For the Choice Pairings Competition, where my pairing was Druna (because I'm lucky) and the prompt was "the end is only the beginning."
Also for the 2012 Hogwarts Games for the event Track. Trio era, 1000 words or less.
For Gamma Orionis, because I think her enthusiasm for this pairing is the only reason I managed to finish. I hope you enjoy it!
He's supposed to be happy.
After all, this means that he'll no longer have a megalomaniac in his home. And that's a good thing, right?
Definitely a good thing.
So why, then, does the Black Lake feel too peaceful, the weather too perfect? Everything just feels wrong. It feels like the skies, the waters, should be raging, because everything is falling apart.
Draco cannot help but wonder where they're supposed to go from here. Their society is essentially in ruins – they'll have a hell of a time sorting out who worked for which side. It's going to take ages to clear the corrupt and the double agents out of the Ministry. Hogwarts is in literal ruins. Azkaban is going to be getting quite crowded soon. The Auror forces had their numbers decimated. There are bodies to bury in numbers that Draco suspects might actually reach hundreds, once they find them all.
As much as he despises being cliché, in this moment he cannot help but notice the appropriateness of the phrase, "The end of the world as we know it."
And then Draco wonders when he became so melodramatic.
Maybe the Dark Lord is rubbing off on him. That thought definitely merits a shudder.
He takes a deep breath and leans forward, curling his arms around his legs and resting his chin on his knees. He wonders why he's even concerned about the future of their society, when the odds that he'll be free to see it are somewhat slim.
He reminds himself that he wanted this. Death Eater status or not, he couldn't help but want the Dark Lord to fall, because… because nothing was the way he thought it would be when he signed up. Keeping prisoners locked in the cellar wasn't exactly in his life plans for his seventh year.
He sighs, staring at the lake but not actually seeing anything. Despite all of this, he never could have actively worked against the Dark Lord, because Draco is clever enough to realise that the Dark Lord's demise meant his own as well. They will go down with him, all of them.
He's eighteen. It doesn't quite seem fair that his life is already over.
"You're wrong, you know."
Draco wants to jump at the voice – he'd thought he was alone – but he keeps his careful composure and turns his head slowly, instead of whirling to face her. The voice is almost familiar but not quite, and as soon as he sees her face, he understands why.
It's Loony Luna Lovegood. Only, it's the first time he's heard her voice without the rasp of a throat longing for water. Internally, Draco winces at the memory. Her voice now is soft, pure – beautiful, he thinks, and then he wonders where that thought came from.
Outwardly, though, he only raises an eyebrow at her in elegant question.
"This isn't the end. It's a beginning." She sits down beside him – too close, has she never heard of personal space? – and mimics his posture, wrapping her own frail arms around her knees.
Draco takes a moment to wonder why in the name of Merlin Lovegood is even talking to him. He helped keep her captive in his cellar for weeks. He was a part of the group that kidnapped her from the train. He is, quite literally, the face of her captivity. She should hate him. He wouldn't even blame her.
"I don't hate you, Draco Malfoy."
Even he can't help the brief flicker of surprise that crosses his face as she says this, but he quickly composes himself, checking his Occlumency shields as he does. They're intact, which is almost scarier.
She smiles at his surprise. "Oh, you're really quite easy to read." From anyone else, the phrase would sound… threatening. Intimidating. From her, it's just a simple statement of fact. She turns her gaze to face the lake. "And yes, I'm being honest. I don't hate you. I don't blame you at all."
Finally, finally, Draco speaks. "Why not?" His voice is angrier than he intends it to be.
She turns back to him, a small smile upon her lips. She tilts her chin, angling her head, surveying him. "Because if it had been up to you, it wouldn't have happened." She meets his eyes with her blue ones very seriously. "You do not have hate in your soul, Draco Malfoy. And that's enough for me."
Draco wonders if his face is as baffled as he feels. In his soul? What does that even mean?
"Luna." The correction is mild, her voice still soft, but somehow Draco still feels like it isn't a suggestion.
"Luna, then. Look. You're off your rocker if you think that I am a good person. You know some of what I've done."
She shakes her head, and the small smile doesn't leave her lips. "We are not defined by what we have done, Draco. Rather, we are defined by what we will do."
"That's absurd." The words escape before he can think to stop them – something that he hasn't done in years. He glances at Luna, wondering what she's doing to him that his perfect control is slipping, but he forces himself to elaborate, since he's started. "You can't define people by things that haven't happened yet – you can't know what they'll do."
Her smile makes him feel like he's missing something very obvious. "You can't, perhaps," she says ambiguously. Then, abruptly, she leans over and presses her lips to his cheek. "You're a good man, Draco Malfoy." With a smooth motion that expresses surprising grace, she stands, straightening her robes, and turns toward the castle.
Draco feels his eyebrows furrow in complete confusion.
She turns, standing patiently, an unsurprised smile on her face.
"What did you mean?" he asks. "'It's a beginning'?"
Her smile grows until it's wider than he's seen it yet. "Don't close the book yet, Draco Malfoy. It's only the end of a chapter."
She walks away.