The first winter snowfall was this morning, unusually late in the season. Londoners woke up to the joyous screeching of their neighbours' children revelling in the heavy dusting of white that appeared overnight, as if by magic. The snow kept falling on through the morning, and is still lightly sprinkling over the cars and footpaths as Cho Chang wanders down a quiet city street, late in the afternoon but early enough to miss the worker rush.
Time has not been good to her. Her hair has greyed prematurely, and her eyes are dimmer than anyone can ever remember them being. An air of beauty still remains to her; it clings to her soft red lips, and oozes from her swishing dress. Passers-by see her to be a troubled woman of around thirty; in reality, she is yet to turn twenty-three. But Cho doesn't seem to mind the misinterpretation of her character. She likes the secluded life, away from the crowds, with no-one but herself and sometimes her on-and-off partner allowed within her bubble. She always wonders what would happen if her bubble burst, though; what would force her to let everything in that she has tried so desperately to forget. She has no answer to the question, yet it gnaws at her mind continually, hiding in the full sun of work and busyness, and only emerging when noon dwindles to dusk, when twilight spins away to darkness. Then the dreams come, for her bubble cannot protect her from herself.
Today, however, her bubble has been wavering. She catches glimpses that remind her of people she once knew; flashes of green eyes, waves of red hair, sparkles of glittering spells emerging from the wands of pale, porcelain people she once considered her friends. And because of this kafuffle rumbling around in her once brilliant mind, she is not at all surprised to tumble headlong into the chest of a tall, black-haired, emerald-eyed man who is looking at her with a reaction somewhat akin to the one she would expect to see when finding an enemy returned from beyond the grave. It takes her a moment to register, however, who the man really is, and when she does, she steps back quickly, dancing away from his face, his lips, which are so close, so distant. How can ten inches feel like ten miles?
"Cho?" he asks, and she can see his hesitance and uncertainty. She knows she looks nothing like she did; she knows he believes her to be broken. In response she thrusts out her chin and stares him down, watching him smile at her familiar gesture of agreement.
"It is you, then." Cho can hear the quaver in his voice; can see the way his eyes shift from hers slightly, uncomfortable. She cannot say that she is shocked, but the disappointment washes over her in a great wave. She conceals it with a returning grin. "Harry. It's good to see you."
They exchange further pleasantries, she trying to make him more at ease with his surroundings. It is obvious his mind is occupied with other, more important things, but she cannot control her urge to snag him for the scant few minutes she is able to now. She wonders if he thinks about her at all, when he is home and alone, mulling over the past accompanied by a large glass of red wine. She wonders if he misses her; if he falls asleep thinking of the way they used to be. She almost wishes he does, but then she remembers Ginny, and another wave flows through her mind, almost smothering her in its heavy discontent.
"Would you like to go grab a coffee, then?" The question has escaped her lips before she can draw it back in, and she immediately regrets the words, for a flash of mistrust slides across Harry's face, but is quickly concealed. She has seen it, however, and knows he cannot place his faith in her again. She supports his decision; the scars she once left on his heart run too deep to ignore their thrum of pain.
She watches him fish for the words that will politely decline the invitation, and before she can stop herself, she reaches up and places a finger to his lips. "Don't worry. I understand," she whispers, hoping he will too. He does, and she feels his lips curve slightly beneath her touch. But before he can respond, she is stepping away from him, and is walking away, back down that quiet, London street, back to loneliness and heartache, and before he can call out, she has disappeared in a haze of crackling air, leaving him to wonder for the rest of his life what he did wrong.
Author's Note: Yes, I know. You haven't heard from me in a while, and I'm sorry for that. It's almost the end of the holidays, but I think that's good. I write more easily when I'm busier, I think. And I'm sorry the next chapter of Shine As Bright is delayed; I just can't focus on that story at the moment, no matter how hard I try. But I swear that I'll have it up soon, because when school returns I'll hopefully be writing more and more. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little one-shot. I've been searching fanfictions lately for any Cho and Harry reconciliation stories without romance, because I entirely support cannon Harry/Ginny, but I just haven't really found anything worthwhile. So I decided to do the only possible thing: I wrote one myself! Please read and review, everybody, I greatly appreciate it, and I haven't been getting as much feedback as I'd like. I'm always looking for ways to improve!