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Between Fire and Water by justonemorefic
Chapter 1 : Fire, Water, and Dust
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 17


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Cho Chang feared dragons.

The tales say their blood bred heroes. Lent them their strength when brewed by the moon, or fire when by the sun. It could quench a man for six weeks and fill an ink pot for eight, and pity the home without dragon blood wards, for even the most ancient spirits bowed before the beasts.

But beasts were beasts — monstrous beasts — made of thorned leather and gnarled claws that tore the ground like suckling flesh. Their flames scarred whole forests. They were so very big while she, sunken-cheeked, eyes averted, became smaller each day.

They could crush her with a single look.

"Conjunctivitius? For the love of — we learned this first year." It was Eddie, creasing his nose like a tree knot. The Ministry-approved Defense booklet was in his hand, as hers was beside her parchment, opened to the page on sleeping spells; Merlin knew she hadn't been getting enough sleep.

Every sore bum in the class knew his frustration; Eddie had been counting on this year to improve his D.A.D.A spellwork — his weakest Outstanding by far, he had said — and even the slackers didn't like being treated like children. This room ought to be filled with swishing wands, not quills and hard seats, or had the Ministry forgotten what had happened at the Tournament four months prior?

Sinking into her palm, Cho stared at her half-finished sentence until the words sprouted wings and looped off the paper, one by one. Daydreaming was dangerous, she knew. Hell could exist behind her very own closed lids.

Flags and dragons twined. A Short-Snout, a Welsh Green, a Chinese Fireball, and a Horntail —

Why hadn't she wished for the Horntail?

Instead of forcing her eyes open, she squeezed them shut.

It would have caught up to Cedric, mangled a leg. He'd have raised his wand just in time and surrendered. Stuck him in the Hospital Wing for the rest of the tournament. He would have never gone into the maze. He would have been alive —

Her eyes snapped wide, rimmed with pink. Nearby quills stopped bobbing. The curious stares faded into worry, then pity, then indifference.

"Are you all right?" Marietta whispered, laying a hand on her shoulder.

Cho sniffled as quietly as she could. "Y-yes, I think so."

Marietta gave her a quick hug before a pair of beads peered their way. Cho swallowed her remaining gloom; she could not let it overwhelm, for she was small enough, and it was already too easy for dragons to devour her.

And that year at Hogwarts, there would rule a dragon with pretty pink talons and the wickedest fire she would ever know.



::




Cho Chang feared drowning.

But drown she did, in waterless dreams, breathing without lungs to fill. She would slog out of sleep in waterlogged shoes, soaked to the sole with a new day's weariness. Comb her hair, blacker than ravens, in mourning since the day she was born. She would pick up her wand — Fig, unicorn hair, ten inches, timid — and she would live up to it.

When Hermione had approached her by the lake, whispering details of a Defense meeting, Cho had been thinking of him, and his face that would sometimes appear amongst the kelp and rippling grindylow tails. If he were here, he could protect her.

If he were here, it would mean that You-Know-Who hadn't come back, and that she was safe, and there needn't be this hushed talk of sneaking from dragons.

The bells above the door jingled when she and Marietta entered the pub.

Marietta kept the door open. "We could still go back, you know. Suzie's got a new — "

Cho shot her a look and then said, with a sigh, "I'll order some drinks."

She walked over to the barman, grabbed the sickles from her pocket, and lay them on the counter beside a Sneakoscope. A gilded locket chain was the last to unstick from her hand. It clattered twice before she snatched it back and pushed the rest of the coins forward.

When she saw Marietta had found company with Seamus, she sat down gingerly on a leather stool and peeked at her prize. She forgot she had left it in her skirt pocket. Running a finger over the locket's filigree, she shut her eyes, and for a moment Cedric was there, really there.

Some said that magic could bring back the dead — terrifying magic that chilled her to think of, let alone want — and they would never return how they ought to, but perhaps —

"Better to die with the living, girl, than to live with the dead."

Cho shoved the locket in her bag. She didn't know why she did it in such haste that she scratched her hand on the zipper — but then, she knew exactly why.

Looking up at the source of the gruff voice, she found the barman called Aberforth, flinty-eyed, with the gaunt, shingled wrinkles of a skrewt. A piece of broken Foe-glass hung around his neck, imprinted with a permanent silhouette.

"How do you know?" she whispered unsteadily, clutching the heart so tightly that its pattern marked her palm.

He slid two butterbeers in front of her and took his rag to the other end of the bar. "I know."

She stood, staring forward, until slowly, her fingers unclenched.



::




Cho Chang did not fear death.

Death was kind at least, no more than a well-made sleeping draught. And it could be so quick. Just words. Avada Kedavra.

It was death's perpetrators who were to be feared. Those left behind who grieved. But they were also the ones who fought — fought because the dead cannot.

On some days, she will grieve, but the other days, she will fight.

And she will find, in the sleepless between-nights, that there is little difference between the two.




A/N it's a bit sparse at the moment to get this one-shot past the finish line before the deadline (5 minutes to go!) D: so I will probably be making quite a lot of edits later. But, phew, here is what I've got!

(possibly 135 points)
- features your House’s Champion (5 points)
- mentions at least 4 specific breeds of dragon (5 points)
- mentions at least 1 Unforgivable Curse (5 points)
- mentions a Blast-Ended Skrewt (5 points)
- features a dragon (10 points) (if Umbridge may count)
- mentions a Sleeping Draught (10 points)
- mentions 2 of the following types of magic: a sleeping spell, the conjunctivitis curse (15 points)
- includes mention of at least 5 of the 12 uses for dragon's blood (canon or made up by the author) (15 points): strength potion, warmth potion, a drink, ink, spirit wards
- mentions at least 2 of the following types of Dark Detectors: Foe-Glass, Sneakoscope (15 points)
- features a theme of flourishing in the face of adversity (25 points)
- mentions the details of your Champion’s Wand, as provided by your Head of House (25 points)





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