Title: A Lingering Memory
Pairing: Cho Chang x Draco Malfoy
Draco would be lying if he said he expected a warm heartfelt welcome at his arrival to Malfoy Manor. But he didn't expect it, and it didn't surprise him. All that awaited him was the cool darkness, void of laughter (though he couldn't remember a time when his parents ever truly laughed) and happiness. Stone cold walls decorated in green, silver, and black tapestries filled his sight and one of the manor's house elves quickly and silently retrieved his indoor robes and slippers. If the elf showed any surprise at Draco's guest standing beside him, he gave no indication. Instead, tea and cookies were set beside the fire.
Few words were spoken. Draco slumped against a comfortable arm chair, and stared at the fire, its flame dancing for its master. He knew Cho had already talked to her master-healer, and as it was customary for healers to tend to their patients for the duration of their illness or injury, no one questioned why she chose to accompany him. In fact, a few senior healers warned her that it could be dangerous and that she did not have to follow the healing decree to the exact letter, that it would be perfectly acceptable if she refused, but she surprised them all with her compassion.
After she poured his tea, she emptied a small satchel of herbs into his cup, stirring to dissolve the remedy. He watched her as she made no attempts to hide what she was doing, and when she offered him his cup, he stared at her. She raised an eyebrow and motioned for him to drink. It went without saying that if she truly wanted to poison him, she could have done so on numerous occasions before. So, he sipped the concoction, a bit bitter for his tastes, and soon fell into a restful sleep.
When he awoke, the fire had died to a few flickers and the room was empty save for himself. A blanket covered him, most probably by Cho, as his house elves knew not to disturb him in any way. He threw off the blanket and stood, feeling better than he had in a while -although not quite to full strength as he would have liked. He walked out of the parlor, and made his way down the hall, thinking that he would see to his guest like a proper host - to make sure she was comfortable in her own room - before retiring to his own. After all, being a former Slytherin did not mean he was without manners or etiquette.
A light hum filled his ears and he paused in mid-step. It wasn't the elves, nor the creaking or settling of such an old and prestigious manor. No, it sounded most definitely feminine, and as he never heard his own mother hum, he surmised that the sound belonged to Cho and he followed his ears. They led him to the grand ballroom, where his parents usually threw elegant soirees for the wizard elite. And there she stood. In the center of the ballroom, staring at the large windows full of the night's sky.
"I see you've found your way around." He spoke. His tone was unusual for himself, and did not mock or tease or snide her, and he even blinked at his manner.
She turned, surprised to see him awake. "It's a lovely room."
"Yes, it is." He agreed. "It is one of my favorite rooms, actually."
"The stars look so close... as if you can touch them." She looked transfixed at the windows, just as he came up beside her.
"Magic, naturally." He said sans sarcasm. "An old charm from before my grandparents were born."
She nodded, and forced herself to turn back to him. "How are you feeling?"
"Better now, thank you." He looked at her, watching the soft glow of starlight on her face. It may have been the first time he actually realized she was quite beautiful. Of course, he knew she was beautiful - especially back in Hogwarts - after the babbling Potter did - but he never fully appreciated it. Now, though, she was older, like him and life wasn't about school anymore.
"That's good." She smiled. "But you still need to rest."
She placed a hand on his arm. "Let me take you back to your room."
Although he could have, and under normal circumstances - would have, turned her phrase into another meaning, he didn't. Instead, he touched her hand, forcing her to stop. "In a moment."
He tilted his head towards the stars and then smiled at her. "Would you mind... if I asked you to dance?"
Another look of surprise lit on her face, but she nodded - as if she understood. It had been a while for both of them - and in the midst of the war and confusion, a dance - no matter how inconsequential - might give them a small moment of peace. "Of course, I wouldn't mind."
She raised her hands, and he took one to his shoulder and the other one in his own hand. There was no music, but they didn't need any. A few steps here, a few steps there. He smiled, a bit relieved that she did not step on his toes.
"Do you ever think about him?" Draco asked.
Cho stared at him for a moment, before replying. "I do. From time to time. To keep his memory alive."
"Would I be a monster if I said I was thinking about her? Right now?" He asked.
"No." She shook her head. "You would only be human."
He didn't ask any other questions, and neither did she. They danced, just listening to the sound of their footsteps across the floor and the rhythm of their breaths. Slowly, he pulled her closer to him, until she was in his arms, her head on his chest, and the scent of her hair comforting his senses.
After a moment, he spoke, his words warmly caressing her ears. "Thank you."