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Chapter 10 : Again
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The week flitted by.
Within a moment, it was over and June was there. May and April were fragmentations of a sunny past, lived and left behind.
A Friday evening after work saw desperate furniture arrangements and paint buckets being carried into the Leaky Cauldron, all bearing the same beige color that they had agreed upon. All the tables were manually moved to the center of the room.
Padma, Hannah, Cho, and Alicia had began the project with as much tenacity and enthusiasm as painting a wall could garner that Thursday evening. What had begun as a sincere effort to clean ended as levitating tables to one side of the Leaky and charming the paintbrushes to dip themselves in the buckets and streak the walls with paint.
“Watch it, Hannah, that one’s going insane again.” Cho said over the laziness of watching the brushes zoom around and work.
“Oh not again.” Hannah flicked her wand at a paintbrush that had been streaking towards the ground.
“Well, we’re literally watching paint dry,” said Alicia. “Our social lives must be at an all time low.”
“I think this is fun,” said Padma lightly.
“Good lord, no wonder we’re all alone and single.”
“Speak for yourself,” said Padma airily, waving her hand. “I’ve got a date.”
“For what?” asked Hannah.
“Not another conference,” said Cho, rolling her eyes. “Or one of those joint meetings with my Department, right? Because those are torturous, I’m telling – ”
“No, a regular date, you ninnies!” said Padma with umbrage. “Is that so hard to believe? Just because the rest of you lot spend your Saturdays snogging your furniture and all that.”
“Theodore Nott. Not really a date, but close enough.” Her eyes widened at the simultaneous jaw-dropping occurring around the table.
“Theodore Nott,” spluttered Alicia, “oi, isn’t his family Death Eaters? I know we’re desperate here, Padma, but going after jailed convicts is hardly – ”
“Theodore Nott,” said Cho, positively agog. “Hang on, is this the bloke you kept saying tortured you and all that rubbish? After all that ranting on how irritating he was and how his voice wanted to make you scratch your eyes out and you nearly lost hope on humanity – ”
“Might’ve been an ex – ”
“ – and you told me that your one great goal in life was to return and carve his spleen out! Don’t you remember? Unless – ” Cho looked through the air hopefully, “ – this is some really delayed revenge tactic?”
“No, it isn’t. Really, it isn’t.”
Hannah shrugged. “Do whatever you like, Padma.”
“Thanks Hannah. Glad you trust me at least.”
“Romance and all that’s really difficult. I found out with Neville, you know. Nothing really turns out like you say it will. Life’s like that too. It’s just important to be open to change.”
Padma smiled. “Hannah, I think you’re all grown up. Just look at you! All common sense and no crying!”
By mid-Saturday, the insides of the Leaky were unrecognizable.
The paintbrushes had cleaned up the walls nicely, despite having no limbic movement. Alicia and Cho levitated the tables and Hannah spent the better part of an hour cleaning dirt, spit and grime off them.
“Disgusting, how can anybody even eat at this pigsty – no standards – ” muttered Alicia murderously through the entire cleaning.
Hannah unrolled an emerald green rug onto the wooden floor, alongside the now-ivory walls as Padma levitated in the lamps, all of which were furiously blinking.
“These things won’t stop going on and off! Tell them to stop – they won’t listen to me!”
A large, sleepy mirror with a golden gilt was carried in by a highly irritated Alicia, who remained unamused as it continued to yawn in her face. (“One more and you’ll be shards, I promise. My shoe’ll be going through your face. You might not believe your face could get any uglier, but believe me, I can make it.”)
Hannah nearly ended up concussing herself by climbing on a rickety ladder that had probably once belonged to somebody with the constitution of the average window, as she attempted to tie on the rippling new chandelier.
(Padma had helpfully screeched from below the ladder, “Hannah, you idiot, you can’t fall from that high! Imagine what would happen to us if you landed on us?!”, clearly as thoughtful as ever.)
Sunday saw the Leaky Cauldron spitting out three tired girls and an irate Alicia.
“My shoes are ruined! Ruined! Paint and – and all this crap all over them!”
“Cee, we told you to wear sensible shoes. Nothing you’d mind getting a bit dirty,” said Hannah exhaustedly.
“These are sensible!” Alicia stuck out her foot, which was currently adorned by a large platform heel in an ugly bright blue color. “These are sensible…for me, at least. I’m not mad they got ruined. I’m just sour that they had to get ruined here in this hellhole!”
“To be fair, it hardly looks like one anymore,” said Cho. “We did alright for having such a small budget and getting most of this stuff at antique muggle places.”
“It’s lovely,” said Hannah, beaming.
And it was, in an odd little way. Imperfect, but familiar. The vast ruination that the war had strewn on the Leaky Cauldron was still there in the dusty air, in the lost cracks on the walls, the floorboards that had been broken and tossed away.
But the ivory walls. The red curtains and emerald rug and the table that Alicia had fished out of somebody’s rubbish bin and had polished on her own, cursing at the smell. The camellias that Cho had put in one of Hannah’s mum’s favorite vases. Padma’s beloved stained-glass lamps (which still liked to turn themselves off when they pleased.)
It was all a new hope.
Hannah breathed it in, reveling at the refreshing taste in the atmosphere.
“It’s lovely,” she said again. “Lovely, lovely. Uncle Tom’ll be delighted! He’ll be so impressed!”
“Personally, I’ll be impressed if we don’t give the old man a heart attack with all the new stuff,” muttered Alicia. “Just look at these curtains and lamps! Heart palpitations on the go!”
“Death by curtain,” said Padma, laughing. “Probably a first.”
“Second. Remember Sirius Black?”
“Fine. Death by lamp.”
And that Sunday, in the Leaky Cauldron, among four laughing girls, it was decided that death by lamp had a quite reasonable probability of occurring indeed.
That Monday, Padma spent the day at work hotly avoiding Franny Folwell’s gaze. Every time she looked up, she caught Franny’s sight, which would immediately turn into a self-satisfactory wink or nudge from Franny. Any sane person could be driven to murderous axeman-like tendencies with the winks that came with the discretion of a bludgeon every ten minutes.
Work passed. In June sunlight and business and knocking all of Ella Chambers’ papers out of her hands and wasting time with Anthony, work passed.
After work, Theodore nudged his way over to her desk. She was madly ruffling a long stack of parchment into a shelf obviously too small for it.
“It’s not going to shut.”
“It will,” said Padma. “Step back. This’s the magic of it.”
As Theodore moved back, Padma hoisted up her robes and kicked the shelf shut.
“Impressive,” said Theodore, grinning.
“Just something you should keep in mind before taking me out for anything. I know how to kick people.”
“Right,” he said, sounding properly nervous.
Padma smiled. “Is this really going to happen?”
“Dinner, I mean.”
“I’d hope so. It would be rather awful if it didn’t, considering I’ve already made reservations. I’d look like a pathetic fool eating dinner with a lone chair for company.”
“No, I mean with you. This’s strange.”
Theodore laughed. “Let it go, will you?”
“The past. Let’s just forget all the bedpan-arsehole rubbish, alright? I like you. We get along now. We’ll go to dinner. If I’m lucky, you won’t kick me.”
“Then we end up married with fifty children and a big ugly castle filled with smelly carpets,” said Padma, rolling her eyes. “Whatever.”
“Hey, it’s possible.” He offered her his arm. “That, I believe, is the point of the future.”
As it turned out, Uncle Tom didn’t end up dying by lamp, much to Padma’s lamentation. The Leaky Cauldron looked, for the first time in probably centuries, rather polished. It nearly did give him a heart attack, though. They’d nearly doubled the budget on their own.
Hannah blamed the new curtains. Cho blamed the lamps. Alicia blamed the carpet. Padma blamed Hannah.
And as it turned out, Theodore didn’t end up getting kicked, much to nearly everybody’s lamentation. But he was interesting and charming and dinner was as easy as dinner at home. Padma ate over sheathed lamplight and looked up into a star strewn sky.
She thought if she squinted far enough, she could see Bedpan Girl and Mr. Arsehole, at some great distance in the past, laughing in disbelief at the most improbable, impossible, odd state for them to end up: together.
Hermione beamed. “Oh, we’re nearly done. You’ve been wonderful!”
Cho grinned equally widely. “No, thank you, really.”
Harry cleared his throat, obviously at discomfort between the two. “That’s – er – ”
“The Wizengamot will listen to us on this, oh, I just know it!” Hermione clasped her hands together excitedly, tears springing to her eyes. “Months of work and we’ve nearly done it! Just the two of us!”
“I know, I can’t believe it either! All this research’ll be of use!”
Hermione smiled. “We’ll be making such an impact on Wizarding Law, Cho, and this will really change everything.”
Harry cleared his throat again, obviously at a loss for what to do between two girls that he’d never known to particularly like each other. Cho looked at him, smiling. “So, we’re still on for dinner sometime, Harry? I know it’s been a while since I asked you.”
Harry threw Hermione a furtive look. She continued smiling, before saying to nobody in particular, “Well, I’ve got a few – um – files to put away. I’ll be gone for a bit,” and walking out of the office.
Harry smiled at her hastily retreating back. “Alright. I’ll be busy for a while, though – traveling for a bit.”
“That’s okay. I don’t really mind.”
They shared a mutual smile that filled the air with a familiar ease.
When Harry turned around to follow Hermione, Cho stood for a moment in the midst of the evening air.
“Wow,” she mouthed to herself.
Alicia sighed and trudged out the door, into the night, towards the light on in the flat a few doors down. The last few days had been composed of little sleep, much tossing and turning, and a rather lot of Firewhiskey.
It was maddening. The constant yes or no games her mind liked to play against her, the possibility of leaving, the comfort of staying, the exhilaration of travel, the scare of adventure. The dream was near now – visualized. Something that had been nothing more than a cloud of dust, a haze of starlight and a mass of hope was now real, tangible, solidified.
And she didn’t know.
She didn’t know.
But sitting at home did nothing. Staring at the radio, listening to muggle pop music did nothing. It was 1999, not 1899, she told herself fiercely. She could travel. She could face the adventure. She could leave everything behind.
Not that her family would ever mind. She’d already called her mum and asked and her mum’s response had been simple. “As long as you’re safe and happy and taken care of, Alicia, I’ll always support you.”
And that was that.
On the doorstep of her friends’ flat sat Hannah, plopped on the ground, sullenly surveying the sky.
At the sight of Alicia, Hannah sighed and shifted her weight, but made no attempt to move, instead watching the stars with impassivity.
“What’s wrong, Hannah? Why aren’t you inside? It’s cold.”
“I’m fine,” said Hannah immediately.
Alicia frowned, taking a seat beside her. “Alright, what’s wrong? No lying. Did your Uncle hate the designs? I’ll kill him, I swear I will because – ”
“No,” croaked Hannah. “I mean, he was nearly scared to death at the cost, but he’ll live.”
“He wants to retire soon.” Hannah gulped and tucked her chin between her knees. “I don’t know what to do.”
Alicia snorted. “Well, it’s good. That old cactus couldn’t handle a place like that for much longer.”
“Don’t you understand what this means? It means I’ll have to take over! He’s leaving it to me!”
“So I’m ruined! I can’t do it, Cee – I just can’t! I mean, I used to dream about getting this place – I never really had any big plans after Hogwarts like you or Padma or Cho. I just wanted the Leaky. It was just for my family, you know? And I – I can’t do it – I’d mess it all up – o – or burn the place down or – ”
“Hannah, please shut up.” Alicia rolled her eyes. “Believe me, you’ll be fine. You’ve got loads of skill and patience, which between me and Cho and Padma, none of us have. You’ve got care and detail and caution and you’ll be wonderful. Really, you will. Just have confidence. You love the place and it’ll love you. It’s in your blood.”
Hannah sighed. “Thanks. But it’ll be hard.”
“I know it will.”
“I’ll have to move out. Uncle Tom wants to leave the place to me, so I’ll have to live above it like he used to properly watch over it.” Hannah clenched her fists. “I suppose it was inevitable anyway, one of us moving out. I always thought it’d be Cho first. I reckoned Michael Corner would propose to her and she’d run off with him and leave our little flat behind.”
“What an arse he was.”
“I never imagined it would be me. Leaving first, you know.”
“Mid-summer, according to Uncle Tom.”
“Follow your dreams, Hannah. You’re not leaving your friends behind. Don’t think like that, alright? We all love you. We all would want this for you. None of us would ever want to hold you back.”
“We wish the best for you always. This is inevitable, like you said. Change, separation. They’re all a part of life. Dreams are eternal. Friendship can last forever. Use it all in a way that makes you happy.”
Hannah’s voice grew smaller. “I know.”
“And you’re growing up and having your own life. That’s lovely. It really is. I mean it.” Alicia cleared her throat. “Just because we’ll be apart someday – and of course, that’ll be happening one day or another - doesn’t mean we’ll ever forget what we had. All the happy memories, all the sad ones. Even all the stupid times that Cho was crying or Padma was yelling or you were dropping things on me. I’ll remember those too. We had yesterday and our past together. That’s more than enough.”
“Don’t be afraid of your future. It holds some of the happiest memories of your life. It has to.”
“I’m – I’m feeling sad just thinking about leaving and not seeing everyone everyday. And everyone’ll be busy and I’ll see everyone less and – ” Hannah shrugged tearily. “Oh, I don’t know.”
“Does this feel right? Like – like this is where your life should be going? When you think about your future and where it’ll be – even if it makes you feel nervous or anxious or whatever – does it feel like it’s just instinctively right? Like intuitively – you know this is where your future should have gone in the end?”
There was a silence. A huge, blooming, blossoming ocean of silence. Waves of air lapped against them.
Hannah could see her mother filling the vases with pansies and crocuses. Uncle Tom laughing over the counter. Her father with his newspaper on one of the tables, a drink in hand. The most precious memories of her life.
“Then that’s it.” Alicia sighed. “That’s it. That’s it, Hannah my love, that’s it.”
For a while, they stared out into the perfect abyss of the night, into the starlight and moonlight and the cosmos. Alicia thought if she stared enough, that her eyes would dry into nothingness, but the indecipherable stripes in the sky would unravel into whispering nebulas creeping into each other like wandering tendrils in rain, into stars slotting into pigeonholes, into bellowing black holes and incandescent suns and supernovas still brightly burning. The lifetime of a universe, all ticking away in the blackness of the unknowable night.
“You know what, Hannah my love?”
Alicia took a deep breath. All the truths of the unconquerable night seemed at hand. “I really should follow my own advice more.”
The very next day, Alicia returned to work, humming under her breath. Upon seeing Mandy, the first words she spoke were, “Yes.”
Mandy gave her a very bemused look.
But Alicia twirled in the empty hallway, quite unaware of precisely how much like a loon she appeared and laughed and laughed. “Yes, yes, yes!”
By the time it was all sorted out, Alicia had met Aunt Vera – who turned out to be one Vera Brocklehurst-Lancaster. She smoked cigarettes, wore bright red lipstick, smiled with all her teeth and had a fondness for apple juice. She called Alicia “dear” from the minute they met and talked about war and poverty and wealth for a good long while under the shelter of the newly minted Leaky Cauldron. She was much more of a suffragist with a cause and much less of a collector of vintage sofas than her name could have possibly insinuated.
Padma astounded absolutely everybody that she’d ever met by seeing Theodore Nott every day after work. It was positively shocking, except that it was from Padma, so it hardly was. But after one very uncomfortable dinner with Theodore seated between Cho, Alicia and Hannah all squinting down upon him to determine possible insanity, signs of future drunkenness or homelessness or a simply unacceptable median income, all went well. Even with Hannah confusing him with a Death Eater. And even with Cho attempting to kick sense into Hannah and accidentally kicking Theodore hard on the shins. And even with Alicia continuously causing awkward silences by making cracks on his ugly shoes.
Hannah began discreetly considering Uncle Tom’s offer. Neither she nor Alicia said anything of the potential changes in their lives. It would come when it would come.
Cho waited a few weeks for Harry and his schedule. June was passing in a haze of blue skies and a sticky, honeyed heat that flew through window shutters and irritated her on lazy Saturday mornings. Summer weekends meant sorting through Alicia’s shoe collection and furtively ‘borrowing’ things when she wasn’t looking. It meant tripping over the stacks of Cho’s reading materials or shuffling Padma’s misplaced files from the kitchen table.
Cho saw Harry often before and after work and sometimes in passing. There wasn’t much of anything between them other than familiar looks and a hurried apology and a later date assured to both of them. Some cobblestone Tuesday brimming with promise. But elevators now meant scanning for messy black hair and glasses. Any exchange in passing was suddenly more thrilling, more bubbly, and filled with smiling. It was something between people more than friends and less than anything more. Mid-June sunk into swimming sunsets and cool blue nights with stars that tapped away into the sky like milky melodic notes.
“Wait, you’re quitting?! When?” Angelina was looking up in alarm at Alicia as if questioning her sanity. “And you’re sure about this?”
It was a late June afternoon, one that was painted in an unmoving blue sky masked in shreds of wispy clouds. It was idle and slow and there had been nothing at the office to make Alicia feel like this day was anything more or less than it had always been.
“Yes,” said Alicia, taking a slow bite of the bread in front of her.
Lunch with her friend from old Quidditch days shouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary. But it almost was.
“But – but – ” Angelina sputtered, “Alicia, this – this’s drastic.”
“My mum’s fine with it. I told my family a week back and they’re alright as long as I visit. I’m gone most of the time anyway, so they don’t really see a difference.”
“What about your friends? You know, your flatmates.”
Alicia was silent. She stared at the table in front of her before sighing. “I haven’t told them.”
“It’s for the best. I’ll tell them later. I wanted to make this decision on my own this one time. It’s everything I’ve worked for, Angie. I don’t want them to worry about me or tell me how it won’t work out because of the distance. I’m scared they’d talk me out of it and into being reasonable and I’d stay at my boring job and hate them forever.”
Angelina rolled her eyes. “Melodramatic as always.”
“I’m serious. It’s a real fear.”
“Cee, they’ll be supportive of you no matter what. You’ve been supportive of them.”
“That’s true. Even with Padma’s new boyfriend and taking care of the Leaky and Cho trying to steal my shoes and all that. I’ve been pretty damn wonderful. They should be happy for me.”
“So, when will all of this be taking place?”
“I talked to Vera Brocklehurst and she reckons that she’d like me to come in a few months. I’ll be heading out to Portugal for training in October.”
Angelina whistled. “Wow. That’s – wow. I can’t believe it.”
“I know, it doesn’t feel real for me either.”
“I’ll miss you loads. I’ve barely got anyone to whinge about George to nowadays, except you and Hermione.”
“Who else? I see her a lot with her being around Ron so much and all.”
“Future sisters-in-law right there. Once you properly get things going with George and he stops being a pansy about it.”
Angelina sighed. “Don’t be stupid. The point is that I’ll miss you a lot. I’ve known you for more than half of my life at this point, Alicia.”
“I’ll miss everyone loads too.” Alicia looked away pointedly. “I’d rather not think about the leaving part right now, actually.”
“But you’re happy?”
Alicia smiled. “Yes, I’m happy.”
“Then everything’ll be fine.” Angelina reached over and patted her hand. “Everything will be fine and everyone will be happy to see you do well in whatever it is you want to do.”
A blue breeze blew them by, plucked from the sky, and sliced through the day.
“What is it, Hannah?” Uncle Tom had been sweeping away at some dust at the corner of the floor as he approached her.
“Nothing much,” murmured Hannah. “Just wondering when the new shipment of Butterbeer will be here.”
“Oh, tomorrow, probably. Perhaps this evening if we’re lucky.” Uncle Tom let out a chuckle, before wheezing himself into a chair, his arms and legs rattling as he did so. He swatted away Hannah’s concerned look.
“Are you alright, Uncle?”
“I’ll be having none of that, Hannah. Too old to die, you know. Death won’t want an old skeleton like me.”
Hannah’s worried look remained still as the feeble attempt at humor flew over her. Uncle Tom sighed.
“Uncle, there’s really nothing wrong with me worrying about you.”
“You know how I feel about this. You want to worry about me, you take over the Cauldron. She’s waiting for you to. She’s quite done with an old thing like me. She’s had decades with me.”
“I don’t know,” said Hannah quietly. “I really don’t know if I’m ready.”
“You’ve been saying it for the past three months.” His tone wasn’t accusatory. He sounded perplexed.
“I’m still not sure.”
“If you keep saying things like that, it will never come, dear. You realize that?” He shook his head like an elephant bothered by flies. “The future is always so distant with you, Hannah. Emma wasn’t like that.”
“Don’t compare me to Mum,” muttered Hannah, “it’s not a fair comparison.”
“It is. More than you realize.” He smiled faintly at you. “She would be proud of who you’ve become. She really would be.” He put a hand on her shoulder. “You can’t keep waiting forever. You know the story behind your mother and father’s engagement.”
“Of course. Grandmum wouldn’t let Dad propose to her. So?”
“So she ran out and proposed to him. Keep making your mother proud, Hannah.”
And he pressed a broom in her hands and left her alone, less torn than she’d realized.
“D’you like him, then?”
“Yeah, I suppose so.”
“Get your foot off.”
Parvati frowned as she pushed Padma’s lopsided form off her sofa and sat down, her cup of tea steaming. A small cloud of heat spiraled into her face.
“Stop your whining. I’ll stop visiting you if you keep being such a nag.”
Parvati snorted derisively. “Oh please. I come back to visit for two weeks and you’re on me about nagging again. This’s my flat here, so my rules. It’s a miracle Theodore-whatever fancies you as it is.”
“I don’t know if he fancies me as such. We’ve been out a lot, though.”
“Lots of snogging?”
“Mind your own business!”
Parvati grinned. “Don’t bother getting shy with me. I used to date Roger Davies, remember? I know my – ”
“Don’t be such a prude.”
“Don’t be such a Gryffindor. Honestly, are all of you lot that disgusting or is it just you?”
Parvati took a nonchalant sip. “Say whatever you want, you sarcastic little cow. I’ll have you know that wonderful things can happen to Gryffindors. Seamus Finnegan proposed to Lavender this weekend!”
“That’s – erm – lovely,” said Padma, attempting to recall precisely who they were. Two vague faces in Gryffindor ties popped up.
“Isn’t it, though? I’m going to be at her wedding as a bridesmaid! This’ll be so exciting!”
“I can’t imagine getting married so young,” said Padma. “I want to do more things with my career first, you know?”
“I don’t mind, personally. Better married young and have your youth together. It’s not like you’ve got to have a dozen children. At least that pressure’ll be off and you can just spend time together. Compared to if you’re like thirty-five and need to have children as soon as possible, while juggling a million other things.”
“You would say that. Typical you. Typical of mum too.”
“Mum’s been hinting at the marriage thing for me with the subtlety of an axeman.” Parvati rolled her eyes. “She thinks that I’ll be about fifty by the time I finish Healing School and my training and work experience and actually find a job. I find that kind of insinuation so backwards.”
“Yeah, if you’re going to end up completely alone, it’s because you’re a pain in the arse that nobody likes. Not the age thing.”
“Go to hell.” Parvati gave her a thoughtful look. “You don’t reckon you’ll end up with this Theodore fellow, do you?”
“I don’t know, my friends like him enough. I might take him to visit mum and dad later this year if things work out. But really – it’s just something really casual. Dinner and muggle movies and loads of wasted time, together, you know? Nowhere near anything that serious. He’s very nice and we get along.”
“Wow,” said Parvati softly. “Look at you. You’re all grown up. I’m amazed. I’ve got to meet this bloke soon.”
“He’s pretty polite. Very cavalier. You’d like him. Though you’d better not like him too much.”
“Oh please. Do you foresee a wedding in the future?”
“Hard to tell. Nobody can really predict these kinds of things, you know?” Padma shrugged. “I’d want to move in with him before I married him to test everything out – to really get an idea of what life with somebody would be like – and then try it out. I’d want to live with whoever I’d someday marry for a few months at least.”
“So you’d consider moving in with him?”
Padma shrugged. “Who knows? I’ve only known him for two months. It’s far too early to tell. But maybe if he asked me in a few months – maybe, yeah. We’ll see.”
Parvati smiled down at the cascading mist swirling up from her tea. “Yeah. I suppose we will.”
It was a cheering thought.
It happened very casually that day as Cho took an elevator up to the Department of International Relations to check in on Padma during lunch.
It was a crowded elevator, composed of a goblin wearing a top-hat, a pregnant witch that Cho vaguely recognized from Magical Maintenance, two bickering wizards from the Improper Use of Magic Office, and last, a pair of Aurors who shuffled in.
Cho smiled at the familiar messy hair sticking out over the top. She tapped his shoulder and grinned as Harry turned around.
A look of familiarity fell into his face, soon replaced by one of horror. “Cho – sorry, I’ve been really busy and – ”
“Potter, we’ll be getting off on the next floor,” came a voice from the left.
“Tomorrow evening, okay? Definitely tomorrow. It’s been like a month since – ”
“Tomorrow,” said Cho beaming. He gave a hasty smile and retreated out past the goblin, into the oncoming floor. Cho watched him leave, thinking of the promise of the next day.
The feeling of smiling, grinning – carefree, feeling like a schoolgirl. It had been part of an era she’d left long behind, part of cauldrons and Potions Dungeons and scribbled Transfiguration essays.
But again. It was happening all over again.
Author's Note: We've reached the climax! There're only two more chapters left, since I combined two into one for this chapter. Alicia and Hannah've both made some important decisions and Padma's life seems to be maturing a fair bit with Theodore, leaving Cho's life...well, we'll see. :)
There hasn't been much feedback for the last two chapters, so I'd love to know if you guys are still reading and what you think so far. We're almost done, so having your support until the end would really mean a lot.
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