It takes guts to tremble
It takes so much tremble to love
Every first date is a fucking earthquake
-Andrea Gibson, Royal Heart
Luna walks in on her crying the morning they're supposed to be moving into their new flat. Cho's at her parent's house, packing away the last of her things, and didn't expect Luna to be so early. She wipes at her wet face and frantically tries to gather up the photos before Luna can see, but Luna stops her with a gentle hand on her shoulder. She kneels down beside Cho on the floor of her childhood bedroom and spreads the photos out on the dusty floorboards.
"He was a good photographer," she says.
Cho sniffs loudly as more tears leak from her eyes. "He wanted to be a travel photographer," she says thickly.
Various Hogwarts students beam up at them from the floor, but none so brightly as Cedric. Cho doesn't remember him taking so many pictures of himself, or so many pictures of them together. In one they're sitting by the lake and she's laughing into his robes as he leans down to kiss her head. She couldn't guess when it was taken, there were so many moments like it.
"We look so young." She presses her fingers to his face, leaving wet smudges that Luna wipes away with the edge of her sleeve.
"You were." Luna pulls forward a photo of Colin Creevey, the subject rather than the photographer for once. "We all were."
The flat they pick out is small, but it's got a room that's perfect for Cho to brew her potions in and it's close to both their workplaces. Cho's finding she doesn't enjoy her job at the Department of Magical Games and Sports as much as she thought she would, but she doesn't know what else to do so she keeps going in. Luna suggests she try something to do with potions, but Cho doesn't want her hobby turned into work. Luna's working hard at the Leaky Cauldron, entertaining the customers with tales of what creatures she'll find when she has the money to travel.
"Who'd had thought you and Luna Lovegood?" Michael says one morning when they find themselves in the lift together. He's enthusiastic about his job at the Department of International Magical Cooperation, although from what Cho can tell it's mostly making coffee and taking notes during meetings. He's started dating Padma Patil, and Cho's happy for him, happy they can be friends.
"Who'd have thought you and Padma?" she says playfully. "I thought she was smarter than that."
Michael rolls his eyes, but his lips twitch.
"We're all growing up, I suppose," she says after a moment, her smile fading into something more serious.
Michael snorts. "Speak for yourself. I burned rice yesterday."
Luna had been the one to ask Cho out, leaning against the bar at the Leaky Cauldron and twirling a piece of hair around her finger in a gesture that Cho has since learned is a nervous habit of hers. They fell in love over cheap coffee and conversations about things Cho isn't sure she believes in. It hadn't happened quickly, but one day Cho had woken up and felt an overwhelming rush of happiness when she'd seen Luna lying next to her. One day she'd woken up and realised she was in love.
Luna invites Harry and Ginny over for dinner, and Cho feels like she's sixteen all over again.
"Harry won't care what you look like," Luna says when she finds Cho standing in her underwear and surrounded by clothes just twenty minutes before they're due to arrive.
"I know that," Cho snaps, a burning lump rising in her throat. She feels flustered and anxious, frustrated with Luna's calm, frustrated with her own desperation to impress someone she got over long ago. Luna watches her in silence for a few minutes, and Cho finally picks a yellow dress she bought a year ago and has worn once. It's a bit tight around her stomach, but bright enough that she hopes nobody will notice.
"Do you still fancy him?" Luna asks as Cho slips on black pumps. Her voice is as dreamy as ever, but there's something in it that makes Cho look up. Luna's eyes are guarded, her arms crossed over her chest, and Cho realises all of a sudden how this must look to her.
"No," she says quickly. "No, I don't. I just… You and I weren't friends back then, you don't know what it was like."
"Tell me," Luna says softly.
Cho looks down and shrugs uncomfortably. "It was like he… He didn't really like me at all, I don't think. We didn't know each other very well. I just thought he was sweet and very brave. But when we were alone we had nothing to talk about. I felt ridiculous half the time I was with him, like I wasn't living up to his expectations."
Luna's arms drop to her sides and she smiles faintly. "You don't like him, you just want him to like you."
"I guess," Cho says uneasily.
Luna steps forward over the clothes and kisses her firmly. "Harry Potter's opinion isn't that important," she says. "Despite what the paper wants you to think."
The dinner is awkward. Harry won't meet Cho's eyes and Ginny keeps reaching over to touch him in little ways – on the shoulder, brushing his hair back, adjusting his glasses for him when the they slip down his nose (Cho wonders if it's for her benefit and blushes.)
They come round again the next week, then again the next. Finally, on the fourth week, Luna mentions the DA.
"Those evenings were some of the best I had at Hogwarts," she says. "It's where I made my first friends."
Cho catches Ginny's eye and knows they're both thinking the same thing. There's a long, strained pause. Cho's face suddenly feels very warm. Then Ginny's mouth twitches up at the corners, and suddenly Cho can't stop giggling. Ginny starts laughing too, and they just sit and stare at each other, unable to stop laughing. Harry looks baffled and slightly nervous. Luna continues to eat her pasta serenely.
Once they finally manage to calm down, Cho says, "Would you like some wine, Ginny? Luna's dad bought us some as a house warming present."
"I'd love some," Ginny says, and that's that.
Ginny turns out to be a lot of fun, and Cho regrets the bitter thoughts she harboured during her seventh year when Ginny started going out with Harry. She's currently working at the Leaky Cauldron with Luna, but she's considering becoming an Auror.
"Or I might play Quidditch. That could be fun," she muses one afternoon as she lounges on the sofa while Cho tries to concentrate on a report she needs to read by the next day.
"That does sound fun," Cho agrees absently, tapping her pen against her lip.
"You could come play seeker," she says. "You were pretty good at school."
Cho hums and forgets the suggestion immediately. Three weeks later she gets a letter from Ginny telling her to pack her bag because they've both got a meeting with the manager of the Tutshill Tornados. Three months later Cho wins her first game, grabbing the snitch from right under the other seeker's nose.
Ginny pulls her into a sweaty hug and Luna kisses her in the middle of the pitch in front of everyone.
Cho wakes up screaming some nights. Luna is always there, talking quietly to her about nothing until Cho falls asleep in her arms. Occasionally Luna wakes her up with a pale face and tear-streaked cheeks, and it's Cho's turn to talk.
The explosion stuns Cho for several seconds, more than enough time for Luna to run into the room, take in what's happened, and fall to pieces.
"Cho! Cho! Get up, wake up!" she shrieks hysterically, shaking Cho roughly.
Cho blinks a few times, trying to clear her head.
"Are you okay? What happened? Get up, we need to get out of here!"
She half drags, half carries Cho to the living room and puts her on the sofa so she can floo St Mungo's. The next few hours pass in a blur, and the next clear moment Cho has finds her lying in a bed at the hospital, Luna sitting next to her with red eyes.
"You could have died," she says quietly when she sees Cho's awake.
"What-?" Cho says, her voice hoarse. She clears her throat and tries again. "What happened?"
Luna looks at her with a furious glint in her eyes. "Your potion blew up. The healers said it wasn't anything they recognised."
"Yeah, I was adjusting the Wolfsbane Potion. It's an experiment I'm working on…" She trails off as she takes in Luna's glare. "Are you angry with me?" she asks in surprise.
"You could have died," Luna says again, still in that low voice. "You don't experimentwithout a professional there. You don't just put things in a cauldron and see if it works!"
"Luna, I wasn't. It shouldn't have blown up. I must has miscalculated something."
Luna won't look at her. Cho hesitantly reaches out and covers Luna's hand with her own. "I'm sorry I scared you," she says carefully. "I know your mum- I know things went really wrong with her spells, but I was being really careful, Luna."
"Not careful enough," Luna says tightly.
They get past it, but it takes time. From that time on Cho only experiments when she's got someone else there with her to check her measurements. More and more often that person becomes Hermione Granger, a suggestion of Ginny's. As it turns out, when Cho isn't feeling wildly jealous of her and when Hermione hasn't recently hurt one of Cho's friends, they get on rather well. This seems to comfort Luna, and she stops checking on Cho every five minutes.
Cho left the photos at her parent's house, but a year later they decide to move and send all her stuff to her. This time when Luna finds her crying, Cho doesn't try to hide it.
"It was a really bad time after he died," she says. "I was a mess."
"I know," Luna says.
Cho laughs, the sound catching in her throat. "I'm still a mess."
"That's okay. We all are, I think."
Cho puts the photos in a box at the back of her wardrobe. She doesn't get them out often, she doesn't want to linger on bad memories, but sometimes she likes to see them. As the years go by she finds herself remembering the good parts more than the bad parts. She wakes up screaming less often.