Cho is spared under three conditions.

1. Her wand must be destroyed. It must be snapped, beaten, and stomped on. The shards must be burned and scattered in the yard. She will not be permitted to learn wandless magic. She will not be permitted books, parchment or letters with any mention of her past magical achievements, whether they occurred in or outside of Hogwarts. She will be punished if heard denouncing this practise. She will not call herself pureblooded, and will not be allowed visits outside of the home of her master without escort.

2. Her belongings will be throroughly scrutinised, and replaced if deemed unsuitable or unsafe. She will be the responsibility of her keeper alone, and if abandoned will be terminated. She is at the mercy of the council if found too unruly for this program, and may at any time be returned for another woman of the same age and build. If terminated, all traces of her in the keeper's home must be destroyed. There will be no record of her ownership, and it will be assumed that she perished in the war. The keeper will have no debts, except if there has been damage on his own property.

3. Her life may not be used as leverage in any legal matter, except if it is by the council. That being said,
the final word regarding her status and livelihood shall always be thier decision, and may not be contested.


When the breath caught in her throat, he cringed.

Cracking like hard toffee in the back of his mouth. She smells of pomegranate, tea cakes, and old water. She is five or six inches shorter, with long black hair and very tired eyes. She looks younger than he is. She even bothered painting her nails.

"Your father captured me. In the one -- The one siege. Where they destroyed the base. I g-guess it was -- I mean, we were very awful to you. . . . I'm really just trying to stay alive, here."

Once, Potter had had a crush on this woman. He had fancied her. Possibly even imagined fucking her, probably in the back of the library or some stupid shit like that. Over a table. Or in the Forbidden Forest, cheered on by bloody pegasus and five-headed beasts. Draco can sneer now, but he sees it: sparkling in the back of her eye.
The spear she may or may not throw. And her hair does shine, really. Her lips are plump. She may be emaciated now, with her hips all jutty, but there it is: she had been known for her beauty. For being beautiful and intelligent, even as a woman and a dissenter. She is striking, and Draco has never liked Asians. Father called them squinty; then, father has never liked immigrants.
Draco takes after an enormous tree full of racists, purists and very lonely men.

"You know, I'm not very kind, or sweet. I know I was chosen for this program b-because Snape remembered my potions.
I was never a bad s-student. And I can learn this just as well. Please."

Near the end of the ordeal, she had been at the top of the lists. Wanted. And badly. Rising up among the rebels and dissenters. Swimming in that filth.
Probably cut up a thousand times, set aflame like the Weasley home. Running through forests, through cities. Probably scarred and ugly under that dress. Probably witness to eight thousand kinds of decay. Probably ate whatever came her way, hiding out in that shell. Probably made love to Harry Potter. Probably, once, as a schoolgirl, imagined fucking him in some romantically academic place - only after Cedric's death, of course.
Cho was possibly the most pristine girl ever known. A pristine fifteen year old, pristine as they're made.
Draco remembers her limbs as pristine, the sweet fold of her clothing. The movements made on that stupid Quidditch field, which had been thier first war. Remembers hearing Padma speak of her, excited for their study date.
And all the other girls, smelling of various powders and flowers.
He had never, ever had the time. Draco thinks of himself at fourteen: a jealous prince. And stick thin. As if nothing made its way down his throat -- not bread, not water, not even those prickly little insults keeping him awake at night. Imagining what it would be like to finally have a girl, tongue at her mouth like a dog.

Pushing Pansy away in his sweet black little heart, so he could finally call her a bitch in the crisp language required. You are a pathetic, desperate kind of girl. You're ugly. A silly thing sitting with her socks folded down,
matching her shoes and sweater. Pity her all you like, even now - in death she isn't any less pugfaced. She still isn't getting any.

"I'm tired of running away. I got hurt, you know. Y-your father."

Cho had better be able to cook. And converse intellectually.
Play chess, tolerate his attempts at poetry. She had better be able to forget, and she had better be strong enough to carry his things from one side of the manor to the other. If they can't take walks together, she will be useless. She will be useless if she can't adapt.
Cho had better be able to remember all of his favorite chocolates, and leave them alone in the box. Cho had better be able to correct his papers, and tuck him in at night. If he wants, she had better be able to act as if she cares.
She had better be able to lie still. She had better.

Chang is given a bed opposite the hall from his room, as Father is generous enough to allow her her own quarters. Draco is asked to buy her a wardrobe, as she is still not cleared for access to Diagon Alley. Draco helps to decorate the bare walls,
and set up what belongings she has left in a large trunk.
He does all of this with irony. He can't help making fun of her.
He brings up Cedric, and the war, and every nasty image possible of the stories he's heard. He recalls the one battle he was present at, in which Ron Weasley dislocated his jaw before being chased deeper into the forest. Narcissa now does not let Draco fight anymore, even though he had been glorious - surpassing even Theodore at the amount of rebels injured. Even though there are still scores of them, waiting out in the dark.

Today, he cannot chew very vigorously and sometimes needs warmth to soothe the knot of muscles at the side of his face.
He does regret that he didn't manage to hit back.
Or to at least remind Ron that Ginny was slow at drawing wands.


Sometimes, Cho has trouble remembering small and simple facts.
Buried under blankets, she is never ready for Draco's questions. She doesn't seem able to grasp the fact that her preformance as his paid-for posession is probably being documented by his father, and that if he appears unhappy she will be taken away like a broken toy. (But not to be fixed, unless he throws a particularly large tantrum. Which he won't, because she's boring.)

"And anyway," he reminds her, "You should be grateful. You don't deserve this. You can't even remember where you were six months ago, stupid bint."

Cho still puts on make-up: lipstick, blusher and mascara. Draco pronounces these words as though they were Chinese. Sometimes the ghost of a smile can be seen - flitting in, out. Sometimes she even laughs, when he teases. Because that's all it is, really,
when he's feeling charitable. Cho is beginning to grow on him. He can even see himself adoring her in a few years, when she's been tamed.

Draco's mouth, shooting off endlessly when her eyes shine, from beneath the fringe of hair.

"I could always trade you off, you know. For Lavender.
I'm sure she's been marketed, and very thoroughly."

Cho only coughs.

"You become less beautiful when you aren't subservient."

Cho crosses and uncrosses her legs.

Later, she does retrieve his book from where it sits on the shelf. And she does make some conversation, but only shyly; she stumbles over her words,
and compulsively brushes at her skirt. Draco think it's pathetic.
Again and again, he can't help but remember that she is female, and he has yet to take advantage of this; but somehow, when it comes to the fragile shoulders and pert little breasts, he can't bring himself to touch her. There is the line of her mouth, set, and then suddenly blooming. Tones and accents, when she speaks. The play of her emotions,
at once amused and disturbed by her situation. Slowly turning,
warming, becoming. Long yellow milky legs. The long black hair,
a canvas for stroking -- touching -- admiring. For burying his face in,
inhaling deeply. In spite of himself. Disgusted with himself. Unable to help himself. The turn of his stomach when he thinks of kissing her -
something that would be squalid, and unforgiveable.

He makes himself sick. He thinks of how she must miss them all,
crouched out there in the night - the ones that haven't died, that is.
How she must wish he were Cedric or even Harry, when he bids her good night. When they stand, halfway smiling at one another, on the grounds. When her eyes widen, pleased at an unexpected kindness.
He doesn't know if she's ever been in love. He doesn't know anything about her.

But he learns: braiding hair, folding clothing. He allows himself to be humiliated into doing these things, sometimes. This is followed with retaliation: he curses and pokes fun. He allows himself the liberty of cooking up all sorts of distasteful insults. But he never remembers Pansy while doing this -- it's too close, too soon to recall how he once did this to her. Thinking of her stupid eyes: a passionate puppy. Tripping over herself.
But Cho stands over him, at once obedient and full of discord.
Cho is resolute. She knows who she is now -- what she must do to stay alive -- but her mouth is sour as an early berry. That's enough. Probably.

Lucius seems happy, anyway.


"I can't even hate you," she confides, early one morning.
Through the fringe of hair. Brown eyes are shining, probably thick with tears. She forgot her red lipstick. She didn't even bother sprinkling cinnamon over his oatmeal, or peeling his orange. She eyes him over the rim of the bowl, fingering thoughtfully with the hem of her skirt. "I just can't."

"I can't hate you, either. You command too much of my pity."

Cho blinks. "I mean... I-I sit, and I think about it. How much you've ruined everything. It's really amazing, when I tally it all up. How much you owe. Especially if your father dies."

Scoffs, picks up the paper. "The beauty of it is that I don't care."

"I know," says Cho. "I think that's what I like. ...A-about you, I mean.
What I actually like. You don't give a damn about anything."

Draco is taken aback by this.

There are definitely things he gives a damn about: his mother,
his inheritance, order and control. He gives a damn about being able to see a reflection in the morning. He gives a damn about his face, his longish clean hair. He gives a damn about roses and paintings, and even stupid girls that are supposed to be perfect but can't get over the lacquer on thier limbs. He gives a damn about Potter sometimes, when he's had a bit to drink. He gives a damn about crucio, and even the green spell - he thinks they're beautiful, and wants them preserved in amber. He gives a damn about whether or not anyone will have to preform either on Cho, and doesn't ever want to know if it happens. Damn it.

"You fucked up my Quidditch record."

She is still sitting here, blinking stupidly. There are moments when he wishes he could resort to his father's methods,
and simply punish her. Not so much for insolence, or for being very bad at all. Even the slip-ups are amusing.
Sometimes she covers her mouth after mentioning Hogwarts, and the fear in her face is so tangible Draco only looks away, afraid of feeling anything. No, he wouldn't punish her for being an awful companion, for ignoring him at times, or for being cold. He wouldn't punish her for forgetting. For refusing. For being a real person, dangling in front of him like a scrap of meat. For brushing her hair,
and ambling into his room like a living doll. For the five scars on her left thigh, and the flawless silk of her right. For her love of chess, and discreet mentionings of muggle theatres and shows.

He would because he can remember no kisses.

He would because he can remember, even for a second,
the closeness of thier limbs when curled up on the quilt. The softness of the hairs at the back of her neck - and how they look, standing up at the feel of warmth. Breathing.

He can remember falling asleep there, even,
lips open against the ripple of skin just above her spine. Inhaling. Exhaling.

Imagining the moment when the breath caught and held in her throat, remembering he was there.