Pierre de Lune
Londres, dix jours après…
There weren't many people at the funeral.
Narcissa could count the attendees, excluding herself and Lucius, with her fingers. There were the people she hadn't seen in years: Rodolphus, Bella's ex-husband, his brother Rabastan, and her sister's old classmate, Alecto Carrow.
Severus was present, too. He had never been fond of Bella, but he was always a dear friend to her and Lucius.
The most surprising guest to her was Xenophilius. Narcissa hadn't really expected him to come – even Draco vehemently refused against attending – but he told her that while he disliked Bella personally, he was not incapable of feeling sympathy for her and her family.
Narcissa appreciated that quite a lot.
Lucius hardly spoke during the ceremony, but he held her hand all-throughout, and wrapped an arm around her as they watched her sister's body turn to ashes in the pyre.
It felt peaceful, surprisingly. Perhaps it was because it already felt as if they had lost her for years. They tried to help her, after all — Narcissa more than anyone, especially. After losing Andromeda years ago, Bella was the only sister she had left.
She never wanted it to end like this.
But there is nothing she could do now, nothing she could change. Nothing can turn back time and undo this and everything that led to it.
Still, there's a sense of relief and comfort, and Narcissa feels as if she could move past this. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but someday. She knows she will.
She hopes Bella has, too.
Lucius found Xenophilius waiting for him in his study after the funeral. He had somewhat expected this, but still he felt himself mentally steeling himself for what he presumed was going to be a rather difficult discussion.
Contrary to appearances and popular belief, Xenophilius was no loon. Lucius never thought much of him until they shared a mathematics class one semester back in his undergraduate years. He remembered being quite astounded at the ease with which he passed the course while he'd spent the lectures scribbling notes.
He would eventually find out that he graduated in biotechnology with latin honours, and was one of the nine people in all of the history of the University of Flamel to do so. That was an incredible feat considering the program only admitted thirty people a year, and only half continued to stay in the program, let alone graduate with honours.
Lucius was also aware that he loved his daughter very, very much.
"Xenophilius," he greeted courteously, nodding to the man in acknowledgment as he entered his study.
Xeno smiled pleasantly in return. "Good evening, Lucius," he replied, "I do hope you don't mind. Your butler let me in."
Lucius merely nodded and continued to walk over to the wine cart rolled near one of the couches. He scrutinised the bottles for a moment, and then picked up one and turned to look back at his guest. "Red wine?"
"Yes, please. Thank you."
Lucius poured two glasses and handed one to him before sitting on the adjacent couch, facing him properly.
"Well then," he began levelly, "to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?"
Xeno took a long sip of his wine before responding.
"Your son," he said, "plans to marry my daughter."
Lucius stared at him inquiringly. "Are you against it?"
Xeno shook his head. "He's a fine young man. He's shown he can take care of her, and my moonbug has never been happier than when she's with him." He idly watched his wine as he swirled it in his hand, and then eyed Lucius. "Are you against it?"
"You'll be pleased to know that I'm not," Lucius quipped and took a sip of his drink. "I'll admit being surprised by the match, but your daughter is hardly the worst choice he's ever made."
"That's good to hear," Xeno sighed in relief. "I was afraid our financial state would dissuade you from accepting her."
Lucius raised a brow. "Are you in debt?"
"No, but we're hardly a match for the Malfoy Estate," he replied, smiling wryly. He paused, hesitating, and then added, "I was also under the impression you disliked me immensely back in college."
"You spent the entirety of the lectures doing anything but listening to the professor, and yet somehow bested everyone in the mathematics class." Lucius eyed him wearily. "It was mildly infuriating."
Xeno looked genuinely surprised by this. "You were also doing well in that class, if I remember correctly."
"Because I actively paid attention and put the required amount of effort," he pointed out. "You, however, did not."
"I did read the book," Xeno defended, mildly blushing in embarrassment. "I will admit, however, that arithmetic comes naturally to me just as writing came naturally to Pan. That was why I couldn't continue the Quibbler after she passed... among other reasons."
"And the both of you somehow spawned a daughter highly skilled in the arts," Lucius commented wryly. He glanced sideways at one of the paintings near the door. Luna had given it to him on his birthday; Draco pointedly told him not to speak ill of it in front of her if he didn't like it, but there was no such issue. "She's very gifted."
He had thought the girl would take after her parents, whose careers revolved around the sciences. Xeno graduated with honours in biotechnology, and Pandora excelled in chemistry.
Luna chose to specialise in the art and humanities, and while unexpected, it quickly became evident to him that she was highly competent in it. She was talented and naturally perceptive; Lucius' only complaint of her was that she wasn't very good at socialising or networking, but she seems to have improved on that since being with Draco.
His son informed him of the career setback she experienced earlier on, but he was certain she could get back on track after finishing her graduate degree. If she asked him for help, Lucius wouldn't mind introducing her to some influential people in his network. He was fairly certain the eccentric Helena would take a liking to her.
"She takes after her mother quite a lot," Xeno murmured. His smile was muted with a slight melancholy.
Lucius peered at him carefully, but said nothing.
Investigation on the recent incident was still ongoing; whoever assaulted his daughter, for whatever reason, was still anyone's guess.
Xeno took another sip of his wine, and then broke the silence.
"I don't think I have ever thanked you properly," he said, meeting his gaze again. "I know it was you who sent the Thoroughbred after Pan passed."
"Narcissa was a good friend of Pandora's," Lucius immediately replied, although it was clear from the glint in Xeno's eye that he knew more than that.
"You were, too," Xeno said simply, lips curling to a knowing smile. "She spoke fondly of you, you know."
It wasn't well-known to many that Pandora was a very good friend to Lucius, much like the way Severus was. The three of them had a rather unconventional friendship that started in a greenhouse. Pan was even the one who eventually introduced him to Narcissa, now that he recalled.
"If things had turned out differently," Xeno sighed, "our children would have met ages ago."
"Perhaps," remarked Lucius. "My son might not have been such a troublemaker back in the day if they did. She reigns him in quite well when the situation calls for it."
The accident that killed Pandora had happened on her way to the Malfoy Estate.
Luna had been with her; it was supposed to be a play date, and it was supposed to be her first time to meet them. Narcissa had even made sure Draco was dressed for it. The poor girl witnessed her mother's last breath. Lucius did not take offense that the girl did not remember them when they attended the wake; she had not been in a sane state, to no one's surprise. From what he heard, it took quite some time for her to recover.
She attended the same school Draco did, but Xeno never mentioned her mother's connection to the Malfoy's. He hadn't been as close to them as Pandora was, and already dealing with the aftermath of the incident, in the past, it was rather difficult to mend the distance.
At present, however, there was no excuse to hold it off any longer.
"It has been long overdue," Xeno said sincerely, stretching out his hand, "but I do hope we'll be able to foster a good friendship, Lucius."
Luna was poring over her readings when the elevator pinged. Wolfram jumped from his spot by her legs and dashed to the foyer. Luna vaguely heard a couple of barks as she took off her reading glasses and set the laptop aside on the bedside table.
Draco came in the room not long after, and she shot him a bright smile. "Welcome home!" she greeted happily, throwing her arms open for a hug.
He crossed over to the bed in seconds and she giggled when his lips slanted over hers. He did prefer greetings with kisses (with her, of course—he doesn't greet anyone else like this), and she had no qualms when it meant she could embrace him, because she liked greetings with hugs.
"Hi," he chuckled, planting another kiss on her nose before pulling back, sitting beside her with one leg dangling off the bed and the other crossed under him. His gaze flickered to the side table and then slid back to her. "Have you been studying?"
"Just catching up," Luna told him. "I do have the materials. I thought I'd be productive."
Draco didn't look too pleased to hear this. He wasn't sure if that was alright in her state - the doctors advised to take it slow - but he wasn't one to hold her back. He knew how important finishing this degree was for her and her career, and she needed to catch up on what she missed.
"So long as you don't push yourself too hard," he settled to say.
Luna smiled at him sweetly and nodded. "I promise."
She then changed the subject. "How was work?"
"Busy." He sighed tiredly and shifted to lay his head down on her lap. "We're managing it well enough. If the next three days go well, I might be able to take Friday off and we can go to the manor a day earlier."
Luna blinked down at him, a little confused. "Did we plan to do that this weekend?"
"I did, just this morning," he clarified, shooting her a small smile. "Figured it would be a good time to take a quick break from the city. We can visit your dad, too. And Nargles."
"What a wonderful idea," she smiled. "We could use a breath of fresh air."
Draco hummed in agreement as she began brushing her fingers through his hair and gently massaged his temples. His eyes closed as a comforting wave of relaxation washed through him.
"Hans is making it hard to deny him a promotion this year," he shared lightly. "Bloody bastard even managed to buy me time on the Grey project."
Luna giggled. "He is a very good secretary," she pointed out amusedly. "We should buy him something nice for Christmas."
"I'm sure he'll be satisfied with a big, fat bonus," he scoffed.
"And a reindeer print tie," she added. "It would go well with his red suit, wouldn't it?"
Draco chuckled. "That's an idea."
He opened his eyes when she paused her hand movements, only to see her lean down to kiss him upside down. He smiled into the kiss and reached a hand to her face when she pulled away.
"I kept thinking about you, you know," he murmured.
He would have stayed at home with her the whole day if he could, but he'd been away from his office for nearly two weeks since the incident, and he would rather not incite the ire of impatient business partners. He couldn't publicly state why Luna got into the state that she did without drawing unnecessary attention.
Luna was in comatose for five days after the assault. They expected her to wake up within twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the surgery, but she slept a little over a hundred hours that Draco spent in a numbing state of depression.
The thought of her never waking up completely terrified and immobilised him. He very quickly realised his helplessness: for all the money he owned, all the resources available to him, all the ability he had, there was still absolutely nothing he could do to bring her back if she had gone.
He'd never felt a greater joy in his life when, against all the growing expectations that she wouldn't, she woke up—her memory intact and her body functioning as well as it could.
"I missed you, too," Luna replied cheerily, beaming brightly at him.
Her recovery was quite the miracle, to put it sentimentally. She did wake up very late, and the closest explanation anybody could gather was that perhaps her body wanted to fully fix her better before she did. There were only the mildest side-effects, like minor headaches and erratic sleepiness, but she'd recovered from those significantly better since. She could even go back to school next week if nothing hampers her current progress.
Draco rose from his position on her lap and kissed her properly, gently pushing her back to lie on the pillows. It was a soft kiss, though very intimate—filled with the ardent affection and emotion he only ever reserves for her.
Luna lets out a laugh when he pulls away only to roll her over on top of him, her torso sprawled over his. She laid her ear close to where his heart would be, and Draco wondered if she heard his heart skip a few beats, because looking at her still made it do that.
He was committing the sight to memory when a curious, lighthearted expression appeared on her face. "What are you thinking about?"
Draco hesitated for a moment, wondering if he should digress, and then thought better of it.
"Luna," he started to say, a hint of nervousness flickering in his eyes a bit as his expression turned solemn. "What do you think of marriage?"
Luna blinked, surprised at the question. She took a second to ponder on it before answering, "It's quite the commitment, isn't it?"
Draco took a breath and dared. "Would you ever want it?" he asked, "—getting married, I mean."
"I've never thought about it very much," she replied, humming thoughtfully over it. "It just never seemed a possibility before."
Draco's brows furrowed. "What do you mean?"
"You're my first relationship, Draco," Luna reminded him gently. "I was rather resigned to the idea that I would live the life of a lone spinster before I met you."
Draco considered this for a moment, and then asked curiously, "Why didn't you date other guys before you met me then?"
"I wasn't very interested in it in general," she answered honestly. "I don't consciously intend to dissuade interest, but those who would approach me were often terribly uninteresting, disrespectful, or narrow-minded. When I first met you in France, one of them was rather persistent in accompanying me for the evening."
"Wait a minute," he interrupted, "you approached me back then because you were being harassed?"
"I already wanted to say hi to you when I saw you," she clarified. "I would have waited until you were finished, or if by chance you had glanced at me – I didn't intend to keep you long, but I was in queue and I was quite worried they would follow me even if I let them join me for dinner."
"Arseholes," Draco frowned.
Luna smiled at him. "I was worried you wouldn't recognise me, or that you would turn me away, but that evening turned out much more pleasantly than I expected," she said serenely. "You were such a gentleman, and I had such a wonderful time I'd forgotten all about them."
"Well, bloody hell," he cursed in disbelief. "All this time I thought it was just you trying to come onto me."
She raised a brow at him. "I told you I just wanted to be friends back then."
"I remember. But I didn't get that impression. That's why I was surprised." He playfully pinched her cheek. "I would have bedded you that night if you had wanted it."
"Really?" Her smile widened an inch.
He nodded. "You seriously didn't think I would have danced with you if I didn't find you the least bit attractive?"
She laughed. "I thought you were just indulging a strange girl's strange requests," she said. "It didn't cross my mind that you would be attracted to me at all. That doesn't usually happen."
"Well, I was," he huffed, "still am."
Luna beamed brightly at him and lifted herself off of his torso, peppering his face with tiny, soft kisses.
"If it's any consolation," she murmured when she pulled away, "I was secretly attracted to you, too."
Draco pulled her back for another kiss, smiling against her lips. Luna playfully nuzzled his nose with hers before pulling back and resting her forehead on his, a happy grin on her face.
"If being married is anything like this," she said cheerily, "then I think I'd love it very much."
Grey eyes suddenly twinkled with hope. Draco couldn't wipe off the smile on his face.
"Think you can imagine it?" he asked her, lifting a hand to cup her face. "You'd get to call me your husband."
And I get to call you my wife. The mere thought sent butterflies to his stomach.
"We'd be tied to each other for years," Luna said whimsically. She giggled at the thought. "Wouldn't that be nice?" She turned to him with the dreamiest smile. "Growing old together."
"Yeah," he replied distractedly, looking at her with silent but pronounced affection. "That'd be nice."
Luna smiled and kissed him one more time before sitting up and swinging her legs over the side of the bed. "I'll go heat up dinner," she said as she twisted her torso to look at him. "Are you alright with pasta today? I cooked too much earlier at lunch."
"Sounds good," he shrugged nonchalantly, "I'll meet you there in ten minutes."
She nodded and then left the room. Wolfram watched her go from his spot by the bed, and then shifted his attention to Draco when he also stood up.
The blue-eyed pup tailed quietly behind him as he made his way to the wardrobe. Draco reached up to the top storage shelf, and then spent a minute looking at what he retrieved.
Wolfram whined at him curiously, tilting his head.
Draco glanced at him with a small smile. "Come on, bud," he said, "it's time."
They were curled up on the chaise lounge in the study after dinner, Luna snuggled in between Draco's legs with her back leaned against his chest. She was sipping a mug of caramel tea and he was putting the medical ointment on her injury. The sutures were removed before they left the hospital, and it only seemed like a faded pink scab now. Her hair covered it most of the time, so it wasn't noticeable for the most part, but that didn't mean Draco liked seeing it.
He wanted it to heal and disappear as soon as possible. He was seriously considering flying to Bulgaria, or even sending Hans to the task, just to search for the herbal pharmacist that gave them that very effective healing cream before.
"Draco," called Luna, snapping him out of his reverie.
He blinked and looked at her as she twisted her torso, deftly placing her half-emptied mug on the coffee table before facing him.
"What's wrong?" He asked immediately, his face scrunching up in concern. He set aside the ointment and reached his hands up to cup her face. "Are you feeling unwell? Should we go to the hospital?"
"It's not that. I feel fine," she replied quickly, smiling a little. He was so sweet, it was almost silly sometimes. "I just wanted to ask you something."
He raised a brow at her. "What is it then?"
She wiggled and shifted around so that she knelt in front of him, still settled between his legs and sitting on her haunches as she fully faced him. His hands fell to her sides. She had a curious and lighthearted smile on her face, so he really didn't expect the next words that came out of her mouth.
"Will you marry me?"
It took him one long moment to process what she just asked of him, and another to realise she wasn't exactly popping the question by the way she was looking at him.
"Luna," he managed to say as his brain gradually returned to function, reminding her in a tight mutter, "your phrasing."
She blinked at him, clueless, until realisation dawned on her. "Oh!" She looked at him apologetically. "I'm sorry, I meant—"
Draco sighed. "It's fine." Thank Merlin he knew her well—not that that will ever stop her from surprising him.
Luna nodded and explained what she meant. "When you asked about it earlier," she said, "it made me wonder if we were heading that direction. We've already been living together and we have Wolfram and, well… I do love you very much." She gave him a sheepish smile. "I just realised I didn't ask if you would ever want it, too."
He gazed at her as the thoughts swirled in his head, gradually blending into a single decision, and then he smiled back.
"I do," he told her simply, watching her eyes brighten with joy and her cheeks tint pink.
"Oh." She looked down shyly. She didn't know what else to say. "Okay."
Draco tipped her chin up with one hand and pulled her in for a kiss, tactfully reaching his other hand behind him to grab the box he'd hidden under the throw pillows.
He made sure she wouldn't notice when they pulled away, keeping his gaze locked on hers. He rested his forehead against hers, smiling at the way she flushed prettily from the kiss.
"I love you," he murmured to her solemnly, affectionately.
Luna let out a breathless laugh and beamed at him, kissing his lips one more time before pulling away.
She froze when her eyes wandered downwards and finally noticed what he was holding out.
"If the incident hadn't happened," Draco started to say, "I would have given this to you eight days ago, after dancing with you to the same song playing when we first met, on a rooftop restaurant somewhere here in London."
The ring was a slim silver band with one large pear-cut diamond in vivid pink in the centre, the bottom framed with four smaller clear diamonds shaped like leaves. It looked like a tulip bud, or a strawberry if upside down - far from the conventional engagement rings, but he never planned on giving her something like that, anyway.
"I figured that would've been poetic," he added lightly, throwing in a small smirk, "since you've made this place a home, after all those grand adventures."
Luna let out a chuckle, though it sounded strained by the tears forming in her throat.
His eyes never left hers. "Will you marry me, Luna?"
She breathed out a 'yes' he barely heard before she lunged forward to kiss him. His hand reflexively changed to hold her waist, making sure neither of them fell off the sofa. She was crying and smiling and kissing him, and it was a miracle he managed to remember the ring when her lips attacked that sweet spot on his neck below his ear.
"Wait," he told her, pushing her away slightly. There were few things that turned him on more than the flushed expression on her face right now, but he had to get this out of the way. "The ring," he reminded her, "let me put it on you."
She smiled at him and nodded. She held out her left hand to him and he hastily took the ring out of its box and slid it on her ring finger.
Luna admired it for a moment, the bright smile never leaving her face, and then turned back to him. "I think it could match my lettuce earrings," she grinned, "it looks like a flower bud. Or a strawberry."
He chuckled. "I figured you'd see it like that."
"I'll take good care of it," she promised, looking at him happily. "It's beautiful, thank you."
He smiled and pulled her close to kiss her cheek. "I'd like my wild, steaming hot 'we-got-engaged' sex now."
"You have work tomorrow," she reminded him, biting her lip in an attempt to smother her grin.
"I'm not saying I'll skip it," he assured her. He drew her closer, lips brushing against her ear. "I want to see you with just the ring."
"Okay," she replied easily, her smile teasing. "Am I taking the rest off or do you want the honours for that, too?"
He groaned, unable to decide an answer for that. She laughed and kissed him and he pulled her back on top of him as he lied back on the sofa.
When all was kissed and touched and done, he carried her back to the bedroom—bridal-style, both of them stark naked and shushing each other in giggles. (Neither of them wanted to wake Wolfram, although he was already probably aware.) Luna snuggled against him as he pulled the covers up, happily whispering three more I love you's before succumbing to sleep.
Draco had been the happiest man that night.
Hans wondered if he was hallucinating.
It was seven-thirty in the morning, and there was an old lady sitting in his boss' office and casually sipping tea.
This was, of course, strange in several respects. First: no one was allowed in this floor without a keycard or permitted access. The only ones who were permitted to enter and leave freely were himself, his boss and his parents, his girlfriend, and his dog. Hans was the executive assistant, and he was very competent at his job. He knew his boss' schedule like the back of his hand, and he had no doubt nothing in it for today included a meeting at this hour, so there was no reason for the lobby folks to grant access to anyone.
Second: he didn't recognise the old lady, and for all he knew she could either be a ghost or a grandmother related to his boss whom he's never met. She could also be some serial killer – after what happened with Miss Luna, he couldn't be blamed to assume the worst. The investigation still hasn't yielded new results last he checked (and he checked yesterday afternoon, near the end of the business hours).
He was considering to call security when the elevator pinged behind him, and his boss strolled in with the hint of a smile in his eyes... which immediately disappeared upon landing on his flummoxed assistant.
Draco stopped in front of him.
"Hans," he greeted, lips in a tight line, one brow raising. "Why on earth are you looking like that?"
"W-well, there's..." he stammered, stepping aside and pointing his finger at the figure in his room without turning back. Draco's gaze followed, but his expression didn't change and he said nothing, so Hans glanced back just to make sure the lady was no figment of his imagination and he wasn't pointing to nothing.
He yelped upon finding the old lady right behind him, and then quickly scrambled to stand behind his boss.
"Draco," she greeted, glancing at Hans with an amused smile on her face. "I took the liberty of letting myself in. I wish to speak to you."
"You could have called me or my secretary in advance, Helena," Draco replied, looking at her wearily. "It's considered a crime to deliberately bypass security into private territory like this."
"Take it as a lesson to get better security," she shrugged, and then stared at him solemnly. "You're going to need it, if you want to protect your fiancée."
Draco's eyes widened at the mention, and he realised quite briskly that Helena wasn't here for her eccentric ideas of fun.
"Hans, would you get me my usual from the café?" He said, turning to his secretary with a serious look. "I'll be speaking to Mrs. Ravenclaw for the next hour. We'll go over today's agenda afterward."
"Uhm, sure..." Hans darted his gaze between him and the old lady, mentally noting to look her up later, and then straightened his back and grabbed his coat and wallet from the desk. "I'll be right back, sir," he said, and then scurried away to the elevator.
Draco waited until he was gone before turning back to his unexpected guest.
"Please," he said simply, gesturing her to come back to the room where she stayed to have morning tea.
Helena grinned at him as she passed. "You are your father's son," she remarked, "Always so courteous."
The blonde fought to roll his eyes, knowing the comment was made with sarcasm. He'd grown up being told by his parents never to displease anyone from the House of Ravenclaw, who were one of the few families who could end the Malfoy wealth and heritage if they wanted to. In public, they were known for their connoisseurship of wine and the arts; in private, among the families of the old rich, they were known for their information systems and networks, unmatched in the entire European region as far as they were aware.
It wouldn't be unusual if she knew more than the investigation team, and he had a feeling she was going to speak to him about this case. If there was a better chance to retrieve the missing information they needed, Draco knew very well this was it — and he had no intentions of letting it pass.
"I truthfully don't know if you have proposed yet," said Helena when they sat down. "I do know, however, that you commissioned a very expensive ring from Nikolaj, and that you're quite in love with your girlfriend."
"Not 'quite'," he corrected nonchalantly, "and she has been my fiancée since last night, although I would appreciate it if you would keep that knowledge to yourself until we break the news publicly."
"Oh my." Helena's eyes widened in surprise, and she shot him a bright smile. "Congratulations."
"Thank you." Draco nodded curtly.
"The men in your family have a proclivity to choose their partners well," she continued to say as she reached for her teacup, "I do look forward to meeting her soon. She lent me a very precious piece of history, you know."
Helena sipped her tea and kept speaking as if she hadn't noticed him stiffen in his seat.
"One of my newer servants had a loose tongue, and now the rumours are abound," she said, "I wouldn't be surprised if you had already heard—in fact, I expect it to be the case."
"You mean it's true?" Draco asked directly, deciding not to dally any longer if she wasn't doing the same. "You're the anonymous benefactor who hired my fiancée to travel around Europe searching for those bejewelled eggs?"
"I remained secret for her safety," Helena replied, affirming it with a nod. "If my name and involvement had remained so, her search wouldn't have raised suspicion, and she wouldn't have been targeted."
A sense of fear clouded over him upon hearing this. "What do you mean?" he asked, his hand twitching by the pants pocket where his phone was. The urge to call her and make sure she was safe was ringing in his pulse.
Helena seemed to notice his growing apprehension and attempted to calm him down.
"According to my reports you've hired a security team," she mentioned casually as she raised her teacup to her lips, "and that you've raised the security in the building you stay at. That should be enough to protect her for now, I believe."
"She was bludgeoned in the head in broad daylight," he hissed, glowering at the memory, and then directed his glare to her. "Her attacker is still unknown and at large, and you're telling me she's being targeted."
Even if he wanted to thank his past self for pushing through with the increased security measures despite Luna's insistent protests (she wasn't comfortable with the bodyguards, having never had them before), this new piece of knowledge didn't make him feel comfortable in the slightest.
"The bejewelled eggs are worth a fortune and priceless history, and Moscow has been suffering for quite some time now." Helena's voice remained even and composed as she spoke. "It would not be farfetched to imagine a Russian politician wanting to take them to use as leverage in politics."
Draco slowly drew his torso back as the implications dawned on him. This was why they were after Luna.
Helena simply continued.
"The eggs are political instruments of power. It's important they do not fall into the wrong hands." She placed her teacup back on the table. "It is best they avoid being used for schemes, especially when they can serve other purposes."
"You mean to keep them in museum and art," Draco clarified.
Helena nodded. "The eggs are heirlooms of a family that have stayed away from crown and power for years. That does not have to change."
Draco narrowed his eyes. "What are you suggesting then?"
"That things stay the way they are," she replied simply. "I already meant to talk with you about the contract we signed before my annual auction. The incident only moved it up the agenda, and that is why I'm here."
"The one who nearly killed Luna—do you know who he is?"
He never planned on letting her leave without at least knowing what she knew about the incident.
"A mouse by the name of Peter Pettigrew," said Helena, "hired by Thomas Riddle of Moscow. His... pedigree, so to speak, hinders his chances for the presidency."
Draco had heard of him in international news bites. He was a popular candidate, although his murky origins as an adopted child appeared to be a more effective vote deterrent than his actual and rather abhorrent political stances.
Claiming ownership over the missing empire eggs could certainly shift the tide to his favour.
"I have already forwarded the relevant information about Pettigrew to the investigation team earlier today, as a courtesy to Miss Lovegood," Helena informed him. "That is as far as the protection clause in our contract goes. If you wish to involve Riddle, I will have to demand a price."
Unperturbed, Draco leaned back in his seat.
Lucius called him into his study when they went home to the manor that weekend.
"It has come to my attention," he started to say, not sparing another minute, "that you have sold five hundred hectares of our Bavarian estate to Helena Ravenclaw without consulting with me."
"We struck a deal," Draco informed him. "A plot of land for the imprisonment of the bastard who went after Luna."
He doesn't mention the eggs, respecting Luna's decision to clandestinely transfer the full ownership to Helena.
"Did you not negotiate?" drawled Lucius, barely holding in his displeasure. The Bavarian estate was one of their oldest, largest, and most profitable properties.
"She's waging war on a powerful figure on my behalf," Draco answered. "I get to sit back and watch - it's the better end of the deal."
"The Bavarian estate is worth at least four hundred million euros."
"I'll earn it back with interest." Draco handed him his phone, showing a digital copy of a document he signed three days ago.
Lucius furrowed his brows, unimpressed. "Peru?"
"We made friends with a family of farmers when we visited two years ago," he explained. "Their produce is excellent."
The only thing that had kept them from earning more was a corrupt, lazy-minded landowner.
"And you are certain this could recoup our losses from the Bavarian estate?"
"With interest," stressed Draco. He knew the potential and reassessed this several times since they visited, keeping in touch with the locals. Helena only gave him a reason to push through with it. "The investment cost is a tiny fraction compared to the worth of the Bavarian estate. You only have to give me time."
And trust. The word hung in the silence, but it didn't need to be said.
Lucius eyed his son with the same look he's given him throughout his youth.
"Seven years," he compromised. "If you fail, you will recoup the loss by entering another marriage."
The condition surprises Draco, but only for a moment. His father raised him with unwavering expectations of excellence to manage the Malfoy Enterprise well, and he was no doubt disappointed that he was not consulted regarding the estate. He would not allow his son to give away part of their family's estate for whatever reason, least of all for a woman, without consequence.
Draco could accept that. He knew the stakes.
"I won't fail," he declares decisively. Memories of Luna replay in his head in rapid speed, and his resolve to protect her only grows stronger.
The stars are bright from the vantage of the manor gardens, though not as plentiful and clear as they were in Sossusvlei. Still, it reminds Luna of the time they spent there, and she loves to gaze at the view all the same.
She was waiting for a shooting star when Draco finds her.
"Did you make a wish?"
He crouches down and lies beside her, slipping an arm under her head and drawing her to rest on his chest. She snuggles into his warmth.
"A shooting star hasn't passed by yet," she says softly, and then her fingers clench at his shirt. Her engagement ring glistens under the moonlight. "How did it go with your father?"
"He is neither happy nor completely mad. It's not an entire loss," he tells her honestly.
"It isn't an entire win, either." She looks away from the stars for a moment as she turns to look at him. "Are we still getting married?"
"If you'll still have me." His right hand reaches up to hold hers. "He's giving me seven years to recoup the losses, or else I'll have to marry someone else." He squeezes her hand. "I don't want to make you wait, and I'd understand if you wouldn't want to risk it."
She smiles at him dearly. "I believe in you more than you know," she reassures him, "and you really should let me help."
He returns her smile. "All you have to do is stay with me."
"I can do more than that," she argues. "You know I'm capable, and this is my battle as much as you think it's yours. I signed the contract, not you."
"And you've gotten hurt because of it," he points out, threading his other hand through her hair. "Surely you don't believe I'd just stand there and do nothing."
"I know you wouldn't." She sighs and leans her head back on his chest, gaze returning to the stars. "I only want to do the same thing for you."
He kisses the top of her head. "We'll set the date, then?" he asks.
"Daddy suggests August, but your mother wants it to be in June."
"When do you want to do it?"
"April," she sighs dreamily, "when the flowers start to bloom like this."
"Alright then," he agrees, and then he asks again, "where?"
"Your garden is perfectly fine for the ceremony," she suggests. "It will be easier for everyone to attend, too."
"...you're thinking about Nargles, aren't you?"
She giggles. "He would make a perfect bridesmaid, and Wolfram can be the ringbearer."
Draco grins. "I'm not opposed to the idea."
"Your mother might be," she points out, trying not to sound troubled. "I believe she wants to host a grand wedding."
Grand does not even cover it; Narcissa was willing to invite a thousand guests, and Luna didn't even know that many people.
"I am her only child," Draco replies, "but I'll talk her out of it, provided you let me decide where we'll go for the honeymoon."
Luna glances up at him again, beaming with interest. "Is it going to be a surprise?"
"If your wedding gown will be," he offers.
They share a moment staring at each other, and then burst into laughter together. Too caught up in each other's company, they forget the skies and miss the sight of a star falling near the moon.
(Not that it matters, really, when they have each other, stronger than any wish made upon a falling star.)