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Part Three: A better man

Death. Destruction. His own cowardice, and a hundred lives already lost. Through it all, he could only think of her. Could only fear for her.

The body of one of his oldest friend’s lay at his feet, and tears splashed unchecked down his cheeks. It was numbness that settled in his chest, and tears which glittered for the severe lack of emotion he felt. The tears fell for himself, because only a monster could look at the corpse of his oldest friend and feel nothing, nothing at all.

Somewhere out there, he knew that she was fighting. The thought of her long golden hair flying wildly around her face as she threw curse after curse, was all that sustained him. The thought of her immediate danger was all that it took to keep him upright, and running.

He left the body, and began his search for her.

In a long-deserted corridor, steeped with majestic history and magic, he found her.

“Expelliarmus!” he yelled, as formidably as he could. He saw the spell glisten through the air as if in slow motion, and he saw the surprise on Dolohov’s face as Potter’s trade mark spell hit his wand arm with full force. The black wand flew into the air, and Draco caught it, unable to look up. Unable to openly accept what he had just done.

Disarmed a Death Eater. Saved a White Hat.

“Stupefy.” He added, almost as an afterthought. Dolohov fell backwards, crashing into the wall. His eyes surprised, and angry.

Draco ignored the look. He ran forwards, crouched down beside her, and reached out almost tenderly. “Lovegood?” he asked, “You okay?”

She fluttered and looked up at him with her wide, crystalline eyes. “Draco.” she said. She found her strength. She stood up. And then she looked at him again, shaking her head as if with wonder. “There is goodness in you yet.”

He was floored by this abrupt statement. Entirely.

She was staring at him with such an expression of understanding upon her small face, that it almost made him want to whimper. To ask her why. Why she could have such faith in him, when he had never done anything commendable to earn her trust. He was a Death Eater. He was her captor, and her prison guard. He was not worthy of that softness in her eyes.

He shook his head. Not in wonderment, but in denial. “I’m not good.”

“You saved my life.”

“Only because I didn’t want to lose you again.” he justified, staring at Dolohov’s wand in his own hand. “Selfish.”

Luna laughed. An unexpected tinkering sound amongst the bleakness, which made him look up abruptly. He stared at her. “What?”

“You.” she stated mildly. “Saving someone’s life isn’t selfish, Draco, no matter what you say. You saved me. Your path to redemption lies ahead.”

Draco felt as if he were choking. “You’re the only goodness in me.” he said, unable to look at her, he was so ashamed by his displayed weakness. “I’m not… I’ve never…”

“Then take me with you.” she said softly. Her eyes had never appeared so earnest. So focused.

Draco shook his head, looking towards the disarmed and stupefied Dolohov. “I…” His hands quivered. He took Luna’s arm firmly, looking over his shoulder down the empty corridor, then tugging her swiftly into the nearest broom cupboard.

“Draco?” she questioned softly as he closed the door behind them. It gave a resounding click as he locked it.

He braced his hands against the door frame, fighting the urge to turn back and gaze at her. He spoke gruffly, without looking her way. “I don’t want you to carry on fighting.” he said. “I want you to get out of here. Get as far away from here as you can.”

She didn’t say anything.

“If Potter dies then this whole place is going to go to Hell. And even if he doesn’t, there are Death Eaters everywhere. Back there, with Dolohov. It was… It was so close.” His breath was coming out fast and hot now, as if the fear of what might happen to her was gripping his throat like an iron glove.

He turned. “Promise me.”

She was smiling. It confused him. Everything about her confused him.

“Promise me, Luna.”

She shook her head without words. Smiled more widely still.

He felt desperation clawing at his insides, and he flopped to the ground, dropping his head into his hands. “Why don’t you ever do as your told?”

Her fingers crept over his shoulder, and then she was kneeling in front of him, her face awfully close to his. It was overwhelming. Her eyes were so bright, shining, as if there were tears trapped behind her glassy stare. “I have to fight.” she said simply, giving his shoulder a tight squeeze. “Don’t you understand? It’s the most important thing.”

“How can you say that?”

“Because I believe it.” she replied, offering him a half smile. “We’re defending freedom, and life, and magic as it should be. What could be more important than that, Draco?”

He wanted to say your life. He wanted to tell her that he didn’t give a damn about anyone else, about freedom and magic, or even himself; to tell her all that mattered was making sure that she didn’t die.

He wondered whether that made him incredibly, horribly, selfish. Or perhaps the very opposite.

She placed cold fingers on his sharp cheek bone. Cold hands, warm heart. “It’s up to you, to choose your own destiny Draco. But you can’t choose mine.” Then she leaned in very close, and pressed her lips against his in the most tender kiss he had ever received. Sweetness seemed to fill him to the very brim as her gentle fingers traced the expression on his face. She pulled back, keeping her gaze level with his. “There is goodness in you.” she whispered, the tip of her nose brushing against his. “I’ve seen it, touched it, known it. You just have to use it.”

She sat back slightly on her heels, letting her hands slip down to his left arm and tugging up the long black sleeve of his shirt. The Dark Mark glared back up at her, but she didn’t look alarmed. She glanced up at him quickly, her eyes shining, then she reached forward and traced around the ugly shape.

For a second at least, it seemed to glow. Bright, iridescent, blue. A momentary light which blurred the image, until it could have been just about anything. Something good.

She looked up at him again, and there was such fondness in her eyes as she reached forward and pressed her lips to his. No more words needed to be, or could be spoken. All that existed in the world was a bright, powerful light, and the feel of her rose petal lips against his.

“It’s alright to be scared.” Luna whispered against his ear. “I don’t think that makes someone a coward. Just sensible.”

She smiled at him. And then she left, understanding that this particular battle was not one which he could fight in. But at the same time, knowing that one day he would fight for the right side. He would fight with the goodness inside of him.

“I almost always knew.”

That was the last time he ever saw her.

He would have liked to have attended her funeral, but even he knew when to hold back. He could practically picture the riot that would have broken out, if a named Death Eater strolled into the sombre church, and plonked himself down in the front row. He could imagine the faces of those who had been her real friends. It made him feel sick. Made him wish he’d done more for her.

She would have understood. But she was gone.

It was as if all the air was sucked from his lungs, every time he thought about it. As if the room around him suddenly became two shades darker, each time he pictured her tiny, delicate features. Or her long, tangled mane of silvery blonde hair. She was gone, and there was a hole in his life now. A hole where the sun had been. A hole where the stars had clustered.

Her bizarre, uncalled for and unexplained understanding was what he missed the most. That gentle perception that he’d become so familiar with. It died the night that she did. It lay beside her in the earth now, like a precious possession which belonged eternally at her side.

And she had been right, too.

When the remaining Death Eaters rose weeks after Voldemort’s death, he stood amongst those who opposed them. He saw his father taken down, but he continued to fight for righteousness. Continued to fight for everything she believed in.

The hideous mark on his forearm faded with time, but the feel of her fingertips did not.


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