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I only wish to be the fountain of love From which you drink, Every drop promising eternal passion. ~ Unknown ~ ~`~`~ Autumn Days of Gold ~`~`~ The grounds gave the impression that the sunset had leaked its warm colors and stained the trees. No longer chipper green, all different shades of yellow, red, and orange dotted the majestic plants, and flaky brown leaves freckled the stiff grass. The lake shimmered softly, as if smiling at nature’s portrait, more than happy to be part of it. To add to the silent beauty and quaintness of the scene, smoke curled softly into the pale sky from the chimney of Hagrid’s wooden hut. If one took careful notice of every detail of the landscape, they might notice a small shape huddled against the enormous trunk of a tree, wrapped in black. Normally, the person’s scarlet and gold scarf would have stood out a mile, but on an autumn day such as this, it camouflaged. Dean Thomas was lonely. He wanted someone to sit with and to bask with in the splendor of the season, but alas, he remained solitary. Everyone was at Hogsmede, and Dean should have been as well, but today, he woke up feeling utterly unsatisfied with worldly things, and he just could not shake that feeling. On this particular autumn day, he felt as though all he needed was nature, and everything would be all right. But it was not. He was still lonely. And he could not understand why. Seeing his breath in the chill air had definitely soothed him, but not in the way he had wanted. The world was indeed beautiful, but in all honesty, it intimidated him. Huddled against the trunk of a large, proud tree, he felt very small and insignificant. Like he was only a microscopic fleck of paint on the large canvas that was life. Dean sighed loudly, only slightly calmed by his breath this time. An overall melancholy feeling had taken over him, and he did not know when it would lift. His head snapped up when he saw a figure walking toward him. Its back was to the sun, so it was silhouetted against the sky. It was definitely a person, and a familiar one at that. Dean recognized that gait; he could have recognized it miles away. The person stopped in front of him, not saying a word. She held out her gloved hands, giving him a clear bag filled with sweet-smelling peppermints. A curling red ribbon was tied around the top of the bag to keep it closed. In a flurry of crystallized breath, Ginny Weasley said, “I’m so sorry Dean. I was wrong, and Merlin, do I ever know it. Will you take me back?” The girl’s flame colored hair melted into the glorious autumn backdrop. Dean stared at the bag of peppermints and slowly pushed them back with the palm of his hand until Ginny was clutching them against her chest. Even though her face was in shadows, he saw the tears that glimmered in her eyes like drops of golden rain. “You won’t,” she stated, struggling to keep her voice steady. “I daresay I deserve this, after those things I said yesterday…” Dean placed two fingers on her lips, silencing her. He then slipped the bag out of her grip and placed them on the ground at her feet. “Dean…” the redhead whimpered. “Say something…” In one fluid movement, he picked himself off the leaf-covered ground and enveloped Ginny in a warming embrace. “I don’t need peppermints,” he finally said, whispering into her hair. “I just need you.” Ginny reveled within the circle of Dean’s arms and tucked both her arms underneath his scarf and around his neck, so she could feel the heat of his dark skin. “I don’t know what I was thinking when I said we should just be friends,” she murmured, her mouth half smothered by his cloak. “Because I woke up this morning knowing that I wouldn’t be able to look at you without remembering what it was like to be held by you…and I don’t want to forget that. Don’t let me forget.” “Ginevra.” He loved her full name. It held such a majesty to it to which the trees could not even compare. “To let you forget such a thing would be to cast a shadow over my very own heart, and that is not something I could do.” His arms shifted upward to cradle her head. “When I woke this morning, I didn’t know what to do. I knew the memory of your breakup would haunt me forever, and suddenly, material things didn’t hold any value anymore. Not if I didn’t have you.” Ginny pressed her body closer to Dean’s; she could smell autumn on him, and it was dizzying. “I was so, so wrong Dean. I may never be able to tell you what came over me last night. All I know is that I did not mean those words. You mean so much to me, and I suffer in your pain.” “You needn’t suffer anymore Ginevra.” “Dean.” Wind surrounded the pair of them, but neither felt it. When Ginny opened her eyes, she saw the bag of peppermints lying at her feet. “I bought those in Hogsmede not even an hour ago,” she said suddenly. “At the time, they were the most important thing to me. Those peppermints, I told myself, are my key to getting Dean back.” She shook her head, and though Dean’s eyes were closed, he felt the movement against his chest. “They seem so silly now.” Dean slowly sat once more. Ginny went down with him and sat at his side, her legs curled like a cat’s. “Let’s not talk.” Ginny affirmed by nuzzling her head into his forearm. Dean cupped her pink-tinged cheek and gently petted it. Then guided her head upward, bringing his lips upon hers. The scene was like one out of a romantic portrait. Warm-colored leaves danced around the couple as they kissed. Ginny’s hand shifted up and settled on the back of his neck so she could propel herself farther into the kiss. They really were the picture of innocence—it was nothing more than a simple meeting of lips, but that sufficed the point. No need to bring tongue and teeth and God only knows what else into the kiss—what they had was enough. All the cold was washed from Ginny’s body. She dipped her forehead into Dean’s and rested there, perfectly content. Dean kissed her eyelids gently and smiled. He might be only a small fleck of paint on life’s canvas, but secure in Ginny’s hold, he felt like the entire canvas itself, and Ginny was the artist. The peppermints were long forgotten. The two of them would rest alongside one another until the end of the world, if only classes didn’t get in the way. No words were spoken—they didn’t need to be. The presence of the other was all that mattered. Dean was no longer lonely. * THE * END *

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