“Cho!” A nudge at her side prompted Cho to look up from the N.E.W.T. Transfiguration text she was perusing over breakfast.
“What, Marietta?” Cho’s temper was short this morning, the result of having stayed up to study for the practice exam McGonagall was giving today. “It had better be quick, you know I still have to study twenty more pages…”
“Look over there, where Harry Potter’s sitting.”
Cho raised her eyes and spotted Harry’s face across the hall. A huge smile was on his face as he put an arm around Ginny Weasley’s shoulder. “Boyfriend and girlfriend now, are they?” she said, turning back to her book. The wand must be held in the exact position before the incantation is even thought, else the spell go awry…
“Looks like, doesn’t it?” Marietta said, continuing to stare. Cho glanced up; her friend wasn’t alone. Girls all up and down the hall were looking at the couple, whether in interest or in envy. In fact, Cho seemed to be very much in the minority in that she continued to act unperturbed by the latest development in Harry Potter’s already highly publicized life. “Come on, Cho, don’t you care at all?”
“But you two were going out last year!”
“It was last year, Marietta! I’m quite over it!” Flick the wrist counterclockwise in a swift downward motion…
“But you still can’t even look him in the face. You know, there are times when I wonder whether you are over Cedric yet – ”
Cho stood up abruptly and slammed her book shut, silencing Marietta. “Don’t talk about him,” she said, voice wobbling. Grabbing a piece of buttered toast, she snatched up her bag and swept away from the table. She noticed Harry glancing at her out of the corner of her eye, but he turned away and continued whatever conversation he was having with Ginny at the moment.
Cho stormed out to the front steps and sat, the cool morning air pushing the tears back. She breathed in deeply, willing herself to calm.
Why did she still get so worked up every time Cedric’s name was mentioned? It was as though the entire school had moved on, forgetting him despite Dumbledore’s words. Remember Cedric Diggory. And she was left behind, still mourning his death. She wished she could move forward with her life; perhaps she might have, if only Harry had been willing to talk. Her mother had given her a journal in which to write all her thoughts regarding the matter, promising that she would feel better once she did. Cho had written page after page of thoughts and feelings, and still her grief was not assuaged. She had only wanted to talk to someone who shared some common ground, someone who understood…
She had felt slightly guilty, of course, when she had made the first move on Harry. It felt as though she was somehow betraying Cedric, despite the fact that he had died. She had known since the year before that Harry was taken with her, and she had to admit – there was something about him, in his awkwardness compared to Cedric’s ever-so-smooth actions, that she had found attractive. Perhaps, in a different world, a relationship with him would have worked out. But something about her had changed in the summer between her fifth and sixth year.
Did she regret it? Maybe. She had once been able to make people laugh, and she knew that was one thing Harry sorely needed. She didn’t envy the darkness he had in his life. Something inside her wished that she had gotten to know him better, beyond those first few awkward kisses and his love for Quidditch. But at the same time, she knew that they weren’t right for one another.
It was with him that she had felt truly in love, for the first and perhaps the only time. Not so with Harry – and she had been able to sense that he had not felt anything as deep for her. Seeing him with Ginny pained Cho, not because of jealousy, but because it sorely reminded her of the way she had felt with Cedric. She didn’t feel the slightest pang of jealousy; in fact, she felt a little happy that Harry had managed to find someone who complemented him much better than she did.
With a rueful smile, Cho recalled their disastrous first and only date to Hogsmeade. She had ended up storming off, trying to invoke Harry’s jealousy. She had known that whatever was between him and his friend Hermione was nothing more than friendship…and anyway, anyone who looked at the Hermione and Ron Weasley knew that they were perfectly smitten with each other, but unwilling to admit it. Harry hadn’t come after Cho on that date as she had hoped, not fast enough. Now that she thought about it, he was probably just clueless enough not to know what to do.
If anything, Cho thought, she had helped him overcome most of his awkwardness. He had looked perfectly comfortable with Ginny – none of the discomfiture Cho had seen while the two of them were going out.
And Ginny? Well, she wasn’t exactly Cho’s friend, especially after playing Seeker opposite Cho in two Quidditch finals and winning both times. The match last Saturday had been a travesty. But from what she knew, Ginny Weasley was much like she, Cho, had been before Cedric’s death: outgoing and popular. And she had been at the Ministry with Harry last year. Cho had to acknowledge that – there was an inner strength in Ginny that she herself did not have. Perhaps that was why Ginny was in Gryffindor and she, Cho, was in Ravenclaw.
The bell rang, signaling that there were five minutes to go before class. Glancing at her bag, Cho sighed. She would have to try and look over the pages one final time as she made her way up to Transfiguration.
She spotted Harry and Ginny coming out of the Great Hall, holding hands. They paused at the foot of the staircase, and Ginny gave Harry a quick peck on the lips before going up the marble steps. Harry, smiling to himself, turned to head to the dungeons.
It only pained her to see them together because she had felt the same way with Cedric…
Cho made up her mind in a flash. She still needed to talk about Cedric, even though it was nearly two years after it had happened. And now that Harry had clearly moved on, perhaps she could try and dispel the awkwardness that had grown between them.
Cho worked through her Transfiguration exam, and she managed to finish feeling fairly confident about her work, despite being distracted. She was screwing up her courage for what she was about to do.
Harry had a break after his Potions class, she knew; he probably spent it in Gryffindor Tower, but Cho knew that if she hurried, she could catch him at the foot of the stairs. She would just ask for a quick word, nothing more…After all, he had moved on, and she had as well, to a certain extent. There was no harm in it.
The bell rang, and Cho leapt to her feet, speeding out of the classroom before Marietta could cross the room to talk. She walked as quickly as she could to the front staircase and lurked near the bottom, hoping that Harry would pass this way.
There he was, emerging from the passage to the dungeons with his two friends. Cho did her best to look unobtrusive. Hermione looked smug about something, and Cho heard her comments as they walked past her.
“See, Harry, that’s why knowing the theory helps. I’m sure there were reasons behind all those shortcuts, and – oh, all right, they were ingenious, but…”
“You don’t have to gloat,” Ron said.
“There you go, take his side again…”
Cho hurried to catch up behind them and touched Harry lightly on the shoulder. He jumped and began to reach for his wand, but settled down when he saw it was only her.
“Umm…Harry, can I have a word?”
He looked quizzically at her, then at his two friends. “All right.”
Ron looked as though he was about to say something, but Hermione grabbed his arm and tugged him away up the staircase, leaving the other pair quite alone.
“This way,” Cho said, leading him to the door of an unused classroom.
“It’s not something I want to tell the rest of the school. Please,” she asked.
The hall was empty enough, considering that most of the younger students were still upstairs in their classes and that most of the older students had already gone off to break. Harry glanced quickly around before heaving a sigh. “Oh, all right.”
Cho slipped into the classroom. She heard Harry follow behind her and gently close the door.
“Cho, if this is about me and Ginny – ”
“No, it isn’t.” She turned around to face him, seeing the skeptical look on his features. “No, really…I’m actually happy for you guys! You look perfect for one another…and…I guess…Congratulations.”
Harry raised an eyebrow.
“I’m not jealous at all,” she added.
“Really? I seem to recall that you stormed out on me last year, when you heard that I was going to meet Hermione.”
“Oh – that.” Cho gave a little laugh, smiling wanly. “I was being stupid. And I’m sorry for that.”
“All right,” Harry said. “Is that all you wanted to tell me? Because you could’ve told me out there.”
“No.” He continued to watch her, puzzled. “Harry, I want to talk about – about Cedric.”
Harry sighed and looked away. “Not again.”
Cho willed the tears back; she knew he hated it when she cried, and that doing so would get them nowhere. “Harry, please…” She heard her voice wavering, and cleared her throat against it. “I have to talk about it. I wanted to, and I was worried that you weren’t ready last year.” He looked as though he was about to say something, but she held her hand up. “I was right. And I don’t think I was ready to talk about it either, not properly. All I know was that it happened quickly, that he probably didn’t get a chance to mention me before he died. You’re the only one who really knows what happened, Harry, and after this year I might not see you again.”
Harry sighed and said in a low voice, “It’s still not something I want to talk about.”
“I don’t want to bottle this up for the rest of my life. You see? I want to move on, but I can’t! Not until I hear what really happened.”
“It’s painful bringing it up.”
“And it’s painful for me too.” A single tear leaked out of her eye, but she brushed it away roughly. “You remember what Dumbledore said that night? Remember Cedric Diggory.” Her voice trembled when she pronounced his name. “I’ll remember him always, but I don’t want to spend every waking moment wondering what happened. Please.”
Cho waited, watching Harry. His arms were crossed, and he was staring at the floor with a frown. After several moments, he began to speak quietly.
“I asked him to take the Cup with me. He actually got to it before I did, but…He was too noble to take it for himself. We’d saved each others’ lives in that maze, and he thought I deserved to take it.” Harry looked up and smiled slightly. “I guess we were both too stubborn for our own good.”
Cho merely nodded.
“But afterward…We both took the Cup, but it was a portkey. Moody charmed it,” Harry added, seeing her look of confusion. “Except he wasn’t actually Moody. He was a Death Eater in disguise. He put my name in the Goblet of Fire, helped me through the Tournament, but I wasn’t able to see it….He wanted me to win, you see, so that I would be the first in the maze, the first to touch the Cup. But I ended up taking it with Diggory – Cedric.
“There was a graveyard when we landed. Voldemort was waiting.” Cho shivered at the name, wondering at Harry’s ability to say it without fear.
“It was quick, Cho, but I can tell you that he died standing with his wand in hand. I know you’re going to say it’s my fault,” Harry added. “I know it is. I’m…I’m really sorry.”
A few more tears had managed to trace their way down Cho’s face, and this time she let them fall. It was as though these were the final tears she would shed thinking of Cedric, as though she was washing away the grief that had weighed heavily on her for the past two years. For a few awkward moments she stood there, Harry watching silently. When she finally drew a shaking breath, she felt lighter, more ready to move on.
“Thank you,” she said softly. “And – I don’t blame you at all. V-V-Voldemort is the one who’s responsible.”
It was the first time she had said his name, and she saw Harry smiling. “See? It’s really not so bad, saying it. It’s only a name, after all.”
“True.” Cho held out her hand. “Are we good, then?”
Harry hesitated for only a moment before grasping her hand and giving it a brief shake. “I think so.”
As he headed to the door, Cho called out, “Harry?”
He turned around.
“Good luck with Ginny. You two really are good for one another.”
“Thanks, Cho. As for you,” he said, putting a hand on the doorknob, “good luck with your life after Hogwarts, if I don’t see you again.”
“N.E.W.T.s are first,” she said grimly.
“Then good luck with those,” he said.
Harry slipped out the door. Cho waited a few moments before following. The mid-morning sunshine streamed into the Great Hall, and the doors were open to let the fresh air in. Memories – oh, so many memories of her life had been formed in this school. She would be leaving soon; it was hard to think that in less than a month she would walk out of Hogwarts’s doors for the last time as a student. And she had not really begun to say goodbye.
She could start somewhere.
“Goodbye, Cedric,” she said softly. The words were carried outside by the faint breeze. Wherever he was, he would hear her. But now it was time to lay those memories aside and look forward.
Smiling, Cho made her way up the marble staircase. She was finally ready to move on.
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