Title: The World of the Living Part 2/2
Luna is used to Harry waiting up for her when she comes back late in the evening, but so far, he's never been standing in the hallway the moment he heard her open the front door. "You'd better go up to Malfoy's room, Luna, there's a bit of a problem."
He seems more agitated than she's seen him in a long time, and Luna doesn't waste time with questions and runs up the stairs. Draco is curled up on his bed with a wet towel over the left half of his face, cradling his right arm to his chest. When Luna takes the towel away, she finds that his eye is swollen shut, his upper lip is split and a nasty purple bruise is developing on his cheek.
It doesn't take a genius to work out what happened to him, and for the second time tonight, Luna saves her questions for later. Instead, she gets her wand out and casts every diagnostic spell she knows. In addition to the visible damage, she finds a broken wrist, several cracked ribs and two missing front teeth. He's been brutally beaten up, but she's seen much worse during the war. This is nothing that a few well-cast Healing Spells and a dose of Regenerative Potion won't fix, and she can't help asking herself why Harry didn't just heal Draco himself instead of waiting for her to do it. She doesn't think he hates Draco so much that he'd refuse to help him in such a situation – if it were so, he hardly would have sent her up here the moment she entered the house.
Draco seems to think along the same lines; once his lips are no longer too swollen to speak, he asks (with a lisp, since Luna didn't get to regrowing his teeth yet), "I take it Potter has finally decided I've been punished enough for today?"
Luna doesn't answer while she waves her wand over his ribcage; she only has basic medical training, and she needs to concentrate if she wants to mend the bones properly. When she's done, she summons the Regenerative Potion that she always keeps on her bedside table in case her hair gets gnawed off by a swarm of Poddcorcks during the night. She makes Draco drink a hefty dose, and while his teeth are growing back, she finally has time to talk. "You think Harry let you suffer on purpose?"
Draco shrugs, and winces a bit – his bones are mended, but the places where they were broken are probably still tender. "It has crossed my mind in the four hours or so I've been lying here. He certainly couldn't be bothered to heal me." He sounds funny with his front teeth half their normal size, but Luna doesn't feel like smiling right now.
"He sent me up to help you the moment I came home. If he wanted you to suffer, he'd have told me you'd already gone to bed, then you could have been lying here without help all night."
Draco just shrugs again. Luna notices how he's running this tongue over his new teeth to make sure they're back to their original size.
"How do you feel?"
"Oh, just about fantastic." He sits up gingerly and stretches his arm, as if to test if she healed it properly. "Thanks for the patch-up job."
"You're welcome. Who did this to you?"
"A couple of blokes at work. Snape was away for the day, and I suppose they saw it as their big chance to finally demonstrate what they think of me. Not that I was in any doubt before, mind, so they really needn't have bothered."
Again, Luna has this troubling feeling that things were not meant to turn out this way. "You should report them."
"What for? So that the Ministry can give them a commendation?" Draco gets up from the bed with a determined expression. "And don't even think of writing about it, or they'll break my neck next time."
Luna takes a deep breath. There are a lot of things she'd like to say, but she has learned during the war that it's usually best to concentrate on the task at hand. "I don't know about you, but I could do with a drink."
From the look on his face, it's clear that this was the last thing he ever expected her to say. "I take it we're not talking hot chocolate?"
"We're not." Luna hasn't touched her father's stash of Firewhisky yet, but now seems a good time to start. "Let's go downstairs, I'll see what I can dig up."
"...with a giraffe, if you stand on a stool, but the hedgehog can never be buggered at all!"
Draco is almost choking with laughter. "You made that up!"
"I didn't!" Luna cries indignantly. "I told you, it's from a book by a Muggle named Pratchett who makes up stuff about wizards and witches!" She takes a sip from her glass and adds, as an afterthought, "I only made up the melody. You can sing along, if you like."
Draco shakes his head and pushes his empty glass away. "I'm definitely not drunk enough to sing dirty songs about hedgehogs."
"You're not drunk at all, you only had one glass so far," Luna points out reasonably.
Draco makes a face. "You're one to talk, you haven't even finished your first glass yet!"
Luna valiantly downs the rest of the amber liquid in her glass and suppresses a shudder. She has never tried Firewhisky before, and she doesn't think she's going to develop a taste for it now. Still, that one glass made Draco look more relaxed than she's ever seen him since his trial, so it must be good for something.
Her musings are interrupted by the sound of Harry's voice from the staircase, "Luna, is that you making such a racket in the middle –" He doesn't finish the question when, upon entering, he sees Luna sit in front of the fireplace with Draco, a bottle of Firewhisky between them.
"You're one to talk about making a racket in the middle of the night, Potter," Draco says with a sneer, and Luna thinks it's a good thing his teeth are back where they belong or he would look really ridiculous now.
"Stop that," she tells him sternly, "and you, Harry, sit down and have a drink with us. I'm sure it will do you a world of good."
For a moment, Harry looks as if there were several different things he'd love to say, but then his shoulders sag a little, and he sits down in his usual spot on the sofa without comment. He accepts the glass she's pouring him and knocks back half of the contents.
Draco raises an eyebrow at this. "I never took you for a secret alcoholic, Potter."
Harry ignores the remark. "You look better."
"I am, no thanks to you." Draco leans forward and fixes Harry with a stare that Luna finds a bit alarming. "Would you mind telling me why you couldn't be arsed to heal me?"
Harry returns the stare. "Yes, I would."
Draco blinks. "Beg pardon?"
Harry downs the rest of his whisky and carefully puts the glass back on the table. "Yes, I would mind telling you. Which means I don't want to talk about it, at least not with you."
"Really." It's a statement, not a question; Draco doesn't seem at all intimidated by the blunt rebuff. "It wouldn't have to do with the fact that you're not using your magic any more?"
Harry all but jumps out of his seat at this, and for a moment, Luna is convinced she'll have to pry his fingers off Draco's neck in a second. "Shut your bloody trap, Malfoy!"
Draco, however, seems determined to keep living dangerously. "You know, now that I think of it, I've never seen your wand during all the time I've spent here. Would you mind showing it to me? I'm dead curious."
To Luna's amazement, Harry just closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, as if he needed to steady himself. She leans forward to rest her hand on his arm and asks gently, "Harry?"
He doesn't acknowledge her touch; instead, he just says, in a strangely flat tone, "I could do with a refill, if you don't mind."
Luna refills his glass, but she's thoroughly alarmed now – even more so when he drinks it down in one go. "Harry, this won't help, you know."
"Of course I know." His voice is hoarse, as if the Firewhisky had burned his throat. "If it helped, I'd have been watching the world through the bottom of a whisky glass ever since the end of the war."
Draco still won't let go. "Is that why you're hiding here? Because you don't want to do magic any more?"
"No." Harry has opened his eyes again, but he's looking neither at Draco nor at Luna; it seems as if he were talking to the whisky bottle on the table. "It's because I can't. It's as if Voldemort – as if he took it with him when I killed him."
"That's not possible," Draco states, and Luna wishes she could be equally certain about it. They all knew that Harry and Voldemort shared a twisted kind of connection; there's no telling which effects it might have had on Harry when Voldemort's death broke it.
Harry doesn't even seem to have heard Draco. "The last thing I ever cast was the Killing Curse that finished him. I wasn't sure I could do it before, but when I finally had to, it was horribly easy – I just stood there facing him and hated him with every fibre of my heart, and then my wand exploded, and he was gone. I didn't even realise at first that it was really over."
"So you didn't AK Bellatrix wandlessly."
Harry laughs. "No one casts the Killing Curse wandlessly, Malfoy, you of all people should know that."
"Then you didn't kill her?"
"Oh yes, I did." Harry sounds strangely detached, as if he were talking about something that happened to someone he doesn't even know. "I killed her with my bare hands. She threw herself at me when Voldemort went down, and in the next moment, I had my fingers around her throat and squeezed until she stopped struggling. It took a long time, and you know what? I loved every second of it. I wanted her dead; it didn't even occur to me that it was no longer necessary to kill her too."
Only now does he look up and meet Draco's gaze. "I keep thinking about that night on the Astronomy Tower, when you lowered your wand and Dumbledore told you that you were not a killer. Back then I thought that neither was I – I knew I would have to kill Voldemort because there was no other way to end it, but I never wanted to do it. But Bellatrix – there was no prophecy to fulfil, no war to end because it was already over. I just wanted her dead, and so I killed her." He laughs again, and the sound makes the hair on the back of Luna's head stand on end. "Funny how you turn out to be the better man in the end, Malfoy, isn't it? When it really mattered, you didn't have it in you to kill."
Draco's eyes narrow. "Trust me, Potter, if I'd ever had the power to kill the Dark Lord, I would have done so without a moment's hesitation." His voice is vibrating with a cold kind of fury, and Luna casts a sidelong glance at the picture of his parents on the mantelpiece and remembers the rumours that Voldemort made Draco watch as he murdered Narcissa Malfoy.
She wonders if she still needs to stick to her promise not to ask Harry questions, because there are some things she really would like to ask him now, but she finally decides that one doesn't go back on a promise no matter what happens. Besides, there's no need to ask anything; now that Harry has finally begun to talk, he seems unable to stop.
"I went to Ollivander's to get a new wand afterwards, but I couldn't even bring myself to enter the shop. Whenever I only thought of doing magic, it all came back to me, the power rushing through me, the hate, the fury – so much that I knew that I would blow up something the moment I touched a wand. Whatever I could do with my magic, it's gone; the only thing that's left is the power to kill and destroy if I ever should forget myself for a moment."
He shakes his head, and for a fleeting second, it looks as if he's contemplating reaching for the bottle again, but thinks better of it. "You of all people should be glad, Malfoy. If I'd had a wand within my reach, that night when you were taunting me about hexing you, I would have blown you to bits without giving a damn that you couldn't fight back."
He's looking at Luna when he continues. "That's why I had to drop out of Auror training. A part of me was almost relieved when I discovered that I'm hardly more than a Squib now – the likes of Moody would have made me give in to the impulses I've been trying to fight ever since the final battle, and it would have turned me into exactly what I feared most to become."
It's only now that he seems to notice Luna's hand on his arm, and he covers it with his for a moment. "I just knew I had to get away from it all. I don't know what to do with this... with what's left of me."
The room goes very quiet at this. Luna desperately tries to think of something she could say that would make things better, but she draws a blank, so she just squeezes his arm and hopes he understands.
It's Draco who eventually breaks the silence. "That," he announces solemnly, "is the biggest load of crap I've ever heard in my entire life."
He doesn't seem bothered by the fact that both Luna and Harry turn to stare at him. "Potter, it's hardly news that you don't have your temper under control. That doesn't make you the next Dark Lord, for crying out loud!" His voice is cold, but Luna can feel the anger seething underneath the calm facade. "It's been almost a year since the end of the war, and you're still wallowing in self-pity because you got your hands dirty? Oh, woe is me, it turns out I'm not quite the saint I always believed I was!"
The last sentence is such a spot-on impression of Harry's speech pattern that Luna is taken aback for a moment. Harry doesn't seem amused by it, though. "Malfoy, shut up or –"
"Or what?" The challenge in Draco's tone couldn't be clearer; Luna wonders whether it's the Firewhisky that's making him reckless. "You'll throttle me like my dear aunt? Or you'll wield your fearsome 'power to kill and destroy' against me, so that you can beat yourself up over that afterwards, too? For someone who was happy to hex or hit anyone who so much as looked at you funny back at school, you've become remarkably squeamish." He leans back in his chair, an expression of disgust on his face. "So you've given up on your magic and spend your days brooding over your dark and terrible fate. What's next, drowning yourself in the neighbour's duck pond?"
Harry's eyes are flashing now, although he keeps his face carefully blank. "Don't tell me you never considered it, Malfoy."
"What, offing myself?" It isn't lost on Luna how Draco suddenly sits up straight. "Never. I know that the Ministry still hopes that I'll rid them of my presence that way if they keep pecking me enough, but I'll be damned if I ever give them the satisfaction. My mother died to save my life, Potter, do you really think I'd throw that away?"
"She did what?" There's a strange edge to Harry's voice, and Luna remembers the stories about Lily Potter laying down her life to protect her baby boy. "You never said anything about that, I read the transcript of your testimony."
"This was none of the Ministry's business," Draco says quietly, "there was no point in telling them." He pauses for a moment to draw a deep breath, as if he needed to steady himself. "The Dark Lord summoned her to him when I returned after Dumbledore's death. He made her watch as he crucioed me, and then he informed her he was going to kill me for failing him, as a warning to my family. My mother... she asked him to kill her instead."
"And Voldemort actually listened to her?" Harry's voice isn't too steady either, and Luna reaches out to touch his arm again, but he pulls it away.
Draco shrugs, a casual gesture that stands out in sharp contrast to the way his hands are clenched into fists. "After what he'd just put me through, the idea of dying held little terror for me. I think he realised that it would be a far worse punishment for me to keep living with the knowledge that I had cost my mother her life." He pauses again before he adds, "I should probably be grateful that I was half-dead from the Cruciatus at that point, or he might have amused himself by putting me under Imperius and making me kill her."
Harry doesn't say anything, but reaches out blindly towards the whisky bottle. He doesn't even bother with a glass; instead, he takes a swig straight from the bottle. After a moment's hesitation, he offers it to Draco, who silently accepts it without looking at Harry.
There are at least two more shots left in the bottle, and Luna watches in horrified fascination as Draco tilts back his head and finishes them off in one go. Then, with great care as if it were essential not to break it, he places the empty bottle on the table, leans back in his chair and closes his eyes. It doesn't take a minute until he's fallen asleep.
Luna hopes that Snape will have some Hangover Potion for him in the morning, because he's definitely going to need it and she doesn't have any in the house. Harry doesn't look as if he's doing much better than Draco. He seems close to falling asleep too, and Luna doesn't think he'll be able to make it up the stairs to his bedroom. She's barely tipsy herself, but she's still not sure it would be a good idea to attempt a Summoning Charm, let alone a Levicorpus, in this state. Therefore, she gets up with a slight wobble to fetch some blankets.
When she returns to the living room a few minutes later, the sight that greets her makes her stop dead in her tracks.
Draco is curled up into a ball in his armchair, his arms wrapped tightly around his knees which he has drawn up to his chest. There's a pinched expression on his face; his lips are pressed together, as if he were afraid to make a sound, and although he's clearly fast asleep, his legs are twitching as if he were prepared to run away any moment.
Harry is perched on the armrest of Draco's chair, his outstretched hand not quite touching Draco's shoulder. He looks incredibly young in the flickering light of the dying embers in the fireplace, and he's softly humming something that she recognises as one of her mother's lullabies.
Luna stands and watches them for a moment; then, smiling to herself, she turns around and tiptoes out of the room.
Draco looks surprised when he opens the door; after three years in Azkaban, he's probably no longer used to people knocking if they want to enter his room. "What's the matter?"
"We need to talk," Luna says without preamble, and the look of alarm that crosses his face isn't lost on her. It's gone quickly, though, replaced by the forced calm he usually displays when something is worrying him. Luna fleetingly realises that she has got to know him quite well in the few months he has been staying in her house.
"What about? I've had a long day, I was just about to go to bed."
"This won't take long, but it's important." She sits down, cross-legged, on his bed, leaving the only chair in the room to Draco, but he remains standing. Perhaps, Luna thinks, he feels safer while he's towering over her. Men are sometimes strange that way.
"I have something for you." She holds out the small, oblong box she has brought with her, but Draco seems reluctant to take it.
"What is it?"
"Something that belonged to my mother. I'll lend it to you for a while, if you want it."
He finally accepts the box with a wary expression. Luna sees him go pale and then pink when he opens it, and she is sure her mother smiling at her now. Willow and unicorn hair, ten and a quarter inches; wands are made for the hands of the living, not the memory of the dead.
"You – " Draco seems to have trouble finding words, and Luna notices how he doesn't touch the wand in the box. "You would let me use your mother's wand? Me? You know the Ministry will come after you if they ever find out."
"They won't," Luna replies, unfazed, "they're monitoring wands, not people. They know I have my mother's wand, and they'll think I'm using it when someone does magic with it. You probably won't be able to use it anywhere but around my house, but I suppose it's better than nothing."
"It certainly is." There's a strange look in Draco's eyes when he finally takes the wand out and gives it an experimental flick. Luna knows it will never come close to using his own wand, but it seems to her that it's much better to walk with a crutch than to remain paralysed.
"You're really willing to trust me with this? Why?"
"I suppose it's because I'm mental," Luna says serenely, and he grins at her which makes him look, for the first time, very much like the cocky little brat he was back during their time at Hogwarts. "However, there's one thing I'm asking you to do for me in return."
"Ah." He doesn't seem surprised; this is probably how things should be for someone who grew up in Slytherin. "What would that be?"
"I want you to help Harry get his magic back." She is very pleased with that idea; somehow, she wonders why she didn't think of it sooner.
Draco, however, doesn't appear to see the inherent logic in her request. "What? Are you – no, wait, I believe we just covered that. But what makes you think that I of all people might be able to drag Potter out of the state he's worked himself up to? You know as well as I do that there's nothing wrong with his magic, only with his head."
"That's just the thing, you see," Luna replies, "I know nothing of the sort. I'm his friend, and I believe him when he tells me that he can't do magic any more. You seem very sure about the fact that he's wrong, though, and you won't hesitate to prove it to him. Besides, you make him angry, and that might be just what he needs."
The corner of Draco's mouth quirks up at this. "So what you really want me to do is to give Potter a good hard kick in the arse. If you put it that way, I might be tempted."
She gives him a brilliant smile. "I knew you would be."
Luna quickly gets used to being greeted by the sound of yelling whenever she comes home late in the evening. She doesn't know how Draco made Harry agree to practising magic with him, although she suspects there was some kind of I-dare-you posturing on Draco's part involved since Harry flat-out refused when she first mentioned her idea to him.
They're practising in the living room, which means Luna usually retreats to her bedroom to work there behind the soothing barrier of a Silencing Spell. It's not very convenient, particularly since she has to get by without Draco's help now, but she's determined to persevere for Harry's sake. Likewise, she doesn't say anything about the fact that the practice regime seem to affect his cooking skills; he either doesn't have the time any more, or he just can't cook when he's angry, which seems to be his predominant mood at the moment. Luna rather misses the dinners he used to make for her, but she knows friendship is about sacrifice sometimes.
She doesn't ask about Harry's progress. There's still the "no questions" promise, and she's sure he will tell her if he feels there's something she should know. Besides, she occasionally gets to see evidence of the fact that Harry has successfully managed to cast a spell. On one unforgettable occasion, she had to help Draco with turning his hair back to its normal colour after Harry had spelled it bright orange and somehow blocked Draco from undoing the spell himself. It was quite a complicated block, too; it took her ten minutes until Draco finally was back to his usual white-blond, and all the while, she could hear Harry laughing like a hyena downstairs. She doesn't want to know what Draco did to retaliate.
Luna often remembers the sound of Harry's laughter, now that spring is already in the air and she becomes giddy from the feeling of life waking up from its long sleep all around her. To her, getting to hear him laugh like this again seems like a promise that things are eventually going to be all right. As the weather gets warmer, she feels as if a huge weight were slowly being lifted from her shoulders. She's wearing the first early flowers in her hair and sings along with the birds during her Sunday morning walks, and her heart skips a beat when, for the first time since last autumn, she returns from a walk to see Harry sitting on the steps of the front porch.
He smiles at her when she sits down beside him. "How was your walk?"
"Interesting," she tells him, "there are all kinds of creatures about already. I even saw something that might have been Snorkack tracks!"
Harry is still smiling, although he now has that glazed look in his eyes he often gets when she talks about magical beasts. "Crumple-Horned Snorkacks?"
This makes Luna laugh. "No, silly, they only live in Sweden! We only get the straight-horned type here in Britain, although many people can't tell them apart. You know," she adds, "I could write an article to clear up the matter. What do you think?"
"Uh, yeah, why not?" Harry hesitates, then adds with a grin, "I bet Draco would love to proof-read it."
Luna's eyes widen. "What did you just say?"
He looks at her with a frown. "I said I'm sure that Malfoy would love to proof-read it. If he ever gets out of bed, that is."
Luna smiles to herself and doesn't point out that it's not exactly what Harry first said. "He must be tired. I'm sure he'll have time to practise with you in the afternoon."
Harry sighs. "And am I ever looking forward to it. But speaking of practice, watch this." He pulls her mother's wand from his sleeve and points it at a pebble lying at his feet. "Wingardium Leviosa!"
The pebble gives a lurch, then slowly rises into the air. Luna claps her hands and cheers; there's a frown of concentration on Harry's face, but he seems pleased nevertheless. "I still have a hard time not making it shoot up like a bullet, but – here, hold on to the handle with me, I want to try something."
Luna covers Harry's hand on the wand with hers and concentrates on the spell. The pebble rises higher and starts spinning in a slow circle around them. Luna can feel Harry's magic directing it; he's still giving it too much power, but she finds it quite easy to control and channel that. She didn't know two people could work together magically like this – it's strangely intimate, and she wonders if Harry learned it from Draco. Somehow, she can't imagine that two people who are constantly at each other's throats would be comfortable sharing their magic, but she knows very well that there's a huge number of things in the world that still exist even though nobody would be able to imagine them.
"I saw a snake in the garden yesterday."
Harry looks up from his plate at this announcement and frowns at Draco. "So what? That's hardly unusual."
To the best of Luna's knowledge, there's even a nest of Runespoors, whose ancestors were brought back from a trip to Africa by her father years ago, underneath the garden wall, but she can't mention it because she has her mouth full. Harry's cooking is almost back to its previous standard, which seems to indicate he's getting used to working with Draco. They still snipe at each other constantly, but the overall level of hostility seems to have decreased somewhat. Luna is glad of it, both for her eardrums' and her palate's sake.
Meanwhile, Draco is rolling his eyes at Harry. "Kindly let me finish, Potter. I want you to go out into the garden after dinner and try talking to it, if we can find it again. This is your only magical ability I can't help you with, and I want to see how you manage."
"Ohhhh, can I come too?" Luna usually does not interfere with their training, but this is just too interesting to pass up. "I've never heard anyone speak Parseltongue before!"
Harry doesn't seem overly enthusiastic, but he merely shrugs. "Be my guest."
They find the snake – no Runespoor, just a little brown garden snake – soaking up the last rays of the evening sun next to the garden wall. Harry crouches down beside it, but then he hesitates. "What do you want me to say?"
Draco shrugs. "How should I know? I'm not the one who has talked to snakes before."
"You could start with a greeting," Luna suggests, and Harry nods and focuses on the snake. He frowns as if in concentration, and Luna leans forward, eager not to miss anything. Harry opens his mouth, but he remains silent, and his frown deepens. Finally, all he says – in normal English – is, "I can't."
"Not this again, Potter." Draco sounds more tired than annoyed. "We've been through this a dozen times."
"This is different." Harry straightens and shakes his head. "My magic is mine, but I wouldn't be a Parselmouth if it hadn't been for Voldemort. He –"
"He didn't do a thing to your abilities when you killed him, Potter, and you know it." Draco's tone reminds Luna a bit of Professor Snape. "There's nothing wrong with you, other than the fact you somehow managed to shut off your access to your own powers because you finally noticed that you could do things with them that wouldn't earn you another Order of Merlin. I'm not asking you to turn a baby into a firecracker and blow it up, just to talk to a pathetic little snake. And now pull yourself together!"
Luna is quite surprised that Harry doesn't snap back at Draco for this; instead, he merely crouches down again and fixes the snake with an unblinking stare. He opens his mouth, and Luna is almost convinced he'll remain silent again, but then he suddenly lets out a low, sibilant hiss. The snake's head turns, and Luna gets a glimpse of its forked tongue darting out towards Harry, but in the next second, it has slithered away and disappeared into a crack between two bricks in the wall.
Harry is looking after it with a puzzled expression. "I suppose that didn't go over too well."
Luna crouches down next to him and peers into the crack. "What did it say?"
"Basically, it told me to piss off," Harry admits, and Luna can't help giggling.
"Well, that's a rather rude snake I have in my garden."
"Or I didn't quite say what I meant to say," Harry murmurs, looking almost sheepish.
"Still, you spoke to it, so that's a start." There's a strange expression on Draco's face that Luna can't interpret. He looks both excited and... apprehensive? Perhaps, Luna thinks, the sound of Parseltongue makes him uncomfortable because it reminds him of Voldemort. "Let's see if you can convince it to come out of hiding and talk to you some more."
Harry seems reluctant, and Luna has a feeling that her presence is not helping things. After all, Harry is probably used to messing up in front of Draco by now, but not where she can see it.
"I'll leave you two to it," she says and straightens her robe, "I'd love to keep watching, but there's another stack of page proofs waiting for me to go over. Say hello to the snake from me, Harry, and tell it to stay clear of the Runespoors, they sometimes eat snakes that have just one head."
If she's honest, she's rather looking forward to a quiet Saturday evening in the living room; it's so much more comfortable to curl up in an armchair in front of the fireplace (it may be spring, but the evenings are still cold) than to sit at the small, rickety desk in her bedroom.
She's making good progress on the latest edition that evening, although she can't help wondering what Harry and Draco are doing in the garden for so long. It's already pitch dark outside, and Luna supposes the snake can't have that much interesting stuff to tell. Perhaps they really found one of the Runespoors; she has heard that those that manage to shut up their right head are truly fascinating to talk to.
Luna only realises that she has fallen asleep in her armchair when she is woken by a muffled sound from the hallway. Feeling groggy and disoriented, she squints into the semi-darkness (the fire has burned down almost completely, so the room is only lit by the soft red glow of the embers) to find out where the sound came from.
Then the door opens, and against the moonlight that illuminates the hallway (someone left the front door open, it seems) Luna makes out the silhouettes of two people who are so closely intertwined that it would be hard to tell who is who if it weren't for Draco's hair shining silvery in the light of the moon.
Luna is suddenly wide awake. She has the presence of mind to crouch lower in her armchair and pretend to be still asleep, although she keeps her eyes open. She needn't have bothered anyway, since Harry and Draco don't even notice her. They stumble into the room, locked into what looks like the most vicious kiss Luna has ever seen. It's hard to say whether they are really kissing or still fighting, and somehow, Luna can't help thinking that they might very well be doing both at the same time. Then the door falls shut behind them, blocking out the moonlight and leaving Luna only the weak reddish light of the dying fire to see what's going on.
It doesn't even appear to her that she could look away, or make her presence known to Harry and Draco while it's not yet too embarrassing for them to be caught at what they're doing (although they may be well past that point already). In hindsight, it seems to Luna that this has been brewing for a long time, and she would no more miss it now than she would leave a fascinating play before the last act. Besides, she only has a rather fuzzy idea of how things are done between two men, and she's never been one to pass up an opportunity to learn something new.
Harry has his back against the closed door, with Draco leaning against him. They are no longer kissing; Harry has his head thrown back, and the skin of his neck glows in the weak red light under his dark hair that is indistinguishable from the darkness around him. Draco's silver-blond hair, however, shines like a beacon in the dark where his head is nestled in the crook of Harry's shoulder, and Luna wonders whether he's kissing Harry's neck. He must be doing something to him, because Harry's breathing is becoming laboured and then turns into a low, sharp hiss. It is so different from what Luna heard earlier in the garden that it takes her a moment to realise he's speaking Parseltongue again.
It sounds ominous, almost menacing, to Luna, but it obviously has a different effect on Draco, who is pressed so tightly against Harry now that Luna wonders how Harry can still breathe. The door creaks on its hinges as they move against each other, their pace quickening while the sound of Harry's hissing and Draco's panting grows louder. Luna sees the pale skin of Harry's hands against the dark fabric of Draco's robe, and she imagines him digging his fingers into Draco's shoulders and holding on tight when his hissing turns into a long, drawn-out groan. She feels her cheeks heat up at the realisation that she's listening to Harry having what sounds like a mind-blowing orgasm, and she suddenly regrets that she didn't get out of the room while there was still time. This is theirs alone; she has no place in it, but it's too late now, and she has no choice but to stay put.
Luna squeezes her eyes shut and tries to concentrate on her own heartbeat to block out the sounds of Harry's panting just a few steps away. If she manages to find a centre of calm within her, she might even be able to fall asleep, which probably would be the best solution to her dilemma. Her resolve doesn't last long, though; her eyes fly open again when she hears a thud from the door.
It is so dark now that she can barely make out more than shadows, but she still sees that Harry has reversed their positions and has Draco with his back against the door. Luna hears the clinking of metal and a rustling of fabric, and she realises that she really might be in for an eyeful now when Draco whispers, in a voice that is strangled and breathless, "Potter, I've never..."
"I have," Harry's equally breathless voice replies, and Luna fleetingly remembers her talk with Ginny, "just let me..."
A second later, Draco gasps, and against her better judgement, Luna squints into the darkness, only to see Harry on his knees in front of Draco. The noises they're both making don't leave the slightest doubt about what's going on, and Luna begins to feel extremely flustered. She's torn between relief and a little twinge of disappointment when Draco comes quickly, with a low moan that sounds muffled as if he were clenching his teeth. She remembers him twitching in his sleep in the same chair she's sitting in, and it makes her wonder if Azkaban drilled the need to remain silent at all times into him.
The room is very quiet now. Obviously, neither of them feels the need to talk, or perhaps they don't know what they would talk about in a moment like this. Luna closes her eyes, prepared to appear fast asleep if one of them should decide to cast Lumos, but it remains dark. After a while, she hears footsteps which she recognises as Harry's. He's leaving the room without a word, and it takes some time until Draco follows. Luna has no doubt that they're both headed for their own rooms, and it makes her a little sad.
She can't help wondering just how awkward things are going to be in the morning.
They're not even looking at each other.
Luna wouldn't have thought that she'd ever think back longingly to all the screaming matches she witnessed, but compared to this oppressive silence, she'd prefer them to yell at each other again. Neither Harry nor Draco showed up for breakfast, which isn't unusual for a Sunday morning, but the three of them always have lunch together on Sunday, and it seems they didn't want to give her any indication that something might be different today by skipping it.
Luna hardly ever feels unsure of herself, but the charged atmosphere makes her fidgety. She barely avoided a slip-up when she remembered, just in time, that she shouldn't ask Harry about the reddish mark on his neck that looks like a Nargle bite because it's most likely a hickey that he didn't manage to heal completely. Luna usually has no problem keeping a conversation going, even when no one else is talking, but she's not used to censoring what she's about to say. After getting nothing but monosyllabic answers from either of them for the duration of the meal while they steadfastly avoid each other's gazes, Luna decides that she's had enough.
"I have to leave for the afternoon; Neville owled me yesterday that he'd like to show me the new hybrids he's growing. I'm trying to talk him into writing a gardening column for The Quibbler, so I might be gone a while."
Draco just shrugs, but Harry looks crestfallen, although he's trying to hide it. "Say hello to him from me."
Luna gives him a reassuring smile. "I will." To the best of her knowledge, Neville is currently on holiday in Italy, but she makes a mental note to send him an owl with Harry's greetings because it seems rude not to.
She spends a relaxed afternoon in a small café in Diagon Alley. She manages to finish the next instalment of her report about her father's discoveries in the Amazon rainforests; then she starts a piece on the newest conspiracy within the Ministry. There's never a shortage of them; Luna sometimes wonders who's doing the actual work there since everyone seems to spend their time conspiring.
It's getting dark when she returns home, and she doesn't see a light in any of the windows. The house is strangely quiet, and Luna takes care to make a lot of noise before she enters the living room, but she needn't have bothered since it's empty.
With a vague feeling of unease, Luna climbs the stairs to go looking for Harry and Draco.
She's been secretly hoping she would find Harry's bedroom door locked, but it isn't. He doesn't answer when she repeatedly knocks on the door, so she finally takes a cautious peek inside. The room is empty.
Draco's bedroom door is ajar, so she can see at first glance that he isn't in there either. That only leaves the bathroom at the end of the hall.
Luna hears the sound of running water before she reaches the door, and she's somewhat relieved. At least one of them is clearly at home, and since Harry hasn't left the premises since he moved into her house, it's likely him.
Luna knocks, but no one answers. She tries again, harder this time; it's probably difficult to hear anything over the splashing of the water. At her third attempt, she finally hears Harry ask, in a slightly breathless voice, "Luna?"
"Yes, it's me," Luna answers, although it seems a bit silly; who else would she be? Or did Harry expect someone else? "I was wondering where you were."
"I'm, uh..." Even through the closed door, she can hear him draw a deep breath. "Luna, would you mind coming back a little later? I'm not quite decent at the moment."
Luna raises her eyebrows. "Is that 'I'm in my underpants' not-quite-decent or 'I'm in the shower with Draco' not-quite-decent?"
For a moment, there's absolute silence on the other side of the door.
Then Draco's voice replies, matter-of-factly, "The latter."
"Okay," Luna says with a satisfied nod, "then I'll come back later."
Feeling strangely giddy, she skips down the stairs on one foot like she used to do as a little girl and thinks that as odd ensembles go, this one makes a lot of sense indeed.