April 26th, 2005 at 1:52 PM
Guilt was an odd thing with him. He was un-used to it. Draco felt a burning need to make up for crashing Lovegood's dinner with Blaise the other night. He had done it for Hannah, but had not much considered Luna Lovegood in it.
So he was attempting a peace offering. He snatched some of Hannah's biscuits from the kitchen and snipped some colorful flowers from the gardens. He was going to play dumb if she asked about those, but the book he would take credit for. He'd found her a creature book on vampires. If she was working at the library here, she needed to know stuff. This one seemed to be the most informative. He'd placed everything on the main table where she usually worked.
Luna nodded to Daisy as she passed the receptionist-slash-nurse and hurried up the stairs to the library. She was having one of those days. Where nothing was going right. She'd burned her toast and spilled tea down her blouse. Her skirt had ripped when she had crouched down to place books on a shelf. All of which was fixable using her wand, but still made her feel harried.
Right outside the door to the library, her sandal fell apart, making her stumble through the doorway.
"Rowena's left tit," she hissed as she kicked off her remaining sandal. She left them both where they landed and walked barefoot over to her work table.
She stopped a few feet away and blinked at Malfoy, who was standing rather awkwardly by the table.
"Oh. Hello. Sorry for the language. Hard day."
"I think we should be clear here. Rowena's left tit is not the worst swear I have ever said, let alone heard. No need for apologies."
He moved away from her table without pointing out what was there. He decided to let her ask if she wanted to know.
"But if you are going to be speaking of the founder's breasts in my presence, perhaps calling me Draco would be appropriate."
She set her bag down in her chair and noticed the items sitting in the center of her table. Biscuits, flowers, and a book. Biscuits and the book were not that unusual. The house elves often left treats for her and books were a constant in the library, of course. The flowers were different, though.
"Were these here when you came in," she asked, looking for any sign as to would have left him. There was nothing.
"Maybe," Draco said with a slight smirk as he collected what research texts he was wanting today and started arranging them on the table he usually sat at.
He had approximately two hours before he needed to meet with Pevensie.
"Why? Do you like them?"
It was a lovely mix of irises and tulips and other spring flowers. She thought she recognized a few from the gardens, but she couldn't be sure.
"They're nice," she said, summoning a vase and using her wand to fill it before arranging the flowers. "I just don't know who left them. It's a mystery."
She shrugged aside the question and picked up the book. It was a vampire book written from a wizarding perspective, which was interesting. Most of the books the Council had had were from the Muggle point of view. She sank down into her chair, her attention on the book, only to stand again to move her bag out of it before she could sit comfortably.
"Another mystery," she muttered, flipping a page and reaching for a treat. "Would you like a biscuit," she asked aloud. When Malfoy did not answer, she tore her attention away from the book and glanced around, thinking that he had left.
Instead she found him sitting sideways in his chair, arm resting along the back, chin on his arm, eyes watching her.
"Thank you, no. I've eaten plenty of them already. I have to keep my boyish figure."
The amount of attention she could pay a book that interested her fascinated him. If she was reading something that held her, the damned building could blow up and she'd still be standing in the rubble reading her book.
"Do the elves leave them for you as well?" She bit into the biscuit and suppressed a surprised gasp. The house elves baked very delicious treats, but these were like none of the ones she had gotten from them before. Which meant that either someone other than an elf had left them, a slayer or some sort of biscuit fairy. And since she had never heard of a biscuit fairy, she was betting a slayer.
"Oh, these are very good," she told him. "Do you know who baked them?"
"Hannah Abbott. When she's upset, she cooks. She also likes leaving them for the slayers. If she finds out what sort you like best, she'll leave them for you."
"I'll have to thank her, then." Luna suspected that they had been left as an unnecessary apology for the other night. Hannah seemed like the type to apologize excessively.
Malfoy was still staring at her, with a funny little quirk of his lips that could not be called a smile. She probably amused him. She did that to a lot of people.
"You did apologize to her for ruining your date, didn't you?"
"She and I weren't on a date. I do suspect I ruined your evening. It was only my intention to ruin Blaise's. Apologies for that. I do hope you weren't cross that I spoiled your date."
He was fishing. Draco just hoped he was being sneaky enough.
She reached for another biscuit and shrugged. "I really don't know if you did or not. If it was two people enjoying good conversation, then, no, the night was probably winding down anyway. If it was a date, then... No, it still needed to wind down. And if Zabini wishes to never speak to me again, then I definitely would not call it a date." She couldn't date a man who lost the plot just because of a silly interruption. They'd be horribly incompatible.
"Are you sure it wasn't a date? The two of you would make a lovely couple, you know. All blonde hair and pretty. Your children, if you ever had them, could easily become world famous models. Not that you should date her just because of that, of course. Date her for her baking."
She popped another biscuit in her mouth and smiled at the look on his face. You would have thought she had suggested mating with a dementor, given the look on his face.
"That can't happen. I have absolutely no interest in Hannah sexually. Not that she's not lovely. She is. Quite, but you know how you specifically not look at someone because you know someone you care about is looking? There is also the fact that I can't date people. I think I have dating issues. It never ends well. I have too many odd traits that women either find frightening or obnoxious."
He liked that she did not think she and Blaise had been on a date. That boded well for Hannah.
"I know the feeling," she admitted. "I'm a little too odd for blokes to be interested in me. Too interested in crumple-horned snorkacks and rearranging libraries." Too damaged. She was alright with it, really. But she did get lonely at times. She rather thought that she would like curling up next to someone on the sofa while she read a book.
Maybe she needed to see about adopting a cat. They were good companions, right? And a cat wouldn't be bothered with the night light spells she had attached in every room of her flat.
"Still, I find it surprising that you have no prospects," Luna continued. He was handsome enough, if a little pointy in the face. And came from an old, wealthy family. The looks and the money made him a hot catch, she believed the term was.
He didn't think she was that odd. You just had to see beyond what was initially there. Once you scratched the surface, sure there was more surface, but that's because she was slightly broken. The next surface there was different.
"I think I am seen as too high maintenance, and there's the strange nature of my relationship with Blaise. The only person who could put up with that part decided she was supposed to be with Marcus Flint, of all people. Which maybe that's true since she's going out on dates with him now."
He looked away and fidgeted nervously.
"You just haven't met the right bloke. There will be someone who'll see your... attention to odd details as a plus. Just like there will be someone who will not care when I say they're mine. Or that I can be rude. Or that I was a Death Eater and I'm the reason... bad stuff happened."
She shuddered at the reminder, but showed no other reaction.
"When you love someone," she said after a moment. "I think you love them because
of who they are, not despite it. Warts and all."
"Exactly," Draco said, looking at her again. "Maybe you'll find some bloke who doesn't mind the library and thinks beasts interesting. Maybe he'll just be content to sit next to you while you read, you know."
"That would be nice," Luna agreed. "I've been thinking about a cat. Or maybe a crup. Mrs. Wintourfall has crups and they sound like lovely pets."
"It's a sad day when a woman prefers a cat or a crup over another person. Interested in girls maybe? Have you tried that?"
"I did consider it at one point," Luna admitted. "Tried to imagine kissing a girl. Several, actually, to get a good accounting. Unfortunately, it didn't do a thing for me." She wasn't about to admit that she had forced a few of the fantasies further, with the same unfortunate result.
"What about you? If you can't find a woman, maybe you can find a man?"
Draco shook his head. "I love Blaise dearly, but there's nothing more than friendship there. If I were to be with a man, it would be him, but I just like women. I like their soft skin and their hair and their giggles and stuff. Perfume. Even perfumed soap. Most of you can smell so flowery. It's nice. I like it."
And he could not believe he was talking about how he liked how women smelled to Luna Lovegood.
"And men smell different than women," Luna agreed. "Musky, most of the time. It's a very nice smell." She bit into another biscuit and realized that she had eaten most of the plate. Now she understood what Malfoy had meant when he said he had eaten too many. She firmly pushed the plate out of reach.
"Maybe it's the type of girl you date that's the problem," she said once she had finished the biscuit. "Men tend to form relationships with women who remind them of their mother." And women dated men who reminded them of their father. Not that she had that option. There was absolutely no one like her father.
"Do you do that? Or are you one of the ones that go in the opposite direction?" She was feeling oddly determined to help him find a girl that could live with him. It was odd. She wasn't the match making type.
"Well, I was interested in Buffy, and she's nothing like my mother. Pansy? A lot like mother. Astoria? Tori has so many faces, it's difficult to know who she is like at all. Tori can be like Mother outwardly, but inwardly, she is not. It might be the crazy too. Seers are prone to madness, and I think that might have been our downfall also. I couldn't hide anything from her. It got to a point where nothing was spontaneous, and I was tired of her repeatedly telling me we would not last because she was having children with another man."
"I can see how that would put a damper on the relationship." Luna tried not to laugh, but she could not help it. She could not imagine being in a relationship like that.
"So, one girl on either side of the mother fence, as it were. And one who was on both sides." She tapped her finger against her lips as she thought. If every girl he had dated had been on one side of the fence or the other, then she could have easily suggested that he try dating the opposite type. But she didn't know what to suggest now, not when it was so evenly divided.
"I don't know," Luna said after a few minutes. "Maybe you just need to find a girl who is very different from anyone else you have ever dated. Or try running an advert in the personals at the Prophet
. 'Rich, eligible bachelor seeks woman who can put up with quirks. No applying in person'."
Draco threw back his head and laughed loudly. His father would have a fit about that. It was almost worth it.
"I think I should not date at all and concentrate on my work. I doubt I'll find anyone willing to put up with me. I shall have to steal a child to give my mother the grandchildren she keeps not-so-subtly hinting about."
"Or adopt your slayer," she pointed out. "Then you can say that you're both concentrating on work and starting a family."
"She already does call my mother mom, which I think unnerves my mother. All the more reason to keep her. I imagine having Pevensie is what it is like to have a little sister. An annoying little sister. She's had it very rough, though. I have to give her some leeway in that area. She's very smart and a quick learner. I could be biased, though. She's very keen on saving my life all the time."
"That's how little sisters act, according to Ginny Weasley. Potter, now. We talked about it once, after she had taken the piss out of Ronald. Little sisters live for making the elder sibling's life hell. Unless someone else threatens the sibling, then they're all about protection. I think older siblings do the same with the youngers as well. It's strange, but it seems to work."
She wondered what it would be like, to have a sibling. Even a semi-adopted one like Draco and Pevensie.
Draco was surprised his eye had not twitched at the mention of Potter and Weasley.
"Well, I almost feel sorry for her having me as her surrogate elder brother. I was not an easy child, and I think that hasn't changed much. The closest I had to siblings were Blaise and Pansy. I had minions, as all evil children do. I was expected to marry Astoria Greengrass and carry on in my father's name. I am afraid I am better suited for the work I do now. What about you? I would have thought you'd be editor if the Quibbler
"I considered it. It was even the plan for awhile. But the war changed a lot of things." Like her ability to fully function outside of her comfort zone. She had actually worked at the Quib
for a year after leaving Hogwarts, until an interview that had gone horribly wrong. She still wasn't entirely sure what had triggered her fears. But she had spent the subsequent month hiding in her flat, organizing and reorganizing everything she could get her hands on.
"It did," he agreed, not elaborating.
It was tense and silent for a moment.
"Will the book suit?" he finally asked, gesturing to the vampire text he'd left for her.
"Hmm?" She looked down at the vampire book and back up at him, confused by the question. "It's a very nice book, yes. I wonder where the Council picked it up. Most of their books are Muggle in origin. Most of the wizarding books they have are more general, or focus on magic. Maybe there's a section of more specific books that I've just not gotten to yet."
She glanced around at the piles of books, which were steadily getting smaller, as if a pile would suddenly glow to tell her that it was special.
"It was bought a few days ago in a specialty shop in Reading," Draco answered. "It has a twin that resides somewhere else in this building. That one was purchased several years ago at the same shop in Reading - after a story was heard about vampires and slayers."
He smiled, but did not look at her as he flipped through his texts.
"I find it interesting how correct most of the facts are in it. As if the wizard who wrote it knew what a slayer really was."
"So you purchased the book and are donating it to the Library?" It was not much of a leap. There was really no other explanation for why he knew so much about the book or it's twin. "That was very nice of you."
The comment about the wizard knowing about slayers intrigued Luna. She turned once again to the title page and noted the author's name. It was not a name that she had heard before, which was not very surprising. She wondered if he had written anything other than this one book.
"No," he replied. "Mine is being donated to the library. That one is yours."
He still had not looked at her. Almost as if it were no big deal he had given her a book, but it sort of was. She was a Ravenclaw. And she was her. Creature book? Big deal. Draco was observing with his peripheral vision, but trying to seem as if he were not watching her.
Her hands stilled on the book. That he had bought for her. That was a bit surreal. Draco Malfoy had bought her a book. On vampires.
"Thank you," she finally said. She could feel a frown trying to form on her face. He had bought her
a book. She didn't understand why. Luna knew that presents from Slytherins tended to have an ulterior motive, but she could not fathom what his might be.
"Why?" The frown came out as she looked at him.
A normal person would have been offended by the question, but he was a Malfoy, so he took it in stride.
"Amends for disturbing your evening on Friday, and after watching you sort through the library, I had a feeling you'd enjoy it. As an added bonus, it might be helpful to you if you continue to hang around here and with us Council types. And part of it is selfish. I enjoy the feeling I get when I give someone something that's perfect for them. When you look at that book, you will think of me, and for once, not in a negative way."
"Thank you," she repeated. He was right about it being perfect for her and she was touched that he'd given the gift that much thought.
"I hadn't thought about that aspect of my potential employment here," she mused after a moment, her fingers absently stroking the faded lettering on the cover. "Needing to learn about vampires, I mean. I know I wouldn't be going out into the field, and the library is perfectly safe, but it would be better to be prepared for any possibility. It's something I will have to consider."
"I could, you know, help you with that if you're interested," Draco said casually.
He felt nervous suddenly. He wanted her to stay. Draco was realizing he liked coming into the library and having her here. It was comforting, and when he could not find something, she seemed to know where it was. It was like Hogwarts, but she was much more attractive than Madam Pince.
Draco completely stopped at that stray thought. He did not just think that.
He looked at her for a moment, studying. Well, it wasn't a lie. She was pretty, he supposed. Definitely better looking than Pince. Her bare feet were sort of attractive. She should probably always go without shoes.
He shook his head and stopped looking at her like a weirdo.
"With helping me consider? No, I do believe that's something I must do on my own. But thank you for the offer." When he just looked at her, she realized her mistake. "Oh, no, you meant help me prepare for working at the Council. Sorry, there must be a wrackspurt nearby."
She considered the idea of Draco teaching her some secret vampire repelling spells. Surely the Council had something like that available. Though, they tended to use witches and covens that did not have wands. Were the two forms of magic even compatible?
And, she supposed, if she did take the tentative job offer, then she should look into some form of wandless combat. Most wizards were absolutely useless without their wands. Maybe Mac could give her physical self defense lessons. Or Oz. She thought he was less likely to accidentally break her and the werewolf had a calm disposition.
"I will definitely take you up on the offer if I decide to stay on," Luna finally said.
Draco nodded. Oddly, he hoped she stayed on. He'd kind of gottne used to having her around.