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a little like gold in the light

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Draco Malfoy spends his late teens and early twenties shuttling between London and Russia. He learns finance from his father any day one or the other of them isn’t required to appear before a War Crimes Committee, building carefully onto the foreign accounts Lucius spent a decade funnelling money into. In front of the committee and a hundred gleeful British faces, they lose the Manor, lose the vault, lose anything in the UK the Ministry can find and get its teeth into. In the grand house in St Petersburg they fled to the second Voldemort fell, Draco sits beside his father and discovers how to make a hundred galleons out of just one, investments as complicated and rewarding as any magic he's ever seen.

This period of his life teaches Draco Malfoy the true meaning of a poker face. He watches as his parents receive blow after blow with expressions of steel, learns to emulate the disinterested sweep of a cloak and tired, insolent blink of the eyes. (It will be twenty years before he can hear his full name called without flinching.)

He is living a life carefully delineated and planned out, every step accounted for to minimise the risk of running into anybody he knows. Friends from school step into the spotlight willingly, playing Quidditch or taking to the stage, but Draco will never do that. His teenage choices have destined him for a life in the shadows, always worrying about the next confrontation. He makes no friends, avoids Western Europe like the plague, and fulfils all his social needs in business meetings or at the soirees his mother throws, which he slides through like water and retires from as early as possible.

Into this existence, quite by accident, arrives Luna Lovegood. He’s in Bosnia-Herzegovina, sipping thick Turkish coffee in a city still scarred by war, and thinking how much he likes Sarajevo. There’s something enviously courageous about the way it bears its scars for all to see. There’s a business opportunity to meet in an hour, then a harrowing cross-border floo journey back to update his father, but for now he is content. This is a city where nobody knows his name. Nobody cares about a civil war in a country a continent away. He is anonymous and free, just a black-swathed Englishman in comfortable September heat.

And then a voice says, “Oh,” and somebody sits down across from him.

“Oh,” says Draco, and his stomach sinks into his feet. “Lovegood.”

Luna Lovegood wrinkles a sunburnt nose at him. “ Malfoy . Somebody told me you were dead.”

“Sorry to disappoint.”

She lifts an angular shoulder, almost imperceptible save for the way it moves her mass of golden hair. “I’m glad you’re not.”

“Are you?”

“Of course. Enough of us died.”

And then she just sits there and looks at him. It’s unbearable. Those pale, slightly bulging eyes. The way her gaze sears right through him, in a way that could be her looking at some insane invisible creature that doesn’t exist or that could be her looking right into his soul. He hasn’t seen her in three years but the way she looks at him, it’s like she knows every lonely day he’s spent since then.

“Can I buy you a coffee?” he asks desperately after a few minutes of this. Anything to break her gaze.

“Oh,” she says, shaking her head as though coming back to herself, “thank you, yes. That would be nice.”

Over coffee strong enough to make his bones zing, she prattles on at him, tongue loosened by caffeine, gesticulating with thin arms decorated with hundreds of golden bangles that tinkle and catch the sunlight. Draco, despite himself, is mesmerised.

She’s in the region to study some animal he’s never heard of, meeting up with a couple of local naturalists, passing through Sarajevo en route to Mostar in the south because she’s heard about another animal he isn’t sure exists that supposedly lives in the area.

“They’re due to start rebuilding the bridge there in a couple of years,” he interjects, and she turns those wide eyes on him.

“What bridge?”

“Stari Most. The famous bridge, you know? The Ottoman bridge.”

“What’s Ottoman?’

“I—what?”

“I said, what’s Ottoman?”

Draco frowns at her. “I know we didn’t all have private tutors growing up, but come on .”

(He will later discover that she thinks Lapland is a place made up for Muggle children, that hurricanes are formed by monstrous sea dragons sneezing, and never in all his life will quite get to the bottom of how she believes the Moon works.)

At some point, he realises he’s ten minutes late for his meeting. He downs the last of his fourth cup of coffee, heart pounding from caffeine, and offers Luna the last of the rose-flavoured sweets the waiter brought over half an hour previously. She takes it daintily, and the powdered sugar smears onto her lips.

For some reason, Draco finds himself saying, “Are you in the city for long?”

“Until tomorrow.”

“Would you like to have dinner tonight?”

His father will be waiting, and Draco hasn’t asked a girl on a date since his sixth year at Hogwarts, and Luna Lovegood will probably say no. He wants her to say no, he’s sure of it, he wants this folly to be forgotten immediately. Perhaps – his fists tighten – she will take this encounter home and laugh about it with Potter and Weasley and Granger, wave those bangles around as she re-enacts his moment of weakness. He doesn’t care. He wouldn’t want to go to dinner with Loony Lovegood anyway.

And then she smiles, and it’s like the sun through clouds.

“I’d like that,” she says brightly, and dusts herself down. “Where? When?”

Cast adrift, he scrambles to make sense. “Um, I’ll – meet you here? There’s a nice place around the corner. I’ve been before. Say seven-thirty?”

“Better make it eight.” She sticks a hand out, and he realises in a haze of caffeine and despair that she wants him to shake it. “Wrackspurts are most active between six and seven-thirty and I don’t like to aggravate them needlessly.”

Helpless, Draco shakes her hand. The skin there is rough and callused.

“Eight, okay. See you then.”

“Bye, Draco.”

He stands and watches her until she’s out of sight, that hair weaving in and out of the crowd. He’s twenty-five minutes late for his meeting in the end, but he can’t make himself care.

Dinner turns into hours of roaming the streets together, talking about the world. She details her travels through the Alps, shows him photos of some of the creatures and people she’s encountered, discusses her plans to visit New Zealand with bright and eager eyes.

“I get to Auckland sometimes,” he admits, and feels warmth bloom inside him when she turns her face down to hide a too-keen smile.

“I’ve always wanted to visit Russia.” Her voice is tentative for the first time the whole day. When he glances down, she’s staring determinedly at one of the minarets that dot the Sarajevo skyline. “Maybe I could – it’s fine if you don’t want to. But maybe I could see you, if I ever get there?”

Draco would have committed himself to a mental institution for even imagining this possibility twenty-four hours before, but this question makes him tighten with longing. For just a moment, it’s a struggle to speak. Finally, he opens his mouth and forces the words out.

“I’d like that.”

Three weeks later, he’s walking one of his favourite routes past the Catherine Palace when he thinks he sees a familiar mass of golden hair out of the corner of one eye. He turns, not daring to hope, and there’s Luna Lovegood marching purposefully towards him across the square.

“I’m sorry,” she says without preamble, “I sent my owl off to Harry and he didn’t come back for ages or I would have written to say I was coming. Harry spoils him rotten and he never wants to come home.”

Harry Potter is the absolute last person Draco wants to think about.

“It’s no problem. I’m glad you’re here.”

She smiles at him, bright and blinding. “Me too. So, are you going to show me around?”

She pops in and out of St Petersburg for a couple of months, chasing strange creatures around Russia, and then one afternoon they’re strolling along the Neva and she turns to him and says, “I’ve booked New Zealand. You should come.”

The idea is so absurd he laughs, and for the first time in their acquaintance, she looks hurt.

“I’m serious. You don’t have any fun. Everything you tell me about, it’s all work stuff. You should get out and see the world.”

He gestures around. “I am seeing the world. Not welcome back home, remember?”

“This doesn’t count, and also, people care a lot less than you think. It’s all about forgiveness now.”

He just laughs at that. Luna Lovegood, he has discovered, will not be so easily deterred as that, though.

“Come to New Zealand. There’ll be something business-y you can do. You said you have something in Singapore, right? Let’s stop there. I’d like… I’d like to travel with you.”

He looks down at her. She’s staring up at him, pink staining her cheeks, her eyelids painted gold, and he aches for her abruptly in a way that takes him aback.

He’s husky when he says, “You would?”

She blushes deeper. “I mean, you know so much about things, you know? It would be really interesting.”

“Is that the only reason?”

She doesn’t answer that, but her gaze drops, hands fidgeting in front of her, and Draco finds himself saying, “Yes, alright, I’ll come.”

She throws her arms around him. Her enthusiasm is so infectious that Draco hugs her back without thinking. It isn’t until later, when he’s walked her back to her hotel and is meandering home, that he realises he hasn’t been hugged by anyone other than his mother in more than three years.

In Singapore, they stay in his family’s palatial penthouse. Separate rooms don’t do much to help Draco after he sees her in pyjamas the first night. Out of the ridiculous long skirts and ugly, baggy shirts she favours and in lacy white shorts and a brief tank top, the strength and fitness of her is apparent, honed by years of chasing animals through some of the most inhospitable places in the world. Draco lies in bed and aches . But he’s not about to delude himself that she could want anything like that from him. For all he knows, anyway, she’s a virgin or frigid or not interested in sex at all. This is Luna Lovegood, after all. She’s discussed animal mating habits in front of him with zero shame but somehow the conversation always veers away whenever human sexuality comes up. Maybe this only ever was a pity invitation, a chance to pump him for information about the sites she wants to see and to score better hotels than she’d be able to afford alone.

Rationally, Draco knows Luna is incapable of that kind of casual cruelty, but he has known too many pureblood girls and spent too long in the cold to be sensible about this.

On the first night in New Zealand, they arrive at a picturesque Muggle guesthouse Draco got a halfblood at work to help him pick out. He wrestles with their belongings in as Luna checks them in, cursing the inability to use magic, and joins her in the lift as they ride to the second floor.

“Shit,” he says when she produces a single room key. “I’m sorry, they’ve fucked up. I booked two rooms.”

She inserts the key into the lock. “I know. I phoned and cancelled the second one.”

“You—what?”

“Well,” she says as she swans into the cosy little room with its king size bed, “I told Ginny the pyjamas didn’t work, and she thought this might be more effective.”

Draco drops all the bags. “You told Ginny Weasley you were travelling with me?” Something else is definitely more pressing here, but that leads to a deep and terrifying place, and this surface outrage is the easiest thing to cling to.

“I haven’t told her it’s you, specifically.” She’s blushing, now, a little ashamed of this. “I’m sorry. Not that I’m ashamed to be friends with you, or anything, but I think Ginny would be funny about it, and I needed her advice like she would give it normally rather than how she would give it if she knew it was you. That’s all.”

“You’ve been…” Draco tries to get a grip. “You’ve been asking for advice about me?”

“Yes. Ginny’s good at this stuff, you know? She always knows how to make boys look at her in that way. I’ve never known. It hasn’t really mattered, either, not until now. But you – I want you to look. And you won’t.”

“I’m—” Draco has to sit down. He collapses onto the edge of the mammoth bed, one foot still pinned under his suitcase. At last, he finds his voice. It’s low and rough, but it’s something. “I am looking, Luna. I have been. I didn’t think you’d want…”

“This?” she says, and steps forward. His hands go to her hips instinctively and then she’s leaning in, kissing him with firm practicality.

When they part, his head is spinning and his heart is pounding harder than they were after the coffees of their first meeting.

“This,” he agrees, and pulls her down onto the bed with him.

It’s easy not to put a label on it. After a dizzying two months in New Zealand, Luna travels, and Draco goes to join her where his father’s terrifying schedule and his own business interests allow. They spend a week in Sydney and then two weeks in Los Angeles, Luna apparating back and forth between a nearby national park while Draco pursues a purchase in the city, holed up in an enormous penthouse apartment paid for out of one of the American Malfoy bank accounts. They snatch nights in cities, weeks in remote villages, letting months and years drift by in this lazy, hazy dreamland.

It becomes a favourite pastime of Draco’s to undress Luna, to peel back those baggy layers and expose an inch of skin at a time. He learns to tell her mood from the amount of jewellery she wears, ready for a full night of talking if she turns up wearing five heavy necklaces and armfuls of bangles, all but ripping the clothes from her if she comes bare-necked and smiling.

Ginny Weasley finds out about them two and a half years into the thing they are not naming. For her birthday the previous month, Draco gave Luna – alongside a whole host of material things she pretended to find burdensome and which he found her poring over two hours later, carefully organising them into piles based on their use – a single favour to be used whenever and wherever she wished. It was a ploy on his part, an attempt to trick himself into believing that he would not drop anything the moment she asked him to. A way of limiting the damage when she inevitably found somebody she would like better, who she could go home to England with and introduce to her friends.

Luna phones him on a Friday and says, without preamble, “It’s me. I’m calling in my birthday favour. Dinner in Paris tomorrow. The restaurant is called something like La Moomin, it’s on the Rue Jardinière. Don’t be late.”

She doesn’t need to give a time. Draco is stood outside La Moulin at eight on the dot, flowers in hand, trying not to turn round too eagerly every time he hears footsteps on the road nearby. At about ten-past, he’s checking his watch for the hundredth time, when at last he hears a familiar voice calling to him.

“Sorry, sorry, Ginny couldn’t choose shoes.”

His heart plummets. When he turns around, Luna is dragging Ginny Weasley up the road towards him. The years have been kind to her. She was pretty at school, that was obvious, but there’s a kind of lean and tigerish beauty to her now that makes Draco shrink slightly inside. She and Luna look as different as night and day, Luna in her favourite pastel blue overalls and boots, smiling widely where Ginny’s face has transformed from laughing and open to dark as a thundercloud.

“Weasley,” says Draco uneasily, “Luna didn’t say—”

Ginny has turned extremely wide eyes on Luna. “No. She didn’t. Sorry – Draco Malfoy is the guy? Fucking – Luna, really? Malfoy ?”

“I’m right here,” says Draco, nettled, and Luna steps into the space between them with her arms out.

“Sorry to both of you. I should have said. But I couldn’t figure out how, and you both really matter to me, and I don’t want to feel like I have to be secret or anything. You can be friends now.”

Draco looks at Ginny, and Ginny looks right back, and for the first time in his life Draco experiences the peculiar sensation of knowing another person is thinking the exact same thought as you, word-for-word.

No we fucking can’t.

After sharing a bottle of wine, though, they both mellow out. Luna, sober, sipping on a ginger beer, watches with clear pride as Ginny gets louder and funnier, regaling them both with the latest tale of that swine – who Draco knows from past Luna stories is his old housemate Theo Nott – and Draco unbuttons enough to laugh harder than he should, adding an anecdote from first year at Hogwarts that he is surprised to find does not sting as much as he thought it would.

“I just cannot believe,” Ginny says over dessert, chin in hand, gazing at Draco with wine-dark eyes, “that you are the guy.”

Draco, way past tipsy himself, grins his shittiest grin. “I’m the guy.”

“I’m serious.” Ginny gesticulates, rounding on Luna. “Seri—Draco Malfoy, Lune? This is the best sex you’ve ever had?”

Draco goes scarlet, but pleased with it, and Luna nods proudly, utterly unabashed.

“Yeah. By miles.”

“Fuckin’ Malfoy,” says Ginny, shaking her head, and clinks her glass against his.

It’s not the worst thing in the world, having Ginny Weasley aware of them. That’s the last time Draco allows himself to be taken to dinner with her, but over the years they reach – if not equilibrium, at least understanding. Luna matters to them both deeply, and for Luna, they can call a truce.

Draco is quite content having only Ginny in the know, no matter how much his mother leans on him to find a nice pureblood girlfriend. She’s slipped into Russian high society with ease, dripping with the ancient Black diamonds, her and Draco’s father returning home increasingly late from opulent galas and frenetic parties. She parades a succession of beautiful heiresses past him, and Draco is coldly polite to all of them before retreating into the study that’s more his than his father’s, these days, going back to the numbers and the sensible rise and fall of business and stocks while he waits for Luna’s next letter or phone call.

He is a big fan of taking each day as it comes, looking to the future only as much as he needs to to do his job, saving the planning for finance and business instead of his own life.

Then one day Luna rings him from Singapore. She’s been staying in the flat there while she travels in the region, unbeknownst to Draco’s parents, and Draco has been portkeying to join her on weekends thanks to a guy in the International Transport department at the Russian ministry that he slides fistfuls of coins to when nobody’s looking.

“You need to come.”

“I can’t ‘til tomorrow, I have the meeting—”

“Draco. You need to come.”

He has never heard her use that tone of voice, not since the day she received a letter to tell her that her father was dead, and so he drops everything and pays an especially eye-watering bribe to a Ministry official he doesn’t know, since it’s his usual guy’s day off, and stumbles out of a fireplace in the flat in Singapore an hour later.

He’s a little wild around the eyes when he finds her in the kitchen sipping matcha tea out of a gin glass and wearing what might conceivably be every necklace she owns. 

“I’m here,” he says, a little redundantly. “What is it, what’s—”

“It might be a bit of a problem.”

“What? Luna, what—”

“I’m pregnant.”

“You – oh. Hm.” Draco feels his way very carefully into a seat. “I thought you were on birth control?”

“I was. I have a potion for it but I must have forgotten.”

She’s watching him very carefully. A hank of hair is falling forwards over her face and she keeps turning her nose into it, like she’s trying to hide half her expression. He has known her and loved her long enough to know that this is a bad sign.

With a monumental effort, he pulls himself together. “Okay. Well, okay. What do you want to do about it?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, do you want to… shit. Do you want to get rid of it?”

She takes another sip of her matcha while she thinks about that. Her bangles tinkle softly and, like she’s not thinking about it, one of her hands drifts down to press over her stomach. Draco is abruptly hit in the gut by the knowledge that his child is there, growing quietly, nurtured by the gentle power of this girl he adores. He loves it, that barely-formed son or daughter, with a fierce breathlessness that brings tears to his eyes.

Luna is looking at him that way she first looked at him in Sarajevo, like she can see right to the heart of him.

“What do you want me to do?”

He takes a deep breath. “I want you to do what’s right for you. It’s your body, Luna, your choice. It’s… you’d be the one having to have my child. I’m not stupid, I know what that will mean for you.”

“I’ve never been ashamed of you.”

“I know. But still. It’s been five years of this, us, and how many people know?”

“I haven’t been trying to keep it a secret.”

“Even so.”

She puts her matcha down. She heaves a breath in, shoulders pressing back, and then it bursts out of her all in a rush.

“I want it. I want a baby – our baby. Do you… is that alright?”

“Is that…” Draco presses a hand into his brow, tries to slow his heart rate down. “That’s more than alright. God, Luna, I want it so badly. But there’s one condition.”

“Oh?” She clutches her hands against herself. “What is it?”

He crosses the room to her in hasty strides, gathering her up against him, all those necklaces be damned.

“You have to marry me.”

Marry you?”

“Yes. I know you don’t care about marriage, I do, but this – I need this. I won’t... I’m not letting this child grow up thinking I’m not committed to the both of you with everything I have. I want everything I own to be yours legally. I don’t want any fuss or my mother, Merlin forbid, trying to prise me away from you because we didn’t set it down in writing.”

She thinks about that for a moment, palms open against his chest, her nose wrinkled up. A trifle overcome, Draco bends down and presses a kiss to the very tip of it. She smiles despite herself, expression clearing briefly, and then at last she lets herself melt into him.

"I guess I could marry you. You're supposed to go down on one knee, though."

He does, his chest swelling, and presses his face against her belly. She drops both hands down to cradle his head gently, lovingly.

"And I'm not taking your name."

"Fine. Anything."

"Neither is the baby."

He pulls his head back. "Now, hang on—"

She starts to laugh, expression wide open with love. "We can share. It can be a Malfoy-Lovegood, how about that?"

Draco turns it over once or twice. "No. Lovegood-Malfoy. It sounds better."

"Lovegood-Malfoy," she repeats, and goes to her knees to join him, pressing as close as she can get. "I like the sound of that."

Two months later, he marries her in an ancient wizarding house in the middle of Sarajevo. Draco has no best man, and his mother and father scowl through the entire ceremony, and he has absolutely no desire to know what’s going through the minds of the only two people Luna chose to invite. Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley are not the two people he thought he’d have witnessing his wedding, but then there are a lot of things that Luna has changed.

After excruciatingly awkward drinks and stilted conversation, Draco escapes to a balcony and tilts back his head. The wind plays with his hair, August evening sunshine catching on the city roofs and turning everything gold and pink.

Bare arms slide around his waist and a body presses into his back. He smiles without opening his eyes and draws Luna round, holding her into his side. One palm splays out against the round shape of his son. Luna sighs, just this tiny little noise, and Draco glances down at her. She’s staring out at the rooftops too, her expression placid and pleased. 

“What are you thinking?” he asks quietly. He doesn’t bother to suppress the surge of proprietal desire that flares inside him when the setting sun catches at the gold band on her left ring finger.

“Oh,” she says idly, smiling, “nothing much. Oh! Careful, there’s a wrackspurt—”

Draco laughs even as he gathers her closer. 

“Well,” he murmurs against the line of her jaw, “it is seven-twenty-five.”

“It is,” she agrees solemnly, and then she’s kissing him soundly enough to make him see stars.