A/N: THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR UNDERSTANDING THE STORY. I've had this idea in my head for a long time but didn't know quite how to write it down. Here's the backstory to this: Cho Chang's grandmother dies. Cho, having just lost her job and having been dumped by her boyfriend, volunteers to go to China and stay after for a while after the funeral so that she can get her grandmother's affairs and possessions sorted out. While she's in China, she runs into Draco, of all people, who is there on a business trip. They have an affair, though he's not really invested in it, and after that Cho has to figure out how to get on with her life, since she essentially has to start over. I did want her to be happy in the end by herself, so that she doesn't need Draco anymore.

Year of the Dragon

She had expected his lips to be cold when she kissed them but they felt human instead. It had been strange seeing him there, seeing the pale halo of his hair amidst a sea of raven-haired strangers, and stranger still when his eyes caught hers and he smirked in that condescending way and she knew she wanted him. The pale line of his arm on the silken tablecloth, the white threads of his fingers wrapped around a small teacup, the steam from the cup wreathing his eyes as he stared at her while he sipped the boiling tea; these images were pressed into her eyes and when she closed her eyes that night she dreamed of him.

He was transient, present for little spurts of time, and even when he was there he wasn't really there. He wasn't really hers, either; he had a wife back home in England, and she knew she was simply a bit of entertainment for the nights he was alone. He always came to her tired after a long day of business negotiations, but his hands belied his weary eyes when they gripped her waist or her hips and pulled her to him. After they finished he would smoke cigarettes and stare out the window, the sheets in whirling patterns around his waist and the air heavy with the smell of them. She would lie on her side, her back to him, and pretend to sleep, and she would remember heavy stone walls and the spark of spells and the sharp bark of laughter of a Slytherin boy who she had ignored. Sometimes she did fall asleep, and when she woke up she was always alone.

She spent her days by herself, cleaning her grandmother's old house, and sometimes she would go flying. Her broom was getting old and rickety and too much like a friend for her to go out and buy a new one. The wind would play with her hair and her robes, and she would close her eyes and at those times she simply was. She wondered if he still went flying, or if he had ever really loved flying at all. Perhaps he had joined the Slytherin Quidditch team only for the prestige it offered, not for the joy of the game or the companionship of fellow players. Had he even had friends while at school? She couldn't remember; her memories were too full of a shy, handsome Hufflepuff and of a messy-haired boy with a scarred forehead and of a war that she had hid from. When these thoughts filled her head she would distract herself by waiting for him to arrive, and when he walked in without knocking she would go limp with relief.

They rarely had conversations. He was taciturn and jaded, and she had never expected much in the way of affection from him. In the spring she entertained vague hopes of him bringing her freshly-picked flowers but when it never came to pass she wasn't surprised. The months wandered past, and as the weather got colder so did he. He visited less often, although when he did come by he would linger afterwards in front of the fireplace, the waltzing flames sending his long shadow flickering against the wall. One evening he had been loitering by the fire longer than usual and she went and stood by him. He said "I'm leaving next week" in a toneless voice, and she knew he was leaving for England and would not be coming back. She said "Oh" and wrapped her hand around his. It was the first time in all the months they had known each other that they had held hands, and he did not pull away. They had stood that way for a long time, and it was the first time he had ever seemed vulnerable to her.

He did leave. His goodbye was brief and stolid, although he did kiss her swiftly on the lips before departing. She continued with her life as she had before she met him, and when she returned to England her apartment felt small and empty. She considered getting a dog, and in the end she bought a sweetly excitable Irish Setter from the pound. The dog curled up with her at night, and she draped her arms around it and pretended she wasn't lonely. She went job hunting, took the dog on long walks, and occasionally visited her parents. She pottered around Diagon Alley, and on one particularly sunny Friday afternoon she had been enjoying mango ice cream at Florean Fortescue's, the dog panting happily at her feet, when she spotted him across the street. He was with his wife, a slight woman with a ski-jump nose and a surprisingly warm countenance. She had paused, mid-lick, and he glanced up at her and nodded discreetly in acknowledgement. She closed her mouth and nodded back, and then he and his wife were gone, disappeared in the crowd of shoppers and salespeople.

She did not see him again. She got a job as a clerk at the Ministry of Magic, and sketched random things on her notepad to pass the tedium of the days. When New Year's Eve arrived she sat on the balcony of her apartment, her legs dangling through the railing and her dog sitting at her side. She had affixed a party hat to his head that he kept trying to displace, but he wagged his tail gamely when she petted his back and murmured "Happy New Year, boy." He licked her face and she laughed, and as the fireworks exploded vividly in the darkening sky she smiled, for the first time in a long time, for no reason at all.