Omg I'm so tired I forgot to add an A/N and line breaks. Hooboy.
ANYWAY! Here's Round 5 for QLFC. I'm the Captain of the Catapults, so here we are: "write about a character in love during their time at school."
22 January 1994
It took Cho Chang exactly twelve minutes from the first moment she saw him to know that she was in love with Cedric Amos Diggory. She was a fourth year, and there was a terrible blizzard that meant morning break was being held indoors, in Professor Flitwick's classroom. She and Marietta found a pair of desks in the corner and sat down to continue their conversation about an upcoming Transfiguration test. As was her habit, Cho pulled her long hair down from its customary ponytail and began playing with it as they talked.
It was when Cho threw her head back, laughing at something Marietta had said, that her friend leaned forward, putting a hand on her arm.
"Cho… you're not going to believe this," she whispered, her bright green eyes flicking back and forth from Cho's face to something over her shoulder. "Cedric Diggory is looking at you. Like, looking at you."
Cho frowned, raising an eyebrow in confusion. "Who?"
"Cedric Diggory," Marietta repeated urgently, shaking her wrist. "You know, the new Captain on the Hufflepuff team…"
Cho didn't know him—this was only her first year as Ravenclaw's regular, non-reserve Seeker, and they had not yet played Hufflepuff. She'd heard their Seeker from last year had been made Captain, but she hadn't been bothered beyond that to learn more. She turned her head curiously, and Marietta let out a strangled groan.
"What?" Cho laughed. Marietta had her face buried in her hands, her fingers tangled in her blondish-red curls.
"You are so pathetic when it comes to boys," she mumbled, her voice muffled by her sleeves. "Don't be so obvious!"
Cho swatted her gently and looked around again curiously, smiling. Then, it seemed, the bottom dropped out of her stomach. She swallowed hard as she met the deep brown eyes of a boy sitting a few tables away, with a small cluster of other Hufflepuffs who were having an animated conversation. Cedric Diggory, apparently, was uninterested. He seemed transfixed by Cho, now that their eyes had met, and she felt much the same. She didn't think she could look away if she tried.
He raised a hand and gave her a small wave, which she returned, unable to stop a grin from spreading across her features. There was a warm, bubbling sensation in her stomach, and a tingling sensation that was making goosebumps rise on her arms and down her back.
At that moment, the bell rang, and the rush for the door began. Cho and Cedric lost their eye contact, and the magnetic feeling was gone—but not the heat in Cho's cheeks. She hurriedly snatched up her bag.
"Talk to him," Marietta said, practically body-checking Cho out of the queue for the door—where she had seen what Cho had not, preoccupied by fussing excessively with the strap on her bag. Cedric Diggory was slowly, very slowly, packing his own bag. He hadn't moved from the table he'd occupied with his friends, though they had all vanished. He was casting occasional glances at the line, as though he were deciding on the best time to queue up with them.
Cho smiled at Marietta, who gave her a thumbs-up and slipped out the classroom door. There were now only a few chattering groups still in the room, taking their time to depart.
Cho pushed her long hair back over her shoulders and approached Cedric. "Hi," she said slowly.
He seemed startled, even though Cho was fairly certain he had been eyeing her for the last few minutes. He looked a little sweaty, but he grinned at her. "Hi there," he said. He stuck out his hand awkwardly. "Cho Chang, is it? The Ravenclaw Seeker?"
Cho's heart sank. She shook his hand. "Right… that's me. You're the new Hufflepuff Captain?" she asked.
Cedric grinned, tugging the strap of his bag onto his shoulder. "Yeah, that's me. I'm Seeker, too. Looks like we'll be playing each other next week, right?"
"Right," Cho said again. She felt stupid; how badly could someone misread a situation? Idiot, she scolded herself.
"…you are," said Cedric. He stared at her expectantly, his smile tense and anxious as his fingers fidgeted with the strap of his bag.
Cho stared back at him for ten full seconds before she finally managed to stammer apologetically, "S-sorry, didn't catch that?"
Cedric looked mortified, and Cho was sure she did too. He ran a hand over the back of his neck and mumbled to his shoes, "I said… Davies mentioned he had a new Seeker… but he didn't say how beautiful you are."
Cho turned bright pink, but grinned. Cedric looked even more embarrassed. "Thank you," she said, her voice sounding high-pitched and silly to her own ears. Suddenly self-conscious, she began to scoop her long hair into a knot at the back of her neck.
"I like it long, like that," said Cedric suddenly, smiling. Then, he looked horrified. "I mean—it's your hair, do what you like, I wasn't—"
Cho gave another laugh, but she let go of her hair, letting it fall around her shoulders. She twisted a piece around her finger. "Thank you. Again."
They smiled at each other for a long moment, neither of them moving.
"Off to class, Miss Chang! Mr. Diggory, I hope you aren't abusing your new badge," said Professor Flitwick's squeaking voice from the front of the classroom. "Even prefects should be in class on time!"
"No, sir," said Cedric, smiling again. He glanced at Cho, who nodded. They hurried to the door together.
"I've got to go to Potions," Cho said. "Snape'll kill me if I'm late."
"McGonagall," said Cedric, a little dimly.
"Sorry?" asked Cho.
"I mean—" Cedric shook his head hurriedly. "Transfiguration, I have—Transfiguration. This way." He took a deep breath and made a weak, embarrassed noise. "Sorry, erm—would you—like to have lunch together today? At the Ravenclaw table, maybe?"
Cho felt a blush rising in her cheeks yet again, but she nodded. "I'd like that. I'll see you then."
"See you then," Cedric replied earnestly.
And they set off in their separate directions. But from then on—provided, of course, that they were not in lessons—it was rare that they were ever apart.
10 July 1995
"Cho, darling. Are you going to come downstairs?"
Cho rolled over in her childhood bed—the one her grandparents still kept in their home in Taiwan, just for her. She faced the wall, tears tracking sideways across her nose and cheeks. She sniffed, wiping her nose on her sleeve. Her family had been letting her pretend to be exhausted from O.W.L.s for the last week—though she was sure her grandparents had noticed the way the food was remaining mostly untouched on the hallway table outside her door.
She felt her mother's weight sink onto the mattress beside her, gently pulling her fingers through Cho's long hair. She pressed a kiss to the back of Cho's head.
"I'm going to the salon today… do you want to come with me? You can trim your hair…"
"No, Mama," Cho replied, her voice muffled in the pillow. She squeezed her eyes shut. "I don't feel well. I want to stay here."
There was a long silence. Her mother finished smoothing Cho's hair, and then bent down again and kissed her cheek. Then, her weight beside Cho disappeared, and Cho was alone again with the thought that kept chasing itself through her brain.
It had taken minutes—minutes to love Cedric; days to know that she was in love with him, and months to know that he was in love with her… and it had taken hours for him to disappear forever.
What happened to their love now? Did it just evaporate, and mean nothing to anyone ever again? Where was Cho meant to put these feelings for someone who could not receive or return them anymore? If they'd broken up… well, that would be different. But to stop completely, to turn about-face and walk away? Cedric was gone, but how could she be expected to be 'finished' with their love? How could she stop feeling the one thing she felt had sustained her through everything?
Where does the love go, when the beloved is gone?