Title: Cold Comfort

Based on: Sonnet XXI by Pablo Neruda (Translated from Spanish by Stephan Tapscott)

If only love would spread its savour through me!
--not to go one moment more without spring!
What I sold into sorrow was only my hands,
dearest: now leave me with your kisses.

Shut out the month's light with your fragrance;
close all doors with your hair.
Only do not forget, if I wake up crying
it's only because in my dream I'm a lost child

hunting through the leaves of the night for your hands,
for your caresses like the wheat,
the flashing rapture of shadow and energy.

O my dearest, nothing but shadow there
where you walk with me through your dream:
you tell me when the light returns.

Rating: Teen

Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction. Characters belong to the lovely JKR.

Summary: This fic was written as a gift during the latest round of the DMHG Fic Exchange. The request was for sadness, with Draco and Hermione together at the end.

Warning(s): Not DH compliant, so I suppose you'd call this AU. Contains some language, some angst, and character death is implied (but you get to draw your own conclusion on that.)

Author Note: This is a departure for me. I've never written anything in the first-person, or the present tense before; but that is how this story presented itself to me. I hope it works! I'd like to thank Alex25 and SeanEmma4Evr both of whom have been enormously helpful in the inspiration / creation and beta-reading of this ficlet ( and both of whom, of course, are stellar writers here on FFN!) To the recipient: I pray I did justice to your request, and I hope you enjoy!

This fic contains three chapters, which will be posted over the course of three consecutive Fridays. R&R very much appreciated as always! :o)


I've dreamed this forest.

At the time I didn't understand it, of course, but I've dreamed this forest.

The dreams were… abstract. More form than substance. They were light and shadow – moving shadows and only now, in retrospect, do I realize how strongly they suggested the stark branches of winter trees, buffeted by wind.

I was searching, though. In my dreams. Searching through that abstract, intangible forest of the night. That much was accurate.

That much I got right.

In the dreams, I never found what I was searching for. I would wake in my solitary bed, my hands groping frantically in the dark, without ever understanding why, or for whom, I was reaching.

I know now.

I know exactly who I am looking for and I know – panic rising in me like bile – that time is short.

The snow is coming. It's as if I'm bringing it with me; trailing it in my wake.

I can see my breath in the air. It's so cold here. And so quiet. There are no sounds at all, except for the sounds I make in passing; dry leaves and fragile twigs crunching beneath my booted feet.

Even these are muffled.

It is easy to believe I'm the only living thing for miles… easy, but false.

Because she's here. She's so close that I can almost touch her. I pray to every saint I've ever heard of to guide me now.

The cold has become my enemy.

I never used to mind it, the cold. Growing up, winter was always my favorite season. The snow – quiet, gentle, implacable – blanketing all imperfections in the landscape. Equalizing. Snow is purity. And I had been taught to seek purity. To value it above all else.

But now, I am racing the cold. Racing the snow. Because if she's out here…

No, there's no if. She is out here, quite possibly hurt or incapacitated, and if I don't reach her quickly it will be this cold that steals the breath from her body, as inexorably and mercilessly as any Unforgivable Curse ever cast.

Unless she's already been dispatched by an Unforgivable.

My insides twist and clench at the thought. But no… I think I would know if that had happened. I think I would sense it somehow.

That's what I tell myself, at least.

And I stumble on.


Let her be all right. Let her be all right.

This one thought is pounding ceaselessly in my head, keeping time with my footfalls, the beating of my heart.

Let her be all right.

I need her to be all right. And that's what this is about, really. Not about her so much as it's about me.

I'm a selfish man.

Hell, I can own it.

I'm a selfish man and if she's not all right it will destroy me.

And so I need her to be all right. It's just that simple, really.

And I'm still convinced she is alive out here; that I would feel, that I would know, if she were otherwise. But alive does not necessarily equal okay. If five years of constant warfare have taught me anything, they've taught me that. They've taught me that in ways I'll never forget.

Alive and Okay… they can be oceans apart.

Just ask my mother if you don't believe me. She won't answer you in words, of course; all she does these days is stare and twitch and drool.

But that's answer enough right there. Isn't it?

Fresh panic sets in. I find myself drawing breath to shout her name. I stomp on the impulse. It's probably the worst thing I can do.

She and I may not be the only ones out here, in this preternaturally quiet forest. If there are others, I don't want to alert them to my presence… or to hers.

Assuming, of course, that she hasn't already been discovered and –

Stop it. Stop it, just stop it, that doesn't help. Panicking DOESN'T HELP.