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Scars of Pleasure, Scars of Pain

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It all begins with a letter, folded neatly into thirds and tucked inside of Mesopotamian Curses Through the Ages. The writing is full of curlicues and swirls, each “i” dotted with something that looked like it might be a teardrop. For a moment, Draco isn’t certain he should be reading it. The pale blue paper has no seal and no address. And he is in the library alone, as he so often is, so what harm might it do?

He glances over his shoulder, but Pince is reading something at her desk, and there is no one near where he sits. He carefully unfolds the paper and smooths it flat on the surface of the table.

Dearest Reader,

You’ve picked up one of my favorite books. I think most would find that odd, that I like reading about curses, but I am considering going into a career in Healing, and I would like to specialize in curse damage.

I have never told anyone that before.

I haven’t told anyone much of anything this year. It is lonely here at Hogwarts, which is strange since I live in a room with my very best friend. Still, everything is terribly different.

Write back, dear reader? Leave your letter here.

My next letter will be in Spells Every Child Should Know, but No Parent Would Teach Them. It’s a funny book.

Yours truly,

A Witch in Hiding

Draco considers the paper closely. It isn’t an expensive weave, more than likely purchased at a standard stationary story such as Shimgot’s Stationary, but not so cheap that it might come from Wilmore’s Writing Warehouse. But it is also certainly not special ordered like his own custom parchment that his parents purchased when he arrived for his first year at Hogwarts. It is pedestrian without being poor.

It has also intrigued him.

He flips it over and inks his quill, writing his response on the back.

Dear Witch in Hiding,

Why do you want to specialize in curse damage?

A Wizard in Darkness

He blows on the ink; even though it is Quintillius’ Quick Dry Ink he knows that if he folds it too soon it will blotch irreparably. He has just managed to fold it carefully and tuck it back into page 543, where he had found it originally, when he hears familiar footsteps. He flips the book to page 317, the start of the chapter on the first known Sleeping Curses, and ignores the click-clack of Pansy’s heels. When she drops into the chair next to him with a softly irritated huff, he looks up and raises one eyebrow.

“You’ve missed lunch,” she points out. “People will talk, you know. They’ve already come to notice how little time you spend with your housemates.”

Draco closes the book and places his hands atop it. He smiles thinly. “Of course they notice, and they are pleased. I am not blind, Pansy, nor deaf. I am well aware that I am persona non grata within our dungeon. Now tell me, why should I wish to spend time with those who believe I betrayed them during the war?”

“Because it is expected, darling.” She lays her hand atop his, then frowns. “Mesopotamian curses? Really, Draco? You’ve abandoned your friends to immerse yourself in this?”

He shakes off her touch as he rises smoothly, his motion elegant as he waves the book away to find its own place on the shelves once more. “We all have our own definitions of light reading, my dear, and I assure you, ancient history is far more entertaining than listening to Theodore remind me yet again how I am to blame for Vincent’s death.” The look he levels at her is mild. “This is our last chance to excel, and I found my studies were quite interrupted last year. I intend to pass my NEWTs in a fashion no one can ignore. Perhaps if you applied yourself, you might do the same.”

Pansy studies her fingernails, the varnish a bright purple and freshly applied. “I have no need of NEWTs. I will marry well, and live a life of leisure and charity. You know that, darling.”

“But not me.” While they had once thought to finish Hogwarts and wed before that first summer was over, plans had changed and Draco is more than aware of that.

“Of course I shan’t marry you.” Pansy pats his shoulder. “You are quite ruined, darling, and I am terribly sorry for that. I do believe I might have loved you once.” She kisses his cheek. “You will dance with me when I marry Theo, of course. I can’t possibly do so without you there.”

He offers her his arm, and she settles her fingertips on the crook of his elbow, as perfectly proper as if they were walking together into a state event rather than exiting the library. He says the right thing: “Of course I’ll be there.” But as they walk he thinks back on what the unknown Witch had said, and he knows he understands. It is possible to be completely alone in the midst of those you count as friends. After all, that has been Draco’s life since returning to Hogwarts after the war in order to repeat his seventh year.

#

Dear Wizard in Darkness,

I don’t want to talk about that. You can ask me anything else you like, except for who I am, and why I am thinking of specializing in curse damage.

You didn’t say anything about you, either. Why were you reading a book on ancient curses? What do you want to do after Hogwarts? Why did you write back to me? Why are you in darkness?

It takes more than a single sentence to carry on a correspondence.

My next letter will be in Barnabus Marigold’s Guide to Nasturtiums: Food, Decoration, or Predator.

Yours,

A Witch in Hiding

You didn’t say why you’re in Hiding, either, Draco thinks as he holds the paper loosely in his hands. Yellow, this time, the soft colour of butter rather than the brightness of a daffodil. Whoever she is, she seems to prefer pastels. He files that away and glances around the library.

Granger, Potter, and Weasley are huddled together at a table on the other side of the room, whispering as they work on some assignment involving several inches of parchment. Granger seems to be lecturing the boys, and Potter rolls his eyes when Weasley interrupts her words with a kiss. Draco rolls his eyes as well. Granger and Weasley snogging is more than he has stomach to bear.

Four Hufflepuff girls are at another table, whispering behind their hands and looking from him to Potter and back again. Draco sighs and wonders, once again, where the rumours of his supposed liaison with Potter came from. He glares at the table with the Golden Trio and when The Boy Who Lived Twice glances up, Draco increases the weight of his glare. Potter flushes and looks down, and Draco is pleased at the reaction. He shifts his glare to the Hufflepuff giggling girls, and prays it isn’t one of them who is leaving notes for him to find.

Of course, he wouldn’t expect the Witch in question to be in the library now. She likely slipped in and left it long before now. This is the first chance he has had to check the book since leaving his own response several days ago, but she may well have responded immediately.

He remembers what she said, that it is a funny book, and turns it over to look at the cover. It is obviously meant for children, the colours once bright and now faded, and the writing inside is large and friendly. There is a chapter titled “How to Trick Your Baby Sister” with subheadings for invisible snakes in her bed, or creating imaginary hoards of spiders on her ceiling. Draco reads for a moment, smiling despite himself at the image of a young boy reading this book and the wild magic of youth making reality out of the ideas it puts forth.

The letter had been tucked into the chapter “The Proper Tellings of Tales” on a page about telling terrifying tales under cover of darkness, designed to make one’s younger sibling squirm, and how wild magic will sometimes add atmosphere as the tale is told.

Draco doesn’t remember any incidences of wild magic in his life before Hogwarts. He remembers carefully called little spells, where he well-intended to change the colour of his shirt, or pull a book down from a shelf he couldn’t reach. Control was important, even as a small child. His parents wouldn’t tolerate temper tantrums or outbursts, but control was rewarded.

And Draco had always enjoyed being rewarded.

The giggling starts up again, louder than before. Draco closes the book, his palm over the title, just as a chair is pulled out from his table and Potter drops into it.

“I don’t know where the rumours came from,” Potter says, glaring at Draco as if they are somehow his fault.

“Not me.” Draco returns the glare, lips pursed thinly to increase the intensity. Potter blushes again. “After all, I’m not gay.”

“Neither am I,” Potter protests. But the words are a shade too quick, and loud enough that the giggles start anew from the Hufflepuff girls as they overhear. The rosy undertone of his skin increases, and Draco smirks. “I’m not gay,” Potter repeats. “And I know it’s your lot spreading those rumours about so you’d best stop it.”

They aren’t “his lot” anymore. It might be Pansy or Theodore, or more likely Greg. It has that lack of creativity that Greg tends to have in his plans for insults. But Draco isn’t about to confess that to Potter. “Perhaps you ought to date the youngest Weasel again,” he suggests mildly. “Being caught snogging her might help your protestations.” The smirk widens. “Ah, but you’ve broken it off with her twice since the war ended, haven’t you? The last time was most spectacular, when she claimed before the entire Great Hall over dinner than your lips have the consistency of wet noodles when you snog. Have you considered that the rumours might be correct? Perhaps you’ve been with the wrong Weasley.”

Potter snarls. “Just tell your mates to quit spreading rumours all over school.”

“Tell them yourself.” Draco tucks the book under his elbow, out of sight as he reaches for his assignment. Twelve inches on the potential uses of Mugwort in Potions, listing at least six examples of proper usage, and three where it could go horribly wrong. He is nearly done, but beginning work on it again is an effective dismissal.

After a moment, Potter leaves. It takes a bit longer for the giggling to fade.

When Draco glances up again, only two Hufflepuff girls remain, intent on their assignments rather than gossip. The Trio is gone.

He tugs the yellow paper out and turns it over, considering the reverse side of the page, blank and waiting for his reply.

Dear Witch in Hiding,

I was reading about ancient curses because frankly, I’ve read all of the modern texts and was utterly bored with the idea of reading yet another treatise on how and why the Unforgivables became Unforgivable. My assignments were complete, and I chose the book based on random chance. I found the chapter on the origin of the modern Sleeping Curse, and the roots it has in ancient legend, quite fascinating.

This book you have chosen this time is quite odd. It is a children’s book, I assume, but I don’t recall ever seeing it as a child. Did you read it when you were young?

Frankly, I have no idea what I will do when Hogwarts is done. I intend to gain spectacular marks on my NEWTs, as I hope that may open some doors, but at the moment, most options are quite closed to me. Not that I have any need to work.

Draco considers that last sentence for several moments before erasing it carefully with a spell, watching as the ink flows back into his quill when he retraces the letters.

Frankly, I have no idea what I will do when Hogwarts is done. I intend to gain spectacular marks on my NEWTs, as I hope that may open some doors, but at the moment, most options are quite closed to me. I never thought much about it before, but now as it looms close, I find that I can think of little else.

Have you always known you wish to be a Healer?

I doubt I would have the patience to deal with patients. I suspect I could become quite a successful Mind Healer, but the idea of every witch and wizard knocking on my door with their problems is frankly exhausting. I might well tell them to simply listen to themselves for once, stop whinging, and follow their instincts. I suspect most would be surprised to find that their heart will lead them true.

Again he pauses, and lays the quill down as he blows on the words. He should erase that entire last paragraph. It is entirely too revealing, not in a manner which might identify him, but in a way that tells the truth of his thoughts. And Draco has learned ever since he was young that truths are to be hidden. The heart and its desires are to be locked away behind walls. Follow duty first and instinct last.

Yet he saw where duty led during the war. The moments that he followed instinct left him terrified and hollow, but at the same time, they were the only moments that felt right.

He lets the words stay as he returns quill to paper.

You choose some very strange books. Have you always had such diverse taste in reading?

Sincerely,

A Wizard in Darkness

It is a much longer letter than his first, but he is curious now. And there is a relief to be found in writing down things which he could never say. Not to Pansy, although he has known her practically since birth. She would never understand. Not to Blaise, who would use what he spoke against him eventually, to pick him apart. And there are no others outside of his house to whom he can speak. They all regard him with suspicion, as if at any moment the brand upon his arm might come to life and swallow him with its darkness.

He rubs roughly at his arm, hidden under his sleeves. The library goes silent.

When he glances up, the two Hufflepuff girls stare at him. They no longer giggle, their faces pale and eyes wide.

Draco sneers and stands to gather his things. The letter slips back into the book at the proper page and he sends it away quickly. He regrets it almost as soon as it is done, but the girls still stare and it would look odd to call the book back to remove the letter.

He refuses to become the subject of any further gossip, so he lets the book stay. He can return later to retrieve the letter.

His robes snap about his legs as he turns sharply and stalks away.

#

He plans to return to the library directly after dinner, but those plans go awry when Blaise approaches him as they leave the Great Hall.

“Having difficulties with some rumours, old man?” Blaise is amused, dark eyes snapping with bright mischief, and Draco glowers at him.

“They bother Potter far more than I,” he responds. “Why? Happen to know the source?” It is a small dig; Draco knows Blaise will confess if it is himself.

One shoulder shrugs. “I might. It’s not what you think,” Blaise tells him. “You’d be surprised. But my point is, I might be able to help you end them.”

“For a price.” Draco’s tone is dry. He hasn’t known Blaise as long as Pansy, but they still had a childhood together long before they came to Hogwarts. There is always a price where Blaise is concerned.

“Not a terrible one, and I’m quite certain it’s one you won’t mind paying.” Blaise grins, teeth brightly white against his dark skin. He is a charmer, and a philanderer, and Draco is quite positive that during the war Blaise and Pansy were shagging. It ought to bother him; it doesn’t.

“Then tell me, what is this price I’ll enjoy paying?” Draco rolls his eyes and waits, arms crossed.

“I need you to trick Loony Lovegood into one of the vacant classrooms.” Blaise leans in, intent and quiet. “Just that, and ensure the door is locked behind her with a spell I will give you. Tell her you’ve found a new ghost, or an infestation of Wrackspurts; I don’t care how you do it. But I need her in that classroom alone, and unable to escape.”

Draco’s gaze narrows. There are some things that are not done, no matter who the person is. “And your intentions towards Lovegood are?”

“Nothing untoward.” Blaise assures him, but he lies. Draco sees the quick flutter of pulse at his throat, hears how the words are so carefully said, as if they mean nothing.

He keeps his mask in place, refusing to shift the game to one of truth. Blaise lies, and Draco lies in return by not telling him that he knows. One shoulder shrugs. “And why should I? Why am I so willing to take on this price?”

Blaise’s grin widens, and he claps Draco on the shoulder. “Because she is the source of the rumour, old man. She’s the one who has told the entire school that she spotted Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy on the Astronomy Tower, and that Potter had his hands inside your robes.”

Draco flushes, both at the ridiculousness of the image and at how impossible it would be for him ever to use that place for an assignation. He can’t imagine Potter would find it any more inviting. “She lies, of course.”

“Of course.” Blaise seems unfussed. “While it is obvious that Potter is bent as a corkscrew, given the way he has always mooned after you, anyone can tell that you are not. Nor would you be willing to sully yourself with a halfblood like him. But Lovegood believes it, and for some unknown reason, the rest of the school has believed her. Thus, she is the source of your rumour.”

In this, Blaise does not lie. Draco is sure of it. Which leaves him with a dilemma. Duty and breeding state that he should take his revenge upon the girl, and ensure she never lies about him again. Instinct knows that leading her into a locked room and leaving her for Blaise might be dangerous. His jaw is tight. “As you have already given me the information, I am bound to do as you request,” he finally says, tone stiff. Duty wins.

“I knew you would see it that way.” Blaise claps him on the back and walks off, leaving Draco alone in the Great Hall.

He should return to Slytherin. Instead he does as he had intended to do earlier, making his way to the library where he is nearly bowled over by a gaggle of Gryffindor girls as they exit it. They giggle at him, covering their mouths with their hands, eyes alight with amusement when he glares darkly.

What is it with girls, giggling, and the library?

He steps in, smiling graciously at Pince who glowers at him in return. He settles in at what he now considers his table in the back and summons Spells Every Child Should Know, but No Parent Would Teach Them

The paper is gone. He is too late.

He doubts there will be a response yet, so he leaves. This correspondence is sheer folly; it is best that he forget it.

#

There are so many ways Draco could bring Luna to the requested location. Blaise gives him a date and a time several days after their conversation, and Draco spends the time in between mulling over his options.

He could use the Imperius Curse on her. He has the skill, and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time he had used it.

But the idea of it leaves his skin cold and clammy and makes his gut churn in unpleasant ways. He has vowed never to cast that spell again, nor the Cruciatus Curse. He has never cast the Killing Curse and never will.

Instinct over duty. Instinct tells him to tell the truth.

And so he does.

He catches her in the hallway as she leaves her Charms class, slightly behind the other girls, seeming half out of step with those Ravenclaws he believes ought to be her friends. She pauses in the hall to look up into the sconce, a small smile lifting the corner of her lip as she watches something he cannot see.

Loony indeed.

She blinks after a moment and seems to spot him, waiting there. She smiles. “Draco. Did you want something? The Dingleburts are quite active this afternoon. They live in flames. If you look closely, you can see the little dark flashes in the edges of the white of the flame. They sting when you try to touch a flame. Some people are immune; they are the ones who snuff out candles with their fingertips. Are you immune to fire, Draco?”

Fire. The mention of it brings to mind the roar of the Fiendfyre behind him as they raced to escape, and the sound of Vincent’s screams. He suppresses a shudder. “No, I am not, Luna.” He takes care to address her properly, give her respect at this moment. He will return to calling her Loony in private later.

She still smiles at him, calm. “Neither am I,” she confides. “But the Hucklebigs in the ice hardly bother me at all.”

“Someone wants to see you,” he replies, not caring about Hucklebiggles or Dingerblurts or whatever she was nattering on about. “Would you mind accompanying me? He has asked that I bring you along.” He offers his arm as if she were Pansy or Daphne, or some other equal to his own status.

She accepts, her fingers small and light against his crooked elbow. “Who is it?” she asks as they make their way down the hall.

He hesitates, then remembers: instinct and honesty. “Blaise,” he admits.

Her smile only grows. “Of course it is. I’d be happy to see him.”

“Luna!” The shout is loud, footsteps hurried and chasing after them.

Draco and Luna both turn, her hand slipping from his arm. “Yes, Lavender?” she asks of the girl just catching up with them.

Lavender Brown was pretty, once, Draco remembers. Her hair was rich and thick, falling in waves around her shoulders, and her face had a sort of girlish beauty that was entirely innocent. Her hair is shorter now, cut in an asymmetric chop that almost obscures the one side of her face. But it cannot hide the scars completely. Thick knotted silver and pink scars that trail from above her eye down over her cheek. The eye itself is free of damage, as if it were left that way on purpose.

Draco doesn’t doubt that Fenrir Greyback did exactly that. He would never want one of his Get to be blind. How useless that would be.

His lip lifts in a sneer. She sees him staring and shakes her head, the hair falling to better hide the scars as she growls softly back at him.

Feral, of course. He wouldn’t expect less of a wolf.

“I didn’t know that Hogwarts was a haven for creatures,” he says sharply.

She ignores him, reaching out for Luna instead. “Ginny was looking for you. She thought you were right behind her after Charms, and that you were going to join us—”

“I’m quite alright,” Luna assures her, patting her arm. “Draco knows where Blaise wishes to meet me, and I’m on my way there now. Promise not to tell?” She touches Lavender’s lip lightly with one fingertip. “Ginny would worry.”

“I’ll worry,” Lavender says with a sigh, but her expression softens. “Be safe, Luna. I wouldn’t trust any Slytherin as far as I could throw him.” She casts a dark look at Draco. “Especially this one.”

“I’ll hex his balls blue if I need to,” Luna assures him. “Or have you ever seen a Bat Bogey Hex when it is not cast at the head? I have.” Luna shakes her head and sighs, and Draco tries not to imagine the image she has presented. 

“I’ll be quite fine, Lavender,” Luna continues. “Tell Ginny I shall see her at dinner.” She hesitates, then smiles. “Although if I am not at dinner, do not worry. I’ll find her later. I promise.”

Lavender takes a step back, releasing Luna, and turns her attention to Draco. “If you harm one hair on her head,” she growls, “or hurt her by proxy by taking her where you cause her to be harmed, I will make a Bat Bogey Hex look like the sweetest of childhood dreams.” She flexes her fingers and Draco can imagine sharp claws.

He has no doubt that Lavender Brown could rend him from tip to toe with one swipe if she wished it. Her nostrils flare as he merely nods. “Go,” he says, and he smiles at her snarl. “I assure you, she is entirely willing to be in my company.”

“Of course she is,” Lavender mutters. “Luna’s trusting. Too trusting. But I’m not, Malfoy, and I know where to find you if she’s hurt.”

Draco ignores her and offers his arm to Luna again. She takes it, and they leave.

When they reach the room in question, Draco opens it and ushers her inside. Luna pauses before disappearing into the darkness.

“Lavender is all bark and no bite,” she says with a small, sad smile. “She truly is quite a lovely person. I think she believes that she must match the ugly scars with an ugly personality.”

“The worst scars are those on the inside,” Draco replies, surprised when Luna’s smile only widens.

“How true that is, Draco.” She leans up on her toes, brushing a kiss against his cheek before she nudges him out the door. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”

She closes the door and Draco stares at it for a long moment, considering his options. Luna is well aware of where she is, and why she is there. She has come willingly, knowing who it is who has summoned her. But if Blaise arrives and finds the door unlocked, he will know something is amiss, and he will never trust Draco again.

Luna is as prepared as he can make her, so Draco locks the door with the spell Blaise has given him. Then he walks away and does not look back.

#

Draco sits on his bed, the curtains drawn tight around him. He can hear the scratch of Theodore’s quill against parchment from across the room, and Greg has been asleep for an hour now, soft snores rasping. Blaise has yet to return.

Draco summons his own quill and a page of plain parchment, the sort he would use for class rather than for correspondence. It is neutral, of a kind that anyone might own. It has been so nice to speak to the anonymous witch that he thinks of writing something down now, to help his mind that still worries over leaving Luna to Blaise in a locked room.

Dear Witch in Hiding,

I may have done something horrible today.

Not that it would be the first time. I am not a nice person. But neither am I as horrid as most think. I believe my friends would be surprised to discover that I feel remorse for what I have done.

I cannot tell you what I did, of course, not in any specifics. I may have taken advantage of a person who is trusting and vulnerable, and placed them in a position where someone else could take further advantage. But I did try to arm them with information, so that they did not walk into the situation unknowing.

I despise being trapped between duty and instinct.

It occurs to me that there are those who would say it is the distinction between duty and honour. But that seems such a Gryffindor word.

He should delete that last. It is telling, in that it shows he is not a Gryffindor, and frankly it may even imply the truth of his own house. After all, they are opposites, and only Slytherins seem to be offended by being called Gryffindor.

But he will not leave this letter for the unknown witch. This is for himself, not her, so he lets it stay.

A few years ago I would not have even worried. I would have done what was asked without thinking, and never thought about the welfare of another person.

A few years ago, I was utterly unaware what pain was. I did not know the true depths of what one person could do to another. A few years ago I was all soft white flesh without a single scar. Now I carry scars inside and out, and I know what pain is. I do not want to cause it again.

I never killed, let me tell you that. I never could.

Not that you will ever read this, Witch in Hiding. But it does feel good to place quill to parchment and say words I am unable to say elsewhere. I hope that you have found something of the same in our correspondence.

Sincerely,

A Wizard in Darkness

He blows lightly, waiting for the ink to dry, then folds it neatly. He should burn it, destroy the words he has said, but he feels as if that would remove the impact of having said them at all. So instead he tucks it inside his Potions book and lies back to reread the chapter on poison remedies.

His eyes are closing when the curtains are pulled open, and Blaise grins at him.

“It went well then?” Draco’s tone is dry.

“Perfectly, old man. Everything went absolutely perfectly.” If anything Blaise’s grin widens, and Draco wonders what could possibly have happened.

He leverages himself up on one elbow and drops the textbook idly onto the nightstand. “And Loony Lovegood is unharmed.”

One hand pressed to his chest, Blaise affects an expression of innocence. “Would I ever harm a young lady?”

Draco snorts. “You do not believe Lovegood is a lady,” he retorts.

“True, true, but I assure you, I treated her with the utmost respect.” Blaise takes a step back, hands on the curtains. “I need you to do the same in two days.”

“Why not simply tell her to meet you there yourself?” One eyebrow arches. “I am not your lackey, Blaise.”

Blaise tilts his head. “Ah, but if you do it, we shall pretend to still be your friends. Or at least we shall tolerate you in public.”

Draco frowns, and Blaise grins as he pulls the curtains shut. Cast into privacy again, Draco considers retrieving the letter and adding more to it, but that would be folly. After all, it is ridiculous that the closest thing he has to a friend at the moment is an unknown correspondent.

#

He tries to avoid the library. Or when he goes there to study, he sits near the front of the room, under Pince’s nose so that he can’t have privacy enough to retrieve the proper book. Days pass, and he delivers Luna to the room twice more over the course of a week.

It has now been ten days since he left the letter he regretted, and his fingers itch with wanting to know if she replied.

He makes his way past where Luna sits with the youngest Weasel at the front of the room, then past a table of Ravenclaw fifth years intent on a Potions assignment. He chooses a table far in the back, almost out of sight of Pince, before he quietly summons Barnabus Marigold’s Guide to Nasturtiums: Food, Decoration, or Predator

His correspondent truly has the oddest taste in books. Draco has never heard of predatory nasturtiums, although he supposes that if he were to pay closer attention in Herbology that might change. He opens the book curiously, flipping to the chapter on violent flowers first, and is somehow unsurprised to find that is where his witch has tucked her note.

His witch? She is not his witch by any stretch of the imagination. They have only exchanged a few letters; he cannot even count her as a friend.

“Draco!”

He slams the book shut just before Luna drops into the chair next to him, smiling brightly. Heart pounding at nearly being caught with the letters, he gives her a bland look. “Is there a problem?”

“I wanted to apologize.” She covers his hand with hers, grip tightening lightly when he twitches. “I never meant to start an improper rumour. It is only that the Hrimmlings told me so clearly that it was you and Harry in the Astronomy Tower.” She makes a small moue of apology.

“Potter would never indulge in an assignation in the Astronomy Tower,” Draco says stiffly. After all, it is no secret that Potter was there when Dumbledore died. No one other than Potter knows about Draco’s part in it, no one that is outside of Azkaban or alive, that is. “And I would never indulge in such with Potter.”

She considers him, and he wonders for a moment what she sees with those Fey eyes. Then she pats his hand. “I know that now. And I’ve spotted them in the greenhouse and it was terribly unmistakable that he was with Neville.” She shakes her head. “I can’t imagine how the Hrimmlings would have mistaken Neville for you, but there you are.” She cocks her head, considering him again. “They must have seen something noble in you. They are often drawn to nobility, you know. Not the sort involving titles and money,” she adds, as if he hasn’t already figured out that she means noble like some bloody Gryffindor.

“Potter and Longbottom,” Draco drawls, ignoring the rest of what she has said. “I’m quite certain the whole school will know soon enough.”

“I’m certain they will.” Luna doesn’t seem bothered by the idea at all, and he wonders about the rumours he heard of her and Longbottom during the year of the war. Perhaps it was nothing, perhaps something.

His gaze narrows as he watches her, and her smile in return is knowing. “And thank you,” she murmurs. “Blaise is quite wonderful, even if he thinks he doesn’t want me to know who he is. I think I’ve quite mastered the spell he’s asked you to lock the door with, so you needn’t worry about escorting me there anymore. If you tell me where and when to be, I can quite manage it myself. Perhaps someday he’ll be brave enough to let me know his true identity.”

Draco blinks. Loony Lovegood and Blaise are… “You’re shagging?”

“Not yet,” Luna says, “although I’m quite certain that will happen eventually. I’ve heard he’s rather good at it. I’m of age,” she assures him.

Draco watches as she skips away, and wonders if Blaise realizes that he has somehow found himself in a relationship with Luna Lovegood. From the brilliant mood Blaise has been in, he suspects he does. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

He looks around before he opens his book. Luna has returned to her table with Weasley, and they have been joined by Lavender Brown who keeps giving him dark looks from behind that fall of hair.

Scars. He could tell her that they don’t matter. Everyone carries scars after the war; hers are merely more visible than others.

But Draco Malfoy would never walk up to someone and say something so kind.

Lips pursed, he carries the book to the front desk and checks it out. He cannot look at the letters with her staring daggers into his back.

She whispers as he turns to leave, “I will make your life hell if you hurt her, Malfoy.”

He does not dignify the threat with a response.

#

The paper is a pale blue, lighter than the shade of a robin’s egg and shot through with lilac and white marbling. There are three pages.

The first is short, the handwriting familiar despite the lack of greeting or signature.

Have you forgotten?

Have you changed your mind?

He feels a pang of guilt and sets it aside. He will keep this one, to remind him to return in less than ten days next time. The other two sheets appear to be one letter, or rather a letter and a string of postscripts. He suspects each postscript was added later as the days wore on.

And it occurs to him then that he has checked this book out. His name is now attached to it, leaving him in an impossible situation. This must be remedied immediately.

He calls for a house elf, then reconsiders and sends it away with nothing more than a request for a tin of butter biscuits and a glass of milk. No, returning the book now would be suspicious.

He must wait. He must create an assignment and complete it in an appropriate amount of time, then return the book. He will ensure that someone else takes the book out before Draco leaves his letter in it.

It means that he must replace these letters until he is able to reply, but he can also read them first.

Dear Wizard in Darkness,

I used to think I might like to be an Animal Healer. I like animals, and I have always had pets until recently. But things changed and I have decided that I will do something better by healing curses. I think many people are driven to heal animals because they are cute, and sometimes furry, and they are a willing companion with unconditional love. But many people are afraid of curses, or think that a curse might rebound. They see the scars from a curse and they turn away. They believe the scars go down into the heart and have changed the person that was cursed.

Which might be true. Didn’t we all change during the war?

Why are most doors closed to you? You don’t write like a terrible student. I should know; I was not the best student before the war, but now I am more determined. Having time alone helps.

I say that like you should feel sorry for me. Don’t. I don’t need anyone’s pity.

Yes, my brother gave me that book when I was seven. I didn’t have any little brothers to play tricks on, although I tried a few on my little sister. I grew up in a strange place. My father is a Muggle, and my mother is a Pureblood. We lived in both worlds, although my mother’s family doesn’t approve. Coming to Hogwarts and being magical all the time was odd for me.

My next letter will be in From the Mouth of the Dragon: Adventures in Thailand.

Yours,

A Witch in Hiding

P.S. I’m sorry I was in a terrible mood the day I wrote that. I should scratch out the lines about pity, but you would still see through it I’m certain. Sometimes it is very hard when it feels like no one else has changed as much as I have.

P.P.S. Have I offended you? I thought you would have answered by now.

P.P.P.S. Are you a Purist? Are you angry that my father is a Muggle? He is worth more than most wizards that I know. He is absolutely brilliant. He taught me to swim. He taught me to ride a bicycle. When I was having nightmares after the war, he stayed with me, even though I sometimes scared him. He is afraid of me now, and that hurts terribly, but my life was a nightmare. I made him run away during the war because I was afraid that He Who—no, I can say his name now. I was afraid that Voldemort would hurt him, because he is a Muggle who married a witch.

P.P.P.P.S. I had thought we might be friends. I suppose I was wrong.

Draco wants to respond. He knows that whoever she is, she is hurting, and somehow his words are helping her. And strangely enough, her words help him dispel some of the loneliness that he feels as well. But he cannot, not without risking betraying his identity to her, and he is not yet ready for that.

He knows that when she finds out who he is, she will never reply again. Anonymity helps them both.

He duplicates her letters with a careful spell, adding a layer of permanency so that his copies will not fade. Then he tucks the originals back into the book and begins to work. He will write thirteen inches on the subject of predatory Nasturtiums for his Herbology essay, and be thankful that the current topic for homework is an open one. 

He hates that he must make her wait, but he will write his letters to her soon. It will not be long.

#

Draco ensures that Billy Braggold, a sixth year Ravenclaw, checks the book out next with strict instructions not to open it. When he returns it two days later, Draco is there in the library. He waits for a time after it is replaced upon the shelf before he calls it to him. He opens it to find the letters once more and removes them.

He has his reply tucked into his Potions book, and he waves his wand so that the ink from his reply moves from his paper to the blank backs of her stationary.

Dear Witch in Hiding,

I was rather starting to think we might be friends as well. So we shall say that we are, and go forward from there.

I am sorry that I was unable to reply for a time. It has been quite difficult to gain access to this book. I never expected that a book on Nasturtiums would be so popular. I had to wait for it to be returned. Thankfully your letters were still here.

I think it sounds as if you will make a good Healer. You will care for your patients, and you sound as if you would be willing to move mountains to ensure that they are healed.

It makes me guess that you are a Gryffindor, but I could be wrong.

As for my own options, suffice to say that I did not finish the war in a state of grace. There are those who might be wary of taking on my employ.

Not all scars are visible, nor can they all be healed so simply.

I don’t feel sorry for you. I am impressed by your strength and resolve, and if I may be so bold, somewhat attracted to you as well.

Please don’t take that the wrong way. I quite enjoy writing to you, and I enjoy your replies.

Have you ever been to Thailand? I was there once, the summer I turned ten. It was quite hot, and I found it quite frustrating that I was unable to speak their language. My mother cast a translation spell for me, and it made my ears itch constantly. I quite enjoyed the food.

Perhaps I will travel when Hogwarts is done.

Yours,

A Wizard in Darkness

The reply had been written in his room the night before, and he had considered each word carefully before placing it on the paper. He considers it again now as it transfers; he knows each word by heart having read it over six times. But he will not change it, not now.

He does not realize that the spell has also captured the words from his letter weeks before, where he wrote about Luna. He does not know that he sends words he never meant to send.

When the transfer spell is complete, he carefully folds the pages and tucks them into the book for his witch to find. He sends it back and settles in to work on revisions after that.

He is somehow unsurprised when Luna joins him, sitting quietly as if she does this every day, working on her Charms while he revises for Potions. Another hour passes in companionable silence before footsteps approach and a throat clears with a low growl.

Of course. “Luna, I do believe your watchdog objects to your choice of tables at which to work,” Draco murmurs. He doesn’t need to look to know that it is Lavender Brown. He would recognize that growl anywhere.

“Don’t call her that,” Luna says mildly. “She’s not actually a werewolf, which you would know if you cared to ask.”

“Don’t talk about me like I’m not here.” Lavender glares at Draco, her gaze piercing though half-hidden. “Luna, Malfoy isn’t fit company—”

“He won’t hurt me,” Luna smiles slightly. “I’m dating Blaise after all. Even if Blaise doesn’t know I know this yet.”

Lavender groans and sinks into the chair between them. “Luna, Zabini’s taking advantage of you. If it even is Zabini. All you have is Malfoy’s word for it. Either you’ve been spending all your time with a bloke who can’t be arsed to see you without polyjuice, or you’ve been giving out favors to a different bloke every time. If Blaise Zabini truly cares about you, he’d let you see his face. Don’t you want to kiss him and not a different face?”

Luna blinks. “What does it matter what he looks like? I still know it’s him on the inside.” Her expression is sober as she tells Lavender, “Appearances don’t matter.”

Lavender flinches. “Yes, Luna, they do.”

She pushes back from the table to stand, then looks at Draco. “She’s going to get hurt if this keeps up, so warn your friend off.”

“If I tell him to stop seeing Luna, and he does, then she will be hurt,” Draco says practically. “It seems as if everyone is happy with how things are at the moment.”

Lavender growls. “It’s going to all blow up. I know his sort, and this can’t work.” Her growl deepens, low in her throat, and Draco wonders if Luna has it wrong. She certainly sounds like a werewolf, and has the temper to match. “Fix it,” she orders.

Draco watches as she stalks off, her movements fluid and graceful and filled with temper. He wonders if she has any idea how attractive that power is, or that eyes follow her. She may be scarred, but she still has a feral beauty about her. Terrifying, but true.

“I’ll be fine you know.” Luna looks back to her Charms essay, already at seventeen inches and growing longer as she continues to write.

“I know,” Draco says. And somehow he is certain of that, and he wonders if Blaise has any idea what he has gotten himself into.

#

He returns the next day to check the book on Thailand, but there is nothing there. He looks back at the Herbology book, but the papers are gone. The unknown witch has taken his letter, but has yet to reply.

It is Draco’s turn to wonder if he has somehow offended her.

He leaves the library and waits for another day before he returns. This time there is a pink piece of paper tucked into a page that describes a natural spring once rumoured to bestow immortality. It says simply:

Don’t be attracted to me.

Her rejection makes him smile slightly. He takes his quill and leaves an equally short response.

Too late.

Because he is, far more than he feels he should be. He has no idea what she looks like, and when he thinks of her at night she is faceless, her hair shifting from blond to dark. But she listens to him, and she speaks honestly, and his fantasies center around long whispered conversations that last deep into the night, ending with slow kisses and wandering hands.

He is falling for a witch he has never seen.

His heart is being stolen by a halfblood witch who has no idea who he is. He is enamoured of honesty. Of conversation without precedence or history.

Draco never expected to love. Marriage, yes, that is expected of all young Pureblood men. But love—that is something that comes with time if one is lucky. To find it now makes him want to take advantage of it.

It is impossible.

He has no idea who she is, and he knows that to lose his heart over a few letters is ridiculous. But still, something about her draws him in, and as days pass with no further response, he grows irritable. He has offended her, he is sure of it.

He is in a mood. Pansy lets him be after he hexes her silent one morning over breakfast, refusing to listen to one more word of idle prattle. When Theodore pokes at open wounds, reminding Draco of his betrayal, quills break, leaving Nott with a handful of feathers and ink.

Draco has lost control of his magic, subconsciously casting spells like a small child. This has never happened before, and it bothers him.

He spends too much time in the library, deep in revisions. He is there when Blaise comes to find him and settles lazily into a chair. “I hear you’ve been working with Loony Lovegood,” Blaise muses.

“Is that what you call her when you have your tongue down her throat?” Draco snaps. “You might wish to rethink that, as I’m quite certain Loony might not be considered an endearment.”

Blaise glares. “What makes you think—”

“Don’t be an idiot.” Draco sets his quill down and closes his book with a snap. “She knows it’s you and she doesn’t care. I do believe she’s in love with you, and I can’t think why, given how you’ve treated her.”

“Impossible.” Blaise leans back, trying to look nonchalant, but Draco sees the way his clasped hands shake. “You’ve been doing as I—”

“No,” Draco says mildly. “I haven’t. Luna deconstructed your lock spell and absolved me of any need to deliver her ages ago. She goes where you say and locks herself into that room so that you might indulge in whatever secret fantasy you have that she has no idea that it is you. But she loves you, Blaise, and if you’re that much of an idiot that you cannot see it, then you do not deserve her.”

Blaise swallows, gaze shifting to a point among the shelves. “When did you become such a champion of Luna Lovegood?”

“When she proved herself a friend, while others seem determined to tear me down.” Draco smiles thinly. “Instinct over duty, as duty seems only determined to leave me miserable, or dead.” He pauses. “You should tell her how you feel. If you intend to do this, do it right. If even Longbottom and Potter can manage to share their love with the world, I’m quite certain you can find the courage to show that you care for Luna.”

After all, Draco doubts that Blaise and Luna together would cause more of a sensation than the first time Potter and Longbottom had walked cautiously down the hall hand in hand. Although it is Blaise and Luna so he might well be wrong. He cannot imagine a less likely couple, and yet they somehow seem to fit.

“And when did you become such a proponent of love?” Blaise lets his chair tip forward, legs striking the floor with a thump.

Draco shrugs one shoulder. “I’m not. But I am sick to death of pain, and thus advise that you do your level best not to cause any. Besides, I am quite certain that one not-quite-werewolf is waiting to take retribution should Luna find herself harmed. I do not think that you wish to be in her way should her temper rise.”

“I’ll take that under consideration.” Blaise rises and bows slightly. “I’ll leave you to your studies.”

Which is all Draco has at the moment. He has already checked the book, and cannot imagine how a note would be left while he is in the library. He will simply have to return again tomorrow.

#

It is another week before he finds a proper letter in the book. Again, the paper is pink. Draco is absolutely alone in the library when he finds it, and he unfolds it carefully, wary of what it might say and afraid it will be an ending for their communication.

Dear Wizard in Darkness,

I suppose that’s why you say you’re in darkness, then, because you were on Voldemort’s side during the war? That means you’re likely a Slytherin, although he had a few followers who weren’t.

I hate him, you know. Him and everyone who fought for him. They—they killed my brother. I didn’t say that before, I know. They terrified my father and my mother so that they had to run, and they killed my brother. My little sister still has nightmares.

She’s afraid of me. I can’t blame her. Sometimes I’m afraid of me too.

I won’t confirm or deny what house I am in. That would make it too easy to try to guess who I am. I haven’t tried to watch to see who you are. I think we are best staying anonymous. It is easier that way, isn’t it? We have no assumptions, other than knowing we fought on separate sides.

If I were to see you face to face, I don’t know what I would want to do.

I don’t think I hate you though.

But you can’t be attracted to me, and not just because we were once on opposite sides. You just can’t. No one can.

Yours,

A Witch in Hiding

P.S. The Origin of Species vol. 4: Werewolves, Metamorphmages, and other Shapeshifters

Draco doesn’t want to put the letter back. He takes out a clean sheet of paper and smooths it carefully before he begins to write. He doesn’t want to think first, doesn’t want to put it all in perspective. He knows that if he waits, he will regret his words and possibly not say them at all.

This is honesty still, even though the preconceptions have begun to interfere.

Dear Witch in Hiding,

Neither will I confirm my house. As you say, it would make it far too simple to try to determine my identity. And while I am not certain I agree entirely that our anonymity is required, you must see that I have given you your privacy. And I will continue to do so.

But I hope that at some time we might be able to speak in person. After all, this has given us the chance to know each other through words, and I find I am fascinated by you. You are kind and brave, and you are strong enough that you were able to stand against the Dark Lord in the war and do your best to protect your family. I was weak, and I was terrified. And even when I knew I did wrong, I could not stop lest my family pay the price. I was trapped, and I saw no way to escape. You did.

I am sorry for what happened to your brother. If there were aught I could do to alleviate your pain, I would do so in a heartbeat.

Don’t say no one can be attracted to you, because it is not true. I am. Telling me not to be will not change that, it only takes away hope.

Sometimes all we have, and all we need, is hope. I found hope during the war in an unexpected place, and that was my one rebellion. I like to think it may have changed something, helped your side towards the win. Perhaps so, perhaps not. But it was the one time I am absolutely certain that I did what was right.

Yours,

A Wizard in Darkness

He pauses for a moment and ink drips from the quill onto the paper. He smudges it with his thumb lightly, wiping the worst of it away. He knows that she will likely not answer what he wishes to ask, but he puts quill to paper and asks it anyway.

P.S. What are you hiding from? You know why I am in darkness. It seems only fair that I ask.

He folds the paper twice, then tucks it back into the same page. The book is sent back to the shelf before he looks at the pink piece of paper he has kept. He cannot let it be found, so he folds it twice, then again, small enough to fit in his pocket.

Draco leaves the library before he has a chance to reconsider the letter. As he steps out, Longbottom and Potter are in the hallway exchanging a kiss while Granger and Weasley wait. There is a shout down the hallway and Luna is there. She stops to squeeze Draco’s hand on the way by before she joins the others, gentling teasing the boys until Longbottom flushes brightly.

Draco turns to walk away. He is not jealous of their friendship, of their ease. Of course he is not.

#

Pansy finds him at breakfast. “Do you mind if I join you in the library today?” she asks, checking the tips of her nails. She brings out her wand to touch up the colour, a vibrant shade of plum. “As it turns out, I have an assignment due for Creatures tomorrow. I have to choose three distinctly different creatures and write at least six inches on each.” She sighs heavily. “And most importantly, they cannot be from our text. With examples. When I was about to leave class, Hagrid had the gall to tell me that they cannot be any creature my family raises or breeds, either, which means I must select something I know nothing about. How fair is that?” She stares at the ceiling, sighing theatrically. “I tell you, Draco, that man, and I do use the term loosely, is quite prejudiced against anyone who is neither named Potter, or shagging someone named Potter, or at least friends with someone named Potter. And as none of them bother to take the class any more, that leaves him to torment me.”

Draco knows that Pansy only takes the NEWT level of Care of Magical Creatures because it is her family’s business to raise and breed exotic animals of the magical world. But he suspects that there are moments when she knows more than Hagrid, and moments when he knows more than she bothers to learn. “What makes you think I can help you, my dear?” he asks.

“You have an excellent tendency to find the oddest books.” She taps her wand idly against the tabletop. “Do be a darling and find one on unusual creatures. Real ones, of course. If I wished to chronicle the breeding habits of imaginary creatures, I’d speak to Loony Lovegood.”

Ah, that’s what this is about. “I’m not interested in Luna.” Draco purses his lips thinly.

“Really? I’ve heard that she claims to be shagging a Slytherin, and you happen to be the one she spends the most time with.” Pansy’s smile is full of sharp teeth and unstated recrimination.

“So they’ve progressed to shagging?” Draco murmured idly. “Of course they have. Give them time, and I’m quite certain they’ll tell the world. It isn’t Luna’s decision to stay silent. Either way, I do assure you, I am not the Slytherin in question.”

Pansy touches his hand, head cocked, expression shifting to something meant to be sympathetic, but Draco knows her better than that. “You should find yourself someone, Draco. It isn’t good to keep to yourself.”

He laughs aloud at that, the sound unexpected and making heads turn in the Great Hall. He can’t contain the smile. “One moment you accuse me of spending too much time with Luna Lovegood, the next you insist I’m a hermit. You can’t have it both ways, Pansy.” He gathers together his things; he has Potions this morning and a plan to stop by the library after during his free period. “I assure you, I am fine. Go back to Theodore and whatever machinations obsess you at the moment.”

And he is fine, he realizes. He still spends much of his time alone, but he isn’t entirely lonely. Blaise spots him leaving and veers to join him, walking with him to Potions. They spot Luna along the way, chatting with the youngest Weasley in the hall. Luna catches their attention and smiles, and Blaise smiles back charmingly. It is most definitely only a matter of time.

“I thought you were going to do something about that.”

Draco recognizes the low growl by his shoulder, and turns slowly. “It is not mine to do anything about,” he reminds Lavender. “Go sharpen your claws elsewhere, and protect a friend who wishes to be coddled and protected. I assure you, I would be far more frightened of Luna should Blaise do anything wrong than I am of you.”

She stands there, her jaw set, the scars stark along the side of her face. “You should be afraid of me,” she finally says in a low voice. “Everyone else is, and if you’re not, then you’re more of an inbred Pureblood idiot than I thought.”

Draco isn’t an idiot. But for all that he has called her watchdog and wolf, he knows Lavender Brown isn’t actually a werewolf. She wasn’t bitten during the full moon, and as far as he knows, Greyback wasn’t transformed at the time. She is likely violent, yes, and she is certainly scarred. He follows her in and sits next to her, ignoring the surprised squeak Patil gives when he takes the seat before she can. “Go sit with Blaise.” He waves one had idly and doesn’t wait to see if the girl does it.

“Does this have a point, Malfoy?”

She is writing carefully, her arm curved around her notes as she works, hair failing to obscure her face.

“Bored,” he says, shrugging. “I have always had partners in Potions that I grew up with. Perhaps it is time for a change. Or perhaps Blaise has his eye on your friend and asked me to swap places.”

That was entirely the wrong thing to say from the look she gives him. Her growl is feral and low, vibrating in the air between him. “Blaise is with Luna, isn’t he?” she asks all too softly.

Perhaps he should be afraid of Lavender after all. She looks as if she might bite. “Yes, he is,” he admits. “I was making a joke.”

“Not a funny one.” Her attention returns to her notes. “And I don’t want to be your partner today. This class is far too important to me. Go back to Blaise and I’ll work with Padma and we’ll both get what we actually want in this class.”

He could stay. He glances at Blaise, who is giving him a curious look, and at Patil beside him who looks ready to run over. He could stay, but he doesn’t have to. Draco lowers his voice before speaking again. “I’m not afraid of you, Lavender Brown,” he says quietly, each word careful and distinct. “I lived with Greyback. I lived with Voldemort.” He forces himself to use the proper name, when all instinct screams that he not say it. “I know what fear is. You are not it.” He pauses to let that sink in, silence between them save the soft scratch of her quill against parchment. “Do not think to threaten me again.”

There is a small snap as the tip of her quill breaks, and she lays it down, folding her arms and pillowing her head against them. Draco stands and as he steps aside, Patil rushes into the empty space and sits, one arm across Lavender’s back. The two are bent together, forehead to forehead, whispering as Lavender’s shoulders shiver.

She is either laughing or crying, he suspects.

Neither is good.

Even when he tries, he realizes that he hasn’t changed.

#

Potions class is a disaster. No one is able to brew the assigned potion correctly. Finnigan’s explodes in bright sparks and lights. Brown and Patil manage to encrust their cauldron in a goo they are still cleaning when Draco leaves the classroom. He has to return to his room to change his robes, as his own cauldron started to emit a thick purple haze that left his clothes smelling of berries, mint, and something else distinctly rank.

When he realizes it has infused his hair with the same odor, he takes the time to shower.

By the time he reaches the library, several tables are filled with students studying for mid-term exams. He is able to find a chair deep within the stacks, designed for reading, not studying. But at least it is private as he summons the book he needs.

The paper sticks out slightly; it is yellow again, but shot through with tiny marbled threads of orange. Brighter than before, almost forcefully light and happy. Somehow Draco knows this means it can not be good news.

Dear Wizard in Darkness,

What did you do?

Same book.

Yours,

A Witch in Hiding

P.S. Myself. The world. Everything. What does anyone hide from after a war?

There is anger in the penmanship, in the way the tip of the quill has dug into the paper and left small tears in places. The ink is blotched and thick, evidence of too much force that split the tip of the quill.

Draco is trying to think of an answer when words appear on the paper.

P.P.S. During the war. And the other day, when you thought you did something horrible. What are your scars?

If he is honest, it will be over. He is sure of this.

But what else can he do? When else will he have the chance to speak so truly to someone who is willing to actually listen?

He uses her paper, that bright colour of the edges of a flame, turning it over to give himself space to write.

Dear Witch in Hiding,

We shall begin with the scars. I have scars on my chest from an accident during the war that very nearly killed me. I have scars across my back that were purposefully painted there for transgressions made, real and imagined. I was not killed, although there were days when I wished they had ended my misery. Instead I was punished, again and again, for my failures and for my family’s failures. And I have scars on the inside.

The scars on my skin are ugly. They are thick in some places, and thinner and pale in others. But they are just scars. They remind me of what happened, and at times they give me nightmares. But they are not what I cannot escape.

The scars inside my mind are the terrible ones. I relive them constantly. Regrets. Terrors. Remembered moments of times when I could have made a difference and didn’t. Remembered times when I had to stand by and say nothing, lest I die as well.

I cannot escape those scars.

But I know I am not alone. We are all scarred after the war. We are all damaged, and we are all slowly repairing our lives. Even those who seem perfect, who seem fine, carry scars as well. We cannot see them, but they are there, and every action they take is informed by what has brought them to this moment.

As for what I did… that is a more difficult topic.

I never killed someone, but both through my action and through my inaction I allowed others to die.

I cursed someone.

I have used Unforgivables.

Most recently, I was asked to place someone in danger. But I informed that person of the danger, and let that person make their own decision, which they did. They are fine, and actually quite happy with the outcome.

If I were to do the right thing now, I would walk away. I am not good for you. But you have helped me, and I am loathe to let you go. You are one of the few people I might count as friend, and I value that.

I value you.

Yours,

A Wizard in Darkness

Draco has to pause halfway through writing to expand the paper, and when it is done he reads it again, then rereads it one more time for good measure. The ink is dry by the time he is done.

The book lies open in his lap to the page where she had left her letter, and he looks at it before he places his response there. It is a picture of a man, bound and screaming, his body arched beneath a full moon. The caption states that he is bound so that if he changes, he cannot escape.

Beneath that are words he does not remember reading before, facts about werewolves that he did not know.

In rare circumstances, those who are bitten by an untransformed werewolf might still transform if the werewolf in question is powerful or the head of a pack and if the injuries are life-threatening. In these cases, the victim must be bound and watched for a period of thirteen full moons before they may be pronounced clear of infection.

It makes him think of Lavender, and he wonders how grave her injuries were.

When he thinks back, she missed Potions a while back, near the full moon.

He suspects her injuries were grave indeed. It is possible he has underestimated her, but that is no matter. After all, she threatens him over something which has no truth. Luna is fine. He has nothing to fear from Lavender Brown.

#

Draco thinks of his witch that night when he is alone in his bed with his curtains drawn. He imagines her curled up with him, her head against his stomach, hair wavy and brown (or perhaps blonde, but definitely not red) and spread out across his skin. He can see her fingers in his mind’s eye, the way they drift over his hip tracing the scars there. She doesn’t care as she touches him, treating his scars as if they are a part of him, which truly is what they are.

She turns, in his mind’s eye, and presses a kiss to his hip, making his stomach tighten and blood flow into his prick.

When he thinks of her late at night, in the privacy of his own bed, he is aroused. Her words, her whispers, her kindness. He has gone beyond attraction into something that might be obsession. He is afraid to name what it might actually be, that it could possibly be love. Love is something that grows over time, after marriage, not something that rolls through like thunder based on words and thoughts and conversations. But it isn’t her physicality that attracts him, it is her mind. She is something more than the girls he knows. Something other.

He takes himself in hand, stifling the sound as he groans, imagining her mouth on him. She is unseen save for her hair that hides her face, and he thrusts up into the image he has created.

He has to admit that he wants her.

Halfblood.

Broken.

Changed by war.

But also strong, brave, and kind-hearted.

He wants to meet her and taste her kisses.

He wants to offer her something he is supposed to keep, something he should only share with the woman his parents choose.

He wants to share a bed with his witch, to show her every bit of what is in his heart.

He wants to love her.

#

Draco stops in the Great Hall to take a roll with marmalade, then leaves immediately again for the library. It has only been a day, but he still hopes to find a letter. He chooses the same chair as he used before, hidden within the stacks, and summons the book on werewolves and other shapeshifters.

A piece of pale lilac paper peeks out from between the pages. The sight of it makes him smile and he cracks the book open to see where it lies.

The page marked is one about ways to ward off werewolves and other shapeshifters. Draco skims the text out of curiosity, but determines that essentially the answer is there are no reliable ways to ward against them. They dislike silver, and wolfsbane,  but they are angry vicious creatures that are driven by rage that will go past any barrier.

Draco remembers Greyback. That wolf was not driven by rage. No, he was a calculating bastard who knew exactly what he was doing when he did it. Draco hated him then, and would still hate him now if he were not dead. He closes the book and sets it aside. The book is of no consequence now that he has his letter.

Dear Wizard in Darkness,

I’m cursed. That’s why I’m interested in specializing in curse damage at St. Mungo’s. So many people are cursed after the war, in so many different ways. Mine is very visible. I don’t have a pig’s snout, or a tail, or buck teeth, but still you can see my curse written in the lines of my face. No one can see how deeply it goes on my skin, but everyone can see how it affects me.

I am not a nice person any more.

I used to be a nice person. I didn’t have to think about things then. I was happy. I had fun. I had a brilliant boyfriend. Then the war came and it took everything away. My looks, my happiness, my life. My family.

I can’t even kill the person who cursed me because someone already did it for me, while I was almost dead.

I’m lucky to be alive, they said.

I’m not always sure about that.

You want me to trust you, and I don’t know if I can. My friends changed after the war. They are still my friends, but I can see their fear. They look at me with worried eyes, as if I might suddenly become the evil of my curse and destroy them.

They might actually be right.

If you still want to meet me, though, maybe we can try.

Thursday night. There is a room on the same hall as the Charms classroom. I use it sometimes to do extra work so that I don’t bother my roommates. Meet me there after dinner.

Yours,

A Witch in Hiding

He can see that she is worried about who she has become, and Draco knows he is worried about who he once was. They are both afraid. And perhaps it would be best if they did not meet, but he cannot help but feel drawn to this witch.

He tears off a small scrap of paper and writes quickly.

Dear Witch in Hiding,

I will be there.

Yours,

A Wizard in Darkness
(perhaps soon to be light)

He places the paper in the book, just the tip of it peeking out from between the pages. Then he carefully folds her lilac letter and puts it in his pocket. He has to wait one more day until Thursday, and he wants something of her with him until then.

#

When Thursday comes, Draco can barely eat dinner.

He is surrounded by the oddest crowd. Pansy sits across the table from him, leaning into Theodore who seems to be trying to distance himself from Draco. But Pansy chose the space and Theodore followed. Luna sits next to Draco, with Blaise on her other side. They have chosen now to sit together for the first time, when Luna joined them at the Slytherin table without a by-your-leave and wiggled into the small space between Draco and Blaise. There was a momentary flutter of conversation, but it is impossible to needle a girl as laid back as Luna Lovegood, and all complaints shortly fell silent.

Blaise offers tidbits to Luna who takes them daintily with her teeth. It is disgusting and heartwarming all at once. Draco knows Blaise and can see that he is besotted.

He feels the heat of an angry gaze from across the room and looks to the Gryffindor table. Lavender Brown is there, staring daggers. Draco lifts one shoulder—what can he possibly do?—and returns to his meal. Blaise and Luna are happy, and Lavender will need to find someone else to protect. Perhaps the youngest Weasley, who seems determined to flit her way through all the men of Gryffindor, now that Potter has turned out to be gay.

“Don’t you like the cakes?” Luna leans into his elbow, pointing out that his plate is still littered with the remains of dinner and that he has yet to even look at the choices for afters.

Draco does like the cakes, in particular the pumpkin spice ones that are placed on the table so rarely. He takes one and bites, loving the explosion of spice. Luna smiles as if he has done some particularly wonderful trick, and returns to her conversation with Blaise.

Draco finishes the cake and washes it down with a swallow of water before he pushes back from the table. “Excuse me.” It is too early, but he wants to go wash his face and hands and change out of formal robes. He doesn’t want to present an imposing figure at this meeting. For once, he simply wants to be Draco, whoever that might be.

He escapes from the Great Hall and walks briskly to the dungeon. He washes up and changes as quickly as he can, not wanting to get caught in the returning flood of students and possibly asked where he is off to. He wants nothing to interfere with this evening.

His steps finally slow when he reaches the hallway with the Charms classroom. He goes one door beyond, and pushes it open into darkness.

How appropriate. He smiles thinly, and brings out his wand. “Lumos,” he murmurs, and the tip glows, brightening slowly. He could light the room more, but this seems fitting to leave him half in darkness and half in light, and her somewhat hidden when she finally comes in.

Draco meanders around the edges of the room, touching old, faded images on the wall that detail the intricacies of certain charms. It must have been a study room once, perhaps for advanced students. Draco wonders if there were once more students at Hogwarts, enough to require another room.

The door opens, and he hears a soft breath behind him.

It is the moment of truth.

He turns slowly, chin lifted in automatic steeled response, waiting for the rejection. She doesn’t disappoint.

“You.” Lavender’s voice is flat, her hands clenched by her sides. Her lips curl in an angry sneer. “You tricked me, Malfoy. You knew all along it was me.”

“I didn’t.” And yet, he suspects that he had an idea at the end. It was the book on wolves, and the page on what it might mean to have been bitten in the battle. And it was her hair he had imagined in his most recent fantasies, thick and wavy the way it used to be. Still, he ignores that and relies on what he had thought was truth. “I had no idea. I came here in complete innocence, the same as you.”

She stalks like the animal she carries inside her blood, moving around the edge of the room and staying with the shadows. Her distrust is evident in the low rumble of a growl that slips from her throat with every step.

But Draco has withstood Greyback. Which was different, he must admit. Greyback was not allowed to touch him, only toy with him. There is nothing holding Lavender back.

“Do you turn?” he asks idly. The full moon is only days away, and he suspects her temper must be high whether she turns or not.

“That’s a personal question, don’t you think?” she snaps back.

He gives her a level look. “We’ve spent weeks speaking personally, Lavender. Weeks of correspondence. I have told you things that I do not tell those who have considered me a friend since childhood. One thinks that a personal question now might be of little matter.”

“I don’t trust you.”

Four words, and they strike deep to the bone. Draco realizes how much he had come to rely on this friendship, built on paper and ink as it was. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I do trust you.”

She comes in close, her nose at his throat, inhaling roughly. Breath slips out again in a soft warm whoosh that leaves him shivering at the feel of it on his skin. Every fantasy comes bursting back, only now the hair is different (asymetrically cut, waiting for him to nudge it back from the scars so he could touch them) and her face is filled in, feral eyes and all. His pulse races as she hovers there, and he wonders what it is she sees.

She steps back quickly, crossing her arms as if to armor herself against him. “This can’t work.”

“Of course.” Draco hides his disappointment. He carries the spell with him to the door, leaving her behind in the shadows. He pauses there and turns back, speaking against his better judgement. “If you were to change your mind, might I suggest Penhold’s Potionary as an intriguing book. He is an utter quack and yet some of his considerations of how potions might apply to curse resolution leave one with something to think about. According to his own research, he was never successful, but I suspect that in the hands of a proper researcher, some headway might be made if one were to start with his theorems.”

It is both advice for her own needs, and a plea for another letter. He recognizes that it is her move now.

He suspects that it is over before it has had a chance to truly begin.

Draco leaves with a sick feeling churning in his stomach. Pansy calls to him when he enters the common room, but he waves her off with a sharp gesture. He is hurt and he wants nothing more than to be alone.

#

There is no letter left. Not within the book he suggested or in the one in which they had last corresponded. In a fit of frustration, Draco begins to summon every book in the library, one at a time, shaking the pages to see if something is left inside. Pince catches him and tosses him summarily from the library with instructions that he may not return for one week unless he carries a note requiring that he use the library for research. She takes ten points from Slytherin for his treatment of her precious books; Draco exits the library with his chin tilted up, every ounce of Pureblood pride on display.

Luna watches him go and says nothing.

Three days later, Luna waits for him outside of Potions. He ignores her and tries to walk past, but she simply falls into step beside him, keeping up easily despite her smaller frame. “Blaise says you’ve been quite an arse of late,” she says mildly.

“My mood is none of Blaise’s business,” Draco informs her curtly.

“You are friends. Of course it is.” She touches his arm and he stops to glare at her, but she only smiles. “Lavender is always touchy in the days before the moon,” Luna says softly. “Sometimes I wonder if she has been so kind to me since the war because of my name, because she feels drawn to me somehow. Other times I suspect it is because I am not afraid of her.”

Draco hears the name like a kick to his gut. He draws a step back. “What makes you think that this has anything to do with Lavender?”

“You are not afraid of her either.” Luna’s smile is gentle. Knowing. “She is a good person, Draco, and she is afraid. I tried to tell her that you tore apart the library to look for her, but she wouldn’t listen.”

His gaze narrows. “You knew. All along you knew.”

“I watched,” she replies with a small shrug. “I saw her place letters and I saw you receive them. Your moods both went sour at the same time. It didn’t take much to guess what happened.”

“You can’t fix this.”

Her smile widens, waiting for him to smile too. When he doesn’t, she nudges him gently. “You can, Draco. She’s in the hospital wing. It’s full moon tonight.”

His mind fills with images of the bound man from the book, screaming in pain as the moon rolled through him and forced the change. “She’s still under watch to see if she changes.”

“Yes.” She pats his shoulder as if he’s found the right response to an exam question. “She’ll be back in class tomorrow, I’m certain.”

But she might like company tonight. Or she might not, if it is Draco providing that company.

Still, it is a chance he wants to take.

“Thank you, Luna.” He means the words honestly. “You have become more of a friend than I ever expected. Or deserved.”

“And you’ve done the same to me.” She seems to spot something down the hall and turns quickly, drifting off to find whatever it was.

Draco changes direction to head to the hospital wing. He slips inside while Madame Pomfrey is speaking with the Headmistress, and makes his way to the one bed that has curtains drawn. He hesitates only a moment, then quickly whisks them to one side long enough to let himself through before closing them again.

She is already strapped to the bed and sleeping fitfully. Her brow is creased, her fists tightly clenched. There is nothing at ease about her.

Draco sinks into a nearby chair and reaches out to take her hand. It curls into his, clinging, and for a moment he thinks of claws. He fights against the flinch and forces himself to stay as he is, holding on.

She shifts against the sheets, then eases. After a time, Draco dozes, her hand cradled in his, and dreams unsettling things that he can’t quite catch hold of.

“Mr. Malfoy!”

He is woken by Madame Pomfrey’s indignant shout of his name. He feels fingers clench around his as he stands. “Madame Pomfrey. I thought that perhaps Miss Brown might wish company. This cannot be easy on her.”

Pomfrey looks from Draco to Lavender, who says nothing to either make him go or stay. After a moment, she gives a huff and says, “If Miss Brown does not object, you may stay.”

Silence for so long that Draco wonders if she has fallen back asleep. He won’t look at her, doesn’t want to see that rejection in her gaze again. Finally the words come, low and hoarse. “He can stay.”

Madame Pomfrey leaves them to their small, curtained world, and Draco casts a spell to muffle their words so they might speak privately.

“What are you doing here?” Lavender hisses.

Draco takes it as a positive sign that she has yet to release his hand. Her wrist is strapped to the bed, but she has full motion of that hand and at the moment, her fingers are tangled in his, gripping tightly. “You needed a friend,” he says simply. “You shouldn’t have to go through this alone.”

He finally looks at her, and her skin is flushed rose, making the scars on her face stand out more. He has the strangest urge to kiss them, to see if that would soothe her.

“Thank you.” Her gaze drops. “No one else would come. Not even Parvati. She’s afraid of me. When the full moon gets close, she avoids me. She can tell, because I turn into something of a lunatic bitch.”

Draco smirks faintly at the wordplay. Lunatic, for the moon, bitch for the wolf. She must follow his train of thought, because a moment later she is giggling, and he starts to laugh.

Her giggle is nothing like it used to be. The girlish innocence is gone, replaced by a warm, husky sound that clenches in his gut, twisting it until the tension flows down and pools in his groin. This isn’t the place for it. Still, he reaches out with his free hand to cradle the side of her face that is scarred. She tries to pull away, but his thumb slides against the length of the line as he watches her. “We’re both scarred,” he points out. “Inside and out. It doesn’t matter.”

She gentles, watching him, eyes wide. Breath held for a long moment, and she sighs it out as her eyes close. “No one touches me,” she murmurs. “No one wants to. No one dares.”

“Are you saying that I, a Malfoy, am no one?” he inquires, one eyebrow lifting.

She laughs again. “No. I think you might be a rare someone.”

They fall silent again, and Draco wants to keep touching her. He wants to do more, but this isn’t the time. He wants to worship her, to show her that he doesn’t care about her scars. He wants to see her kiss his own silver spiderwebs across his abdomen. He wants to be with her.

Another time.

“So, do you have to stay bound even in the afternoon?” he asks mildly. “Or do you think you might be released for a game of Exploding Snap?”

Lavender’s expression clouds again. “Bound,” she says. “I never know when my temper is going to get the best of me, so it’s best I stay strapped down until the moon fades in the morning.” She hesitates, then adds, “You don’t have to stay.”

He gives her a look. “Don’t be daft,” he says. “Where else would I need to go?”

They talk then, without paper and quill between them. He tells her about growing up in the Pureblood world, and she tells him about her crazy wonderful family. They talk about the war and what changed for them, and how difficult it was to return to Hogwarts when it was done. They talk about their futures, and what they might want when all is said and done. They discuss theory, and Draco tells her about those potions and their possibilities where curses are concerned.

He can tell when the moon comes up by the way she tenses, a growl rippling through her. It calls to her, but he gives her an anchor with his hand clasping hers. And when the worst of it seems to come in the depths of the night, he anchors her again with his mouth over hers. She clings to him, kissing him desperately, teeth scraping against his lip. He groans, and gives her whatever she needs.

She is his witch, perhaps, but he has come to recognize that he is also hers.

They sleep, finally, Draco stretched out next to her on the thin cot, her body curled into his as best it can despite the restraints. They are at ease.

#

She catches him outside of Potions two days later, surprising everyone when she calls his name. She cuts through the crowd, past a surprised Potter, elbowing her way to Draco’s side. She touches his arm and looks up at him; when he offers her his arm, she takes his hand instead.

Draco can hear the gasps and whispers as they walk away. The gossip mill will churn, just as it did for Potter and Longbottom, and for Blaise and Luna. The whispers may last longer, or they may disappear by dinner. It doesn’t matter.

She leans against his shoulder, and he kisses the top of her head. Her hair smells like lilacs.

“Let’s try this again,” she says quietly. “There’s this classroom on the same hallway as Charms. I use it sometimes to study in when I don’t want to bother my roommates with my extra work. You see, I’m studying to be a Healer, so I need to get top marks.”

“It makes one think you might be a brilliant witch,” Draco replies with a soft smile.

“Or an insane one,” Lavender says easily in return. She stops walking and turns towards him; his arms go around her, pulling her with him out of the main path of the hall. She looks up at him. “We could meet there tonight, after dinner,” she says.

“We’ve already spent the night together,” he teases, one eyebrow arched, as he reminds her of the infirmary. “My reputation has been sullied.” 

She leans up on tiptoe, her lips brushing his neck as she whispers, “I’d like to sully it more. If you’re interested.”

If he’s interested… he smirks possessively, both hands sliding up to cradle her head. His thumbs brush against her cheek and he kisses her forehead. Lips press against the scar, moving down as he hair slides back from her face, baring her smile for him before he kisses her thoroughly. “I’m interested,” he says. “I don’t want to wait until tonight.”

Lavender laughs then, and he loves the sound. Even more, he loves the look of surprise they get from those passing by who seem startled to hear her joy. “You have to wait,” she reminds him. “I need those top marks.”

“We could work on our revisions together in the library,” he suggests, only half teasing. 

“I’m meeting Luna there,” she admits. “I think working with you might be distracting.”

He sighs, the sound overly put upon and dramatic, since he knows he would be distracted as well. “That’s quite all right, I believe I might well have something to do.”

For a moment she looks hurt, and he recognizes that stubborn tilt to her chin as defenses slip back into place. He kisses her again and murmurs, “Trust me.”

She swallows and nods. “I will.” A small pause. “I do.”

They part then, and he ignores the stares as he turns sharply, robes snapping about his heels. He has a free period, so he makes his way to the library and takes out the copy of Penhold’s Potionary. He then retreats to his favorite table at the back of the room to do his work. When Lavender arrives with Luna, he is all too conscious of their presence. He notes when Luna heads for his table, and when Lavender redirects her to one near the front. He hears Luna’s soft giggle and Lavender’s answer of a husky laugh, and he smirks to himself. She is indeed distracted and he is caught by that, watching her try not to watch him.

He forces himself to work, but it doesn’t matter. Words are placed on paper, but they are by rote, meaning little to his mind. He knows what he hopes for tonight, and he wonders if she hopes the same.

Once again, he doesn’t eat at dinner until Luna prods him to do so. He is up as soon as he is done, back to the dungeon to change, then once again he approaches the classroom just past Charms.

It is bright when he walks in, and she stands in the center, waiting.

“You’re not hiding,” he says.

“You’re not in darkness,” she points out, her grin impish. He realizes then that he doesn’t see her scars. They are there, and he knows how they pull at the skin on her cheek and jaw, but they no longer matter.

“You’re beautiful,” he tells her, and he wills her to believe him with his mouth over hers, his arms gathering her in. She melts against him until they both sink to the floor, stretching out. He transfigures the blankets she brought into a long cushion so they can recline together.

Draco wants to take this slow and careful. He has snogged before, and explored a little, but frankly he was raised a proper pureblood and has never considered more than that. His virginity was meant for his wedding day, and his bride, who would have been hand picked by his parents. That all seems too far away now, and he knows he is considered damaged goods after the war. Those who sided with the Purists believe the Malfoys traitors, and those who sided with Dumbledore see him as a Death Eater. Few see him as himself.

Except Lavender.

She lies beneath him and smiles up at him as he kisses her again. “Do you trust me?” she asks. “And I mean completely. Anything I might be, anything I might do. The full moon wasn’t all that long ago.”

Draco remembers the moon well, and remembers being with her, but he can’t think what it has to do with where they are now. “I trust you,” he says, because he does. “Completely and entirely. Do you trust me?”

“Completely,” she whispers. Her lips brush his throat just before she wraps strong legs around him and flips them over. She nuzzles his throat, a soft growl in her throat as she nips at his skin. The sensation is sharp and immediately after it turns soft as her tongue flicks out to taste him.

He likes it. A lot.

Blood pools in his groin, and his prick thickens. She straddles him, her soft hips pressing down against him, moving very slightly until he wants to press up against her. He does so without thinking, and she moans softly.

He loves that sound.

“Lavender, I want to—” He doesn’t finish the sentence, his hands on the buttons of her blouse. She sits up and helps him pick the tiny buttons apart, revealing her soft flesh inch by inch. Her skin flushes rose as she slowly pulls the blouse open, letting him see a peek at her pale pink bra. There are more scars, thick against her skin. He sees them and ignores them. They are a part of her, as much as the ones on his body are a part of him.

She responds with a touch, opening his shirt and laying him bare. Her fingers skate across his belly, tracing the lines Potter left there years ago. “This must have hurt.” She flinches as soon as she speaks. “That was stupid. Of course it hurt.”

“Of course it hurt,” he echoes. “As much as yours did perhaps, I can’t say for sure. I was gutted, and if Snape hadn’t come, I likely would have died. So we have both danced along that edge,” he tells her, his fingers finding the furrows along her skin, learning them and caressing them. They are a part of her, as much as everything else.

“Mine changed me,” she whispers, and her mouth finds his scars. Her tongue teases him, tracing lines then curling around his nipple until she nips at him with a soft growl. “I’m not just human any more.”

“I trust you.” He frames her face, and tells her what he thinks she needs to know. “And I trust the wolf inside of you. I’m yours, Lavender. All of me. Any of me. I give myself to you tonight. Take whatever you wish.”

A low rumble starts in her throat, and he knows then as her eyes tint yellow that this isn’t going to be gentle. The thought only makes him harder, ready and hungry for her as her mouth finds his throat. All intention for slow and easy disappears in a flurry of torn clothes ripped away to bare them both. He liked that bra… he intends to take his time next time and explore with her bra still on, pale skin peeking around it. But now she is over him and completely naked, every inch of her beautiful curves exposed to his eyes, every scar on display.

He flips them over and she lands on her back with a whimper and an irritated growl, but he knows what she wants now. His hands press her shoulders down as his mouth finds her breast, sucks her nipple in. Teeth scrape over tender flesh until she presses up against him, begging for more as her fingers tangle in his hair, holding him to her breast. She pushes, and he moves on instinct, mouth tracing the lines of a deep-set thick scar at her side where it looks as if half her belly was devoured and regrown, the new skin pink and rough. He kisses all of it, teases it with nips until she whimpers and wriggles beneath him. He follows her moves, wanting to please her.

But he has no experience, no idea other than dorm room conversations to tell him what comes next. Sex is a mystery of touch and sensation, and he does his best. One hand slides down between her legs, wondering what it will be like and groaning when he feels how slick she is. Her musk rises and when he catches the scent he wants her even more. It is overwhelming.

The low rumble becomes a growl and she flips them back again, landing on top of Draco, her soft warmth cradling his aching prick. He can’t help the reaction, pressing up against her, and she grinds down hard. He is so close, he could go off just like that and he grips her shoulders, trying to get her attention. “Lavender,” he groans. “I want—oh Merlin—” She slides against him again and he shudders, almost losing control. It won’t take long.

She stops and looks down at him, eyes wide and pupils blown, irises narrowed to a thin gold rim around the black. When she smiles it is all teeth in a sharp feral grin. “You want to fuck me.” Her voice is a low, pleased purr. A husky rumble that sends a fresh shiver through him.

He can only nod in response, and pray she’s had more experience than he has.

She reaches down, wrapping her hand around the base of his cock. He watches, fascinated, as she holds him at just the right angle to place the head against her opening. Her eyes roll back as she sinks down over him, and he can see himself part her lips, stretch her wide as he slides into her.

Oh fuck, she is so tight. His fingers curl into the soft flesh of her bum and she seems to take that as encouragement to rock against him, letting him go even deeper.

“Fuck—” It’s not proper language, not for a Malfoy, but it’s all he has right now. “Oh… fuck…”

“Yes,” she whispers. “Fuck yes.” She rises up over him then drives down as he presses up, her back arching, breasts thrust towards him. Her fingernails are sharp, digging into the soft flesh of his chest, and he doesn’t care. She is losing control, panting like a wild thing, and he loves it. Wants this. Wants to see her break apart over him because surely girls do that too.

Draco wants to help, but isn’t sure how. One hand finds her breast, touching roughly because it makes her growl and grind down against him. The other slips between her legs, finding where they are joined. She cries out when he touches her softness, so he does it again. Her movements become erratic. Desperate. Her cries are loud and thick, growling and whining and pleading until she finally tenses over him and clamps down tight on his prick.

He has a moment to see her, head thrown back, body on display for him, before his vision goes grey in the oncoming rush of his own orgasm. 

His breathing comes back to normal slowly as she slides down to curl against him. Her skin is soft, pebbled with the scars and perfect to his touch. His fingers skate across her back and she makes a soft noise that almost sounds like a purr. Wolves don’t purr; they are dogs, not cats, after all. But he can tell she is pleased and lost in the sensation, and that makes him happy. He kisses her forehead and lies there, relaxing in a haze of sweat and musk and pleasure. There is no need to move, and no words that need to be said. Not yet.

#

When he opens his eyes, she is gone. His clothes are folded neatly, carefully repaired and waiting for him. The room is still lit, and the book he brought with him is open to a page discussing the Wolfsbane Potion. A piece of his own stationary is tucked into it, and he takes it out.

He already knows what he wrote by heart.

My Dear Witch in Hiding,

Your words have stolen my heart. I suspect you already know that, and I intend to tell it to you in person when I hope to give you myself—body, heart, and soul—tonight. But in case I forget, I write these words here for you:

I love you.

All of you.

I am yours,

A Wizard No Longer in Darkness

Her script is on the back, the letters loopy and swiftly penned. The letter “i” is no longer dotted with a teardrop, a heart instead adorning the top.

Dear Wizardly One,

I think I might love you too.

I never thought I’d say that again, and especially not to you. You’re a bit of a prick sometimes, or well, you have been throughout the years. But you’ve also proven yourself different this year. My scars gave me a monster; I think yours gave you a heart. And I’m proud to claim that heart as mine.

So there it is.

I love you. And I trust you, which may be even more important.

Yours,

A Witch Who No Longer Needs to Hide

P.S. If you wish to continue correspondence, place your next letter in the book Faeries and Elves: The Intersection of the Wizarding World and Muggle Literature.

Draco smiles as he folds the letter, tucking it into the pocket of his robes before he dresses. He has to hurry back to Slytherin before curfew, and he knows Blaise will expect an explanation. And he wonders what Lavender is telling the others of her dorm, but he knows it will be all around the school by tomorrow. They were together in the halls today, and he will see her again in classes tomorrow.

And of course, he will stop into the library and respond to her letter. It wouldn’t do to leave the woman he loves waiting.

The woman he loves.

How odd to think that such a thing came out of an afternoon’s perusal of a book of ancient curse history.

Draco smiles to himself as he secures the room. He’s always been told reading would improve his life.

For once, it turns out his parents were right.