A side story from my "Almost Happily Ever After" universe. Cho Chang has not dated since her boyfriend was killed at the Battle of Hogwarts. She had lost two boyfriends just after she kissed them, first Cedric, then Michael at the Battle of Hogwarts. She is terrified about getting into another relationship. But Ed just fought with balky drains. Maybe.
CC CH. 1 Courtship
Cho Chang has finally started dating, but she and her boyfriend have problems, and they date back to Muggle WWII.
Cho Chang woke up early September 9, 2004, nervous. She shouldn't have this pit in her stomach. It wasn't even a date. It was just a meal, and like last week they would both pay for their own meals.
She was still tense, however. There were too many obstacles to any relationship with Ed. But she had not been in a relationship of any kind since Hogwarts, six years ago. It's been six long years.
It was just after six in the afternoon, and after a quick shower she was getting dressed. Working as Third Shift Supervisor she didn't have a lot of prime time to date. Especially since she usually came into work early and left late. It was probably her fault that she had been so alone when she wasn't working.
She put on her knickers, and then her bra. The bra wasn't a huge garment by any means. She wasn't big like Lavender, poor Lavender Brown. Or Ginny, now Ginny had never been small, and since she had gotten pregnant she was busty. But for an average sized Oriental woman Cho thought she wasn't bad. Cho put on her Auror issue blouse. She had let Joey modify it just a little to highlight her bust and waist, to make her look a little more, as Joey put it, more a Female Auror and less an Auror who just happened to be female.
She put on her Auror trousers, again modified by Joey to highlight her small waist and ample enough hips. Joey said a large hip to waist ratio was attractive. He had worked his magic on her Auror jacket too, just highlighting her waist a little more, then highlighting the bust just a little more.
Cho mused, all this for a dinner that wasn't even a date. She was pathetic.
She remembered last week all too well. She remembered walking down the street to her all too regular Thursday night meal at the Japanese restaurant. Eating at a Japanese restaurant was sort of a rebellion. Her grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great grandparents HATED the Japanese. The problem had to do with the Rape of Nanking. That's why the family had fled China, and had ended up in England, and HATED the Japanese. She's seen her grandfather spit on Toyota cars.
So last week she had walked into the little Japanese restaurant, and this young man had said, "Hello."
"Do I know you?" she had asked.
"No," he had said. "We've never met. But I know who you are. You are Cho Chang, the Auror."
"How do you know?"
"I talk to the staff here. I've also seen a few articles in the Witches Rumors magazine. I don't believe them. I'm sure you and Harry are not engaged in a passionate relationship behind Ginny's back."
Cho remembered laughing, "No, I value my life. Harry's totally faithful, and Ginny's unbelievably jealous. I wouldn't want to be in the way of Ginny if she was after another witch, and I would never be so foolish to go after Harry myself!"
How pathetic was she? She thought she could remember every word of that initial conversation. He said, "I've just seen a good looking, single girl eating alone week after week, and I'm curious. Is there anything wrong with a single guy being curious?"
How was she supposed to answer that one? She had said, "No, I guess I can't blame you for striking up a conversation."
"I thought that instead of each of us eating dinner alone we could sit at the same table, and maybe talk. Each of us pays for their own meal, so you can tell I'm not trying to make you feel obligated to me."
Well, it was better than eating alone, again. So they shared a table, and talked.
Cho found out that his name was Ed Koizumi. His parents were Japanese, but the male line had lived in California in the USA, and then in the late 1930's, when sentiment against the Japanese had begun to grow in the US, they had sold everything, and moved to England. The children were always sent back to Japan for schooling, and the girls were expected to marry and stay in Japan. The men were expected to marry some nothing of a subservient Japanese girl and bring her back to England.
Ed's parents were sort of anxious for him to find a girl, any girl, but the grandparents and great-grandparents were as adamant about him marrying Japanese as her ancestors were against anything Japanese.
The relationship was doomed. But she liked him.
Bollocks and Boggarts.
So here she was, walking to the Japanese restaurant, a pit in her stomach.
He opened the door for her.
Ed said, "Hello, Cho."
Cho said, "Hello, Ed."
Ed said, "You look very nice today."
Cho asked, "Why? I'm just wearing my usual Auror uniform."
Ed looked at her. He looked embarrassed.
"What's different, Ed?" Cho asked. She wasn't going to let him get away with not answering her. She might as well see how he could handle a potentially embarrassing conversation.
"That's the problem," Ed said. "It looks like exactly the same Auror's uniform, but somehow you look different, more feminine."
Cho asked, "I didn't look female before?"
Ed said, "Yes, of course, you have always looked like a female. It's just, well maybe it's all me. Maybe it's all in my head. It's just that before you looked like an Auror who happened to be female, but today you look, at least to me, like a female who happens to be an Auror. And I can't tell you why. It's probably all in my head."
Choi said, "We have an Auror whose family members are tailors, and he can work magic with woman's clothes. He tweaked this uniform, and he said almost the same thing you said. He said that the little changes would make me look more Female Auror and less Auror who happens to be female."
Ed said, "I'm not going to embarrass us by asking what he did."
Cho said, "I'm going to embarrass you by making you tell me what you noticed. It was embarrassing enough for me to ask Joey to alter my clothes."
Ed looked at Cho again, carefully looking at her from head to toe. "You're hair looks the same," he said. "It's a cute, short haircut. Maybe you are wearing a little lipstick, but it's a pretty subtle shade."
"I haven't changed my hair," she said. "It's the same pixie cut. I did put on a slightly different shade of lipstick. The clothes, Ed. What is different about the clothes? How does it make me look different?"
Ed looked again. "I don't think you are any bigger around on top, but somehow I notice it more. The blouse is fitted a little differently."
"You like looking at me?" Cho asked.
"That's at least partly why I wanted to meet you," Ed said.
"I'm not really big on top," Cho said.
"You have a narrow waist," Ed said. "You have very nice, shapely hips too. That has to be some of what this Joey did. He must have emphasized the waist, and the very nice shape of the hips."
Cho moved her hands from her waist down her hips. "Thank you," she said, in a very quiet voice.
"Let's sit down," Ed said as he led Cho to a table. "I talked all about my family last time. When did your family come to England?"
"After the Rape of Nanking," Cho said. "My grandparents and great-grandparents hate the Japanese. You talk about how your grandparents and great-grandparents want you to marry Japanese. Mine would be all right with anyone but someone who is Japanese. Did your ancestors fight for Japan during the Muggle World War II?"
"No, they fought on the side of the English wizards against Grindelwald. It was kind of a touchy time."
"Maybe that would make a difference, if my grandparents thought your ancestors were on the side of the English and not on the side of the Japanese."
Ed changed the subject to Cho's Auror work, and shared more about the three blocks of apartment buildings his family owned, and his and his father's role in maintaining the apartments.
They agreed to meet again next week. Same time, same place.
She was doomed. She liked him!
Friday she asked Joey to alter the rest of her Auror uniforms. Some of the men in the Department for Magical Law Enforcement noticed. One even asked her out, and she went, but there was no spark. She wasn't sure she wanted to be in a relationship with another person in the DMLE anyway. She didn't want another boyfriend killed!
Thursday September 30, on the fifth non-date meal, Ed asked, "Are you free Monday night? I know you usually have Monday off."
"I can be free," Cho said. "I'm not scheduled to work Monday night."
"I would like to ask you out on a date," Ed said. "A meal that I would pay for. I would dress up, and maybe you could wear something other than the Auror's uniforms I always see you wearing."
"Where would we go?" Cho asked.
"I know a nice little Chinese Place. I've been there almost every week for the last eight weeks, and they are beginning to know me. I've even asked if I could bring a special girl to one of the private back rooms next Monday."
"What's the name of this place?" Cho asked, thinking she knew the answer.
"Chang's Chinese," Ed said.
The family restaurant! This was not a small escalation in the relationship. He was getting serious. Eight weeks?
Cho said, "But we've only been eating together for five weeks."
Ed said, "I like to be thorough."
"How long have you been stalking me?"
"Cho, I'm sorry if it looks like stalking. I've just had a lot of very brief relationships, one or two dates. I was intrigued by you, but wanted to know more before talking to you."
"And you have reservations at my family's restaurant?" Cho asked.
"For Edward Koizumi and guest," Ed answered. "They know I am Japanese. The name pretty much gives it away. Your mother, I'm pretty sure she is your mother, is usually at the front of the restaurant, and I've talked to her. She knows I am Japanese."
"It's the grandmothers and grandfathers you and I have to worry about," Cho said. But she agreed to the date.
When she got home she panicked. She didn't have a pretty enough dress, and Ed was going to dress up. She needed a real pretty dress in a hurry. Saturday after work she met Joey and his wife Laura La'Lanna, and together they picked out a dress that emphasized all her curves. It had a slit way up one side showing off a very shapely thigh and leg. It was silk, with Chinese figures on it, and looked very Chinese, and very elegant.
Cho had never eaten in the main dining room of the family restaurant. She had chopped more vegetables than she cared to contemplate. She had cleared tables, and even waited on tables. But once she walked into the family restaurant, in that dress, accompanying Ed, she was in a relationship.
They had never kissed, never really held hands. They had talked, and talked.
Cho worked Sunday night, like she usually did. Going to sleep Monday morning was not easy.
Monday afternoon Cho woke up. She showered. She put on a little makeup, and a much redder lipstick than she usually wore. Joey and Laura said the lipstick went perfectly with the dress, and she had to agree. She put on much prettier earrings than the little studs that she usually wore, real substantial gold hoops. She dabbed on a little perfume.
Laura had insisted she get a new bra for the dress. It didn't make her look any bigger, but it was lacy and feminine in a way her daily work bras were not. "I don't plan on letting Ed see these Monday," Cho had protested.
"You will know that you are wearing them," Laura said. "You need to feel pretty inside and out."
Cho's knickers were very pretty, very feminine, and they didn't cover quite as much as the ones she usually wore. Cho had to admit that even before putting on the dress she felt more feminine than she usually did.
The dress was spectacular! Cho couldn't believe how much money she had spent on the dress. It wasn't something you could find in Diagon Alley. Joey had found a store specializing in Chinese women's clothes. Once they had picked out the dress they brought it back to the tailor shop, and Joey worked his magic on it. As tight as it was on her, it still moved with her. It felt comfortable and very sexy as the same time. Joey and Laura had put a couple of spells on it to make her look even sexier.
Cho wasn't sure how her family was going to react. Maybe it was too much.
Ed was going to show up at her apartment door at six forty five. They could easily walk to the restaurant in fifteen minutes. Cho was ready by Six fifteen. She paced. She fretted.
Finally there was a knock on the door. Six forty four. Ed was anxious too! That was a good sign. She opened the door and said, "Come in."
Ed came in and looked at her. He really looked at her.
"I wanted to look pretty for our first real date," Cho said.
"Pretty?" Ed said. "Spectacular! Stunning! You are going to make some statement walking into the family restaurant looking like that!"
Cho said, "I just wonder what the reaction is going to be." She was still worried.
Cho had a coat over her sleeve, and Ed reached for it and helped her put it on.
They went out into the hall, and Cho released her wand from its holster and locked the door, then put the wand back into its holster on her forearm. "Still an Auror," she said. "I have my Auror wallet in my purse."
"Warning me to be careful?" Ed asked.
"May I hold your hand?" Ed asked.
"That would be nice," Cho said.
They walked around the block to Chang's Chinese. Ed opened the door for Cho, and then went inside.
Ed took Cho's coat, hung it up, and then hand in hand they walked up to the reception area.
"I have reservations for Ed Koizumi and guest," Ed said. The woman at the desk looked up and saw Cho and Ed holding hands.
"CHO! CHO!" her mother yelled. She ran to the kitchen. A violent argument almost immediately broke out.
"I told you there would be problems," Cho said.
"There will be just as many problems with my family," Ed said. "They just won't yell."
Finally Cho's mother came out. She took two menus and silently walked them back to the room Ed had reserved. You could feel the tension in the air.
Cho and Ed sat alone in the room for about fifteen minutes, getting more and more upset and worried. Finally a man came into the room.
"Hi, daddy," Cho said.
"You look lovely, Cho," he replied. Turning to Ed he said, "I'm John Chang, Cho's father. My wife has told me about you. How you seemed to be a nice young man. She even said you were bringing a very special girl to dinner tonight."
Ed said, "I think she is very special."
"You are Japanese?" John asked.
"I was born in England, and am an English citizen," Ed said. "My parents are of Japanese ancestry, and they sent me to school in Japan to learn Japanese and, they hoped, bring back a Japanese wife."
"No wife?" asked John.
"Not even a girlfriend," Ed replied. "They have tried to set me up with a Japanese girl ever since. They want to arrange a marriage for me. So far their efforts have failed rather spectacularly."
"You like Cho?" John asked.
"Very much," Ed answered.
"You know why my parents and grandparents hate the Japanese?" John asked.
"The Rape of Nanking," Ed answered. "My ancestors fought with Britain against Grindelwald. That doesn't mean they will say anything bad about the Japanese. They just kind of ignore chunks of Japanese history."
"You?" asked John.
"I'm English," Ed replied. "If I ever have children they will go to Hogwarts, not to that horrible Japanese school I went to."
"Cho's mother likes you, Ed," John said. "It's pretty obvious that Cho does too. I think we can get the grandparents to accept you. Just give it time.
"I probably ought to take your order for dinner."
John served the dinner, taking the time to talk to Ed and Cho. He even sat down with them a couple of times. "Monday is a slow night for the restaurant," he explained.
When the meal was done they walked back to Cho's apartment hand in hand. When they got to the door Cho said, "Would you like to come in? It's still early."
"I would like that," Ed said.
Cho hung up her coat, and then turned to face Ed. They stood there awkwardly for a couple of minutes, each wanting to hug or kiss or something. Finally Ed asked, "Do you mind if I hug you?"
Cho moved into Ed's open arms and gave him a big hug, and then a small kiss.
They stayed in each other's arms.
Cho finally relaxed into Ed. She said, "I didn't realize how tense I was."
Cho had a small sofa in her apartment, and sat down and motioned Ed to sit down next to her. They sat, bodies touching. Ed said, "I thought that went rather well. Your father likes me."
"Yes," Cho said, "but you heard the explosion from the back. I'm scared to have you meet my grandparents and great-grandparents."
"Especially if they have sharp knives in their hands," Ed said.
"Sharp words can be just as cutting," Cho replied, not looking at Ed. She turned to Ed and said, "What do we do now?"
I hope we can eat dinner together next Tuesday," Ed said.
Cho nodded her head yes.
"Would you like to meet my parents at dinner next Tuesday?' Ed asked.
Cho tried to think, but she couldn't. It felt right and comfortable sitting next to Ed. Meeting his parents was a big part of who Ed was. It was a big step in their relationship too.
"If I am moving too fast for you I will back off," Ed said. "We can go back to just the Thursday dinners if you would like."
"Do your parents know about us, Ed?"
"Yes Cho, of course they do. They would like to meet you."
"Do your grandparents and great-grandparents know about us?"
"Oh Merlin, no! Mum says they will eventually come around."
"When, Ed? When will they come around?"
"Mum says that if we have children they will come around, if only for their grand and great-grandchildren."
"One kiss and you are talking about children?" Cho said in mock horror.
"I said if, not when," Ed replied. "I would gladly take you out again next Monday, and show you my apartment and the workshop where my father and I fix things and store our tools."
"So we are going from seeing each other just on Thursday to seeing each other Monday and Thursday?" Cho asked.
"Only if you want to," Ed said.
Cho leaned into Ed and gave him another small kiss. She got up. "Let me show you the rest of the apartment," she said. "There is not much to see." After a brief tour of the apartment they sat back down. It was well past midnight before Ed left, after a lot of hugging, a few more chaste kisses, and more small talk.
After Ed left Cho put her hands up to her lips, a little panic setting in. She had kissed Cedric just before the Tri-Wizard Tournament, sending him into battle, and to his death.
She had never really kissed Harry Potter. Their relationship had always been fragile, tense.
The next boy she had kissed was Michael Moon, just before the Battle of Hogwarts. Their relationship had progressed from being really good friends to something more; neither was quite sure what it was or where it would lead. Michael told her it was his first kiss. And then he went into battle and GOT KILLED TOO!
Ed wasn't a warrior. He just fought with balky drains and balky tenants, not people out to kill you. There was no reason for Cho to feel panic! But she did, just a little.
Thursday Cho thought she was as nervous as the second Thursday that she and Ed had met for dinner. Ed's parents were delightful people. They did not have any advice about the grand and great-grandparents except to give it time. Thursday Cho did agree to go out with Ed to Chang's Chinese the following Monday.
Cho had Joey and Laura work their magic on the three nice dresses she had in her closet, and picked one of them to wear for dinner on Monday. This Monday her parents were prepared. Her mother and father both spend time with them in the back, private dining room. Grandmother covered the front from just after Cho and Ed were seated until just before they left, but it was obvious that she didn't want to see Cho or Ed.
Ed took Cho to see his neat little bachelor apartment, and then showed her the three blocks of apartments that the family owned. She saw the inside of maybe a dozen apartments that were currently being refurbished or were for rent, from little one bedroom units to a large four bedroom unit with three full baths and a half bath, a living room and dining room and library.
Finally Ed took Cho down to the workroom he and his father shared. It was neat and well equipped, with a very large selection of Muggle power tools as well as some special magical builder's tools. Ed showed her everything else, and then took her over to his workbench. On it was a small plaque carved out of several different woods. It showed Ed and Cho sitting at the table in the Japanese restaurant, with Cho carved out of the wood of her wand and Ed carved out of the wood of his wand. It was inlaid with Mother of Pearl, with some brass accents. It was an exquisite little piece.
"For you," Ed said. "No matter what happens to us, I wanted you to remember this time."
Cho looked at Ed, and the plaque, and put her arms around Ed, and gave him a real deep lover's kiss.
Damn the grandparents. Maybe she wasn't cursed anymore.