Chapter 10 : Chapter X
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As she walked along the center aisle, Cho took a deep breath, enjoying the fresh air that spilled in from the couple of open windows. She put her hands casually into the pockets of her dress, sighing. “Isn’t it nice to be able to take that in again, Cedric?”
There was no response. She glanced over at his bed, and she was shocked to see it empty and made. His notepad and pencil were still on the table, but it appeared as though all the pages he’d used had been torn out, leaving only clean space. His possessions were gone, including his pack. “Cedric?” Cho called softly. “Cedric?”
“Outside,” Miriam said from behind her.
Cho turned. “What?”
“Well, he might have gone. He’s supposed to be meeting a car to take him home.”
Without thinking, Cho turned, running down the center pathway again and opening the door to the abbey. She stepped outside, looking around frantically. Finally, she spotted him, standing by the roadside with his pack, waiting patiently for the car.
“Cedric!” she called, hurrying down the shallow hill toward him.
And then he turned to face her, after what seemed like a long minute, and a broad smile lit up his handsome features. Cho didn’t recall ever seeing him smile like that. It reminded her of home, of Hogwarts, of dusty books and Quidditch games and friends. It reminded her of meals with her family. It brought tears to her eyes.
“Cedric,” she repeated, catching up to him at last, smiling herself now.
“Why are you crying?” he asked, laughing.
“Nothing,” she said. “I just—I didn’t know you were leaving today.”
“I didn’t either,” he replied, adjusting the bag into a more comfortable position on his shoulder. “Sister Miriam had me sign my discharge papers this morning, though. She said she heard I was talking now, and that meant I was well enough to go home.”
“That’s great!” Cho exclaimed, though she felt a hint of doubt hitch in her throat.
“Yes, I miss my parents. It’ll be good to be able to use my wand in public again.”
“I am going to miss you, though,” Cedric added, and he put the pack on the ground. “I mean, I’ll miss seeing your pretty face every day.”
Cho blushed slightly. “I didn’t realize you were such a charmer.”
“You didn’t?” he said, and her blush reddened even further.
“I’ll miss you, too, although you were one of my more troublesome patients.”
“Could you tell Fjodor and Andre I said goodbye?”
“Why didn’t you tell them yourself?” she asked.
“Well, Fjodor’s head started bothering him again last night, so they took him in for surgery early this morning. And Andre was still asleep when the sister came to me.”
“Oh, right,” Cho said, vaguely remembering seeing Fjodor’s empty bed.
“I wanted to thank them for all of our excellent games of cards and conversation, but Sister Miriam said she thought that the car was coming soon. I don’t want to miss it.”
“If only I had my broomstick, you know?”
“You don’t think Accio would work across a distance like this?”
“No, I don’t want to risk it,” Cedric said, sighing. “It’s all right.”
A few more seconds passed quietly between them, and Cho was just starting to think about how she needed to go inside despite her desire to remain with Cedric when the sound of tires and an engine reached her ears. A car was slowly chugging up the road, struggling somewhat with the sharp curves and the growing incline of the hill.
“Well, I suppose this is goodbye,” Cho admitted softly.
“It doesn’t have to be,” Cedric said, and he gently placed a hand on each of her elbows, drawing her in closer to him. “I would love to see you again when you are finished with your time here.”
“I’d like that,” Cho said, stepping forward and embracing him. She smiled into his neck, smelling clean clothes and sweat and feeling his lean form against her own.
They broke apart, and he picked up his bag, offering her one last smile before he turned to the waiting car. Then, Cho spoke his name, one more time.
When she kissed him, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. It was like they had always known each other, and yet like they were meeting for the first time—in some other universe, someplace not war-torn and world-weary, with no blood or loss or yellow gas. Her soft lips pressed against his, and she wondered why she had resisted him at all, when he was her only link here to the world she had left behind. And now he was leaving, not just his hand on her face, but he was really going—
She watched him walk the few short paces to the car, opening the door and taking the empty seat next to his bag. The driver pulled away, turning carefully around and moving slowly down the hill, and she stood vigil until she couldn’t see him anymore.
Finally, Cho turned from the empty roadway, moving back toward the abbey. A thousand thoughts filled her mind, jostling position as she attempted to hold the memory of the kiss. Oliver would be writing again soon, sending her more samples to test out on other patients scarred and rendered speechless by the cruel gas. She would eventually have to break this news to Miriam and the others, though she suspected that they wouldn’t punish her for keeping it secret when they saw what the wonder serum could do. There were other patients to tend to, other chores to take care of, other casual conversations to have with the staff. She knew that she would go to sleep, rise, get dressed, and sleep again many times before she would see home again—before she could see Cedric again.
It was strange, she thought as she opened the heavy door, how the possibility of again suddenly seemed to make it all feel worthwhile—or perhaps not strange at all.
Thank you so much for sticking with this odd little story. I hope you enjoyed watching Cedric and Cho’s wartime romance bloom. I’d be forever grateful if you took a moment to offer me your thoughts, especially if you haven’t before.
I sincerely appreciate all of your compliments and critiques! :)
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