It's been a quiet holiday. My parents seem to emanate standard Christmas cheer, but they stifle their joy around me. They're frightened of upsetting me, like I'm a perfectly balanced scale that could be upset by the slightest addition to either side. I feel guilty, but there are small moments when I see them living their lives normally, unaffected by my presence. After I go to bed, their voices become more animated and I hear them laugh. I wonder if I should put on a facade. I could smile and celebrate with them if I wanted to, if I tried really hard, but that would be pointless. I am not in the mood to celebrate. While the world celebrates a birth, I learn about death.
I pull my Christmas jumper on with trembling hands. I fumble with the zipper. There is laughter in the hallway as my parents sing Christmas carols. I close the door completely before stumbling into the bathroom. The mirror is gleaming, but I am dull. My skin seems to cling to my bones, and my sharp black eyes have lost their gleam. I wonder what he ever saw in me. I wonder what either of them ever saw in me. I was doing just fine, functioning even, before Harry Potter came along. My marks in classes were up to par, and I had learned to laugh. I had stopped seeing his face everywhere, stopped turning around at the slightest mention of him.
But I betrayed him. I betrayed my dead boyfriend. I shouldn't have gotten close to Harry Potter, because Cedric still stood next to me. I could feel him. I could feel his hand skimming mine as I walked through the hallway. Instead of sleeping on a pillow, I slept on his chest. His Prefect badge dug into my temple, but it was a sweet pinch. It reminded me that he was mine.
"Cho," my mother calls, after a comical version of All Hail Ye Merry Hippogriff. "Happy Christmas!" I open the door slightly, smiling softly.
"Happy Christmas, Mum," I reply, avoiding her eyes. Her smile remains in place as she prances down the stairs. The sound of her singing is quickly replaced with the sound of the early Christmas broadcast. I close the door and collapse onto my bed.
He was supposed to visit last summer. He was going to bring his broomstick and we were going to fly across Southern England. I haven't thought about that in months.
Maybe I deserve this kind of misery. Maybe I'm just a tramp who was never worthy of his love. Maybe I'm not worthy of anybody's love now that he's gone.
This thought chokes me up, and somehow I end up crunched over as if I am about to vomit. My hair veils my face and my arms are entwined around my stomach. I wonder if he is with me now. He's with me when I take exams. He's with me when I study in the library, when I sit in the common room.
My mother is calling my name from a different world. We're exchanging presents. Cedric gave me a knecklace before the Yule Ball. Merry Christmas, he had whispered into my ear, fixing the delicate silver clasp behind my neck.
It's Christmas. I think I'll go smile for my parents. I think I'll give my mother her new dress robes. I'll give my father his bewitched fishing pole. They deserve that much. They deserve that much from their daughter. They deserve that much from the dead boy's girlfriend who kissed the hero.
Maybe that's all I'll ever be, I muse as I stumble down the stairs. A dead boy's girlfriend.
But a dead boy's girlfriend doesn't kiss the boy who saw the boyfriend become the dead boyfriend. I think I'm dizzy. I don't know what I am. I'm caught in between a world of the living and the dead. It's a tug-of-war match, and I'm the knot in the middle. I think the dead is winning.
He hasn't been here since the second to last DA meeting before the holidays. I remember it vividly. My arm had been trembling as I held my wand. Reducto, I had muttered, but my voice had been quivering. And then his hand had been on mine and I could feel his other hand on my waist as he had directed the spell in the right direction. His arms had caught me when I fell.
He is with me now. I feel him behind me as I tip-toe down the stairs. He does not talk; he never does. He wants me to laugh- I can feel it. He is not worried that I am in a zombie-like state on Christmas. He is pleased to see that I am walking.
He is gone as quickly as he came. The corners of my mouth turn up as I walk into the living room.
It is Christmas. I am a dead boy's girlfriend, and I am more than that. There is a part of me that still loves part of him.