Pairing: Theo x Luna

Universe: Eighth-year, EWE

Prompt: From indieblue: "Since I'm falling in love with your Theo, I think it's only right I request a Theo/Luna. The only stipulation is it's during Winter. Everything else is completely up to you."

Theodore Nott knows winter. He knows the lonely sound of wind through bare branches; the feel of ice in the bones and snow in the heart.

He carries winter with him, drawn over his shoulders the same way that his ancestors wore the pelts of their wolf-familiars after they had howled their last.

The Ministry rule that he must repeat his seventh year, and so he comes back to Hogwarts, weighed down by the name that hangs like a stone around his neck and conscious of the stares that move towards the inside of his forearm, where everyone simply assumes that he hides a Dark Mark.

Theo doesn't disabuse them of the notion. He prefers long sleeves in any case.

He keeps his head down in his lessons; you don't need to answer questions to maintain a perfect grade. He chooses long walks in the grounds over spending time in the Slytherin common room - there is a difference between the damp chill of old stone and the brisk bite of the north.

At mealtimes he sits silently beside Draco. In a way it is no different to how they were before, though now Draco is subdued as well. The old house tables have been done away with in favour of smaller, mixed tables. Unity, McGonagall says in her clipped brogue, will be the new order of the day at Hogwarts.

Theo turns his eyes downwards, keeps them on his plate. It doesn't stop him observing the quiet ripple that spreads through the Great Hall the first time Granger sits down opposite them.

Now that she isn't flanked by Potter and Weasley, the muggleborn witch looks smaller, but somehow more assured. She has grown into herself, Theo sees. Her hair no longer drowns her face, which has lost its childish softness and become angular enough that the stubborn set of her jaw is attractive rather than jarring. He flicks his eyes to the right, and sees the way that naked hope flares bright on Draco's face.

Good, Theo thinks. Draco was not made for the creep of frost, the hardening of the earth. Theo watches them watch one another, and when Granger drags her gaze from Draco's to ask him a crisply polite question about their arithmancy homework, Theo lets himself smile, just a little, as he answers her.

He spends more time in the grounds as the weather closes its grip. He likes the way that grass turns to glittering shards; the pale grey of the ice on the lake as it reflects a snowy sky.

Christmas is spent watching Draco and Granger continue their curious dance, moving his hand over his mouth to hide its upwards curve. When the castle fills once more with chatter and life he flees it as often as possible, ears ringing with the whispers that follow him along its corridors.

Sitting at the lake's edge one afternoon, watching a pair of redwings wheel and call to one another, he feels the lightest touch of heat. In the space of a blink, snowdrops have unfurled themselves from the still-frosted earth, nodding their virginal heads serenely in a non-existent breeze.

Startled, Theo looks towards the source of the sunshine, and finds her sitting beside him, smiling mildly as her eyes follow the birds through the air. Her wand still bathes the ground in front of them with the soft glow of conjured sunshine.

"Why did you do that?" Theo asks, surprising himself. He isn't angry, as such - more confused - but his voice sounds sharper than he intended, and Luna stops the spell; cocks her head curiously at him.

"I thought that was what you were waiting for," she says quietly, and at Theo's frown she gestures towards the snowdrops, which quiver with delight at her attention.

"For flowers?" he asks, noticing that her fingers are long, and graceful, and smudged with paint. He looks back at her face and sees that though her eyes are the colour of the ice they are warm, and kind, and shining.

"For the season to change," she shrugs, and then raising one hand, she pushes his overlong hair back behind his ear. "Not even winter lasts forever, Theo," she says, and he finds himself leaning into her touch, his fingers skimming up the slim line of her forearm.

Her skin is soft to the touch. "You're no Snegurochka, Theo," Luna says gently. He watches, fascinated, as her lips form the name that is straight from one of his grandmother's fairytales.

"If the ice in your heart melts," Luna whispers, "you will not die."

A/N: Snegurochka is a Russian fairytale that also appears in German (forgive me using the more romantic spelling) about the Snow Maiden. I have a few asks that have been languishing for months and that I'm hoping to get to in the next couple of days. Thanks all for your patience and indie - hope you liked it!