For the 48 Hours or Less Challenge. Pairing is HermioneTheodore. Prompts vibrant, warmth, shades of gray

I own nothing.

"Nobody's Princess"

She'd hardly known who he was. They meet at one of those stupid ministry parties that so few like but everyone attends for appearances' sake. This one is for the third anniversary of Voldemort's downfall.

Theo Nott is sitting at a tiny, round table on a barstool in a corner. He's got a glass of pumpkin juice in his hands, and he's staring at it like it holds the meaning of life in its pulp.

"Hello," she says softy. She's wandered away from the center of the party because, even two years into the relationship, it still hurts to see Ron with Pansy Parkinson.

Even in the dim lighting, she can see his eyes are a vibrant blue.

He nods a greeting.

"May I?" She dips her head toward the other barstool. He nods again, not much for words, and she sits. "Theodore Nott, right?" she asks. She knows his name, his face, but not much more.

"Theo," he murmurs softly. "But yes." He blinks. She wonders absently how he managed to fly under the radar for so long, because, looking at his face, he's really quite handsome. It's all in the eyes, she muses. They're not icy blue – quite the opposite. They radiate warmth. So lost in his eyes, she almost doesn't notice when he speaks again. "And you're Hermione Granger, of course."

The tone, which could so easily be bitter, with those words, simply isn't. It's matter-of-fact.

"I am," she agrees.

"And what," he asks softly, "is the Gryffindor Princess doing in a corner, talking to nobody?" It's still not bitter. She almost feels like it should be.

"I don't know if you've noticed, but Gryffindor's Princess has been dethroned." She can't keep the irritability out of her voice – she's not like he is, clearly. But then, she's a Gryffindor, and he's a Slytherin, and maybe that's the difference. She glances at Ron and Pansy.

He follows her gaze. "Been replaced by the Slytherin Princess, have you?" he asks mildly. She wonders distractedly if he ever conveys emotion through his voice.

She shrugs in response.

"The world isn't shades of grey, you know," he points out, unconcerned even while giving advice.

She cocks an eyebrow questioningly.

"Just because she's taken the prince, doesn't mean you're no longer a princess." Hermione frowns, pondering. He continues. "There's more than one prince out there."

Smiling softly, Hermione hops up from the barstool, her orange dress swirling around her thighs. She offers him a hand. "Care to be my prince for the night?"

Theo shakes his head. "I'm no prince. Haven't you realized? I'm nobody."

The corners of her mouth fall slightly, but she shrugs. "I don't mind being Nobody's Princess."

A black eyebrow rises gracefully. "You're somebody. What would you want with nobody?"

Merlin, Hermione loves clever conversation and metaphors. "Maybe I'm sick of being somebody. Maybe I'd like to try being nobody for a change."

She offers her hand again. Smiling softly, Theo murmurs, "You're doing it backwards."

Frowning, Hermione drops her hand. "What?"

Theo puts a hand out, palm up. "Dear Princess," he says softly, "May I have this dance?"

Hermione laughs. "A traditionalist, eh?"

Theo dips his head sideways once, smirking as if to say, 'What can you do?'

Still laughing, Hermione takes his hand. "You may indeed have this dance, Sir Nobody."