DISCLAIMER: If you recognise it, it's not mine.

Written for violet-phoenix-rose's Calendar Challenge.

Prompt: "I'm used to being lonely. It's the only thing I can rely on these days."

"Fancy finding you here."

Theodore Nott glanced up from Most Potente Potions to see Morag MacDougal slide in to the seat next to him. Assuming a disinterested expression, he pretended to return his attention to his book.

From the corner of his eye he saw her lean back into her seat, a wry smile stretching across her face. Imitating his disdainful manner, she set up her writing equipment and began scratching out what he assumed was the start of an essay. Except that her inner Ravenclaw would have never allowed her to leave homework to the last night of the Christmas holidays. But what else could it be? Theo tried angling his book a little further down, hoping to catch a sneaky glimpse, but she pre-empted his movement, and oh-so-subtly leaned her head on her bent arm so that her hair completely blocked his view.

Probably nothing important anyway, he decided, but after reading the same paragraph on the potential side effects of poorly-brewed Charisma-enhancing Potion three times without actually comprehending it he snapped the book shut, and said "Oh all right, you win. How was your Christmas."

"How kind of you to ask. Quite nice actually, what with Father's side of the family all terrified of You-know-who coming to get them for being a load of blood traitors, while the Urquharts and Runcorns on Mother's side are all for the muggleborns to be put in their places. I honestly don't know who was more annoying, my dear cousin Tommy trying to impress us little ones with talk of how he will join the Death Eaters when he finishes this year, or dear cousin Ernie refusing to shut up about all the running around trying to get expelled he did with Potter's lot last year. Combine that with Cattie having another row with the folks about them not signing her Hogsmeade permission slip and you just about have it."

Theo, who disliked both Thomas Urquhart and Ernie MacMillan for other reasons, tried not to smile at her outraged ranting. "Well," he replied softly as Madam Pince swept past, "I spent mine sharing the dorm with the ferret, who is slightly better this year for the simple fact that he has stopped trying to treat me as a friend, and with Ugly-mug Pug-face and Greengrass having it out over who Malfoy likes best in the common-room every night. Still at least there weren't as many people about to annoy me as during the term….what?"

Morag shook her head, smiling sadly. "I have never understood why you classify people trying to speak to you as annoying." She held up a hand to cut him off before he started "Yes, I understand some people can be frustrating to deal with, but really, besides me, Zabini, and occasionally Malfoy or Davis, who do you talk to?"

He opened his mouth, ready to list of all the other people he conversed with on a semi-regular basis, and found to his surprise that he couldn't think of a single one. Turning away, eyes closed, he started when her soft, warm hand rested lightly on his knee. "Theo, don't you ever feel lonely?"

"I'm used to being lonely", he replied gruffly, "it's the only thing I can rely on these days." Still refusing to meet her eyes, Theo re-opened his book to a random page, and tried to become thoroughly interested in the recipe for Polyjuice Potion. He said nothing as she gathered her belongings and left in silence. Four hours and two books later, when Madam Pince came to shoo him out, he noticed the slip of parchment still on the desk, decorated in a swirl of intertwining vines and flowers, the centre filled with a stately eagle and a coiled serpent drawn in her usual practiced hand. A quick glance assured him that there was no-one else to see as he scooped up the picture and slipped it into his pocket.