The summer is scorching hot, so most days Cho ends up at the lake by her house. She hasn't been this frequent a visitor in years, not since the summer Marietta taught her to swim, but she has nothing better to do. Her parents won't let her leave the house without their supervision, and their company is the last thing she wants. She's grown tired of the gentle way they talk to her, like she's about the shatter. It makes her feel like she is going the shatter, and she can't afford that.
She's floating listlessly on her back, eyes closed to the glaringly bright sky, when she hears a familiar exasperated sigh. She smiles.
"I didn't think you'd come," she says without opening her eyes.
"I've got nothing better to do," Marietta says grumpily. Cho can hear her unzipping whatever floaty dress she's wearing today and kicking off her shoes.
"That's not true," she says. "Your parents are letting you out."
A soft splash is her only reply, then her body is being rocked by the ripples Marietta makes as she swims over. Cho opens her eyes but doesn't move, staring up at the blazing sky. There are three small clouds drifting over, and Cho wishes they'd stay, wishes it would rain finally. It doesn't feel natural, this heat.
"Why are swimming in a dirty lake, then?" Marietta asks, turning onto her back as well. Her head knocks into Cho's gently, their hair tangling together.
"It's boiling. The lake is cold."
"It's disgusting. It's green, Cho."
"You didn't care when we were twelve."
"Yes, well, we were twelve."
They float in silence for a little while before Cho speaks again. "Why did you come if you hate it so much?"
"Maybe I shouldn't have," Marietta says. "You know Lee Jordan asked me to go to Diagon Alley with him today"
A way of hot jealousy rushes through Cho, quickly followed by a wave of guilt. She shouldn't be thinking of Marietta like this, not so soon. She swallows down the grief that threatens to overwhelm her.
"Oh?" she says, trying to keep her voice even.
"Yes. But apparently I'd rather spend time with you."
Cho tips up so she's treading water and Marietta copies her. Marietta's skin has gone freckled in the sun and her red hair is plastered to her head, only a few wayward curls still dry and frizzing at her temples.
"I'm glad you came," Cho says.
Marietta's eyes are endlessly soft, even as she sighs heavily again, like Cho is just the worst. "You better be."