Chapter 1 : on love
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“Fig, unicorn hair, 10 inches precisely. Well-balanced. This will serve you well in Charms, Miss Chang.”
The young girl stared, wide-eyed, at the piece of wood that she now held in her hand. It was slim, fitting perfectly into the palm of her hand. Somehow, this stick - a mottled medium brown, polished to perfection - would produce magic. With her.
“Fig,” Ollivander repeated, his voice a low murmur, seemingly speaking to himself. “I do not make a habit of using fig in my wands, miss, but when I do...” He trailed off. “It is a wood of unity. Unity and balance, I think you will learn, are both extremely difficult and extremely important. You would do well to remember that, Miss Chang.”
She looked up from her study of her new wand and met Ollivander’s gaze, twirling it absentmindedly in her hands.
“Very well,” he said. “Best of luck to you. It shall be interesting to see where this wand leads you...”
And then she left the shop with her parents, reentering Diagon Alley, and the old wizard’s words were forgotten, swept away to the back of her mind in her excitement. She would forget them now; she would remember them later.
Cho Chang was sixteen years old, and she swore she was in love.
She had it all - the wobbly knees and butterflies in her stomach, the big silly grin that stretched across her face, the feeling of happiness that seemed to almost overwhelm her at times. She was just happy.
Maybe that was what love was, Cho decided. When one person just made you happy from head to toe, the feeling that she got when Cedric wrapped his arms around her, laughter echoing long after the joke had passed.
But sometimes, Cho realized, it wasn’t all happiness. Sometimes it was pride - like hearing Cedric’s name being called on Halloween, the realization that her boyfriend was the worthiest in the school. And she was proud - thrilled, even - that someone else was finally recognizing it because Cedric really was worthy. She could think of no one more deserving.
And then sometimes it was fear, the fear that gripped her the morning of November 24th as she sat in the stands next to Marietta, waiting for the first task. Her heart was in her mouth as she gripped Marietta’s hand, listening to Dumbledore explain what was to happen. Dragons.
Cho didn’t hear the rest of the explanation, the names of the dragons passing over her head (though in the future, she would be able to remember them with perfect clarity: Common Welsh Green, Chinese Fireball, Hungarian Horntail, and Swedish Short-Snout) because all she could focus on was the rapid beating of her heart, pounding away in her chest as she prayed that Cedric would come out alive.
She remembers giddy relief filling her, laughing as Cedric used some complex Transfiguration spell to turn a boulder into a Labrador, diverting the shimmering blue monster’s attention, and he was safe. Not a drop of blood was spilled from either man or monster.
Her heart rate still ridiculously high, she tried to calm down, taking deep breaths. Her Ravenclaw mind immediately jumped to reciting facts, as it always did, pulling out obscure facts from old potions essays. Dragon’s blood is used as a potions strengthener, healing ingredient, ink, spot remover, oven cleaner...
With a litany of facts in her mind, Cho began to breathe easier, a smile overtaking her. Cedric was safe.
Sometimes love was gratitude.
She did not remember much of the Second Task (which was to be expected, seeing as how she was unconscious after all), just that one moment she was in McGonagall’s office and the last she could recall was being told now relax, this won’t hurt a bit...
And then Cho woke up and she was in the water (for Christ’s sake, why was she in the bloody Black Lake?) and Cedric’s arms were once again wrapped around her, and he’d saved her.
They’d sat there, on the platform, shivering despite the towels wrapped around him, and she couldn’t help but beam at him when it finally sunk in what had happened. Cho was a smart girl; she’d heard what the golden egg had said.
What you sorely miss. She was what Cedric would miss the most.
“Thank you,” she whispered in his ear.
And sometimes, love was not happiness. Love was grief. Love was loss.
At first, it had been such a perfect evening. Last task, last shot - and then Cedric would be done and she wouldn’t have to worry any longer. They’d laughed about it beforehand; she’d given him a kiss for good luck.
There would be no real dragons for him to fight tonight, but Cho knew that there would be other dragons hiding in the maze - Fear. Despair. Worry. Paranoia. Not all monsters came in tangible forms.
“Careful that there aren’t any Blast-Ended Skrewts,” she’d joked, and he’d laughed along, because really, what else could you do but try to laugh in the face of fear?
When the body was first brought out, she didn’t recognize it, couldn’t - no, wouldn’t recognize it. That couldn’t be Cedric, who had laughed with her only hours before, now silenced forever with a Killing Curse. It couldn’t be. No. No. No.
And then Cho was running down to the ground, but they wouldn’t let her near the body, and she couldn’t tell where the sobbing was coming from. Was it her? Or Mr. Diggory? Or Harry?
Or all three of them, the sounds of three different heartbreaks melting into one mournful cry that shook their souls.
Sometimes, love was painful. Cho still couldn’t sleep. She hadn’t been able to for the entire summer, nightmares playing over and over in her head. She saw everything, the whole past year, over and over again.
The first task. The dragons. A silvery blue creature with bright blue flames chasing him.
The second task. The lake. Swimming, swimming - only now she felt like she was drowning - never making it back to the shore.
The third task. The maze. The body. The screams. It was the third task that remained the fuzziest: she couldn’t focus on anything other than the cries that racked her body long after she woke up.
Those first few nights, they had to use a sleeping spell on her just so she could catch a few hours of rest.
Now, in September, Cho had learned not to stop the nightmares, but to force herself to close her eyes and greet the dragon once more, resigned to his occurrence. Sometimes, if it was particularly bad, she would give in to the small bottle of Sleeping Draught that she had been allowed to bring to school.
It felt like cheating, though. An easy way out.
At least in her nightmares, she saw Cedric again, even if it was only against the violent background of dragons and monsters.
Love was confusing.
All Cho knew is that when she heard of what Harry was planning, she had to go. There were no hesitations.
She had to learn to fight. She had to be able to protect herself.
Because there was no one else who could.
So she went that day to the Hog’s Head, Marietta trailing behind. Good, dependable, reliable Marietta who always did try to please everybody. Marietta who had yet to leave her side since June.
And if Cho didn’t know exactly what she was feeling, that was all right. She would take it one step at a time.
Cho was frustrated with love. And herself.
The problem was that it was all so hard. Because she still missed Cedric. Of course she did. She still saw him while she slept sometimes, a phantom fighting dragons in the night.
But then there was Harry and he made her feel... happier? She wasn’t quite sure. It wasn’t the same butterflies in the stomach and wobbly knees as she had before, but Cho could smile. And that was a start.
But then he had to go and be all stupid and Cho figured that she was better off without him, anyways.
And the dreams of dragons that had slowly been fading away came back.
Cho had thought it would be impossible, to think of happiness. Not in times like these, not when darkness was constantly hovering overhead.
But she thought and she thought and, with time, she realized that she could recall happiness.
The feeling of Cedric’s arms around her; that unexpected burst of laughter as she watched him Transfigure that rock into a dog, a menacing dragon in the background; the feeling of pride that had swept over her during the first DA meeting - the memories came faster and faster now as she sifted through her thoughts. Her first broom ride; making the Quidditch team; seeing Hogwarts for the first time-
And suddenly a great silver swan burst out of her wand (fig, ten inches, particularly good at Charms, she recalled) and there stood a tangible reminder that not everything was bad. There was still joy. A chance of recovery.
It was love in its purest form: happiness.
Cho still didn’t know what to think of Marietta.
On one hand, she couldn’t believe that she would have turned in the D.A.
On the other hand... she could.
Cho knew perfectly well the pressures Marietta was under and her constant desire to be perfect. And... Marietta was her friend. Loyal. She had stayed by Cho’s side throughout the whole year, had stayed up with her through the nights when she had woken up screaming, the dragons still chasing her.
No matter what Marietta did, Cho knew that she would forgive her.
Perhaps that was what it meant to love someone - to forgive them.
Cho had taken to carrying the fake Galleon from sixth year in her pocket. It was silly, perhaps, but its weight provided a certain sort of comfort, a reminder that she was strong and that she could fight and that maybe, just maybe, there would be an end to this war.
So when it grew warm in her pocket one final time that day in May, she froze - but only for a moment. She knew it could mean only one thing.
And she would fight.
But first, Cho had one stop to make.
“Marietta?” she called as she quickly strode into her friend’s flat, past the Foe-Glass set up on the coffee table where it was in easy view. “It’s started.”
Lifting her head, a scarred face (Hermione Granger certainly did have a way with jinxes; Marietta had taken to firmly avoiding Sneakoscopes) with fearful eyes met Cho’s own in response. “Now?” her voice quivered.
“Now,” Cho nodded.
“They won’t want me,” Marietta whispered, her hand unconsciously going to her face, tracing the letters that were faded and covered under layers of makeup, yet still visible. Sneak.
“Trust me, they’ll want every last person,” Cho responded. She held out her hand. “Come with me.”
Taking a deep breath, Marietta took it.
A faint voice from the back of her mind began to speak, recalling words she had heard years and years back, only coming back now.
Unity and balance, I think you will learn, are both extremely difficult and extremely important. You would do well to remember that, Miss Chang.
Marietta continued to grip her hand tightly as they Apparated to Hogsmeade.
And as she fought, Cho felt a surge of pride as she watched her peers stand next to her, fighting alongside her. In that moment, they ceased to be Cho and Marietta and Edgar-Justin-Susan-Parvati, but one connected mass moving together as one.
And when they learned of Harry’s death (no, no, Harry couldn’t be dead too, not Harry, not Harry) they still stood there, shoulder to shoulder, united in their grief. No! Neville yelled and they yelled with him because together, they were strong. They were united.
Standing there, in that moment, Cho realized in a rush that this was what love felt like. It wasn’t just love for one person; it was an overwhelmingly consuming love for, her friends and family and even strangers. It was a love for her people.
Love was complicated. It was not simply happiness or grief or fear or pride - it was finding the balance between all of them, juggling each emotion until they found equal place in your heart.
And once you did, Cho realized, you could do anything.
She would not dream of dragons tonight. She had faced her dragons.
And now, she could let them go.
- features your House’s Champion
- mentions at least 4 specific breeds of dragon
- mentions at least 1 Unforgivable Curse
- mentions a Blast-Ended Skrewt
- features a dragon
- mentions a Sleeping Draught
- mentions 2 of the following types of magic: a transfiguration spell, a sleeping spell, the conjunctivitis curse, the summoning charm (accio)
- includes mention of at least 5 of the 12 uses for dragon's blood (canon or made up by the author)
- mentions at least 2 of the following types of Dark Detectors: Foe-Glass, Sneakoscope, Secrecy Sensor, or Probity-Probe
- features a theme of flourishing in the face of adversity
- mentions the details of your Champion’s Wand, as provided by your Head of House
The title is taken from a famous Biblical proverb. Details on the properties of a fig wand were derived from tree lore - thank you to WeasleyTwinMom for providing that information. :) The line 'what you sorely missed' is taken from Ch 25 of Goblet of Fire. And much thanks to Missy who managed to read through my crazy 1 AM writing!