AN: Written for a challenge on SAYS (Bella's 'your least favourite character challenge'). As you can probably guess from the title of the challenge, I don't really like Cho all that much. But, I thought I would give her a go. She's been through a bit. Hope you like it!
Since Cho was a little girl, she had only had one true friend. Although she was, by all accounts ‘popular’, for some reason, ‘true friends’ was not a concept that could be related to Cho and any of the people she was friends with. Maybe it was strange – and it was probably a hint of insanity – but Cho knew that she didn’t really need anyone anyway. Not when she had Elizabeth. Even if Elizabeth was, technically, imaginary.
Sometimes only an imaginary friend can listen to your deepest troubles, and even if Cho had been able to talk to anyone other than Elizabeth, she probably wouldn’t have, because to tell someone who is real the most painful suffering that you feel is to give them ammunition, and Cho did not have armour to protect herself.
No-one knew about Elizabeth – Cho knew that it was not a safe topic, your imaginary friend. People would think she was mad; terrifyingly, horribly insane. But she only saw one person, and that was the extent of her madness, so maybe that made it alright. Still, there was no telling people. It had to remain a secret, as Cho well knew.
When Cho was five, she found out that imaginary friends were to be kept secret if she did not want to risk humiliation.
She was talking to Elizabeth in her bedroom; they were playing together, a game of dolls, or perhaps it was cards. Her mother had come into the room and watched from the doorway as her daughter chattered happily away, laughing and singing as if in answer to questions which were silent to all but the black eyed girl on the floor.
Cho’s mother, incidentally, did not believe in imagination. She thought imagination was a waste of the mind, which should be cultured for learning. Seeing Cho playing with her imaginary friend was something which she found heinous, and she taught Cho in those next few minutes exactly what could be expected from indulging her imagination.
Cho had never coped well with hurt, and when her mother humiliated her into believing that imaginary friends were something to be ashamed of, it hurt like nothing else. She tried to move on from her imaginary friend, but something always pulled her back, and even now, years later, she still had Elizabeth. And she was glad.
Whenever something horrible happened, or just when she needed to talk to someone, Elizabeth was always there. Cho would lock the door of the bathroom and she and Elizabeth would talk. Over time, the topics of their conversations shifted minutely. No longer was it a case of, ‘he said, she said’, now it was true anguish, true love, true death.
You cannot taste life, cannot feel it, cannot smell it, cannot hear it. But it is still there – it is taken for granted. Elizabeth was alive, and Cho took this for granted. Cho took many things for granted; that the people she loved would always love her, that people she knew would not die. That they would not leave.
And when her world began to fall apart, when she began to realise that most times love was unrequited, that people would leave and people would die, Cho found that her only solace was the one thing that was not real.
When Cedric had died, Cho was devastated – and by more than his death; by the knowledge that came with it. It was a hard blow to take, her naivety lost as she saw him carried from the maze. She knew that promises meant nothing to the dead, knew that people might promise they would never leave, and then walk straight out of the door. There was no way to guarantee it. And Cedric may have promised, but he had died anyway, and it didn’t matter that he has said he would not leave, because nothing could be done, and who could have known?
Elizabeth had been the only reason for Cho to stay present. She was a lifeline, a reason to keep moving forward. Elizabeth talked to Cho about her anguish, told her things that she felt would relieve her suffering in some small way. Cho could build herself back up again with the help of Elizabeth, placing the blocks of her foundation into the ground, firm again. They had crumbled, her foundations, crumbled into rubble and dust; but with the help of her friend – imaginary though she might be – it was possible for Cho to rebuild.
It wouldn’t be long before her foundations were rocked again – that was life, dealing out the cards to help you grow. Soon those foundations which she had rebuilt so carefully would be knocked down by the people she had let in through the hole in her heart. The darkness might take over – forever, it would seem, it always did – and her only star was Elizabeth, pale and helpful, never cold to her emotions.
Cho might be doubled up inside, taunted and torn by fate, or life, or darkness, or whatever it was you chose to believe could hurt someone.
Hold my hand, she could whisper, and Elizabeth would. Hold her hand until the darkness would lift a little and Cho could be guided back out into the open; a littler wiser but no less susceptible to the tricks of life.
She would let someone else in, carefully, opening the little hatch in her heart, and sooner or later they would break her heart from the inside. Cho knew it was life – it was what made the little moments of happiness, those moments, sometimes years, of suffering. You could either sink or swim; life was confusing, and you could never know anything, or enough.
The truth was, people were made up of moments, and Cho was made up of moments, and this left Elizabeth to be made up of…what? Memories? Imagination? Something transient and irrelevant. Something shameful, something to be pushed under the bed.
And although nothing could replace the Elizabeth she knew, Cho increasingly found herself wondering if she should let Elizabeth go. She had helped her through so much and she could have loved her forever, but maybe it was time to release, to live her own life, to help herself. Or was Elizabeth a part of her anyway? Everything was confused and melted together, one thing meant another and if you did something, somewhere else it would have an effect. Dominoes, or the ant.
It twisted and grew into something else, something that could be related to other things, or perhaps nothing. Imaginary became real, two became one, life became light, broken became whole, beautiful was ugly, depending who you asked.
And who could say whether it was wrong to believe in something that no-one else saw? Did it hurt others? If it hurt no-one else – even if she must be secretive to make sure it didn’t – did that make it alright? Or was that a lie, too?
And anyway, even if it didn’t hurt others, it might hurt her, Cho, because she would never know how to get through things by herself, alone, no imaginary friend to hold her hand. Whatever, whichever, she could grow. Maybe it was time to take her own hand, open her heart wide – no more trapdoors – banish the darkness with her own sword, hold her own smile.
Maybe it was time to move on, let go, leave her imagination and start living in reality. Maybe, maybe…
Maybe she would make the decision later. It was all in her imagination anyway.