Recipient: The Community
Word Count: 20,000
Summary: Draco is home for Easter during his 7th year at Hogwarts when he notices strange noises coming from the basement.
The smoky valleys of the Scottish countryside flew by in a whir as the Hogwarts Express continued its rocking, rattling path. The cool glass of the window-pane pressed against Draco's cheek and he knew if his mother could see him, she would reprimand him for causing grease marks, picking up germs, or just looking plain slobby.
Luckily, Draco's mother was not there.
Unluckily, Draco estimated that she would be arriving on Platform 9 ¾ in less than an hour to escort him to the one place in the world he loathed even more than Hogwarts these days: his family home.
Four months earlier—had it been that long?—Draco, eager to escape the insanity of the Carrow's "disciplinary rule" for the comfort of Christmas at Malfoy Manor, had relished the train ride home, only to be greeted by thirty Death Eaters and the Dark Lord himself seated around his dining room table.
The acts that he had witnessed and been forced to partake in had been the subject of his nightmares since returning to Hogwarts. For some reason he had thought that his failure in killing Dumbledore would have been the end of his agony but, as he soon found out, it was only the start.
Pansy kept throwing secretive glances his way, her lower lip jutting just slightly, indicating that she was put-out by his lack of attention. She'd tried to engage him in conversation a few times at the beginning of the train ride, but when Draco cast a lip-locking charm on her, she'd fallen into a hurt-looking silence for the remainder of the ride.
This school year had been horrendous. Draco imagined the basket full of expensive foreign chocolates his mother usually had ready for him on Platform 9 ¾ when she brought him home for the Easter Holidays and allowed himself a small smile. At least he'd get to have that.
She wasn't there.
His mother wasn't there.
Draco froze at the sight of stupid, sodding Maggs, his mother's house-elf, waving her stupid, sodding gray hand at him from beside a rubbish bin at the end of the platform.
Draco quickly turned away from her before any of his friends could see and Apparated straight to the manor himself. If his mother couldn't pick him up, fine. But there was no way he was going to be seen consorting with his mother's house-elf. Not when everyone else's parents had the decency to pick up their children at the station, like parents were supposed to do.
It occurred to Draco that perhaps there was a good reason that Maggs had been sent—something more than just his mother being too busy to come, herself—but Draco quickly squashed the uncomfortable thought and focused his anger on the injustice, instead.
Draco had landed on his knees with his arms around his trunk in the middle of the foyer. Immediately, he knew something was off by the lack of natural lighting in the room. The soaring windows were obscured by a blackish film. The room—and perhaps the entire manor—was instead lit by flaming sconces that adhered to the walls, replacing several ancestral portraits.
"Master Draco!" The elf's voice could be heard a fraction of a second before the popping sound of Apparition. "Master Draco," Maggs whispered furiously, her eyeballs about to pop out of their over-sized sockets.
"What is it?"
"Stop!" she commanded.
"I beg your pardon?" Draco climbed to his feet and brushed the dust off his knees. "House-elves don't tell me what to—"
"Orders!" Maggs cried with a squeak. "Direct orders from the Mistress! Please, Master Draco, it is most urgent. Sir must be coming with Maggs." She held out a sticky little hand as if Draco was going to take it. When he didn't, her eyes grew wider, a hint of desperation in her voice. "Young Sir is following Maggs right away!"
"Fine," he growled, eyeing her hand in disgust, then taking it with a huff. "But I don't see what all the fuss is about—"
Maggs tugged Draco directly to his bedroom, which was still decorated in Christmas lights and holly boughs. He was tempted to demand what the hell that was all about, but the strangeness of the situation had put Draco on guard. With one last dirty look at the lights, and then at Maggs, he turned away from her, snatched the December issue of Quidditch Monthly off of his nightstand and dropped onto his bed, sending dust particles floating into the air. He proceeded to scowl at the elf over the top of the magazine while she busied herself unpacking the items in his school trunk.
She left him with a warning not to leave his room until his parents came to see him.
Several hours later, Draco's parents still hadn't come to see him. On top of that, there were sounds coming from the basement. In the strange green glow of the Christmas lights overhead, Draco's imagination began to run away with him.
At one point, Draco swore he heard reptilian slithering in the corridor and, repulsed, he shuddered at the thought of Nagini, the Dark Lord's horrifying giant pet snake that Draco'd had the displeasure of meeting last spring.
Draco was losing it. He really was.
Draco decided that a glass of water might help. He turned to set the Quidditch magazine on his nightstand and climbed out of bed. As he grasped the door handle, a loud, piercing scream rang out from below.
This time it was unmistakable. There was definitely a girl screaming.
Stepping back in horror, Draco dropped quietly to the ground and pressed his ear against the floorboards to listen. The sound grew louder and louder—a ripping, horrible scream that made all the hair on his arms stand on end. He was sure someone was on the receiving end of a Cruciatus Curse. It was a woman, for sure, but it didn't sound like his mother or Aunt Bellatrix.
Several minutes later, after the sound ended, Draco peeled himself off the floor. His hands were trembling and his heart was racing. He summoned Maggs to his room at once.
"M-Master Draco?" she inquired. Draco looked up at her slowly. He could see that her normally grayish-skin looked somehow more pale.
"I command you to tell me what is going on." Draco's voice cracked as he tried his most intimidating glare.
Maggs began wringing her hands. She looked to the side and then, in a guilty whisper, said, "Malfoy Manor is having visitors."
"What visitors?" he croaked.
She shook her head rapidly. "Maggs is not saying. Master Draco is not to be asking."
"What kind of visitors, Maggs?" Draco could hear his voice rising, revealing fear he hadn't even known he had.
She squeezed her eyes together tightly. "All kinds of visitors." She clapped a hand to her mouth and began shaking her head as Draco continued to press her for details. "I is not saying any more! Maggs is saying too much already!"
With that, Maggs vanished from the room. Draco remained on the floor, wondering what was going on and when he would be allowed out of his stupid room.
By nightfall, Draco was still stuck in his room and he was frustrated and bored. He'd read the Quidditch magazine cover to cover twice, attempted to study for his upcoming Potions exam and even dug out his old collection of Martin Miggs comics to try and keep him entertained.
His parents still hadn't come to say hello and Maggs had served him some shitty chicken soup and crackers for dinner.
Draco turned to the next page of his Martin Miggs Summer Vacation Super Thriller Mystery Special and rolled his eyes as Miggs tried to "board" the aeroplane with an actual wooden board.
Suddenly, the sound of singing could be heard coming from below. Draco frowned and closed the magazine, straining to listen. His bedroom was on the second floor. The room below him was his Potions lab and underneath that were the dungeons of Malfoy Manor.
Draco was the only person with the password to his Potions lab, so the singing must have been coming from the dungeons.
Feeling suddenly impulsive, Draco jumped to his feet to investigate. He was tired of being cooped up in his room with no explanation and no attention. Plus, he was dying to know who was in the basement. Was it actually a prisoner? And who were the other visitors in the house?
Draco tried to justify ignoring Maggs' warning. He had just as much right to walk through his house as anybody else, dammit. So what if he was still in school? He was a Death Eater, too, and he had the damn Mark on his arm to prove it.
A creeping sense of trepidation settled over him as he approached the door to the basement. Whoever was down there . . . if they were being kept as a prisoner, they were probably not in good condition . . . despite the singing.
Draco gulped. Suddenly, this seemed like a very bad idea, but he'd come this far, so he had to at least find out.
"Get it together, Malfoy." He exhaled slowly and reached for the door.
The door squeaked, despite Draco's efforts to open it quietly. Still, he thought it best not to cast a Lumos. He'd just sneak down, take a quick peek to satisfy his curiosity, and sneak back up. Maybe he'd get himself a sandwich on the way, too.
Nodding contentedly, Draco began counting the stairs as he crept down them. Sixteen, he thought. All of the staircases at Malfoy Manor had sixteen steps. When he hit the wall of invisible wards, he carefully altered them, allowing himself admittance into the room.
The room was pitch dark, save for a sliver of light that beamed from the top of the stairs. Cast in the light was a girl with scraggly blonde hair. She was sitting cross-legged on the floor and staring directly at him.
His cover immediately blown, Draco stumbled fearfully back into the shadows. "What the hell?" he choked.
The girl, who was only inches away from him, climbed to her feet and moved to approach him. "Stay back!" Draco flinched. He could smell dank mildew and sweat and a tinny, coppery smell that made his stomach turn.
The girl tipped her head thoughtfully.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
She reached out a hand through the bars of her cell as if expecting Draco to grasp it. He didn't, and it just hung there, sort of still. "Why, I'm Luna Lovegood, of course."
"Luna . . . Luna . . . " he whispered, struggling to place the familiar name. Then it hit him. He felt his jaw drop open and gawked. "Loony? Loony Lovegood?"
Luna pulled her hand back and her delicate features hardened. "That isn't very nice, Draco Malfoy."
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"Waiting to be rescued, I suppose."
Draco shook his head slowly. "You're in my house."
"I thought I might be," she said, almost smiling. "There was a man here earlier who looked just like you. He even sounded like you."
As Luna said this, reality began to dawn on him. Luna was a prisoner and Draco was an inch from her cell. She could grab his wand and kill him and, really, why the hell hadn't she yet?
In the next second, Draco thrust his wand in her face. "Get back!" he spat, nodding his chin and indicating the wall he knew was to his left. "Now. Or I'll slice you to ribbons."
Luna sighed. "Wrackspurts tend to give people terrible tempers. I could help you get rid of them, if you'd like."
Draco scoffed. What was with this barmy bint? "Just shut up and do as you're told!"
Luna walked calmly to the wall. Draco could see that she had a slight limp, her gait favoring her left leg. She turned to the wall and pressed her arms against it. "Are you going to torture me now, too?" she asked.
"Yeah," he choked. "I might!" The threat seemed to fall a bit short, seeing as it was her suggestion, and Draco thrust his wand at her to show her he was still in charge.
Luna squeezed her eyes shut.
For a second, Draco almost convinced himself to do it. She was expecting it, after all, and he knew it was what he was supposed to do. But, why should he? He didn't need to soil his hands with someone else's dirty work.
As long as he wasn't being watched . . .
Draco's eyes darted to the sides and he gripped his wand tighter. Why couldn't he do this? He should be able to do this.
Crucio. Just say it. Just say Crucio.
Draco was staring at his wand as if expecting it to act of its own accord. "What?" he responded through gritted teeth.
"You don't have to torture me, you know."
Draco could feel his hand trembling. It was like the Astronomy Tower all over again. Why the hell couldn't he cast an Unforgivable? What was wrong with him? "Just shut up!"
Luna bowed her head. Then, "Is it Easter yet?"
"East—? What kind of a question is that?" Draco's voice was embarrassingly high-pitched.
"Just the regular kind, I guess."
With a frustrated curse, Draco stashed his wand in his pocket and ran distressed fingers through his hair. "It's Good Friday."
"Oh," she said. Luna glanced at Draco's pocket then, apparently deeming him safe. She lowered her arms from the wall and slowly turned around to face him.
"Did I tell you to move?" Draco's voice sounded defeated.
"No," said Luna. "But it isn't polite to turn your back to company."
Draco sneered. "No, I suppose not."
"When did you arrive?"
"What business is it of yours?"
"Why, it's your business," she stated. "And we're getting to know each other."
"No, we aren't!" he snapped, despite evidence to the contrary.
"Sure we are," she said. "I'm beginning to see that your Wrackspurts are much worse than I'd originally thought."
"Are you psychotic?" he asked. "What is wrong with you?"
"No," she answered.
"You do realize I'm not on your side, right?"
"No. But you are on my right side."
Luna wiggled her right hand and then gestured toward Draco who was, indeed, standing to her right. "You see?"
Draco continued to stare at her. While he'd originally questioned her sanity, he was now beginning to question his own.
"It can get a bit lonely here without Mr. Ollivander." She frowned. "I do hope he's alright."
"Ollivander?" Draco asked, frowning into the darkness. "The wandmaker? He's here, too?"
Luna nodded, sadly. "Yes, but he was taken a few hours ago for more questioning."
Luna raised an eyebrow. She wasn't going to tell him.
"Who else is here?"
Draco rolled his eyes. "I'm not a prisoner."
"Aren't you?" Luna stared at Draco with her too-wide eyes. He felt wrong-footed and confused. He had the wand. She was the prisoner. Why did it feel like she was in charge of this situation?
"Whatever. I'm leaving." He didn't want her to see how much her words had shaken him.
"I hope you'll take care of those Wrackspurts. Chewing on a lemon rind should help."
Draco ignored her—what he should have done from the goddamn start—and stepped onto the staircase, resetting the wards.
"Have a good night," she called.
He hesitated, his mind telling him to go upstairs and leave this girl to rot. Then Draco shut his eyes in defeat and sighed. "You, too."
Draco could sense her smile without turning around. He hurried up the stairs, mentally cursing his stupidity the entire way.
Draco never wanted to leave his room again.
In fact, in his current state, it was quite impossible.
Dead. Three little kids—dead. The Dark Lord had killed them. Just like that! And, oh God, Draco could still picture Nagini, her esophagus engorged with the legs and torso of a teenaged girl, whose once beautiful face—now nothing more than chunks of gore and crooked glasses— flopped up and down with the effort of the snake's digestion.
Draco vomited spectacularly into the toilet, choking on his own wails as tears streamed down his face.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. They were supposed to be powerful. Draco was supposed to be powerful, and revered . . . royalty! Not . . . this.
Not responsible for his Headmaster falling dead off of the Astronomy Tower.
Not watching one professor plead to another for her life on his kitchen table.
And certainly not watching three little kids be sliced and tortured to death as Aunt Bellatrix demanded to know how they stole magic from purebloods.
Draco reached up a hand and wiped burning tears from his eyes. He continued to retch, spitting out strings of bile into the water and dreading how things were going to get worse.
When Thorfinn Rowle notified the Dark Lord that he'd caught Potter, then failed to deliver him, Draco learned what it felt like to perform the Cruciatus Curse on another human being.
The undeniable pleasure both frightened and disgusted him. Draco was desperate to stop, but there was also something addictive about the power he held over another person. He had never hated himself more.
In a house full of family and loyal comrades, Draco realized that he was completely alone. His mother hadn't even spoken more than two words to him since he'd arrived back from Hogwarts. A part of him wished he'd stayed at Hogwarts for the holidays but with the Carrows there, his school was scarcely better than his home.
Desperate for an escape, Draco unlocked his school trunk and removed the wards hiding a secret compartment. Inside, nestled amongst notes from Pansy and blueprints for the Vanishing Cabinet was Theodore Nott's entire liquor stash. Theo had forced Draco to hide it back in September because he was the only one with a Secret Compartment Expansion Charm on his school trunk. Luckily, Draco had mastered the Refilling Charm a few weeks earlier and felt pretty confident that he could easily replace any Firewhisky that he decided to borrow.
Not that Nott would necessarily care if Draco had some of his Firewhisky but . . . it was better to just replace it and avoid any questions.
Draco unscrewed the cap of a bottle of Ogden's Old and took three long, burning pulls, forcing the liquid past his throat and into his stomach where it settled like burning coals, heating him from the inside out.
He wasn't really a drinker—not at all, actually—but maybe this would help. It was supposed to, wasn't it?
Plus, Draco wasn't really worried about getting sick since he'd been throwing up for days, anyway.
Several hours later, Draco dropped the bottle with a heavy clunk onto his nightstand and narrowed his bleary eyes, straining to hear over the sound of sloshing liquid.
Luna. Singing, again. For some reason, the realization calmed him.
He kicked his legs out of his tangled sheets and went to stand. The room took on a nauseating tilt and Draco staggered into the corner of his nightstand, waiting for his head to stop spinning. "Shite," he swore. He hadn't expected to feel like this. In all honesty—and he wasn't really sure why—he hadn't actually thought the Firewhisky would do anything. Draco steadied himself with his hands, bemused by his sudden lack of coordination.
This is strange, he thought. Strange, but not altogether unpleasant. Though it would be nicer if Draco's feet were being a bit more cooperative.
Giving his pocket a clumsy pat to make sure he had his wand, Draco weaved a slow, unsteady path out of the room.
He was tired of being alone. And someone should really be checking up on the prisoners.
Malfoy Manor seemed so much lovelier and safer after half a bottle of Firewhisky. The torchlight glimmered warmth and Draco was reminded of all of the happy and good times he'd had there.
Clutching the bannister for support, Draco squinted at the stairs and navigated his way to the bottom.
Draco gulped, his eyelashes fluttering as a dizzy spell took hold, and he suddenly realized that maybe he was drunk. And maybe this was a really, really bad idea and it only seemed like a good idea because he was drunk.
And not only was Draco drunk, but, holy shite. It was hitting him now. He was really fucking drunk.
Draco snorted in amusement at the feeling and the absurdity of it all.
He shushed himself for making too much noise, then chuckled at the fact that he was shushing himself.
"Okay," he murmured, exhaling slowly, and schooling his features into something more serious. "Okay."
The door squeaked open and Draco cringed. Then he began counting the stairs as he wobbled slowly down them. "Sixteen," he murmured.
And while he was right about that, Draco lost count of his steps somewhere in the middle. The misjudgment had Draco's face cracking painfully into the stone as his body was thrown like a ragdoll's down the stairs.
He groaned in pain as a blackness deeper than the unlit dungeon seized him and the welcoming hands of unconsciousness pulled him under.
Draco opened his eyes and shuddered. He was lying in a pool of ice cold sweat and there was a hand stroking the wet hair off of his forehead.
Where was he? He couldn't tell if he was in his bed or not.
Then Draco remembered Nott's stupid Firewhisky. What the hell was wrong with him, anyway? Stumbling around drunk was even more idiotic than . . .
His hair was gently smoothed back by delicate fingers. He opened his eyes and froze.
"Oh. You're awake." Straggly blonde hair dangled over him. "You shouldn't drink alcohol with so many Wrackspurts, it tends to make one extra dizzy."
Draco knocked the hand off his forehead and scrambled back, groping clumsily for his wand.
"Are you okay, Draco?"
His wand. It wasn't there! It wasn't . . . Draco saw the glint of shiny, polished wood in Luna's hand and felt his stomach drop. "You little thief! Give it back to me!"
Draco was prepared to wrestle her for it, but Luna simply held the wand out for him to take. He snatched it back, squeezing it tightly in his hand. It began to dawn on him that he'd had a nasty fall down the steps and for some, strange reason, wasn't injured.
He should have been injured.
"You healed me?" he asked, unable to stop himself. Luna nodded. "Why?"
"Because you were hurt."
Draco staggered closer to her. The darkness was getting to be too much and, besides, Luna knew he was there. Draco cast a Lumos that, in his drunken state was slightly stronger than he had intended, the force of which nearly knocked him on his arse. In the brief second that the light flashed, Draco saw that Luna's face was streaked with dirt and blood. She was heaped against the wall on the dungeon floor and her leg was twisted at an odd angle.
Feeling inexplicably guilty for not noticing sooner, Draco dropped to his knees. "Here, let me—" Draco squinted one eye closed to focus his doubled vision when Luna reached out a hand to stop him. "What?"
"You shouldn't practice magic if you're drunk."
"I'm not—" he began, but he was and Luna clearly knew it, so he tried again. "Don't be stupid. It's broken."
"I'm not being stupid. You're being reckless."
"And you're being ungrateful!" Draco sputtered. "And besides! You're my prisoner. I tell you what to do."
Luna gave him a desperate look. "Draco, please." Her breathing was labored and Draco could see that there were tear-streaks mixed into the dirt and mud on her face.
"But, you're hurt."
Luna shrugged. "I'll manage."
"But—" Draco said, "But you had my wand. Why didn't you heal yourself?"
"I was about to . . . "
"Oh." Draco scowled. "You're trying to trick me into giving you my wand, aren't you?"
Luna frowned. "No."
"Yes, huh," Draco cringed inwardly at the stupid, childish retort. "I mean-you are. I'm not giving you my wand!"
Draco watched her grimace in pain for another unbearable minute before calling for Maggs.
When the elf appeared, Draco gave her a warning look and said, "Not a word of this to anyone or it's clothes. Got it?"
Draco gestured carelessly toward Luna. "Fix her." While Maggs busied herself healing Luna's wounds and setting her broken leg to rights, Draco gravitated closer to the girl, seating himself next to her on the other side of the bars to inspect Maggs' work.
During one particularly painful healing spell, Luna's hand shot out and grasped Draco's arm for support, her fingers digging into his flesh. He sat there, frozen in shock, too beside himself to tell her to let go. When she finally did, Maggs was done with her work and had Disapparated, leaving the two in an awkward silence.
"Better?" Draco muttered.
"Yes," Luna replied. "Thank you."
"Well, I didn't want to make it worse."
The question was simple and yet accusatory. He couldn't help it. Draco started to laugh.
"Draco," Luna said. "Would you test me on the twelve uses of Dragon's Blood, please?"
"The twelve—? Wh—but that's first year stuff."
"All the more reason to practice."
This was absurd. But Draco decided to stop questioning her and go with the flow. "Whatever."
When Wormtail was sent out on some mission for the Dark Lord, his job of feeding the prisoners was passed down to Draco. Ollivander had returned to Luna's cell and Draco was responsible for making their meals and ensuring that they couldn't escape.
This meant that he was suddenly cast under the watchful and—quite frankly—terrifying eyes of his aunt. For some reason, she seemed to think that carrying sandwiches and apples to the basement would somehow be enough to return the Malfoy family back into the Dark Lord's good graces. Draco wasn't naïve enough to believe that, but he also wasn't stupid enough to question orders.
What he hadn't expected was for Aunt Bellatrix to cast a Disillusionment Spell on herself and follow Draco into the dungeons to check up on him. After he'd given the prisoners their food and cast Cleaning Charms, Draco had slunk down onto the bottom step to supervise them for a bit.
Luna engaged him in small talk about how she had once painted Easter Eggs with riddles about family members and friends and how she thought they made great gifts. When Draco asked her if it was hard getting into Ravenclaw Tower, a sudden, raspy voice sent cold dread running down his spine.
"A-hem hem hem. Making small talk with the little blood traitor, are we Draco?" Bellatrix strode forward, nudging her nephew's back with her boot as she descended the staircase. The mad glint in her eyes was usually the one reserved for enemies.
"Nothing else to do," he muttered, trying to remain calm and not look guilty. Technically, he hadn't done anything wrong . . .
"Nothing else to do?" Bellatrix retorted. "Guarding half-bloods and blood traitors who threaten our very existence, and you can think of nothing better to do than discuss Holiday fun?"
Draco kept his mouth shut.
"Well, I can think of something," she went on. "Do you know what I was thinking might be fun?"
Yes. Draco shook his head, anyway.
Bellatrix glared at him. "You stupid boy."
"Draco is not stupid," Luna said suddenly. Draco tensed as Bellatrix turned slowly to face Luna.
"Excuse me, little stragglemuffin," Bellatrix began in a sickly sweet voice. "Did I invite you to speak?"
Luna shook her head.
"Did Draco invite you to speak?"
Luna looked over at Draco. "Shut up," he mouthed, desperately.
"No," said Luna. "But I don't need an invitation. I can speak just fine without one."
Shut up, shut up, shut up!
"Well, well, well. Seems I haven't beaten the cheek out of you, yet, Goldilocks. Shall I have another go?"
Luna cast a desperate look at Draco and he cursed inwardly, knowing that Bellatrix had noticed the interaction.
"Or perhaps I should give my dear nephew a chance."
"Go on, Nephy. Teach this little blood traitor to get smart with me."
"U-um," Draco began. "Which curse?"
Luna looked suddenly fearful and it made Draco angry. Stupid girl! Had she really trusted that he wouldn't hurt her? Why had she thought that? It was going to make this so much harder . . .
"Why, my favorite, of course," Bellatrix replied. "The Cruciatus."
Luna whimpered and Draco could see Ollivander sitting upright, watching the proceedings with a hard look on his wizened face. Knowing there was no way out of this, Draco raised the wand that the old man had sold to him when he was eleven, pointed it at Luna and firmly closed his eyes.
He had to cast it . . . but it didn't mean he had to watch.
When Draco brought food to the prisoners later, the entire atmosphere of the cell had changed. Luna was curled in a protective ball against the stone wall. Her scraggly hair had been knotted into several braids and it appeared that she was working on another. There was no order to the style—if one could call it a style—and Draco assumed she was just doing it to pass time or, more likely, keep her mind off of the pain.
Not daring to speak a word, Draco cleared his throat to announce his entrance. Ollivander shot him a look of pure hatred. But it was the betrayal in Luna's blue eyes that was enough to make Draco sick. She knew he hadn't meant to—hadn't wanted to do that . . . right? He did what he had to do. Luna must have known that he hadn't had a choice. That if he'd resisted, it would have been Draco tortured, instead.
Maybe it should have been, said a voice in his head. Coward.
Fighting the urge to run, Draco crept forward with the silver tray of sandwiches and fruit that his mother had made him prepare for the prisoners. When neither prisoner said anything—had he really expected them to?—Draco cleared his throat again and spoke softly. "Luna, I—"
"How dare you speak to her?" Ollivander rasped from the corner. He pulled himself onto his knees and shifted closer to Luna, wrapping a protective arm around her shoulder as she stared vacantly at Draco. "You pretended to be her friend—"
"I did no such—"
"—little rat. She's a sweet and innocent girl. How can you live with yourself?"
Draco gaped soundlessly for a moment, watching as Luna looked from Ollivander to Draco, and then back to her knotted hair again.
A surge of anger rose through him and in the next second, Draco threw the entire tray across the floor. He listened in sick satisfaction as it clattered, scraping the stone and startling the prisoners. Bread, ham and cheese scattered over the dirty floor. An apple rolled slowly across the cell and finally came to a stop at Ollivander's feet.
Despite his indignant anger, sudden guilt threatened to unhinge him. He'd tortured Luna and now he'd befouled the only meal she'd get for the day? For a moment, he hesitated and considered cleaning the mess. Then, disgusted with his own weakness, Draco scuffed the toe of his boot into the grime and kicked more dirt into the food. "Eat."
The following afternoon, Draco avoided the prisoner's cell at all costs. He was ashamed of what he had been forced to do and embarrassed by his childish outburst. In the real world, he owed Luna and Ollivander an apology—but in this sick madness, where the two of them were his family's captives, Draco was unsure of how to act.
He knew if he asked his parents, they would instruct him to NEVER apologize to a prisoner. That was admitting weakness. That would put the power into their hands. But Draco was going mad with self-disgust. If an apology would make him feel better, then, essentially, he was doing it for himself. What could be more Slytherin than that, right?
As the sounds of Stubby Boardman twanged away on the WWN, Draco was forced to accept that he was a failure. Deep down, he knew he didn't have the heart or stomach for any of this. He may be carrying out the actions like a good little Death Eater, but he'd never have the passion that Bellatrix had or the devotion of his father. Draco would never have any of that. All he wanted was the comfort of his old life and the safety of hiding in his father's shadow, or behind the muscles of Crabbe and Goyle, allowing someone stronger to fight his battles and do his dirty work.
He was a pureblood, after all. All of this should be handed to him on a silver platter. Draco had been born entitled, so why was he being forced to prove it in this war? Everyone knew it. Or, at least, they were supposed to.
Unable to put it off any longer, especially since the prisoners had suffered through a piss-poor excuse for a meal the day before, Draco stopped by the kitchen and grabbed whatever the kitchen elves had prepared in the storage cupboard.
More sandwiches, then.
He piled them onto a plate, adding a few more than was necessary and filled a jug with water.
When he entered the dungeon, he found Ollivander scowling at him with his arms crossed. Behind him, Luna was lying flat on her back with her eyes fixed on the ceiling and her hands placed palms-up. If Draco had to guess, he would say she was meditating.
Ollivander snatched a sandwich off the plate and turned his back to Draco. He carried his sandwich to the far corner of the rather large dungeon. Luna continued to meditate and, eager to leave without talking to her, Draco set down the silver platter and turned to leave.
"Harry tells me you're related to Stubby Boardman."
Draco blinked stupidly. "Huh?"
"Isn't that who you were listening to?" Luna sat up with a slightly dazed look on her face. She reached for the jug of water and took a sip. "Stubby Boardman and the Bluegrass Banshees?"
Draco began to blush. "No—The Hobgoblins. It was on the radio," he said, defensively. "I didn't pick it. And what's this about being related to him?"
"Harry says he's your cousin."
Draco frowned in confusion, but couldn't help laughing. "Potter says Stubby Boardman is my cousin?"
"No," said Luna. "Harry says Sirius Black is your cousin."
"Oh. The murderer?" Draco shifted, uncomfortably. "Yeah . . . he's dead."
"So is Stubby Boardman," said Luna, sadly.
"Stubby Boardman isn't dead."
"Stubby Boardman is Sirius Black," said Luna, nodding sagely. "That can only mean one thing."
"What? That you're mental?" Draco asked.
"No," she snapped. "That Stubby Boardman is dead."
"He just released a new album two months ago!" It occurred to Draco that he should be embarrassed about knowing that fact but he found it was difficult to be embarrassed about stuff like that around this girl.
"If you say so," Luna murmured. She fell back into her meditative pose. "Thank you for the sandwiches and water. And I forgot to thank you properly for the sandwiches yesterday."
Draco tensed. "That isn't funny, Luna."
"It wasn't intended to be."
"Well, then, it isn't very nice to pretend to thank someone for something you didn't appreciate. That's the same as lying."
"Well, then, it isn't very nice to give something to someone that you don't intend for them to appreciate, is it?" Luna asked. Draco was trying to figure out what she'd said when Luna added, "And whether or not you wanted me to, I did appreciate the sandwiches. Mr. Ollivander helped me dust them off and after we put them back together, they were just fine. A little crunchier than usual."
Draco was finding it difficult to look at her. He turned to the staircase, instead. "That was rude of me, yesterday," he said in a businesslike manner. "You're still guests in the manor and my mother would be horrified if word got out that the Malfoy's served their guests dirty food . . . "
No laughter followed Draco's weak attempt at a joke. Casting a quick Homonus Revelio showed Draco that there were no Bellatrixes hiding in the shadows this time. He took a deep breath and stepped back toward Luna. "Luna," he said.
She sat up and tilted her head to the side. "Yes, Draco?"
He shut his eyes for a minute and exhaled. "I'm sorry."
Luna nodded. "Yes, I know."
"No." Draco shook his head. "I mean—" he lowered his voice and then dropped into a crouch, speaking intently. "I mean . . . I'm sorry." He paused. "For yesterday. For all of it."
Draco looked back up at her slowly. She had climbed to her knees and was reaching through the bars of her cell. Luna placed her hands on Draco's shoulders and the gentle touch of another human being was comforting and grounding. "Draco," she said, softly, "I know."
It was like Moaning Myrtle's Bathroom all over again. Draco slunk down onto his knees and pressed his face against the bars as the familiar lump rose in his throat and his eyes started to burn. He couldn't stop it—and a part of him didn't want to.
"I didn't want to do it, I had to," he choked, as Luna continued to pat his shoulders awkwardly through the bars. "I h-hate this."
Ollivander cast a suspicious look over his shoulder, then returned to his sandwich, but Draco couldn't really be arsed with the thought that Ollivander, too, found him pathetic. Besides, Ollivander was far enough away that he couldn't hear Draco's pitiful complaints.
"It won't last forever."
"She would've just done it to me, you know! I had no choice."
"Everything will turn out the way it's meant to."
"What if it's meant to turn to hell?" Draco asked. "It already has. So you're saying it was meant to?"
"Good always triumphs over evil," said Luna, patting him on the head.
Draco jerked back and fixed his hair. "Great. Then I guess I lose."
Luna began to giggle. She pulled her arms through the bars and covered her mouth.
"What?" Draco snapped, annoyed. He didn't like to be laughed at.
"How silly!" Luna laughed. "You are not evil, Draco Malfoy."
He sat back and looked at her, his fingers fiddling at his cuff. Finally, he pulled up his shirtsleeve. He'd meant to flash the Dark Mark at her as if to say, "See? Here! Proof." But instead, he couldn't stop staring at it—the wriggling black snake, the decrepit skull, the now-covered moles that he had thought formed the constellation Draco on his arm when he was younger . . .
"Draco," said Luna, her voice quieter and more serious, "you are not evil."
He said nothing.
"Then what am I?"
"Why, you're you, of course."
Draco let out a soft exhale of laughter. Why he thought she'd give him anything but the obvious answer to that question, he wasn't sure. "Oh, of course," he said. "Why hadn't I thought of that?"
Luna sighed. "I already told you, Draco. You have Wrackspurts. You can't expect to think of these things with brain-sucking leeches crawling in and out of your ears at night."
Draco clapped two hands over his ears. "Um, what exactly are Wrackspurts?"
"I'll only tell you if you promise to let me help you get rid of them."
Real or not, the idea of brain-sucking leeches in his ears was a terrifying one. "Well, if you insist."
Click here for part two.