a strange woman in the house – and would surely mind even more when she found it that it was Luna "Looney" Lovegood, the girl she had tormented for her strangeness throughout their time at school. But Luna didn't need to know that. She didn't need to know anything. What she needed was a sleeping potion and a locked room…
Draco hesitated a moment, then reached out and took Luna's hand firmly. She held onto it with a surprisingly strong grip – he had been expecting delicate, frail touches to match her waiflike appearance – but he had little time to dwell on it, focussing instead upon dragging her inside.
Luna followed Draco without the protests that he had been bracing himself for. She went with him silently, allowing him to cut with her across the gardens and up to the doors of Malfoy Manor. She was humming quietly.
Draco stopped before he opened the door and looked very seriously at Luna, who was swaying back and forth on her feet and gazing off vacantly into space.
"Luna!" He snapped his fingers before her face, trying to get her attention. "Luna! Listen to me a minute!"
Luna's eyes focussed and she looked at him, blinking her protuberant silver eyes slowly. He could see the reflection of the moon in them, shining as brightly in her eyes as it did in the sky itself.
"Yes?" she asked dreamily.
"Right." Draco's heart was beating quickly, and he took several long, deep breaths to steady his voice before he spoke. "Now, I'm going to let you into the house, and my wife is not going to find out that you're here. If she finds out…" Draco fell silent for a second, imagining in brutal detail what Astoria's reaction would be if she found a strange girl in the house, then shuddered. "Things will be bad if she finds out, all right?"
"Yes," Luna said mildly.
"So I'm going to take you in, and I'm going to put you in a room, and you're not to leave until I say that you… what is it?" Draco broke off as Luna lowered her head slightly to look him dead in the eye.
"I don't much mind being your prisoner," she said quietly.
Draco swore under his breath. "I didn't mean… You aren't my prisoner! You're not a prisoner here anymore for Christ's sakes! You're ill."
"I know," said Luna, in a very quiet, very tremulous little voice. She sounded like a scared little girl, but when Draco opened the door and ushered her in, she did not resist him.
Draco led her swiftly through the corridors, taking her as far as he could manage from the parts of their manor that Astoria would likely to frequent – the parlour, the library, the kitchens and the master bedroom. Luna looked around as she followed Draco, walking swiftly for the most part, but she balked a few times – once to admire a portrait of Abraxas Malfoy, Draco's grandfather, that glared down sternly upon her from above the mantelpiece as though he knew her to be an intruder, and once, for a far longer time, staring at the stairs that led down to the cellar where she had been kept, along with old Mr. Ollivander, as a captive by Draco's family during the war.
"I remember what it was like down there," she said quietly, pointing with one finger, and then allowing her hand to flutter down to her side once more. "I remember being locked in there. I could hear what was happening up in the parlour, you know, and the dining room." A small smile curved upon her lips. "I spent a good deal of time listening to the meetings. They were very interesting."
"Why would you even want to remember all of that?" Draco demanded, his voice shaking a little at the reminder. He had spent every day of his life – every minute, even – since the war had ended trying to forget what it had been like to live in that manor while the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters had been in residence their, and failed – not least because he lived in the manor and it was a constant reminder to him.
"I tried to forget," Luna told him. "But it didn't work very well, you see, and I still remember everything that happened. We had a nail down there, Mr. Ollivander and I – did you know that? We used it when we needed to cut things…"
"I… didn't know that," Draco muttered, unsure what else he could say.
"I wonder if it's still down there," Luna mused. "We left it when Harry came and took us away. It might still be there. Unless you've cleaned it out down there, but I rather imagine that you haven't."
"And why would you think that?" Draco demanded, a bit defensively. He prided himself on his good housekeeping, if nothing else.
Luna turned and tilted her head, considering him very carefully. "Because, you know, if I lived here, and I had a cellar like that where horrible things had happened, then I wouldn't ever want to go down there again. I suppose you might be different, though."
Draco said nothing to that. He had not, if he was truthful, been down to the cellar since the war had ended, but he did not like to tell Luna Lovegood that – it made it seem as though he were afraid.
"There's no shame in being scared of something like that, you know."
Draco swallowed hard. "Pardon me?"
"I said that there's no shame in being scared of something like the cellar, or something like the war. I think that people who are scared of it even now that it's over are a good deal braver than people who aren't."
"And why would you say that?" Draco asked, sneering as though he were indulging her instead of asking a real question.
"Because people who aren't afraid of the war and what happened during it don't really understand it," Luna said, as though it were the most reasonable thing in the world. "Because no one – except maybe someone who's quite mad, and even then maybe not – who understood what the war was like could ever not be afraid of it. The people who don't understand it don't have any reason to be afraid you see – they didn't do anything…"
"You don't make any sense at all," Draco said derisively.
"Oh, I know." Luna was twirling a lock of her hair about her finger now, humming quietly to herself in between words. "Most people do tell me that. But think on it a little while, and you may find it does make a bit of sense."
Draco said nothing. He stared unseeingly into the doorway of the cellar, down the rickety old steps. He had walked up and down those steps, he thought to himself, walked up and down them bringing Luna Lovegood and Mr. Ollivander food. He had stood on those steps, halfway up and halfway down, and wondered what would happen if he just left the door unlocked. He had stood and wondered whether it would be the right thing to do to let them try to get away, even if he knew full well that they would most likely be killed in the attempt. And he had left the door locked.
"I don't blame you," Luna whispered.
"What, for leaving you locked up in there?"
"Yes, exactly. I don't blame you for it. And, you know, as I said, I didn't really mind being your prisoner.
Draco swore again. "You should blame me – you're stupid if you don't."
"I don't mind being called stupid either," she told him, her voice very mild. "I'm rather used to it, you see… mad or stupid."
"Well, I'm still sorry," he muttered. "Even if you didn't mind, I still should have done something. Should have helped. We were at Hogwarts together – I knew you… It's my fault that you were locked in there when I should have let you go."
"It's very noble of you to blame yourself, but you're not right."
"Who are you to say whether I'm right or not?" he demanded, anger boiling up inside his stomach quickly and without warning. "If I want to blame myself for leaving a girl locked up in the basement when I could have helped her, then I bloody well will, whether you think I'm to blame or not!"
Luna fells silent, and the anger in Draco's stomach was replaced almost immediately by guilt. "Oh, damn… I didn't mean…"
"I know you're not really very angry," Luna told him, and God dammit, did she have to keep using that infuriating serene little voice? Why couldn't she get angry and shout back at him? Astoria would have. Astoria would never have acted as though what Draco had done was forgivable if it were her that had been locked in a cellar. Not that Astoria ever would have been locked in the cellar… proper Pureblood girl as she was, and her parents taking the Dark Lord's side, albeit not actively enough to stain their records now that the war was over…
"I'm sorry that you're sad," Luna whispered.
"I'm not sad!" was Draco's immediate response. He shook a little, then took a deep breath, calming himself down once again. "I'm not sad. I'm very happy. I have a job and a lovely wife…"
"But you're guilty. You think you are, and that makes life very sad for you."
"I wish you would stop with your bloody analysis!" he snapped at her. "I don't much want to be psychoanalyzed by a mad girl!"
Luna bit on her lips, then nodded and held out her hands for Draco's again. "Then you don't have to listen to me anymore. You can take me to the room you wanted to put me in right now. I don't mind.'
"Good," Draco snapped, and grabbed her wrist hard enough to break it. He dragged her down the hallway, not letting her stop for a second more, even to look at the paintings that lined the hall – paintings so intricate and finely crafted by the hands of the greatest artists of the Wizarding world that even Draco stopped and admired them sometimes. The inhabitants of the picture frames pointed and whispered as they went past, and more then one let out a small catcall, but Draco ignored them and tried to get Luna past fast enough that she would not try to respond.
"Come on," he said, shoving her through the door at the end of the corridor, into one of the guest bedrooms. "You can sleep in here."
Luna stopped dead still in the doorway and stared, slowly twirling a piece of her pale, scraggly hair around one finger. Draco looked around too, rather self-consciously.
The room was, by Draco's standards, not much. It was one of the smaller ones in the manor – perhaps half, or even a third of the size of the master bedroom – and rather sparsely furnished. There was a small window, hung with heavy curtains to block out any light, a bed in the centre of the room that was hung with equally heavy curtains so that one might curl up in it and pull the curtains shut and not suffer any light from outside. A mirror, a little shorter than Draco and just a touch taller than Luna, he would guess, was hanging upon the wall opposite from the door.
Luna drifted forward, and lifted the curtains slightly to peer out. A shaft of pale moonlight cut across the floor, illuminating Luna for a moment before she dropped it again and turned around.
Her eyes fell upon the mirror.
Luna seemed transfixed by it. She moved forward slowly, almost gliding – Draco could have sword she was not touching the ground, from the way she was moving – and held up her hand, her fingers extended before her, reaching out to touch her own reflection. Draco almost asked what she was doing, but kept his mouth shut, allowing her to run her hand slowly over the glass.
"Your mirrors are different from the ones in my home," she said in a slow, hollow voice, and she looked and sounded more like a lost child when she said it than ever. Does she even have a home? Draco wondered, not daring to speak a word for fear of disturbing her. Doing that could be like waking a sleepwalker – and he did not want to find out what might happen if he tried again to bring Luna out of this state.
"I'll just… leave you here," he told her, stepping slowly backwards.
Luna's head inclined a little, as in a nod, but she did not take her eyes off herself in the mirror, and Draco doubted if she'd even heard him. He waited a moment to see if she would say anything more, then turned for the door and slipped out.