Orange

The orange is rough beneath her fingers, the smell light and tangy and she can almost taste it as she holds it up to look, spinning it on one finger, throwing it in the air and catching it.

Parvati looks up from her book and smiles at Lavender, so focused on her orange; they're supposed to be doing transfiguration essays, but she is finding it hard to focus. Outside it's dark, and she can hear the wind beating at the castle; the cold is undoubtedly beastly out there, but in here there's a fire crackling and gleaming in the fire place. The common room is reasonably filled; conversations and the sound of pages turning, pens scribbling and the odd explosion from where the twins sit make for pleasant background noise. Parvati snuggles further down in her chair, still watching Lavender, who's tossing the orange from hand to hand, distractedly. The colour of the orange, surprisingly bright, clashes with the red nail polish Lavender has on, applied in a brief fit of vanity and girlishness. Parvati remembers painting them, holding soft hands and giggling, her high pitch mixing with Lavender's deeper voice as the nails got redder.

Suddenly Lavender catches her eye; she smiles as if surprised that Parvati is still there.

Catch, she says, and Parvati reaches out her hands for the orange as it sails across the table they're seated around. Lavender laughs as she fumbles the catch, one of her nails catching on the rough, scented skin. Parvati holds up her prize, regards it for a moment; she glances over at Lavender before she breaks the skin. She's a little too rough, and some of the juice makes her finger tip wet. She peels at the skin which is pliable now, easy to remove; she licks the juice from her fingers when she finishes, and her fingers smell strongly of orange. The tip of one is slightly orange.

The juice is sour, tangy and Parvati is suddenly very aware of being watched. She looks up at Lavender and smiles; Lavender looks flushed, the room is warm, and the fire casts strange shadows and Lavender reaches a hand out.

Can I have some? She asks, though the orange is by rights hers and Parvati giggles, high pitched and off-key somehow; she breaks the orange in half, but instead of placing one part in Lavender's outstretched palm, she splits it further, until there are eight pieces; one goes into the outstretched palm.

Without taking her eyes of Parvati, Lavender daintily bites into her slice and Parvati smiles, touches the discoloured finger to her lower lip. She shifts in her seat, moves her book of her lap and eats one, two slices, delighting in the strangely warm taste. Her eyes flicker briefly to the fire, which still crackles on; her gaze wanders the common room, which is still buzzing with pens, pages and voices, before settling back on Lavender who is in the act of sneaking another piece.

Hey! Parvati cries, but Lavender pouts slightly at her.

My orange, she says, and Parvati nudges her foot under the table. Lavender sticks her tongue out, before biting into a new slice.

Parvati watches her until she's eaten two more. Lavender looks questioningly at her, before reaching out for yet another piece.

Parvati catches her wrist as her hand closes around the fruit. Mine, she says, mock-threateningly. Lavender's wrist is surprisingly smooth and much softer than her own bony one.

Lavender smiles, contrite, supplicant. She reaches forward, presses the piece against Parvati's mouth. Parvati freezes, Lavender's eyes widen, Parvati opens her mouth and…

Snow! Ron calls suddenly, almost upsetting Harry's inkpot and there is a general rush for the windows; the moment is broken.

I'll take that, Parvati says, removing the orange from Lavender's hand; she eats it quickly; it's warmer than the other pieces were, tastes sweeter.

Come, let's watch the snow, Lavender says; she grabs Parvati's hand and drags her out of the warm and comfortable chair towards the window which reveals a regular snowstorm. There is a general murmur and mutter about snowball fights; the twins have their heads together, no doubt planning spells for the occasion; Hermione sits on the couch tutting, but she looks longingly at Harry and Ron, who've abandoned all pretence at studying in favour of discussing how best to hit Malfoy with a snowball; Oliver is moaning to all and sundry about snow's effect on quidditch practice.

Lavender's hand is warm, moist with juice and her hand sticks briefly to Parvati's when she lets go.