It occurred to Draco, a bit too late, that this might be a terrible idea. However, he was already standing, stark-naked, in the middle of the Ravenclaw common room. Well, naked other than his watch, which seemed to glow in the dark, deserted room. He glanced down at the watch for what seemed like the 10th—15th—maybe 20th time? Only one minute had passed. He was beginning to feel a bit chilly.
“Bloody Potter. This has gotten completely out of control,” Draco mumbled quietly to the empty room. Though he tried to resist the temptation, his eyes were drawn to his watch yet again. Fifteen more seconds.
“Scared, Malfoy? I bet you won’t do it, Malfoy! Such a little daddy’s boy, Malfoy!” He spoke in a hushed tone, repeating Harry’s stupid words aloud. His hand twitched again, but he knew this time that looking at the watch would only cause more frustration. The time, he was sure, was passing abnormally slowly.
“What did Potter do to this bloody watch?” he said, much louder than he’d intended. Draco clasped his hand to his mouth, as though he could shove the words right back in without making so much as a peep.
“It’s not the watch.” A voice descended upon Draco, so light and airy that it could have been a bit of lost cloud, wafting down from the sky and sneaking in through the common room window. He couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from, but he’d know that voice anywhere.
“Lovegood! Where are you? How long have you been in here? “ he said, panic entering his voice.
“I always sleep in the common room when it looks like there’s going to be a migration of Airlins.” Luna turned around in a chair at the far end of the common room. Though it was quite dark, Draco immediately threw his hands over his more private bits, his face flushing bright pink.
“If you wouldn’t mind turning back around there, Lovegood. I’m… not wearing any clothes.” He tried to look anywhere but directly at Luna, instead choosing this time to inspect the rug he was standing on. Luna turned so she was, yet again, facing away from the naked boy.
“I was just getting some rest when I heard you muttering. Who were you speaking to? Did you see one of the Airlins?"
“Why did you say ‘It’s not the watch’?” Draco asked, choosing to ignore whatever Luna had said as it was bound to be completely wacky. He nervously eyed his pajamas lying in a pile near his feet.
“Oh, it’s the Airlins! When they’re around, time gets a little turned around. Sometimes it goes faster, or slower, or even backwards!” She said enthusiastically. Draco snorted.
“Lovegood. There is no such thing as Airlins. And it only seems as though time is going slowly because I happen to be entirely naked and it seems to be getting colder in this room.“ He could not believe he was having this conversation right now, especially with Luna Lovegood.
“I can tell they’re migrating. It’s in the air; it feels a bit thicker. Do you feel it?” Through the darkness, Draco could barely make out Luna waving her arms above her head. He wiggled his arms a bit at his sides, immediately cursing himself for feeding even a little into Luna’s delusion.
“No.” He looked down at his watch again. Five minutes left. How could this inane conversation not have taken up more time? I swear we’ve been talking about Air…bins or whatever for at least an hour, Draco thought to himself. He could see Luna was still waving her arms in the air—All of a sudden, she stopped, arms sticking straight up in the air.
“Theeeeey’re heeeeeere!” She shouted with glee.
Draco hopped closer to his pile of clothes, instinctively covering himself with his hands as he did so. He knew that shout had to have woken some Ravenclaws. They would be flooding into the common room any minute. He had to be prepared. Four and a half minutes left.
Luna shot up out of her chair and began to walk quickly around the room, hands outstretched, as though she were looking for something—Or, more accurately, feeling for something. She bolted in the direction of Draco, looking somehow towards him but not at all at him. He was not used to being looked past—looked through—like a House Elf.
“Lovegood! What did I say about looking this way?!” Draco exclaimed, no longer trying to keep quiet.
“Hush!” Luna waved her hand in his general direction, taking an abrupt and seemingly unprompted turn to her left. Then, her eyes locked onto something. Draco couldn’t help but stare as she crept closer to the spot her eyes were fixed on. It seemed as though any second she would lunge forward and catch the invisible creature. As he stared, waiting with bated breath for Luna to strike, Draco felt something soft rub against his leg.
Letting out a horrified shriek, Draco kicked his leg as hard as he could and heard the strangled cry of some kind of animal as his foot connected and it went flying across the room. There was a loud thud and a prolonged, very angry, meow. Luna abandoned her invisible creature and ran towards the corner where the animal had disappeared. As she neared the spot, a frightened and angry cat came streaking out from the darkness, hurrying up the stairs behind Draco, perhaps fearing it might be kicked again.
“Poor thing, it was just Anthony’s cat.” Luna turned, mouth open as though she were going to continue scolding Draco, and, almost immediately, she seemed to forget both the cat and Draco. Her gaze again was caught by something Draco could not see.
Draco sighed. At least he hadn’t killed the cat, and Luna seemed too distracted to include him in her quest to catch a… whatever-it-was-called. In all the commotion, he had almost forgotten that he was naked in the Ravenclaw common room, and then his watch buzzed. Times up. Draco dressed as quickly as physically possible. Finally reunited with his pajamas, he turned to leave the foreign common room, looking forward to all the gloating he was going to do when he saw Potter. That was when he noticed Luna staring at him, a strange look in her eyes.
“Ah. Lovegood. Well, I’m off, if you could not mention this to, um, anyone… that would be excellent. “ She continued to stare, her eyes drawn toward his feet. Luna began to tip toe stealthily towards Draco.
Draco was, to say the least, put on edge. He wasn’t sure what was happening, but he definitely did not like the look in Luna’s eye. As she advanced, he instinctively stepped backward. There was a sickening and very wet sounding crunch. Draco could feel something under his heel, as he crushed it, and it began to ooze some sticky liquid.
“NO!” Luna screamed, sprinting the last few steps between them and pushing Draco to the side. He inspected the bottom of his foot, which was covered in a thick blue goo. Looking over at Luna, he saw her scoop a clearly-crushed, winged insect from the carpet.
“Oh dear. I’m so sorry you didn’t make it to your destination, little Airlin.” She cooed to the creature, a tear rolled down her cheek. Draco wiped his foot on the corner of the rug and stood uncomfortably in front of Luna and the dead Airlin.
“You shouldn’t just… creep toward people like that, Lovegood. Especially if you don’t want them to move.”
She either did not hear him or ignored his comment entirely. With a quick wave of her wand, Luna summoned a small box from what seemed to be the girls dormitory, far up in Ravenclaw Tower. She opened it and gently placed the Airlin inside, closing the lid tightly. Standing up from the rug, she wandered toward the common room entrance. She took a few steps before turning back to Draco, somberly.
“Well, are you coming?” She asked. Draco seemed stuck to the spot where he stood, unable to properly process what was happening.
“Coming where?” he finally managed to stammer.
Luna motioned serenely to the box. “It’s the least we can do,” she said, and started again for the door, not looking back to see if Draco would follow. He wasn’t sure why, but he did.
The two walked in silence from Ravenclaw Tower, through a maze of stairs and hallways,and out onto the grounds. Though it was quite late, and they were definitely not supposed to be outside of the dormitories, they did not have to try to avoid Filch or Mrs. Norris. It seemed as though the castle itself decided to let them through undeterred. Luna made directly for the greenhouses, and Draco followed without protest. As they came around Greenhouse One, Draco’s foot came down on something sharp.
“Bloody hell!” He cried, Picking up his foot, he pulled a long thorn from his big toe. Luna took the thorn from his hand and inspected it.
“I’m really beginning to think I should have brought my slippers,” Draco whined, placing his foot gingerly back on the ground. “Why do I keep stepping on things?”
“Lumos,” muttered Luna, illuminating a large rose bush a few feet away. She smiled widely and practically skipped over to the bush, pulling a beautiful white rose from it. Breaking off the stem right above the first thorn, Luna placed the rose behind her ear and continued to walk towards the back of the greenhouse. Draco limped along in her wake.
Behind the greenhouse, Luna began searching for a proper burial spot. Draco watched as she wandered about, poking at the dirt with her wand, seeming to find something unsatisfactory, and moving on to a new patch. He began to wish he’d also brought his robe in addition to his slippers.
“Over here!” Luna called to Draco as she found a satisfactory patch of dirt, using her wand to quickly excavate a small hole. As Draco joined her, she held the box out to him, expectantly.
“Me?” Draco asked, unsure of what to do with the Airlin’s final resting place. Luna nodded and motioned towards the hole. Draco took the box from her hand and laid it carefully inside the hole.
“Um. I suppose, I’m sorry. First, that I didn’t think you were real, and then that I stepped on you. So… that’s that, and, um, rest in peace?” As he looked up towards Luna for confirmation that he’d said what he needed to, Draco saw a faint blue light appear next to her ear.
He didn’t speak, but just pointed towards it. Luna turned and let out a small gasp, and another blue light appeared, then another, and another, until there were fifty or more hovering balls of light. Neither of them dared move or speak as they watched the Airlins light grow stronger and stronger. And then, just as quickly as they had appeared, they were gone. Luna’s face broke into the biggest smile Draco had ever seen. She reached up and pulled the rose from behind her ear, giving it a quick kiss, and set it down on the Airlin’s box. Draco pulled out his wand, and lifted the soil, depositing it back in the hole. When he looked back to Luna, she was still grinning, as though she’d had every one of her dearest wishes come true right then and there.
“When you let other people tell you what’s real, or true, or beautiful, you’ll miss out on all the wonderful things.”
Draco had not clue how to respond. Were they friends now? Should he thank her for the advice? Should he just … leave? He felt suddenly dizzy, and he took a step back, and another step, and another, until he felt himself falling backwards. The scenery around him blurred and he fell and fell until—
It occurred to Draco, a bit too late, that this might be a terrible idea. However, he was already standing stark-naked in the middle of the Ravenclaw common room. Well, naked other than his watch, which seemed to glow in the dark, deserted room.
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