She's nestling against the dark cellar wall when he goes down, and he has the odd, unbidden, fleeting fancy that she emanates light. He sees that it's that odd little blonde Ravenclaw girl from Hogwarts, and has to keep a firm hold on himself so that he doesn't panic.
'So – so you're visiting for Christmas, Loony Lovegood?' he sneers, to calm himself down. It was meant to be a taunt, but – he thinks, despising himself – it comes out with a little, pathetic quiver on the end. A coward – that's what Bellatrix called him, and she's right.
Luna Lovegood looks at him, with big grey eyes, but says nothing. She's curled up into herself, her arms clamping her knees to her chest. But she's still holding her head up, tilted gently, gracefully on her white neck, and watching him with clear unblinking grey eyes.
And all at once a wave of red helpless fury washes over him – coward's fury – and his wand is out, and pointing at her chest.
'Well – say something! Stop looking at me!' He's screaming at her, advancing, and, impossibly, her eyes grow even larger, and she leans back still further into the wall.
'Scared – scared of me, now?' he pants, jabbing his wand at her throat. 'I could – kill you now, little – staring idiot!'
'It's all right, Draco Malfoy. I don't really think you would hurt me.'
Her voice is soft and dreamy, and for a moment he has the odd fancy that he only imagined her speaking. She's still looking at him. And he looks into her eyes, and everything seems to slip and tilt sickly. He's a coward – coward.
And he makes a little choking sound that's almost like a sob, and brings his wand away from her throat. His hand is shaking badly, and he takes two paces backwards, still pointing it at her.
She rises to her feet, quite slowly, and faces him, and her face has that look of ethereal calm again. The dreamy eyes drift up to a corner above Draco's head, and she suddenly smiles, a soft smile that is aeons away from the murky cellar.
She smiles like light.
And he panics, backing away. 'Goodbye, Draco Malfoy,' he hears her say softly behind him, and he throws the door shut and locks it with his hand cold and trembling on his wand.
His mind is a litany of confusion, a back-and-forth response between panic and anger, passion and despair.
He locks himself into his bedroom and catches blindly at the book that lies open on his bed, crumpling savagely at the pages with his hands. And he presses his face into the desecrated paper shreds, choking on the hot lump that's wedged in his throat.
He lies there a long time, unmoving, as the lump melts into a kind of dull misery that trickles through his bones. He wishes that he wasn't a coward, and he wishes that it didn't bother him that his family was keeping prisoners in their cellar, and mostly wishes that he was dead. But he's afraid of being dead, too, and he wishes that he wasn't afraid of so many things, that he was as brave as crazy Luna Lovegood, who's probably trying to work out how to escape right now.
No-one notices what Draco does, much, these days. Not even his mother, who spends most of her time shut away in her private chambers, away from her mad sister and all the others. He's doesn't know what she does in there, but once he was sure he heard a muffled keening. It was cut off quickly, as though she had quickly cast a silencing charm, but he knew he had heard it.
He sees her slipping off to the old manor chapel, too, always alone. Every morning, before dawn has even touched the sky, she goes, her footsteps soft past his bedroom door. Once, when he'd spent a night like a black, sleepless tunnel of despair, he almost slipped out to go with her, because he was so lonely. But with his hand on the door handle, he remembered, sickly, that yesterday he'd used his wand to torture a man he hardly knew. He never opened the door.
Now, the day after he sees Luna Lovegood in the cellar, a strangeness seizes him, an odd mixture of longing and what would, in happier days, have been curiosity. He slips out of his room in the cold dawning light, and into the chapel, after his mother has left.
He's not been there much, before, though the chapel is an old part of the Manor's history, created when it was first built. It's small, and cool, and the walls and air seem to tingle with magic, somehow: primordial, intrinsic, strangely purifying. Faint beams of rainbow light glance through the stained glass, touching here and there on the walls and floor and altar.
Generations of Malfoys have been christened in the little, white stone room, christened, and later married, and then, Draco thinks cynically, leaving the chapel well alone until they lie there in cold, stately death. Wizarding portraits of all of his ancestors hang on the walls, censuring and sneering at everything, and he wouldn't have placed any of them as religious. But still, they would have been horrified at the thought of being christened or married anywhere but the Malfoy Manor chapel.
It strikes him, at that moment, as grimly funny, because the Dark Lord was about as far as you could get from love and peace and compassion and all that other religious crap, and he was killing and torturing people in the same house as this quiet, pure, un-Malfoy-like chapel.
He almost laughs, rather hysterically. But there's a little white dove in the stained-glass panel above the altar, and it catches his eye, and the desire to laugh leaves him abruptly. It isn't really very funny at all.
There's a single candle burning in a holder, slim and white, its wick burning clearly. It flickers softly as a draught hits it, and he wonders why his mother hadn't warded it with her wand. He almost – almost – casts a shielding spell around it himself, but catches back his hand before he's finished drawing his wand.