April 9, 2005 11:50 AM
Luna was making slow progress on the Council's library, splitting her days between Flourish and Blotts and the sorting. At the moment it looked more like she was tearing the library apart than organizing it, since almost all the books were stacked on the floor and every other available flat surface. Hand written signs hung from various shelves, reminding her where she had decided to store each subject for now.
In short, it looked like a disaster area. And Luna loved it. She loved bringing organization to the books, even if it was a long and sometimes tedious process.
She's also met several new people as she sorted. A few young slayers that had poked their heads in out of curiosity and a watcher who had been looking for a certain book. He'd been very distressed at the chaos she'd produced.
Willow and Oz had stopped by several times as well, Willow to chat and Oz to silently shelve books once she had labeled them with the proper organization code.
The only down side, if she could consider any part of the job as a down side, was that she sometimes got lost in the books. She often had to skim the books to decide what subject they covered, since not all of them were conveniently named. And sometimes, she forgot that she was supposed to be sorting and instead stood in the middle of the room and read.
Which was exactly what she was doing when the door to the library opened.
Willow had mentioned the library was being sorted and that Draco needed to return any books he had that he did not absolutely need. Pevensie had already brought the majority of them back, but this one about the myth of the slayer was hilarious. A wizard had written about a century ago. He'd likened them to creatures of legend.
He was chuckling as he read a particularly amusing sentence.
Draco stopped. The library was in a complete disarray. He snapped the book closed and went to lay it on the closest available surface only to discover there really was not one.
"What the fuck," he muttered to himself, looking around with a scowl.
Some small noise pulled Luna's attention away from the book she'd gotten caught up in, a treatise on demonic prophecy that was very interesting. She had never realized that demons had their own prophets. Most of the rhymes were nonsense to her, though she had read one that possibly referred to Harry Potter. And one that, unless she was mistaken, was about Aberforth Dumbledore and his goat. Which had been rather disturbing to read.
She carefully set the book on top of her parchment, making sure that it was not on the self inking quill as well. It wouldn't do to have an accident with the ink. Then moved away from the small bit of table that she kept clear for writing.
She figured that it was one of the slayers returning another book, but when she stepped around a shelf, it was not a girl that she saw. Instead, it was blonde man with sharp, familiar features, his hands clutching a book as he glared around at the disarray.
Luna's breath became lodged in her chest and her hand tightened around the edge of the bookcase as the edges of her vision grayed slightly. Draco Malfoy. Here. In the Council.
Draco heard a noise and turned. His eyes widened. It was Luna Lovegood and she was looking rather pale at the moment. He had not seen her since... well a while. Draco did not know what to do. He felt very uncomfortable. She had suffered at the hands of his family. She had spent months in their cellar. He swallowed nervously and tried not to be sick.
"What are you doing here?" Draco asked in his most soothing and even tone.
She really did not look well at all. Part of him was aware of why, and Draco didn't like that at all. Not that he particularly cared, but he was not that person anymore. He had never been a real monster. Just an idiot.
"I--" She had to swallow to clear her throat. For just a moment she had smelled the damp and the mold. Had heard his voice pleading above her head.
"I was asked to organize the library." She stepped back, away from him, away from the bookcase, and towards one of the large windows that lined the outside wall. The sun on her back warmed her, reminded her that this was not a dank cellar.
Draco noticed her move away. He took a step back, creating more distance.
"Willow mentioned someone would be doing so. She never said a name. I was bringing this back. I hate to give it up. It's a comical read, but Willow insisted - research books are the only ones to leave until you've finished. Any of the slayers could assist you if you require heavy lifting. Alice, in particular, is quiet. She's a bit odd, but somehow I don't see that bothering you."
What on earth was he doing? Draco could not make himself stop talking. She didn't want to speak to him. Her body language clearly said that she wanted him to go away. For some reason he was not moving.
"I... No... Thank you. For returning the book. You can set it anywhere. As you can see, I've not reached the truly organized part of organization. And, no, thank you. I do not need help."
Her hands shook a bit, and she was sure that it was noticeable. So she hid them behind herself.
"I can't get you anything?"
There was a voice inside him screeching what are you DOING?
, but Draco could not stop. It was almost as if he were under the Imperius and had no control over himself. She was shaking. He had seen her shaking. Why didn't he just leave her alone? When he was younger, he would have relished this reaction. Now it made him uncomfortable. So why torture himself?
Because maybe he deserved it a little.
He was just standing there. Watching her. And she belatedly realized that he had asked her a question.
"I'm... I'm sorry. What?"
"I asked if I could get you anything. Water or something to eat or you know, something."
"No." She swallowed again and resisted the urge to take another step back. He wasn't approaching her. Had not ever done anything to hurt her, except for bring up bad memories. "No, thank you."
"When are you usually here?"
He was going to avoid the library while she was doing this, but that really was not fair. Part of him was whining about it. He loved the library.
Why did he want to know? Oh, Rowena's left nipple. She wanted him to leave now. Please, Merlin. Just leave
"Please," she whispered.
Draco couldn't hear what she said. He took a step towards her.
"What? I didn't catch that?"
The step towards her was more than she could handle. With a little whimper, she sank to the floor. Not unconscious, just unable to hold herself up any more. Her whole body trembled.
She was aware of him taking another step towards her, the cadence of his voice rising. All she could do was scramble backwards in an undignified crab walk.
"What is it? What's wrong? Lovegood, what's wrong? Tell me so I can help you."
He reached out for her but stopped when he saw her staring in terror at him hand.
Draco scrambled backwards away from her so fast that he fell on his backside. He scooted away quickly, putting distance between them.
"I'm sorry... I didn't... I didn't know. I'm sorry."
This was horrible. Someone being afraid of him? Not as cool as he'd thought it would be. She was actually terrified of him. Draco found he did not like that. Maybe he could work on that. He didn't want anyone to fear him. Not when he was pretty sure he, himself, had not done anything to warrant it.
It wasn't actually him, but she didn't have the words, the power, to tell him that. It was the memories he evoked. She needed to be alone. She needed... She needed to have her hands on books. Organization.
She rose shakily to her feet and stumbled to the nearest stack of books. They were in total disarray and she pulled the top book from the pile and put it on a shelf. She knew that it was a not a good use of her time. She was about to alphabetize books that had not been sorted yet. But she needed the task, needed the control.
"It's not you," she said after a few books, her voice barely above a whisper. "It's the dark and the dank and the mold. And I could hear them screaming. So much screaming." Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks.
"I'm still sorry," he said, getting uneasily to his feet.
He needed a peace offering. A small part of his old self wondered why he worried about it. Who was she? No one to him.
But he was not the same Draco.
Draco stalked over to one of the windows and opened it. Then he took the hankie he usually carried since Pevensie was so fond of bloodying herself and placed it on the table closet to her before backing away.
A breeze swept over her face, bringing the fresh smell of the flowering shrubs in the courtyard and what sounded like some of the younger slayers playing tag. It overwhelmed the imaginary smell of damp that lingered in her nose. The sounds she still heard in the dead of night.
"Thank you," she said, her voice still weak. She concentrated on the books, refusing to look at him.
"I asked when you'd be here, so I would know when not to come. I make you uncomfortable and not in a way I am comfortable with. But perhaps I should come here when you are. I'm not who I was, and perhaps I could help you disassociate me with terrors. Willow would not be friends with me were I beyond saving, and I certainly would not be watching a slayer. Have you met mine? Her name is Pevensie. She has the pink in her hair sometimes."
She was silent as she continued shelving books, putting them in alphabetical order despite the fact that the fact that none of them covered the same subject. One belonged over in the demon section, another with magic, and one was a collection of Shakespeare's sonnets. Right now she didn't have the mental power to label and organize them they way they were meant to be.
"I don't know," she finally said. "It's hard. I know you won't hurt me. That you were as much prisoner as I was. But it all came back when I heard your voice."
She ran out of room on the first shelf and moved to the next one. She couldn't look at him. She was afraid to.
"I'm sorry," Draco said, following her, but at a distance.
He glanced at what she was doing. She was obsessively alphabetizing - anything to keep from looking at him. It was fascinating. She did not know, but he did. He was not leaving her alone about this. He was going to keep pushing until she didn't flinch away from him any longer.
She could feel him follow her, could feel his eyes on her. He was keeping his distance, though, coming no closer to her than he had before. Just following. Watching.
"I could hear you too," she told him after another ten minutes. "Sounds traveled very well there. Anything louder than normal conversation, I heard. Not always the words. But I could hear the tones. The pain."
She cast a quick glance at him out of the corner of her eyes before continuing to shelve the books.
Draco was staring at her and trying to recall to breathe properly. It was not a time in his life he liked to think about. It was why the mark burning frightened him to his core. He had stopped at a table and was gripping the back of one of the chairs so hard his knuckles had gone even more white.
"I'm sorry you had to hear that."
His eyes caught something beyond her in the distance. Pevensie had come in at some point, and he was so busy with Lovegood he had not noticed. From the look on the slayer's face, she had heard. She understood.
"I didn't mean to interrupt," she whispered. "Willow asked me to bring this here."
She had a text in her arms.
Luna stilled at the sound of another voice before glancing over again. Malfoy was paler than normal, and talking to a girl with pink in her hair. She vaguely remembered him saying that he Watched a pink-haired slayer. The girl, obviously, unless there was more than one who liked the color.
She watched the two of them. Malfoy was somehow softer than she ever remembered seeing him as he looked down at the girl. The look calmed her somewhat. Enough that she stopped shelving. She just stood still, watching the two of them.
Pevensie set the book down. "I didn't mean to hear that time. Truly."
"I know you didn't."
"Who hurt you?" she asked him.
"A lot of people who are dead now, so don't go thinking to crack any skulls for it. Aren't you supposed to be headed for work? Longbottom will be waiting. I won't be accused of keeping you away on purpose."
Pevensie nodded. "Mac's taking me."
"Will be fine."
Pevensie hurried for the door. "Big talk later, and not cool having Oz call him Nigel Fatbum. Neville was irritated."
"And I'm sure he cried himself to sleep about it. Go."
"You were really pale."
Draco shooed her.
Pevensie rolled her eyes and stopped near Luna. "I'm glad you're here. If no one told you, we're glad and stuff. We hope you like us."
Draco rolled his eyes.
"She likes you," Luna said once the girl had left.
Draco looked at her. "The feeling is entirely mutual. She saved my life - at great risk to her own. She's a smart girl with an amazing capacity to embrace her calling. I'm very fortunate to be charged with working with her, brat though she is at times."
She thought about pointing out that the classic curse to wish that a person's own children behave the same as they did as a child. But stepped back fro the bookcase instead. She'd managed to fill two whole cases with books, all neatly alphabetized and lined up with the edge of the shelf. And all in the wrong place. With a sigh, she started to remove them and place them on the piles once again.
"How did you fall into this?" It wasn't a career she would have thought he'd choose. Not from what she had known of him.
"I met Willow at one of the worst times in her life. I was lost, myself, but somehow I managed to help her. I still don't know how. When they came here to settle, she remembered me. We're friends. She's special, forgives all manner of sins."
"She is very nice," Luna agreed. "Everyone I've met here so far has been. Oz even adopted the last copy of The Monster Book of Monsters
. I think that means he's a special kind of nice."
"He's an odd duck, that one. Good listener, though. I've ranted to him many times. Level head, even temper. Maybe needs a haircut and a shave, though."
"I think it suits him." Taking books off the shelves took less time than putting them up, because she wasn't worried about how they needed to be arranged. So in no time at all, she was once again staring at neat piles of books and empty shelves.
"I need to get back to work," she told him, glancing at him briefly and looking away again.
"Normally, I would say 'don't let me stop you' and continue to watch, but I have things of my own to do, so I will bid you a good day for now, Miss Lovegood."
Draco bowed slightly at her and headed towards the doors.
Luna waited until he was out the door before turning back to her work table. She was still a bit shaken, could feel her hands tremble slightly. A light snack would help. Maybe some tea. And work. Working would help.