Author's Note: Written because I haven't written a HP fanfic in ages. I do not own Harry Potter, and I hope you enjoy.
Setting: Before Draco receives his Dark Mark, but with Hermione and Ron together at the time.
You are sitting outside on a bench by a tree. It is almost twilight, and the wind kicks up as you pull your thin jacket tighter around your shoulders. Snowflakes pepper your hair and jacket, but you don't even seem to notice. You look out at the sky to see the purple sun setting just past a navy tree. It is a beautiful sunset tonight. You try to smile, but when you do, your eyes fill with tears again. You feel ashamed, embarrassed even that you were about to smile in a time like this. What a selfish move on your part. You tuck a strand of auburn tangle behind your ear, and try to swallow the lump in your throat.
As you sit there, staring out at the sunset, you hear footsteps behind you. You know who it will be, but don't turn around. You just want to be left alone. Why couldn't your visitor just understand that? Why did he feel the need to make peace and calm you down and tell you to forgive the incident and move on? It was maddening. You hoped that if you didn't acknowledge him, he'd grow bored and turn to leave.
"Are you trying to get a detention?" The voice is slick as a silver-wet pavement, and the hair on the back of your neck prickles at the voice – this was not who you were expecting to join you.
"What would you care?" You offhandedly remark, and fight to keep from turning around. He is insistent, and it surprises you when he sits down next to you on the bench. He folds his arms over his chest and stars ahead at the sunset.
"Why are you out here in the cold alone at nighttime?" The voice is commanding, but there is something in the tone that you were not quite expecting to hear – especially from him. Could it be concern? You blink, trying to sort out your thoughts, before turning to the silver-haired boy next to you. He is wearing a green and black velvet coat, and for a moment you become jealous of its warmth.
"Oh…" you don't really know what to say, and you are angry at yourself for opening your mouth before forming your thoughts, "I just…needed to get away." It was the truth. You did need to get away.
"Why is that?" The voice is lower now, and if you closed your eyes and didn't know better, you'd think he actually cared. But your eyes were open, and you were smart enough to know better. If anything, this conversation was nothing more than a ploy. He'd find you at your vulnerablest and use that against you – your own emotions a pawn. It was a dirty trick, but you wouldn't put it past him.
"Why aren't you with Potter and Weasley?" He tilts his head to meet your eyes, but you won't give him that luxury. Instead, you bristle and turn away. You don't want to acknowledge him, but he wasn't exactly making it easy. You hope that he would just grow bored and find someone else to pester to the point of insanity.
"Granger? What happened?" Then something totally unexpected happens. He places a velveteen-gloved hand on your shoulder and you can't help but lean into the warm touch. It was a comfort as much as you hated to admit it. You try to tell yourself this is nothing more than a game to him. You were playing with fire by even speaking to him. It was a matter of time before you'd feel the burn of the flames lapping at your naked flesh. You turn away once again, not wanting to discuss this with anyone – especially him.
"Are you hurt?" You can see his brow furrow out of the corner of your eye, and he still hasn't lifted his hand up off of your shoulder, "If you're hurt we need to take you to infirmary."
"It's not that…" you finally say, and you're surprised by how weak your voice sounds – like it would crumble at any second. That scares you – that he had seen you in that way.
"Then what?" Merlin, he is persistent! You shake your head, and allow a sad smile to cross your lips. You wipe angrily at the oceans on your cheeks and shake your head again. You can't believe that he of all people is seeing you in this way.
"Ronald and I…" you know he won't leave until you give him what he wants – the spoiled little bastard. You have to tell him or else he'd sit there with you all night possibly. That was the last thing you wanted, so you open your mouth and let the words clumsily spill out of the faucet, "…had a fight."
"Lover's quarrel?" He raises an eyebrow and something in his voice is light. You can't place it.
You shake your head, "It's just…he's so immature. Sometimes I find myself not being able to stand him. Today was worse than usual. Today, he actually had the gall to turn Crookshanks into a roach. Can you believe that? A roach!"
He smirks and a small chuckle escapes his lips, "Damned cat probably deserved it."
"You can leave now," your voice is as cold as the sleet beneath your shoes.
"I think I'll stay for a bit longer, thank you. So surely that's not the only reason you're mad. What else happened tonight?"
You don't know what prompted you to say, "It's more complicated. I do like him, but I just feel like…he isn't ready to be in any sort of emotionally committed relationship. He probably can't even spell 'emotionally committed' – much less know the definition of the term."
"I'm sorry," he says and folds his arms back over his chest.
"He doesn't even care or notice that it bothers me. I don't know. Maybe…maybe I should just end it and save myself the trouble. Maybe when he grows up a bit more, he'll be ready for a relationship – but right now? Right now he can't even commit to finishing his assignments much less commit to me!"
"Then do it. If you aren't happy."
Your brow creases as you can't believe that those words had just come from him of all people.
"But I-I couldn't. He is sweet, and I…I don't want to break up with him and have it ruin everything between the three of us. They're all the friends I have here. I don't want to lose them. I knew dating while we're in school would be a wretched idea!"
"What do you want to do, Granger?" He asks, "Don't think about your friendship with Potter and Weasley – just tell me what you want to do."
You don't even have to think it over, and reply, "Go back to the way things used to be before we were a couple."
"It sounds like you and Weasley need to have a conversation."
"I know," you bristle again, and you don't want to even think about speaking to him at the moment. That conversation would be horrid. You already had a sinking feeling in your stomach about it.
"You have the freedom to break up with him, you know that, right? You have the freedom to tell him that it's not working out and that you're not happy, and that can be the end of it."
Somehow you could tell you weren't just talking about your relationship issues. Your brow creases with concern as you say, "You're free too."
"I was born a slave," his voice is colder and harder than you ever thought imaginable – even for him. You recoil as though he had just hit you, and began to bother with a threat on one of your mittens. Things were so different for him – how could you possibly think for a second that you understood or could compare to his situation?
"I am sorry," you say, still bothering the thread, "I didn't…I wasn't…"
"I know," his voice is softer now, but laced with sadness and shadows, "You have the freedom to choose what you want. Don't take that for granted by not using that freedom. End it with Weasley and be happy. You can be happy, so let yourself."
You nod, thinking his words over, "Why are you here? Talking to me?"
"Sometimes I need to get away too," there is a small smile flirting with his lips as he says, "And sometimes sitting with company is better than sitting alone."
"Thank you…for talking to me."
"Don't think that this suddenly makes us bosom buddies or anything, Granger," he recoils but that smile is still there, "But…if you just need to talk to someone when no one else will listen...of course I can't be seen talking to a mud…uh…muggle…but you can write me. Pen me something and have it slipped to me. "
"And you do the same," you say, nodding and appreciative of his offer, "We should go inside before we catch our deaths out here in this snow."
"Granger?" He stops you, grabs your arm as you stand you leave, and you turn around and meet his grey moonbeam eyes and see a potion of emotion flooding them – sadness, loneliness, helplessness, a touch of hopefulness, a shot of friendliness…
"Don't take for granted your freedom. For me, alright?"
"Okay," you nod, and feel your heart sink. As you turn to walk away, you can't stop thinking about the boy you shared a conversation with on a bench in the snow.