I wasn’t quite sure what I was intending on doing with this, in fact I wasn’t quite sure I was going to write any more of it at all after writing the first page and a half, but it spoke to me, so I continued writing it.
TITLE: Purely Business
AUTHOR: You know me!
DISTRIBUTION: Not too sure yet
DISCLAIMER: The characters aren’t mine, only the words
DEDICATION: To the supportive people on my flist
’There is nothing worse,’ Luna thought bleakly as she observed her best friend walking up the aisle, ’than watching your last single friend getting married and realising that you are destined to be alone forever.’
Luna had dated once, but after a while it had become apparent that he had believed he could change her, make her into the sort of woman he wanted her to be, and that wasn’t what she wanted her needed. His rejection had destroyed her emotionally. Sure that she was worthless, she had shied away from men altogether, determined that she would be happy as a cat-owning spinster.
Seeing Ginny standing beneath a rose-covered archway in the extensive Burrow gardens, staring lovingly into the eyes of her new husband. Everyone but Luna had been surprised when the announcement of the forthcoming marriage was printed in the Daily Prophet – Ginny had claimed to hate him for so many years.
Although Luna was overjoyed for her friend, she also felt a little depressed. From tonight there would be no more girlie nights in with a bottle of wine and a huge chocolate cake purloined from Molly Weasley’s kitchen. All of Ginny’s belongings had been packed in cases and boxes and were piled in her bedroom at the flat that Ginny and Luna had shared, ready to be moved to the newly remodelled Malfoy Manor on return from her honeymoon to Peru.
Wiping the tears from her eyes, and forcing a smile on her lips, Luna walked to stand next to her best friend, and hugged her tightly. “That was such a beautiful ceremony,” she ignored the tear-filled thickness of her voice, focusing intently on Ginny’s happiness.
“I was so nervous, did it show?” Ginny’s voice shook a little with her nerves, but on the outside she appeared to be totally poised. Her curly shoulder-length red hair was pulled away from her face with a delicate diamond clasp, and her slightly rounded, curvaceous body was clothed in a designer robe of honey-coloured silk.
“You looked perfect as always, Ginny,” Draco leaned in and whispered the words against his wife’s neck, grinning at Luna from over Ginny’s shoulder. “And you don’t look too bad either, Lovegood.”
Luna couldn’t help but feel as though she were intruding on a wonderfully beautiful intimate moment. “Good luck,” she pressed a light kiss to Ginny’s cheek, patted Draco on the shoulder and then walked away, feeling as though she were in desperate need of a strong drink. It wasn’t that she resented her best friend finding happiness, it was quite the opposite – Ginny’s happiness simply highlighted how lonely and empty her own life was.
Standing at the bar, one hand holding a plate filled with what would normally be very appetising food, the other holding an empty glass, Luna watched as the happy couple took their first turn on the dance-floor. She looked on as Ron pulled his wife of just two years close and wrapped his arms around her and felt a few pangs for what could have been. Soon the dance-floor was filled with couples all dancing so close together that Luna wondered if a piece of paper would fit between them. With a loud sigh she managed to catch the attention of the man behind the free bar and got him to pour her another large glass of wine.
“Still on your own then, Luna?” Startled, Luna dropped her drink, and watched – as if in slow motion – as the glass fell to the floor, shattering into rainbow shards of crystal on the polished tile. She took a deep breath and turned; her eyes wide.
“Hello Adrian, how are you?” she managed, thanks to the nails she dug sharply into her palms, to keep a smile on her face and her voice pleasant. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”
Taking a generous sip of his double scotch, Adrian studied his ex-girlfriend, taking in the way that long tendrils of her pale blonde hair caressed the delicate curve of her neck and the way her waist appeared even more slender in the tight sheath dress she was wearing. “Cynthia works with Draco,” he tilted his glass in the direction of the obviously pregnant brunette who was even now crossing the dance-floor, a large grin on her face when she saw her husband.
“Oh…that’s nice.” Luna wondered if she could possibly feel any more awkward, she had been so sure that now Adrian Pucey and Draco Malfoy no longer lived in the same social circle he wouldn’t be invited anywhere that she was likely to be, it was obvious she was wrong in that assumption.
“So how’s the paper?” he smiled warmly at Cynthia as his petite wife curved an arm around his waist and nuzzled her face against his chest.
“It’s going well. Circulation was up again this month.” She knew that he wasn’t interested, she could tell that he was just trying to find something to talk about to pass the time.
“Can we go home, Adi? My ankles are so swollen…” Luna rolled her eyes. It was obvious that this is the sort of woman Adrian had wanted her to become, someone who sounded like a wound up Muggle talking dolly; something she could never be.
Holding his wife’s hand and pressing a light kiss to her palm, Adrian looked up at Luna through blinkered eyes, “Perhaps I’ll see you again sometime.”
“I don’t doubt it,” Luna half-smiled at him and reached a hand out to shake his, making sure he knew that she wasn’t affected by him anymore. “It was nice to meet you, Cynthia.”
Blinking and smiling absently, Cynthia sucked her lower lip into her mouth before squeaking out, “Same here, Louise.”
Luna watched as the couple walked over to the main doors where they collected their coats. Adrian had his hand planted firmly against the curve of her back, proudly proclaiming that the very pregnant brunette was his wife. “Louise…” Luna muttered; her eyes narrowing as she tried desperately to control her anger. “Couldn’t even get my name right, the brainless twit.”
“Talking to yourself?” Harry had been watching the exchange with curiosity, wondering whether Luna would appreciate an intervention, but it seemed he hadn’t been needed. He sat down on the stool next to her and waved to get the attention of the barman, “A pint please and whatever she’s having…”
Grateful for the momentary distraction, Luna took a sip of the drink that had just been placed in front of her and then leaned down, purposely banging her head on the bar. “Argh,” she groaned. “That man is such a wanker…why do I let him get to me?” She banged her head again, just to make sure she had done it hard enough the first time and then, with a grateful smile at Harry, took a healthy mouthful of her refreshed glass.
Harry knew exactly why Adrian managed to annoy Luna so much, it was for the same reason that Ginny was able to get to him. They both still had feelings for their ex-partners, and it would take more than a few uncomfortable encounters to make those feelings disappear. “Don’t take it to heart, Luna. Adrian Pucey is a total wanker. He’s also a complete fool…he must know that Cynthia only married him because he has money.”
If Harry thought that saying that was going to make things any better then he was sorely mistaken. Looking up at him through her dark lashes, Luna attempted a smile, “I don’t really think that he cares about that. But he didn’t mind shoving it in my face that he had found the so-called perfect wife. I was never going to be good enough…” Feeling very sorry for herself, Luna wiped the tears from her eyes and stood up. “I am not going to let my bad mood ruin Ginny’s special day…” at Harry’s look of dismay at the mention of Ginny now being married, Luna looked immediately contrite. “I’m sorry Harry.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Harry shook off the apology and stood up, holding his hands out to Luna. “D’you want to dance?”
Shaking her head, Luna picked up her small evening bag, one that perfectly matched her shoes and jacket, “I’d better get going actually. I have to be at the paper for a meeting in…” she squinted and checked her watch, “…just a little bit over three hours and I think I should try and sober up a bit.” Seeing the way that Harry’s face fell, Luna leaned up and pressed a light kiss to his cheek. “Maybe next time?”
Waving at him over her shoulder, Luna walked past him and over to the cloakroom. “I’ll hold you to that,” Harry called to her as he watched her leave the ballroom. “Oh well, back to being the fifth wheel,” he groaned at the thought of watching his two best friends dancing closely with their spouses. He really should have found a way out of attending the wedding; this was as close to hell as he was going to get for a while.
Luna handed the small plastic key to the cloakroom attendant and, when her coat was placed on the counter, she quickly picked it up and put it on, desperate to escape from the sudden feeling of discomfort that had filled her when Harry had asked her for a dance. It was difficult to miss the fact that he was desperate to have someone, and she didn’t want to be his rebound girl anymore than he really wanted to be her rebound man, but sometimes lonely desperation made people do things that they wouldn’t normally.
“Leaving so soon, Lovegood?” Luna rolled her eyes and continued to head for the door, the last thing she wanted, or needed, right now was to be forced into a conversation with Blaise Zabini. When she had been dating Adrian, he had managed somehow, to make her life an absolute hell. Everywhere she turned he had been there, watching, waiting for her to do something that he could point and laugh at. “And we didn’t even have a chance to catch up…” his tone was taunting, the eternal whine of the rich playboy.
”Some of us actually have to work, Zabini,” she walked over to her Muggle car – a small blue and black VW Beetle – and quickly opened the door.
“Aww, surely you have a little bit of time to have a drink with an old friend,” he used his wand to force the window open after she had slammed the door loudly, and continued to talk, his whiskey-scented breath drifting up her nostrils.
“I don’t have time for your juvenile games, Blaise,” she spat his name, frustrated that he didn’t seem to be getting her rather obvious message. “I have to be at work in a few hours and I really want to have the chance to change before I head to the office.” Sighing loudly she turned the key in the ignition and grinned when the engine started first time.
“Well be like that then…” he pouted like the spoilt boy he had always been and let go of the window, staggering back a little when the car sped off down the narrow country lane. With his eyes narrowed he stared after her, his fists clenched at his sides. “We’ll meet again soon enough, Lovegood, and you won’t be able to drive away from me then.”
Luna liked to drive. When her dad had first persuaded her to get a Muggle driving license, and presented her with a car for her eighteenth birthday, she had been very quick in denouncing the method of transport as outdated and inconvenient, but the longer she had spent driving through the winding country lanes the more she had realised it was much better than a broom. Of course sometimes she missed the speed of travelling by broom, but then she remembered how difficult it had been to transport all her books and things while holding on to the broom. Her little car, Doris, was a godsend.
She drove carefully to the end of the driveway, knowing that she had really had too much to drink, and opened her bag. The Sobering Potion that she had mastered brewing in her fourth year was in a small vial in a padded pocket of the overlarge carryall she kept in front of the passenger seat of the car. After drinking the bitter vibrant green liquid she closed her eyes and rested her head against the back of the chair for a few moments to let the potent brew take effect. The potion had the strength of 20 strong espressos and the kick of a mule, very effective.
She took the scenic route back to the office. She was lucky that she had some clean clothes in the bottom drawer of her desk, and the couch in the corner of her office had often doubled as a bed in the days following her father’s death, soon after Voldemort had been defeated and there was so much news to be had.
She wasted no time once she arrived at “No Quibbles”; the building that housed the newspaper and connected weekend colour supplement. Since she had taken over she had managed to expand what had been her father’s hobby more than anything else and make it into a successful going concern. She keyed the seven-letter password into the alarm system that Seamus Finnegan had set up for her, and walked through the heavy double doors into the airy Perspex-ceilinged lobby.
As she did every time she walked through the main doors, Luna took a little time to stare at the enchanted scene that Ginny had painted on the walls, it was a moving scene, much like the photos that Colin Creevey still took – although he now took them for her – of a working press office complete with churning presses and charmed typewriters. That had been the first thing that Luna had sorted out when the paper had first expanded, moving from the small office in Ottery St. Catchpole to the centre of London. On the outside – much like 12 Grimmauld Place – it appeared to be nothing more than a gap between two large office blocks, unless you knew that it was there, and you were privy to the passwords that made it visible.
After she had taken the time to appreciate the wonderful painting on her lobby wall, Luna walked through to her office and used the small sensor just inside the door to turn on the lights. Her office was like a small room in her own flat, it was filled with photos of her on various adventures with her dad, including a moving picture of her father jubilantly holding a Crumple-horned Snorkack by the horn. They had finally discovered a nest of them in the mountains of Romania – although they never did find out what they were doing there.
Sitting behind her desk, Luna swung her legs up to rest them on top of a pile of paperwork that she had been procrastinating over for a good few weeks. After contemplating the job for a few moments she decided against it and rested her head back against the chair and closed her eyes. She could afford to leave it for a few more days; it wasn’t as though the work was going to go anywhere in the meantime.
Blaise had no idea what he had been thinking when he had tried to talk to Luna Lovegood in the driveway of Malfoy Manor. The drink had definitely been in control of his thought processes just then. He slumped down on the settee in front of the fire in his study and buried his head in his hands, groaning quietly as the hangover potion he had taken began to take effect.
It felt as though he had only just closed his eyes and drifted into a disturbed sleep when a tapping on the large double doors leading to the gardens woke him. Standing up on unsteady feet, Blaise opened one of the doors and let the owl in, watching as the tawny bird flew into the room and landed on the corner of his desk. He plucked the note from the owl’s ankle and opened it, reading the words through quickly with interest.
I’ve heard a few things about you and Lovegood…don’t go poaching on the preserves of others, especially my preserves.
So Adrian thought that Luna still belonged to him? With a faint smile on his face, he screwed the parchment up into a ball and threw it into the flickering flames in the hearth. There was no way he was going to let a note from a spoilt poor loser affect his own plans. The note did raise some questions though; for instance, how did Adrian know anything about his plans for Luna Lovegood, especially when he wasn’t exactly sure of what they were himself?
So…what do you think so far?
And for anyone wondering how come the story has been posted during my day – I am off work with a chest infection 😦