“Okay. I’m not my past but if that’s how you choose to see me, who am I to disagree with that. I was terrible and if you still think that - well, there isn’t anything in the world that can erase who I was. All I can do is keep doing better.”
Draco had practiced similar forms of the same speech every time he was about to go and do something daunting - this was no exception.
Nothing happened. Consistently. No one yelled at him on the street, no one accosted him outside of the door.
He was only caught off guard momentarily - and that was when Luna asked if this was his first tattoo.
“No, but I’d rather not talk about it if that’s alright?” His palms were clammy, the tapping of his foot too overt on the tile as he sat opposite her.
She didn’t seem fazed to see him, although she did indicate she recognised him.
“So? What are you looking for? I don’t usually take walk-ins but I’m free until noon, so I can do a rough sketch if you’re looking for anything fancy, and maybe a full shade if you’re not. All the same quality, of course - unless you want a different artist?” She nodded to the back of the shop where a couple of people were sterilising equipment and opening packing boxes full of needles.
“Um.” Draco was preoccupied by the girl unpacking the needles. Her gloves concealed some of the millennial pink mermaid outline travelling up her arm but he suspected it ended around the back of her hand. The contrast against her dark skin was breathtaking.
“No. Thank you. To the other artists. I’m sure they’re great but… I know you.”
He was expecting her to sniff - maybe day something along the lines of hardly. But she merely nodded.
“Do you have anything in mind?”
Draco was still staring at the girl, before pulling his eyes away to focus squarely on Luna. “Oh. Yes. Um, I recently had a son and I want something to commemorate that..”
Luna - whose hair was loose and long, blonde locs flowing over her shoulders and sticking to the loops in her dungarees - grabbed a scrunchie from her wrist, deft fingers weaving in and out of her hair.
“Congratulations.” When she smiled it reached her eyes, her light freckles moving with her face in the morning light. “What’s his name? Maybe we can go from there?”
It took Draco all of seven minutes to agree on a design; the constellation Scorpius was named for, a credit card sized design on the back of his neck.
“How are you and Astoria?” He knew she was just making small talk - she couldn’t know - but it hit him in the gut, all the same.
“We- we aren’t together anymore.” He rushed to defend her, to reassure himself, anything but thought better of it at the last second.
Luna just nodded as she copied her design onto transfer paper. “Okay so I’m going to lay this on your skin, I’ll walk you through the process even though it’s not your first time, just so you’re comfortable.”
Draco nodded, relaxing into the sensation of her hands on his skin. “I’m gay, you know?” He said after some silence.
Luna hummed for a second, sticking her tongue into the corner of her mouth as she began peeling the transfer paper. “Do you want to talk about it, I mean, when I’m concentrating I won’t be able to answer back but apart from that, I can listen.”
“Sorry I’m treating you like a therapist.”
Luna’s laugh tinkled like wind chimes. “You’d be surprised how often that happens, but go ahead.”
“We’re co-parenting, me and Tori. She’s being great - really supportive. I’m trying to pluck up the courage to start dating again but, obviously along with the aftershock of the war and my involvement , it’s difficult. Especially with a child in tow. Some people really expect me to give him up so I can have a one night stand or… something to that effect.”
He only realised he’d been talking for so long when the familiar whir of the machine started up.
He closed his eyes, flinching only slightly as the needle buzzed louder the closer it got to his ears. He’d never gotten another Muggle tattoo after the disastrous first attempt, and that one was certainly not as close to his ears as this one was.
The sensation was odd, a lot of feelings but none of them distinct enough to place.
He found he was mostly worrying about his future - nothing new there.
“How did you get into this - when did you realise it was what you really wanted to do?”
“I like art.” Luna shrugged as she pulled the needle away from his skin to inspect the outline. “Crap.”
“Don’t say crap that’s never good!” Draco squeaked.
“I really shouldn’t have said it aloud, sorry. I just never asked if you wanted the stars to have any magical element. Instead of it just being a pure black… I can do that.. interlace the magic”
“I never specified, but I’ll think about it when I get another one. But right now?” Draco, lifted his left forearm a little and Luna nodded.
“So I’ll see you in here again?”
“Probably sooner than you think, if everything goes to plan.”
Luna nodded safely before she started running through general care and hygiene, securing the bandage in place.
“Thank you , Draco.”
He walked away from the parlour on Claremont Street feeling lighter than he had in a week.
Draco did, in fact, go back to see Luna. It was much sooner than anticipated, though. This time with Scorpius in tow.
He smiled at her sheepishly. “This one wants a tattoo.”
Luna laughed and asked Draco if he wanted a cup of tea while she looked for her temporary paper.. “What would you like, little man?”
“That one.” Scorpius pointed to the girl Draco had seen on his first day there, the mermaid now fully visible. He looked longer this time, the mermaid was coiled up her arm, her tail flaying outwards at the elbow, her head nestled on the back of the girls hand in such a way that her face was almost obscured by her hair.
Although she was an outline, her scales glittered with an almost ethereal nature.
Luna looked at Draco for his approval and he smiled. “Sure.”
“But I want her hair!” He pointed to the girl, who’s coils were puffed up into space buns.
Luna laughed, taking Scorpius by the hand. “Well, we can always ask her if she’ll do the outline for you, then we can put it on sticky paper!” She squeezed his hand lightly as she took him through all the steps.
“Do you mind if I leave you in here? I’ll put the machine away and the prep ink will come off after a few washes.”
Draco cradled his coffee like a lost lamb. “I’ll walk out with you, sit on the sofa.” He followed Luna to the chair where she seated Scorpius.
He giggled at the cold water and talked nineteen to the dozen the whole time.
“I thought you said you only had Scorpius recently?”
Draco went to rub the back of his neck and then thought better of it, Luna giving him a glare so harsh he almost apologised.
“Yeah. I guess I forget how quickly the time goes by. Especially as I haven’t seen some people in... a long time. Having Scorpius will always seem recent, even though he’s almost five. I think he’ll always be my baby.”
“I’m not a baby.”
“If you say so bud, it must be true.” Draco smiled at Scorpius fondly as he kicked his feet against the leather of the chair, which was dwarfing him and his chubby legs.
“I’ll go get Chantelle, she’ll probably have finalised the sketch. It’s enchanted so she can lift it from her skin. All she’ll have done is tweaked the hair.”
Draco smiled gratefully at Chantelle as she followed Luna back to the chair. “You must be Scorpius?”
“Yes!” Scorpius looked delighted that someone had asked his name. “I can almost spell it!” He brought his legs up onto the chair, folding them over one another so he’d keep still as Chantelle did her very important grown up work.
He then proceeded to call her darling as he thanked her, making Draco go bright red in the process. “I’m sorry about that. He hears me say it at home.”
Luna breezed in with a tray of digestives and orange juice from the break room just in time and Scorpius almost jumped on them. “I thought you and Astoria were divorced?”
“We are.” He placed His hand on the back of Scorpius’ as he made a grab for the biscuits.
“Anyone would think he was half starved.” Draco murmured, ruffling his son's wispy blond hair.
“I didn’t just come in here to bother you, if that’s what you’re thinking.” By this time Scorpius was rubbing his eyes and Draco had hoisted him up onto his hip.
“I… want a coverup.” He sounded hesitant and didn’t miss the glance to his left arm. “Well, not exactly a cover up. I’m ashamed of it, but I don’t want to forget that I’m capable of terrible things. After hurting so many people... They won’t forget.
If they can’t shake it off, I shouldn’t be allowed to either. The idea that I’m wholly redeemable just because my father is somehow worse is absolutely ludicrous.”
He paused, thinking of how to word his next sentence. “I’d like flowers. Narcissus flowers. For my sleeve. Not a date.” He said it way too quickly as if it was something he’d had to reassure someone about before, with little pauses in between as if he was trying to make everything sound right in his head first.
“Of course. A sleeve will take a few sessions though. I can quote you a price but if it’s not in your budget that’s-”
“That’s fine. I have a babysitter.” Draco said as if to reassure himself and not his tattooist, who was standing at the front desk with her arms folded.
“Tori has him Monday through Friday I’m not about to tell her I can’t take him just because I happen to want to do things. She has him more than I do and it’d be unfair - and untrue - of me to tell her I didn’t want to take care of Scorp. But he’s happy to spend time with Harry.”
“Potter.” He said it too soon, as an assurance, he supposed, to repel judgement.
After all, Potter could do no wrong. It was out in the open now and he trusted Luna. He’d have to.
“As if that makes it any better.” He found she wasn’t referring to Harry’s babysitting abilities, or the fact that he had blurted about his new, fragile relationship to the nearest person who would listen.
Luna laughed at the look on Draco's face. “I’m sure he’s great with Scorpius or you wouldn’t trust him. Just expect the boy to be filled to the brim with takeaway. Harry can burn spaghetti if he tries hard enough.”
Draco breathed out, unrolling his shoulders from their stiff position somewhere up between his ears.
“Thank you, Luna. And Chantelle!” He whispered as loudly as he dared.
Scorpius had fallen asleep on his hip, snoring lightly. His arm covered in a fluorescent green mermaid, her space buns taking up most of his hand.
“It will wash off before reception on Monday, won’t it?” He worried his lip between his teeth as he enveloped his whole hand in Scorpius’ tiny fist.
Draco came back for his Narcissus tattoo. He already had a leaflet of designs he wanted for other pieces but this was still the most important to him.
He visibly winced as he rolled up his sleeve, planting his Dark Mark on the leather chair. Luna was poised with the tattoo gun, having to turn it off before she ran her hand over the surface of his arm.
There was no sanitation wipes to be seen. She pulled her hand back. “I’m sorry I should’ve asked before I - it was unprofessional for me to do that.”
“Luna, I think you’re the only tattoo shop this side of the Thames Thames that will take me as a client, even if I offered to pay double the price.”
“Does Harry know?” She said quietly.
”About my mother?” Draco looked at her, confused, before what she was asking registered. “Oh... that.” He glanced at his arm.
“I was in 8th Year. I was also stupid. I’m still stupid sometimes but not nearly as much. I think I wanted to punish myself for my mistakes and the pain was a relief at the time.”
“Would you like it covered up?”
“No. I… I kind of like it now.”
Draco tucked a strand of loose blond hair behind his ear, dipping his head as if to acknowledge the absurdity of the statement.
The Dark Mark stared out at her, cold and lifeless, but that wasn’t what she’d seen. Either side of the coils of the snake were the words BLOOD TRAITOR .
They were written in uneven, block letters. Vertically printed by an inexperienced hand.
“Who did this one?” Luna said softly.
Draco flushed pink. “I was angry at a lot of things, my dad, the world… Harry Potter.” He laughed bitterly.
“I got tipsy enough one night to think it was a good idea and the rest of the Slytherins stood - with me or against me I’ll never know - and watched.
Theo was the one who had the balls. It was such a Gryffindor move but… people shouldn’t be relegated to the suffocating box that is their own, or any other house, for that matter. I also happen to know Nott is a ruthless bastard and he was probably doing it out of some false sense of kinship with the others. For the others.”
Instead of divulging into Draco’s time in the Slytherin commons, Luna asked: “Do you want yellow?”
“Uh… yes. Can you do a fade? On the tips of the petals?” Draco smiled gratefully when she nodded.
“You want me to work around it?” She was pointing this time to the jagged edges of the the words on his forearm.
“I don’t want it covered or anything. It represents a huge part of my life, who I was in stark contrast with who I am. I am a blood traitor, but now it’s a stroke of pride against my skin instead of a slash of hatred.”
She merely nodded. “I’m going to have to shrink my design - since you elected not to tell me about this until the last possible second - but I can work around it.”
The Narcissus flowers covered the latter half of his forearm, curling into their stems. “It’s healing nicely.”
Luna was peeling the bandage back when she asked “So, what’s the occasion?”
“Uh… we’re having a baby?”
“You and Astoria?”
Luna hummed as she wiped down her workbench, stashing the stencils on the tray underneath.
“Ginny agreed to be our surrogate. She chose the name actually… I want something to represent...” He couldn’t find the words So he just ended up flailing his arms around quite hopelessly - a trait he’d picked up from Harry - but he couldn’t encompass the sheer capacity of feeling he felt for their little girl.
Luna started rolling up his sleeve. “So, lilies?”
“I need a tattoo.” Draco walked into the shop like a whirlwind. His eyes were red rimmed and his lips chapped.
“I heard.” Luna said with sympathy in her voice.
“I need to memorialise her. I need her to live forever, you’ve got to understand.”
“I do understand, Draco. That’s why I’m not letting you get another tattoo until I’m sure you can handle it. But I can get you a tea?”
Since that first night, Draco slept above the shop. He did so for two full weeks after Astoria died. He wasn’t ashamed of it. He practically begged Chantelle and Luna - separately and together for a huge piece of her face on his back. Needless to say, they both said no.
When he’d calmed down, they said, one of them would consider it.
He got what he wanted in the end. A small, painful, commemorative tattoo on his inside elbow. Her death date in a small typeface. Even though it had been almost two years. He’d gotten more tattoos - quotes in a swirling script over his stomach, covering his Sectumsempra scars - and he’d gone back to his house; he was taking bereavement counselling with his son. Draco still cried through the whole session.
“I need to warn you you won’t be able to use your right hand until the fingers are healed, okay?”
Draco rolled his eyes but laughed all the same. “Unfortunately I don’t need to get out of work that badly so I’ll do the least painful one first.”
The least painful one happened to be on his shoulder blade. The first magical tattoo he’d asked for. He was shitting himself, only proverbially for the time being but the closer the wand got the more he felt like he was actually going to.
Turning away from Chantelle - who was apparently the resident spell caster for these sorts of things - he concentrated on the table he was lying on. It was upholstered in leather - like the chair but a lot more comfortable for his ribs.
The magic thrummed through his shoulder like the feeling of loud music on a wooden floor. For a second it tingled softly down his arm, like pins and needles before stopping abruptly.
“If you take a look in the mirror it’ll move around your shoulder blade but go nowhere else, there’s a cage spell for that specific area.”
“Thank you.” Draco positively beamed. “James will love it.”
“What’s the inspiration behind this piece?” Draco had probably single handedly kept the shop running through December so Luna just raised an eyebrow and called Chantelle over.
“Harry told me I needed to get a tattoo for myself. This is what I want.”
She shook her head and walked off. “White people.”
Luna laughed. “I’ll do it but I have to warn - advise you strongly against getting a tattoo of a significant other’s name tattooed on your skin. You’ll have to sign a waiver.”
“As if the marriage papers weren’t enough.” Draco laughed good-naturedly.
“And the ink?”
“White.” Draco held his hand up to stop her.
“I know it fades over time and the upkeep is extensive but he wore a white suit to his wedding and it’ll be easier to laser, for your convenience. Not that I think we’ll ever get divorced but-” his eyes travelled to the date on his right arm. “Stranger things have happened.”
Luna tapped his shoulder lightly. “I know you miss her.”
“She was my best friend.” He smiled sadly, a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes, even after all this time. “I’m glad you did this one.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“I know it’s an awkward time to bring it up but have you thought any more about Albus’ tattoo?” By now he was fourteen and fully involved in potioneering. Luna talked as she worked, having become faster and more efficient at her job since Draco turned up at her studio the first time; when it was barely-hanging-on.
“Yeah. I needed to wait because I wanted something that would show him as a whole, but I want my knuckles done.”
He saw Luna flinch.
She was mesmerising , her own tattoos vibrant and colourful. It was like a wildlife sanctuary preserved in her skin.
“You won’t have to do it. I know it’ll be painful. But I want Chantelle.”
“A magical tattoo? I won’t be offended if it’s not, I’m just curious.”
Draco confirmed her fist suspicion: rising and falling potion bottles, each with a different level of potion depending on Albus’ moods. It was the most complex tattoo Draco had asked for, even though it was also one of the smallest.
“I’d like them in each of the house colours, if Chantelle is willing.”
Chantelle shot him a look before grinning. The name Potter still smarting red around his hip bone.
“Yeah, I’ll do it. It’s not your dumbest idea.”
“Morning Chantelle!” Draco sung as the door swung open. “You are going to hate me!”
“ Oh don’t tell me you want a cover up because it all went downhill with that husband of yours?”
“Um. No.” Harry’s voice was tentative as he stepped into the bright light of the studio. “I’d like a tattoo. Please.”
“It’s worse.” Draco admitted, laughing as Chantelles face changed into one of abject horror.
“Not you too!” She said with mock sincerity as she appraised Harry’s thick natural curls.
“If you lot didn’t keep business rumbling I’d find a way to stop couples tattoos; I’d make it a law if I had to. Luna’s just in the back.”
“Luna works here?” Harry’s eyes widened in abject horror.
“Must have slipped my mind to tell you.” Draco winked at Harry, grabbing his hand.
“Hi Harry! How can I help? How are the kids?”
“The kids are great. Scor and Al are little terrors, unsurprisingly. James made pro-Quidditch for the Wigtown Wanderers - which Draco is always super passive aggressive about because he supports the opposing team…”
“Hey! I love James very much. I just think he made the wrong career choice In regards to which team he would be playing for.”
“What about Lily?”
“She’s a total bookworm. She’s almost more Draco’s than she is mine or Ginny’s.”
“Ginny agreed - apart from the wild red hair - Lil is all Draco’s personality-wise.”
Harry made small talk with Luna for a while whilst Draco wandered around the shop. Eventually he found his way to the back, half-listening to Harry bathing with Luna over his first tattoo being one, on his hip and two, Malfoy’s name.
Draco’s heart caught in his throat as he admired the image. There was a new poster blown up on the back wall. It was the outline of a green mermaid with flashing scales, her coils hair piled atop her head on two sides in fluffy space buns. “Wow.”
He must have stared at Scorpius’ blown-up idea for as long as Harry’s tattoo took.
Harry emerged from the chair red and raw, poking at the bandage on his hip.”
Harry raises an eyebrow. “Mhm?”
“I think I might want a spine tattoo.”