Happy Birthday, Mr. Malfoy
June 5, 2005, 12:50 pm
Luna looked around the library, both pleased and disappointed with her progress. There was only one pile of books left to organize, the ones she needed to look at more in-depth because their covers gave no indication as to their subject matter. And the locked book cage, which she still did not want to approach. The rest were tucked neatly on their respective shelves, ready for the library to return to normal operation.
Which meant that her job here at the Council was almost over. Unless she took up Willow's offer to make the position permanent. It was such a tempting offer. Between Flourish and Blotts and the Council, she could spend the rest of her life surrounded by books.
"Look what came today," Draco said, as he hefted a box into the library. "More donations."
She was fast, and it was getting more and more difficult to find books not in the library already. He was used to her being here. He liked her being here. Draco did not know what he'd do in his spare time if she ever finished this job and left the Council. He supposed he'd start shopping at Flourish and Blotts all the time.
"More?" She had not thought to ask Willow how acquisitions worked, but she was starting to suspect that it was simply through donations. A new box seemed to show up every week, sent by anonymous donors from all over. Last week's offering of two rare manuscripts had come all the way from South America. Another box had been marked with Japanese postal stamps.
"Where do they keep coming from?" She stepped towards her work table as Draco set the box down. It had already been opened and scanned for curses and other traps.
Inside was an odd collection of materials. She scanned the visible titles, seeing books on fungus and demons and magical animal husbandry.
"The Watcher's Council is everywhere. We're rebuilding. Some of these might have been stuff that was checked out before the First destroyed the original Council."
"I suppose." For some reason, she was not buying it, though. "Oh well, it means that I can put off the book cage for a bit longer, which makes me happy." She smiled over at him, pleased with the delay.
"I know that the books are not evil. They contain knowledge that can be used for ill, yes, but knowledge is never evil. Nevertheless, I hate going near the cage."
"Then have someone with you when you do it. I know Willow can't. They tempt her, but I could help you if you like. You don't have to be in here alone, you know."
"Would you mind? There's not many. It should only take a few days. Less if I'm not splitting my time between here and the book store. Then, I think, it would only take a day, if we started early and worked late." She wasn't sure she was thrilled with the idea of sorting the cage in anything but full daylight, though.
Draco smiled at her. "I'd be happy to assist you. When do you want me?" Draco made a face. "Here. When do you want me here?"
She knew that she should say tomorrow. She had the day off from the book store and they could work on the cage all day long. But she couldn't resist the desire to delay the task.
"Maybe after next week? That should give me plenty of time to... Well, to gather my courage for it. Maybe Willow should have hired a Gryffindor for this task. Hermione Granger would do a good job of it."
"Nonsense," Draco protested. "She really would oust me from the library. You wouldn't want that, would you? You'll be fine. Willow hired you. She saw something in you that fit here. She's good at that, all Theo Notts aside."
"Theo Notts?" She had a vague memory of a Nott in Hogwarts, but did not know what that had to do with Willow's instinct for people.
"Oh, she's hired the wanking arsehat as the Council's healer. It's completely ridiculous. I know the girls need a regular healer on staff, but him? Surely they could have found someone besides him."
"So, you object because you don't like him?" She suspected that he did not like a great many people. "Is he a good healer? Does he understand the the girls will possibly come in with unusual injuries and requests?"
"I don't know. He knows what the girls are. Willow says he is a good healer, and I suppose I should trust her, but there's always been something about Theo that was off, you know?"
"No, not really. I'm not sure I've ever actually met him. Have you mentioned your concerns to her?" She had been emptying the box as they talked, and after taking the last book out, she sent it to the spot next to the door so that she could take it down to the recycling bin later. Willow was very big on recycling and insisted that anything that could be, was. She also had a compost bin just past the gardens, where the smell would not disturb those enjoying the peace of the space.
"She says I'm being ridiculous because I don't like him. Which yeah, I don't, but that's because he might be evil."
Luna looked at him for a long moment. "Are you being ridiculous? Is it maybe some strange Slytherin territorial thing? The other Ravenclaws used to talk about how you guys could get. I never understood why, though. Why Slytherins are apparently possessive or why my housemates thought it was an interesting topic for discussion. Especially among the girls."
Draco sighed. "We have our things. People are included in possessions. We guard them fiercely. No one messes with our things. It's like, if something is mine, if I care about it, I might maim for it. If someone hurt a person I considered in my care, they would rue the godsdamned day. We might not care about much, but Slytherins will protect what they do care about violently at times."
"I don't think I would like being treated like a possession," Luna said. It was unlikely that she would ever be in that position, luckily. She didn't think she was the type that attracted Slytherins. All the Slytherin girls she had ever met were strong, confident. That wasn't her. "But the other girls seemed to find it intriguing."
"It's not like you're carried around like a handbag or worn like a shoe. It's a measure of respect to be claimed. If a Slytherin calls you theirs, they likely live and die for you. So few of us make friends or have relationships. We keep our people close. We watch them carefully. We want them happy and safe. Or at least I do. It actually upsets me when Pevensie is upset. I never feel worse than when she cries about something. No one has ever protected her or watched out for her or doted on her. She's mine, and if anyone harmed her, I'd make them wish they were dead."
She considered this for a moment, taking in the expression on his face. He was so serious, his voice carefully controlled.
"That sounds like what any big brother would do for his sister. The Weasley boys surely had the same attitude towards Ginny. When they weren't pulling her pigtails or teasing her about putting her elbow in the butter, at least."
Draco wasn't too keen on being compared to the Weasley boys, but they were her friends and she likely considered it a compliment.
"So you still think you wouldn't like being friends with a Slytherin?"
"I'm friends with you, aren't I," she asked with a frown. She didn't always notice social cues, but she thought that they were friends. He wouldn't come to the library so often if they weren't. Right?
"And with Blaise, I suppose. Friendship seems to be alright."
"We're friends," Draco said, smiling.
They'd come a long way from her needing the window open when he was in the library and his not being able to touch her. He had an urge to now, but curbed it. Only barely.
"Good," she said with a smile and a skip in her step as she rounded the table. "So, Friend, are you hungry? I skipped lunch and was thinking of raiding the kitchen."
"I could eat," Draco replied, finding himself utterly fascinated with the fact that she had just skipped a little.
They moved through the Council to the kitchen after that, getting only a few odd glances. They were immediately set upon by house elves wanting things to do and people to attend.
Luna carefully made her way to a table, careful not to knock over one of the elves asking if Miss Luna was wanting water. Or tea. Or a sandwich. Or any number of other things.
"The chicken will be fine," she said, naming one of the things that the elves suggested. "With ice water, please."
Within moments the two of them had heaping plates set before them. And large slices of chocolate cake waiting for dessert. Draco's slice had a single small candle stuck in the icing.
"Yours has a candle," she needlessly pointed out.
Draco frowned and nearly asked why, but it occurred to him that he knew why. What he did not know was how she had found out. He did not celebrate his birthday, had not since he was at Hogwarts. In fact, the only acknowledging he usually accepted of the day was from his mother or Blaise, and depending upon his current mood with her - Astoria.
It was chocolate too. His favorite.
How did she know? Who has she asked? The thought that she might have asked Blaise made him smile. No one at the council knew, though. Not even Willow. Unless she had somehow picked it up from him unconsciously.
It was a mystery.
"Who told?" he asked quietly.
Draco was really uncertain now. He had not thought she was paying that much attention or would have even bothered with something like this... for him. Him of all people.
"Told what?" She bypassed her lunch plate in favor of the cake. When she pulled the saucer towards her, the candle on Draco's slice lit and tinny music started to sound from it. It took her just a moment to recognize the tune.
"It's your birthday," she asked, surprised. "I did not know. I would have gotten you something if I had. Well," she gestured to the still burning candle. "Make a wish."
Draco scowled at the burning candle. "You don't have to get me anything. I usually don't celebrate my birthday anymore."
He blew out the offending candle and scowled. The sodding house elves had outted him. He didn't wish for anything. There was no point. That crap never worked as it should.
"Birthdays only seem to be important to the very old or the young," she agreed. Luna bit into the first forkful of cake and groaned in pleasure. It was simply divine.
"But it's still polite to give gifts, even if it's just a card or home baked biscuits."
He froze and stared at the noise she made about the cake. The elves must have left and oven on or something because it felt quite warm in the kitchen.
"I just don't like the day any longer. From sixteen on, something crappy has happened."
She licked a bit of chocolate frosting from her fork and regarded him. She suspected she knew what one of those "crappy things" were, but surely not every birthday had been like that.
"What sorts of things, if you don't mind me asking?"
Draco placed his left arm on the table. "This is what I got at sixteen. At seventeen I got a big fat Crucio for not killing Dumbledore. At eighteen I got a Ministry inquiry about the Battle at Hogwarts. At nineteen I got to testify at Vincent Crabbe's trial. Do I need to go on?"
"No." She grimaced at the list. He truly hadn't had an easy time of it.
She ate another bite of cake and considered what to say next.
"So, what would be your perfect birthday, then? If you could do anything in the world, no matter how impossible or absurd, how would you spend the day?"
"On a broom, I think. I haven't ridden in years. I miss it. I used to love to fly before other things got in the way. I'd fly until I couldn't sit the broom any longer."
Luna thought about his answer. It was less complicated than she had expected. And more difficult at the same time. She suspected that the Council didn't have a supply of school brooms, since most of the slayers and watchers were Muggle. And everyone she could think of that might own a broom would have to many questions if she asked to borrow it.
Plus she rather suspected that Draco would object to borrowing a broom that was in any way connected to the Weasley family.
"Do you still have one?"
Two large barn owls swooned in through the open kitchen window and dropped a parcel on the table.
"Astoria's house," Draco finished. "This is the problem with knowing a Seer. Unless I am mistaken, that's my broom."
Luna blinked at the package and had to admit that it looked rather like a broom. She wasn't quite sure how she felt about his friend predicting that she was going to ask about the broom, though.
"You're going to take the rest of the day off," she told him. "And you're going to ride until it's either too dark to see or your bum has splinters, which ever comes first."
"I don't have time to..." he trailed off at the serious look on her face. "All right. Fine, but you're coming with me."
"If you insist... Though, I have no idea why you'd want me to sit around and watch you fly. Unless those rumors about your ego really are true?"
Draco made a face at her. "The rumors of my ego are entirely true, but you aren't going to watch."
"You want me to keep my eyes closed while you fly around? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense, Draco. Why don't I just bring a book, if you don't want me watching you? That will give me something else to focus on while you do spins and things."
Draco sighed. Loudly. "You will be riding with me, Princess Oblivious."
"Oh!" She hadn't even considered that. It might work, as long as he didn't expect her to steer or anything. She'd ridden all sorts of things, including thestrals and hippogryffs, with no problems what so ever. But put her on a broom and she was a bit of a disaster. Her mind had a tendency to wander, which was a bad thing when her concentration was what was keeping her in the air.
"Why? I mean, if your perfect birthday is to just fly until you can't any longer, why would you want me along?"
He had no idea why. He just did.
"Well, not the whole time, of course, but it'll be fun. You'll see. I won't do anything crazy while you're my passenger."
"No Wronski Feints or anything," she asked to confirm. At his nod of agreement, she accepted the offer. "Food first, though," she said, pushing away the empty cake plate and starting on her proper lunch.
"All right then. As the lady wishes. Food first."