Disclaimer: JK Rowling and Warner Bros. will have my head if I said I owned Harry Potter. I don't own it. I just love to play with it.
AN: Sorry if I wasn't able to update for more than a couple of months. I just had a lot of school work. But now it's vacation so I think I'll continue this story, although I'm scared because apparently, some of you didn't like the last chapter. I'm scared that you might not want to continue reading this story. Along with my long hiatus, I am afraid I might have pushed you away with the last chapter. Please, don't let it be that.
I just want to clear something up because I have read similar feedbacks in your reviews. Most of you have commented that the story progression is quite slow and that Harry takes too long to find out about everything. I think I owe you an explanation. Here it is…
You see, this is not just like a simple story where the protagonist goes away and then comes back. It's not as simple as that. In other fics where Harry leaves, the essential events happen before he left and after he comes back. Therefore, the time he spends apart from the other characters are just mentioned in the story as he left and then after a few years, he comes back and then the true essence of the story happens just then. In this fic, it's different because here, all the essential events happened while he was away. So I need each and every one of you to please be patient because all these other chapters are no longer fillers. They are essential. It won't make sense right now because even the characters aren't supposed to know anything. As well as the characters, you will be kept in the dark for now. I just hope you guys will be patient enough to wait for the right moment when things shall be right again.
Another thing is that many of you said that I'm swerving away from the main characters, which are Harry and Hermione, and focusing too much attention to Draco Malfoy and the other characters, namely Cho and Cedric. Well, to be truthful, this fic isn't just about Harry and Hermione. This fic revolves around the five characters: Harry, Hermione, Cedric, Cho and Draco. This story shows how their fates and own stories link to each other and how each and every tale is connected to the other in the end. Trust me, they are all connected in more ways than you thought.
I think I've been blabbing too much. And I think blabbing like this might just drive you farther away. Just please bear with me. I promise things will make sense later on. Thank you and read on. Please don't forget to review but please no flames and please be nice. I accept constructive criticism and I appreciate it. It helps a lot just please take it easy on me. Tell me what you think and tell me what you expect and the things you think I have to change. I'll listen. Thanks!
The scratching of quill against brand new parchment echoed through the walls of Harry's flat. He was scribbling desperately on a half foot-long parchment while seated at the chair of his study table in front of the windows looking out to the starlit sky. He was writing his letter to Fred and George Weasley. It had been several weeks since he last sent a letter to the other Weasleys at the Burrow – to Ron and to Ginny. But unfortunately, due to what he presumed as an unlucky circumstance, the letter hadn't been replied to yet. (Ginny still hasn't been officially introduced as one of the new chasers of the Harpies. Harry still didn't know about it.) He was beginning to think that they weren't receiving his letters. Or worse, they were ignoring him. He didn't know which reason he would like to hope for. If they weren't receiving his letters, he presumed there was trouble. That would be horrible. And if they were really ignoring him, it wasn't any better than not having them receive his letters at all. But still, he wished desperately that they were safe. Deep down, he wished that they couldn't reply because they were just too busy.
Harry ended his letter with his signature and enclosed it inside an envelope with the names Fred and George Weasley written at the back. He wrote to the twins because he figured that if he couldn't get in touch with anybody at the Burrow, he might get some news from the twins, considering that they were already living separately from the family. They were already staying at the apartment at the top of their shop. That much was known to him because of all the news articles pertaining to the success of the twins' business. Business was really booming for them and Harry was glad to recall that he had helped them start their life-long dream.
After sealing the envelope close with wax, Harry pulled a drawer open and retrieved, from inside, another letter. The other letter was for Hermione. He had written it a few months back – or maybe several months back already, he didn't really know. But until now, he hadn't sent it yet. Every time he thought of sending it, the memory of his last letter kept coming back to him. He had sent her a letter telling her about his feelings for her along with the statement that if she didn't feel the same way, she shouldn't answer the letter. The letter was unanswered. That was why Harry was confused as to what might that imply about their relationship and what the changes of his confession might have brought. Along with that, Harry was still confused, curious and bothered about what Hermione now felt about their shared night of passion before he left. All those things left him completely unnerved.
Harry had been brave enough to send her that kind of letter back then. His confusion, hurt and thirst to know information about their current stand had pushed him to write her a letter. But it was only now that he realized he regretted that he sent her that parchment. If he hadn't, then they could just come back to what they were before: being friends. He could apologize about what happened to them that night before he went to France and if she really loved Krum and regretted the night they shared, she wouldn't think twice. She'd forget all about it in order to save her relationship with Krum.
After tucking the letters in his hand and hiding it behind his back, Harry went to the bird cage at the corner of his room and tapped it gently with his finger. Inside the cage was a handsome brown owl with big eyes that stared curiously at Harry.
"Fledge, come here, boy. I've got a favor to ask you." Harry told the owl as he unlatched the lock of the cage door with his free hand.
The brown owl hooted at him and flew out of the cage. Once Fledge was perched at his free hand, the owl inclined his head to the left expectantly as he waited for Harry to give him instructions.
Fledge was Harry's new personal owl, a gift from his Quidditch teammates. They said that the owl was a thank you gift to Harry for their victory against the Ballycastle Bats. It was the very first match that the Falcons won after a very long time. Fledge had been with Harry for the past couple of months and since then, he had taken time to write to the Weasleys and even to Hermione, the latter was still unsent. But until now, his letters were unanswered.
"I've got a letter for you to send, Fledge." Harry said to the owl as he revealed the letters concealed in his hand behind his back.
Fledge, in return, flapped his wings hysterically and looked at Harry with scared eyes.
Harry sighed. "Come on, boy. Take it. They're just letters. Please?" Harry asked the owl. Fledge had been acting strange since he first asked the owl to send a letter. He didn't know what was wrong with him but when he first came back after Harry sent his first letter to Ron, the owl was shaking incredibly and refused to come out of the cage for days. It was as if the owl was afraid to go out again.
Harry's second mail wasn't any different. After managing to coax the owl out of the cage after several days of convincing and bribing him with treats, the owl finally agreed to fly out and send Harry's letter to Ginny. When Fledge came back, he was even more scared than the first time. Since then, the owl never went out again.
"Fledge, what's wrong? Why are you scared? They're just papers." Harry said again. He pushed the letter between the owl's beaks but before he was able to, the owl hid his head inside his wings. "Ugh, you're unbearable!" Harry exclaimed before he plopped back down to his chair in front of the table; the owl, still perched in his arm.
Harry stared the owl's body – the head was still concealed. "We're hopeless, Fledge. I don't know what in Merlin's beard your problem is. You can't talk to me. Of course you can't. I'd be running out of the room if you did. But how the bloody hell would I know the problem?" Harry sighed again. "If you were Hedwig, you would've been flapping your arms rapidly with excitement at the thought of flying out. I wish you're as excitable as her."
Harry went to stand up and walk back to the cage. He held the cage door open and pushed the owl inside. "Go inside, boy. I won't force you now. I don't really have any choice. But you'll be sending these letters tomorrow. No arguments, understand?"
The poor owl took his head from behind his wing and looked at Harry with pleading eyes.
"Don't give me that look, Fledge. It ain't gonna work. I've delayed my letters enough." With that, Harry closed the door of the cage and dropped the letters at the top of his table for sending the next day. He went to the couch and flopped down once again. He put his arms behind his head and closed his eyes. "Now, what to do, what to do?"
Suddenly, Harry opened his eyes and stood up. "I guess I'll just trim and clean my Firebolt, then." He still didn't want to sleep. He had to have something to busy himself with until he felt drowsy enough to go to sleep without difficulty.
Harry went to his room, retrieved his broom, its bag and his servicing kit. After that, he went back to the living room. He laid all his stuff at the table and started trimming the twigs of his broomstick.
After a few minutes of silent labor, Harry finally finished trimming the broken twigs of his broomstick. "Now, to polish it." He said to himself as he reached over the table and took the polish bottle. He opened it only to see that it was already empty. Apparently, he had forgotten to buy a new one before their team's month-long break started a couple of weeks ago.
"Hmmm." Harry mumbled. He looked at his watch. It was already half past ten in the evening. He doubted there would be shops open at this hour. He thought to himself. "So, where can I get some polish?" Then a thought struck him.
Harry went to the fireplace, took a pinch of floo powder and threw it at the grate, shouting Cho's address. He would just have to borrow some polish from her. He was sure she wouldn't mind. He enclosed his face among the emerald flames. It lapped against the skin of his face in a relaxing manner. The blaze was warm against his cheeks. He was about to call out to her when he saw her with another person, doing something Harry shouldn't have seen…
Dinner at the castle had just ended and Cedric Diggory was already preparing for bed, wearing his night clothes, when an owl rapped its beak on the outside of his chambers' window.
Cedric dropped his pillow, which he was currently punching in a more comfortable shape, and went to the window to let the owl in. The owl dropped the letter on his hand and flew out the window once again without even asking for a treat. The owl didn't even appear hungry. He figured the owl hadn't traveled much and the sender of the letter was just nearby. Apparently, he was right because the sender of the letter was none other than the Headmistress herself.
My apologies for intruding at this late hour but there is a serious matter we need to discuss, Professor. I would appreciate it very much if you could come to my office as soon as you receive this note.
Again, my sincere apologies, Professor.
Cedric sighed. He thought he would able to retire early that night. He was so exhausted. But apparently, he wouldn't. It was the Headmistress asking his presence, after all. He shouldn't complain. So after releasing another great sigh, he went to his wardrobe, retrieved decent clothes and immediately got dressed. As soon as he was appropriate-looking, he stormed out of his chambers and journeyed towards Professor McGonagall's office.
Cedric's knuckles came knocking gently on the wooden door of Professor McGonagall's office. He heard a faint "Please come in" after the third knock.
"Good evening, Headmistress. You wanted to see me?" Cedric greeted as he closed the door behind him.
Professor McGonagall was seated behind her table, still wearing her robes and cloak she wore at dinner. Her specs were still settled on the bridge of her nose and she was surveying a parchment with the Ministry's seal when Cedric finally reached her. "Please sit down, Professor."
Once Cedric was seated, he asked the Headmistress. "Professor, what do you want to discuss at this late hour?"
Professor McGonagall laid down the parchment she was reading and took her glasses off. She peered at Cedric with a serious face. "Again, I'm deeply sorry for disturbing you tonight, Professor Diggory." At this, her expression turned softer. "But I have something to discuss with you."
"Fire away, Headmistress."
"It's about Miss Chang."
Cedric's eyes widened at the mention of Cho. He abruptly sat up straight and crunched his eyebrows in confusion. Why would the Headmistress talk about Cho with him? "Miss Chang, Headmistress? Cho?"
"You heard right, Professor Diggory," came the Headmistress' answer.
"W-what about her, Ma'am?"
"Well, she had asked for permission if she could come to the castle and talk to you, she flooed me yesterday. I told her she could by next week but I don't think that's needed. I think you should visit her, instead, tonight." The professor casually explained.
"What?" Cedric almost yelled. "Why do I have to be the one to visit her? If there's something she wanted to talk about, we could just talk about it in my office. Just like what we do with everybody else."
Professor McGonagall sat up straighter in her chair and put her hands together. "You used to visit her before, didn't you? Besides, she's not like 'everybody else', am I right?"
Cedric raised his eyebrow. "W-what do you mean?"
"You know exactly what I mean." Professor McGonagall said with raised eyebrows. "It's been months since you last visited her. Are you avoiding her, Professor Diggory?" Professor McGonagall's eyebrow rose.
Cedric sighed. Suddenly, the formal air around them dissolved. It was replaced by an awkward aura. Uneasy silence wrapped around them. Cedric raked his mind for an answer. He didn't know what he should say. He didn't know if he should say yes and confirm it or just deny it and lie. So he settled for a safe answer. "What I did was for the best, Professor." He said as he brushed his hands over his face and up to his hair, combing it nervously.
"So you are avoiding her. How can it be for the best?"
"I can't explain it, Professor. I just know it." Cedric said, his voice cracking. "It's what's best for the both of us. I'm sure of it." As he finished, he bowed his head and focused his eyes on a stitch on the hem of his muggle-style polo shirt.
"You are not sure of that. I can tell it and you know it." Professor McGonagall said, her face not faltering. The Headmistress looked at Cedric for a long moment and when Professor McGonagall opened her mouth again, she said things that Cedric never imagined the Headmistress saying. "You don't know what else to do so you settled for the easiest, didn't you? You decided to save your own feelings. You decided to be selfish."
Cedric's head snapped back at the Headmistress. At first, he was shocked. But then his anger slowly mounted. He didn't want to be disrespectful, (job aside, Professor McGonagall was still older than him. Not to mention that he had been looking up to her greatly even when he was still just a student. He even thought of her as an elderly relative) but to be accused of being selfish... How could she even say that Cedric had chosen to be selfish? She didn't even know how much he had to give up for that decision. "W-what are you saying, Professor? How can you say that? You don't even know how hard it was for me." Cedric accused.
"Don't be offended, Mr. Diggory." Professor McGonagall said. "I'm only saying the truth."
Cedric stared dumbfounded at the Headmistress. She was acting differently towards him at that moment. Yes, she was stern and strict. But usually, when she was talking to him, she was, more or less, gentle. She always talked to him like he was a grandson of hers or something of that sort. All throughout his years at Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall had been like a guardian to him. His father was treated like a son by the former Deputy Headmistress because Cedric's grandfather and the Professor had been childhood friends. She had always looked after him even though he was a Hufflepuff and not a Gryffindor. The whole school had thought he was the favorite of the Professor among all the students she taught in all her years. His other friends even said that if Harry was the pet of the late Headmaster Dumbledore, he was the pet of Professor McGonagall. Hearing her saying those things to him, Cedric was over himself with shock.
"I may not know the whole story, Cedric," the Professor used his first name; back then, that always made him listen to her. "But during the past months that you were visiting her, you were happy. I saw it in your eyes. And based on how troubled her face was and how dead her eyes seemed to me when I saw her through my grate yesterday, I presumed she enjoyed those times as well. Now, I am not asking you to do nothing else but talk to her. Talk everything out." The Professor finished.
Until then, Cedric was still speechless. He still didn't know what to say. He wanted to defend himself, to tell her that he wasn't selfish and that he did it for Cho as well. He wanted to say all that to the Headmistress, but he couldn't find his words. He was angry, he was shocked, he was disappointed and he was a mess. All the pressure of the months that he avoided Cho was falling down on him now. His mind was racing with questions of doubt and his heart was pumping loud. Did he really do the right thing? Or did he just do the easy thing?
Professor McGonagall sighed and made to open her mouth again to speak but even before her voice made it out of his throat, she saw Cedric nodding.
"Okay, Professor. I'll talk to her." Cedric decided. He was still uncertain about the decision but he really couldn't get out of it. Not with the Professor pushing him to do it. He wasn't sure if he would like to talk to Cho but he really had no choice. "Can I use your fireplace? I don't feel like apparating" Cedric asked. His voice was low and tentative.
Professor McGonagall nodded without a word. With her arms outstretched towards the fireplace, she pointed at the pot of floo powder settled at the foot of the grate. She stood up from her seat and followed Cedric towards the fireplace.
Immediately, Cedric ducked and took a pinch of powder between his thumb and index finger. He stepped onto the floor of the fireplace, turned around and faced the Professor, who stood straight in front of the said grate. With one swift motion and a mumble of Cho's address, Cedric was swallowed by a blaze of green.
The Headmistress, now left alone in her office, sat back down onto her seat. She brought her fingers on her nose and caressed the bridge of it. She didn't want to have to depress Cedric just to convince him to talk to Cho, but she didn't have any choice. Unknown to the young man, the witch in question had spilled the details to the Headmistress. Minerva didn't know why Cedric decided to avoid Cho all of a sudden. But she did know that both of them were devastated by the unexplained turn of events. She admitted that it wasn't her business to intervene but she was afraid that if she didn't push Cedric to see Cho and talk everything out, both would someday make a bigger decision that they would regret for the rest of their lives.
Cedric Diggory stumbled out of Cho Chang's grate clumsily. The green blaze turned back to orange as soon as Cedric stepped out of it. As soon as his feet came in contact with the navy blue – almost black – carpet on Cho's floor, he looked around to find the witch in question. His mind was still unsettled, his heart was thudding against his ribs and he just noticed that his fists were tightly closed and shaking. To ease the shaking – and also because of pity for his already bone-white knuckles – Cedric decided to brush the ashes clinging to his shirt.
I'm here, now what? Cedric asked himself. What would he do now that he was here? What would he say? What would happen now? There were so many questions swimming in his mind but they were interrupted by a set of approaching footsteps. He looked up automatically.
There she was, standing a few feet from him holding a cup of what looked to Cedric like tea. It had been a few months since he last saw Cho and despite their situation, he couldn't control the thrumming of his heart – that turned even louder – at the sight of her. Cho was probably going to bed as well because she was wearing her lilac night gown under a white robe. Her hair was hanging down, freely framing her face. She looked shocked to see him, which was understandable because it was already nearly ten and he came without notice.
Cho's eyes widened when she saw who was standing with his back turned to her grate and brushing his shoulders. She didn't expect Cedric to come. Her heart drummed loudly in her chest, her breath suddenly caught in her throat. She took in the sight of him. From his wind-swept hair, – this was probably due to floo travel – to his soot-covered clothes and to his troubled face. She paused at his face. His eyebrows were joined in the middle, creating creases on his forehead. It indicated only three things. It was either he was confused, he was angry or he was both. She wanted desperately to smooth the creases. It didn't look good on him. His lips were pressed together and twisted in a disturbed way. Everything in his face looked uneasy, nervous, especially his eyes. The hazel orbs that she loved to look into and be drowned in its jolly glow were sad; the glow was dull. It frightened her to see him at that state. He looked really troubled. She wondered if she looked the same. "I-I didn't expect you to come here." Cho mumbled under her breath.
"Neither do I." was Cedric's curt answer.
"What do you mean, neither do you?" Cho asked as she walked towards the couch, which was facing the fireplace. She nervously indicated the spot beside her and urged him to sit down.
Cedric stiffly obliged to her request. He sat at the couch, on the farthest side as far away from her as the couch allowed. There was dense awkwardness lingering in the air around the two of them. "I was forced to come here by the Headmistress."
Cho stiffened once she heard Cedric's explanation. He said it with such coldness that suggested that he really wouldn't come of his own accord. "Oh. Errr. Is that so?"
"Yeah. She told me to come and talk to you." Cedric answered while still not sparing her even a glance. His eyes were fixed at the fireplace and his hands were enclosed together.
"Well, I wanted to talk to you. I flooed her yesterday, asking for permission to come to the castle and-"
Cedric cut her off mid-sentence. "I know. Just get on with it." He was still nervous, that was apparent because his hands were still shaking. He desperately prayed that she didn't notice it. He still didn't know what to say and now, he really didn't know if he wanted to talk to her. At the moment he saw her again, all the hurt and all the temptation of seeing her that he turned down during those months came crashing down on him. At one moment, while he looked at her and she was also surveying him with a frown on her face, he wanted to hug her, to tell her that she shouldn't be sad and it'll be alright. But he knew he'd be lying if he told her that. Everything will never be alright between them again. It will never be like before again because what happened between them before was wrong, very wrong. Right at that moment, he knew the answer to his question. He really did choose the easy way by avoiding her– the easy way for both of them.
Cedric knew that it would be easier for both of them to just avoid each other. Now that she was engaged and about to marry Harry, he was sure that she was just confused before and what she really wanted him to be was the best friend he always was. But he didn't know if he could remain that way. After seeing her stare at him, at his eyes the way she did before, the way she kissed him back when he kissed her and the way she leaned against his chest when he held her, he couldn't forget all those and settle for being just a best friend again, he couldn't…ever again. So if she wanted to talk to him and get her best friend back, she would just fail and she would be hurt as badly as Cedric was hurting right now. Cedric didn't want to put her through that so he made his decision. He should just continue avoiding her and better yet, make her hate him so that she wouldn't hope and be disappointed anymore. He was going to make her hate him. He was already doing it now. He was slowly building up a barrier wall between the two of them.
Cho's eyes reduced to slits when she heard what Cedric said. She didn't like his tone. It irritated her. She took a deep breath to calm herself a bit and said. "I don't know how to start."
Cedric gave a fake exasperated sigh and said, without batting an eyelash, "Well, don't go wasting my time."
"What?" Cho asked, her patience wearing down. Her voice slightly escalated in volume.
"I said, don't waste my time. Say what you want to say now so I can go back to the castle and have the sleep I was robbed with. I have classes to teach tomorrow and we have a lot of topics to discuss. I couldn't afford sleeping and waking up late because of some rubbish. If you have anything to say, say it now. I'm here, get on with it." Cedric finished his babble. He kept his face sour as if he was irritated and desperately wanting to go home and sleep when what he really wanted was to go home and vent his anger, towards the injustice of life, to something else but Cho. With that cold statement to make her hate him, Cedric cemented the last brick on the wall standing between him and Cho.
Cho stared at him, her eyes welling up with tears. That last statement from Cedric hit a spot on her patience. And now, instead of being angry, she had been emotional. What's his problem? She thought to herself. What was happening? Why did he suddenly turn to this cruel man? This couldn't be Cedric. She desperately convinced herself. Cedric wouldn't say these things to her. He wouldn't ever. Her lips, which were supposed to be moving and answering him, trembled but her throat didn't release even a single sound besides stifled whimpers. Her head slowly bowed to conceal her teary eyes.
A scoff was heard from Cedric's direction and Cho immediately snapped her eyes back to him. "I'll be leaving, then." Cedric said and then after that, without another word, he walked to the fireplace. He already had floo powder enclosed in his fist when suddenly, Cho yelled at him.
"What in the blazes is your problem, Cedric?" Cho yelled. She couldn't take it anymore. She couldn't just sit there and let him treat her like that. After avoiding her for months, this was what he was going to treat her? As of what she remembered, she didn't do anything wrong. "Why are you being like this?"
"Being what?" Cedric asked, his face still as hard and cold as ice. He still didn't turn around and was still facing the fireplace.
"Why are you treating me like this?" Cho demanded, her voice increasing in volume. Her eyes were red and streaming with tears. She had stood up now and was standing behind Cedric.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Cedric replied.
"Look at me! Look at me when I'm talking to you!" Cho shouted at him. She clutched his forearm with her hands and wheeled him around to face her. Once they were face to face, new wave of tears flowed down from her face again. Cedric's face was still emotionless and blank. It was more hurting than having him shout at her. "You bastard! You avoided me for months and then you just suddenly decided to treat me this way when you finally showed up? What're you playing at?" When Cedric still didn't answer, she clutched handfuls of his collar and shook him as hard as her female strength could allow. "Answer me!"
Cedric still didn't give a response and instead waited for her to calm down and cease her hold on him. On the outside, he looked like an emotionless statue but on the inside, little by little, he felt like his wall barrier was gradually shaking. He was afraid that if he continued seeing her cry and hurt, the wall would slowly crumble down. That couldn't happen. He couldn't let her cross the wall he had built between them. He shouldn't let her.
Once Cho's hand had slipped away from his shirt, Cedric said, "Look, Cho. I don't know what you're talking about. I'm not doing anything to you. You are the one holding me up like this and wasting my time." He finished. His voice was slowly losing its stony sound so to hide it, Cedric plastered a fake irritated expression on his face and made his voice sound annoyed, instead. "You're being immature."
As soon as the last word left Cedric's lips, Cho's palm slapped against his left cheek. The sound rang through the stone walls of Cho's flat. "You know what you are? You know what you are when you do this? You're a – selfish – thoughtless – cruel – bastard!" As an added effect of her anger towards him, she punctuated each insult with a blow to his chest. Yes, she was being violent but it was the only way she knew she could vent out her anger. He was being unfair to her and it hurt her so much.
Cedric's cheek stung at Cho's slap. His jaw tightened and he looked down on the top of her head as she banged his chest with her fists. He shook as her knuckles came in contact with his chest. His wall was being beaten by a huge battering ram and any minute now, the bricks might go falling, falling, falling down.
Cedric's lips were tightly pressed together as he endured the pain of her punches. His eyes gazed at her and for a fleeting moment, his eyes showed the torment he was feeling inside; only, Cho didn't see it. Then, suddenly, without thinking about what he was saying, he mumbled under his breath, "It's better this way…" Without his consent, Cedric's wall was slowly falling apart, brick by brick.
The whisper mumbled by Cedric was barely audible but Cho was sure of what she heard. At that moment, she snapped her head towards him and glared at him. "What's better this way? This? Us? You're enjoying this? You're enjoying every-freaking-moment-of-torturing-me, aren't you?" Cho continued hitting him.
Cedric closed his eyes as his breath became ragged while Cho hit him again. With his eyes closed and his jaws tight, he said, "Stop this." When she still didn't stop, he opened his eyes, ceased her wrists in his hands and pulled it away from his chest. He looked intently at her face. "I said stop this!"
"I won't stop hurting you because you won't stop hurting me, either!"
And the wall fell down with horrifying force…
"You think I want this? You think I want to hurt you?" Cedric shouted, his reserve and calm façade suddenly turned into a tormented demeanor. He had failed in his plan. He couldn't hurt her purposely. Not when he lived his life trying to protect her, even resorting to forgetting his own happiness just for her. The wall was now nothing but dust flying away with the cruel wind.
"Don't you?" Cho yelled back with as much intensity.
"I'm not doing this for me, Cho! This is for your own sake!"
"Oh. Is that so?" Cho said as she wiped the tears from her cheeks. Sarcasm dripped off of her words. "Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Diggory. I didn't realize you were insulting me, oh, hurting me, and mistreating me, for my own sake. My bad, sorry."
"Drat it, Cho. Stop this. Please, just stop this." Cedric begged. He averted his eyes from her and looked at a far corner of the room. He couldn't look at her in the eyes without breaking down, himself.
"Stop what? Now, I'm the one doing something to you? Between us, I wasn't the one hurting the other, Cedric." Cho accused. "It's you." She poked his chest hard with her finger just to make the emphasis on her words. "I might be hurting you physically, but you're doing more than that to me."
"Please, just let me walk away from this, Cho. Let me go now before we – I – make much more… damage." Cedric tried hard to hide the sadness in his voice and face. But in the end, his voice still sounded thick and his face crumpled as if he was being tortured. Even if he continued turning his face away from Cho's sight, the pained expression on every inch of it still showed.
"Tell me one thing." Pleaded Cho, her face slowly losing its angry tone at the sight of Cedric's pained expression. She placed her palm in Cedric's cheek – where she had slapped him earlier – and turned his head to face her. "Why are you trying so hard to avoid me?"
Finally, Cedric stared into her eyes and instead of answering, he asked her a question as well. "Why is it so important that I stop avoiding you? Answer me, Cho. Why are you stopping me?"
Cho froze. She was taken aback. Her hand that was resting at Cedric's cheek slipped to his shoulder as she stared at him, her lips, slightly agape. Why, indeed? Why was it a big deal for her if he started avoiding her now? He had done it before after graduating from Hogwarts. Ever since then, she hadn't heard from him. She didn't even make an effort to try and contact him again. She was so busy with Harry and her relationship with him that she had forgotten about her best friend and through time, she had chased him away from her mind completely. She had lost her best friend before and she didn't even care back then. Why was it different now? Why didn't she want to lose him now?
"Answer me. I did it before, didn't I? I stayed away from you before. You didn't even notice that I was gone even after all that we've been through. Why does it make a difference now? Why does it matter to you now?" Cedric asked again when Cho failed to answer right away.
"I-I don't know." Cho stammered. It was an honest answer. She didn't know or maybe she just didn't know yet. There was an emotion, a feeling inside her that she refused to vocalize to Cedric until now. To say the truth, she thought she was sure when she felt it but was she ready to take the risk and tell him that she loved him now? Taking that aside, there was one thing that she was sure of: She didn't want to lose him again. "Maybe… maybe I just don't want to lose my b-best friend again."
With that, Cedric forcefully shrugged Cho's hand off of his shoulder "I knew you'd say that." He turned towards the fireplace once more after that. Cho hastily wheeled him back again. His face was, once again, as blank as it was when he arrived.
"Where are you going?" Cho asked.
"Going home, where else?" Cedric simply replied.
"Why? What's wrong with what I said?"
"Then why the hell are you leaving?" Cho bellowed.
"You wanna know? Because I'm tired! I'm tired of this!" Cedric yelled back.
Cho stared back at Cedric with worried eyes. He looked back at her with pained eyes. Cho didn't know what was wrong and clearly, that was hurting Cedric. "What are you tired of? What do you mean? Please, can't we talk about this?"
Cedric faced her fully. He looked down on her; his lips turned down at the corners and were slightly trembling. "Nothing will change even if we talk about this. I'm tired of this, all of this."
"Won't you tell me what you're tired of? You keep telling me you're tired. You're tired, you're tired and you're tired but you wouldn't tell me what of. What are you tired of?"
"I'm tired of loving you and not being loved back!" Cedric shouted at her. That was it. He finally said it. All those years of hiding it from her and now he revealed it by shouting at her. He just couldn't handle it anymore. "I'm tired of just being the best friend, Cho! I'm tired of being left out, being forgotten as though I don't exist!" He frustratingly combed his hair with his hand. "Do you know how painful it was, the fact that you've forgotten me so easily and everything we've been through and done just because of Harry? Do you know how hard it was for me to accept the fact that you love him and you will never love me?"
The silence of the night crept upon them as soon as Cedric finished talking. Cho couldn't speak. It was as though the silence had made her mute. She stared at Cedric but he didn't look at her. Instead, he looked down on the floor, his jaw tight and his cheeks flushed.
"And then after I have started moving on and forgetting you, you decided to show up on my doorstep and bombard my life again." Cedric continued. "You came back into my life just so you can make me fall for you once more and now that I have, you're gonna hurt me all over again. You're gonna leave me just like before." He finished. His voice cracked at the last word.
The orange blaze from the fireplace reflected on Cho's face. The orange light danced on her flushed, tear-streaked cheeks. Is it true? She asked herself. Did Cedric really love her? That was what she heard but weren't her ears just playing tricks on her? "Y-y-you love me?"
"Yes. I loved you before, I still love you now and I don't even know if I can even stop loving you. Happy now?"
"W-why didn't you tell me?" Cho asked, trying to keep her voice from trembling. Her fists were balled up at her sides, her knuckles turning white.
Cedric scoffed. "What's the point, Cho? What's the point of telling you?"
"You loved me before." Cho said, her voice gradually increasing in volume. "Since when?"
"I don't remember when I started loving you. I only know that that time at the Yule Ball, I already did." Cedric answered. "Why does it matter now, anyway?" He gave a bitter laugh. "It doesn't matter now Cho."
"You loved me and you didn't even tell me?" Cho bawled. "Forget the time during your last year. What about months before? What about telling me before you started being a fool and avoiding me?"
"What's the point, Cho?" Cedric asked again, his voice leveling with Cho in terms of volume. "What difference would it make if I told you? What would've changed if I told you?"
"It would have made a huge difference!" Cho argued with him. Both of them were now leaning nearer towards each other on the heat of their arguments. Their faces were merely inches apart.
"A huge difference?" Cedric gave a humourless, bitter laugh. "Why? If I told you then that I love you, would you have told me that you love me too-"
"W-what?" Taken aback, Cedric instantly leaned away from Cho. His eyebrows crunched together in the middle. "Y-you love me?"
"I-I don't know." Cho looked down on her feet, her hair cascaded from behind her ears and she nervously brushed them away from her face, tucking it back behind her ears. "I thought before that I love you. It came to my mind but I don't know for sure. There's only one thing I'm sure of right now, Cedric. I don't want you to stay away from me again. I don't want to lose you once more." A lone tear from her left eye fell down to the carpet. She looked back up into his face. She searched his face and finally, her gaze fell to his eyes. She looked intently into the brown glow of it. "Please, don't leave me again, Cedric." With that, the rest of her tears fell down from her eyes. But unlike before, it wasn't hysterical crying. It was the kind of soft crying that showed the pain she kept within herself during those months that Cedric had avoided her.
"Shhh." Cedric mumbled, putting his hands on her cheeks and wiping her tears away with his thumbs. Now that he looked back on his conversation with the Headmistress, he thought that this might be what she meant. She had wanted him to talk to her, talk things out. At that right moment, Cedric felt guilty that he had been selfish and avoided Cho without even talking to her. But then a thought struck him. "B-but what about Harry. What about your marriage?"
Cho had already stopped crying as soon as she figured that Cedric's gestures might've meant that he wouldn't leave anymore. She started calming down but at the instant that Cedric reminded her of Harry, she felt an unknown feeling clench her stomach. She didn't know what it meant but it oddly felt like the kind of sensation a person feels when she has a gut feeling that something bad was bound to happen: sooner or later. She pushed the feeling aside and concentrated on Cedric, instead. "Wait, marriage? What marriage?"
"The one they were talking about on the Daily Prophet."
"Don't tell me you believed that." Cho said, her eyebrows turning up. She took Cedric's hand away from her cheek in a gentle way. She let their hands drop on their sides.
"Well, I kinda did. Why, isn't it true?"
"Oh Merlin," Cho exhaled. Her eyebrows furrowed in frustration as if she had had this conversation with everybody else and was getting tired of it. Indeed, she had and she was. "Don't tell me that's the reason you started avoiding me."
"Uhhhh…" Cedric's eyes flashed with guilt.
Cho sauntered from the front of the fireplace and sat down at the couch. She had only felt it now but the shouting session with Cedric while standing up certainly caused her legs to feel all pins and needles. She sat down on the couch with a plop. Cedric guiltily followed her and sat on the spot beside her. She looked irritated.
For a moment, Cedric thought she was irritated with his stupidity. But then she spoke again.
"That Rita Skeeter surely should be put to her place. Ugh! It's all her fault!" Cho said with irritation. She put her face in her palms and sighed. "It's not true, Ced. A teammate of ours had a trouble with proposing and Harry helped him by making a demo. Unfortunately, he asked my help. It's just that and nothing more. Harry and I have nothing more than that now."
"Oh, hell." Cedric cursed. He slapped his forehead with his palm. "I'm an idiot!" He scolded himself mentally for being stupid enough to believe the rumour. How could he be so stupid? He had forgotten all about Rita Skeeter and hastily believed her lies. "Stupid, stupid, stupid!" Cedric slapped his forehead again with each word.
"That, you are." Cho joined him in the scolding. She removed her hands from her face and looked at Cedric, her hands landed on her hips. "You shouldn't have believed that easily."
Cedric turned his head to her and plastered a guilty smile. "Forgive me, Ms. Chang?" He teased just like how he used to before. "I'm sorry. I was in idiot, Cho. Please forgive me."
"Oh, I don't know…" She teased back, playfully looking down and playing with her fingernails. It was a bit odd that they were now teasing each other when only minutes before, they were shouting their lungs out at each other. But even so, she was glad that they had fixed it and much more.
Cedric's shoulders drooped dramatically but he placed a hand on her chin and tilted it up to make her look at him. He looked her in the eyes. His own eyes were glinting with mischief unlike when he first arrived that night with his gaze blank and unfeeling. Cho sighed with relief at that fact. "Look at me. Look at this face and tell me you can't forgive me. Go on, say it."
Then, Cedric's gaze turned serious. "No, seriously, Cho. I'm sorry."
"Why the sudden change of attitude, Mr. Diggory?" Cho teased again.
Cedric smiled at her and continued. "I'm sorry if I rushed into a decision without even thinking about it. I'm sorry if I hurt you and most of all, sorry for acting harsh and stupid tonight. I'm, seriously, really sorry."
Cho smiled at him. "I guess I could accept that apology. You're forgiven. But-" She held up a finger. "Don't do it again. Or else, I'll roast you alive on that fireplace." She finished, pointing to her grate.
Cedric gulped loudly, pasting a scared expression on his face. "Yes, milady. Understood." His finger was still under her chin.
They stared at each other's eyes intently. The intensity of their gaze heated the air around them. It was as if both of them were trying to see the other's soul through their eyes. The crackling of the fire was the only noise besides their heavy breathing. At that moment while she looked at his eyes, Cho became sure that she really did love him. Their warm breaths mingled with each other as their faces stayed inches apart. And after what felt like several hours of staring at each other, it might have been only a few minutes or several seconds, I can't really tell, Cedric, slowly leaned down, their lips so close to each other. Cho was the one who decided to seal the gap. But before their lips even met, they heard the loud crunching of the coals in the fire and they saw a flash of green blaze on the grate at the corner of their eyes.
"Oh, my. I-I-I'm so s-s-orry." Harry Potter stammered. He had accidentally flooed Cho right at the moment when she was doing something he shouldn't have seen. He looked at the guy with Cho and immediately recognized him.
"Oh, Cedric! How have you been? It has been a long time, mate! How are you?" He seemingly forgot the awkward situation and proceeded to greeting his companion. "How's life? What are you doing here?" Harry continued to blab questions.
Cho and Cedric immediately broke apart when they saw Harry's head poking out from the emerald flames. Cho's cheeks flushed red while Cedric's eyes widened.
"Oh, Harry. Hey there." Cedric awkwardly said after Harry had finished ranting. He nervously scratched the hair on the back of his neck. "Errrm…"
Harry, finally realizing what he had done and what scene he had interrupted on, felt his cheeks warm up with blood. He blushed fiercely and immediately stammered another apology. "Oh, my bad. I forgot. I'm really sorry I barged in like that. I didn't know Cho had a…" His eyes trailed to Cedric, a mischievous smile replacing his apologetic one. "…a visitor. I was just going to borrow some broomstick polish from Cho's kit. Mine had run out. But seeing as you two are…busy…never mind. I'll just go and you guys continue your…conversation…" Harry said and then winked. Then, he was out of the fireplace. The fire turned orange once more.
"Well, that was awkward." Cedric mumbled as he continued to stare at the fireplace.
That night, Cho requested Cedric to stay with him. Naturally, he obliged and so after a long talk and conversation about what had been happening in their lives as of the past months and a few other "conversations", they fell asleep on the couch; Cedric had his arm draped on the head of the couch and Cho had leaned into it as a pillow, her own arm draped over Cedric's torso. They had a wonderful rest after nights of uneasy sleep. Sleeping on the cramped couch didn't seem to bother them much. As long as they were together and everything was settled, that was all they could ask for.
Several minutes before the break of dawn, Cedric woke up. He had been used to this waking up habits since he started teaching at the castle. During these hours, the Professors were already supposed to prepare for class. He looked down on the lady beside him on the couch with her arms draped over his chest. "Wake up, my lady." He murmured to her ear.
Cho stirred and opened an eye. "Huh?"
"I have to go. I have classes, remember?"
Cho stretched her arms over her head and looked up at his face. "You'll come back, won't you?"
"As soon as possible. Now, go back to sleep." Cedric said. He stood up from the couch – he was on the open side – and stretched. After stretching, he ducked slightly and proceeded to tucking one arm behind Cho's knees and the other on her back. He lifted her easily.
"What are you doing?" Cho asked. "I'm able to walk, thank you very much."
"Just go back to sleep, okay?" Cedric told her as he walked towards Cho's bedroom. Once they were at her room, he settled her down on her bed. He sat down at the edge of it. "I'll see you later." He murmured as he tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
"Take care, okay?" Cho struggled to say. Her eyes were slowly drooping as she released a huge yawn. Her bed was begging her to go to sleep already. "I love you." She managed to mumble before she nodded off to dreamland.
Cedric fondly at her. "I love you too." He said as he kissed her forehead. He disapparated instantly after having another look at her peaceful sleeping form. He had one thought in mind as he twisted his body to disapparate. He had to thank the Headmistress, after all…
Cho awoke the next morning with a smile on her lips. Her night had been great. She had slept soundlessly and she felt good. She smiled as she remembered her last conversation with Cedric. Everything turned out to be alright, in the end.
She happily took a bath and changed into her training clothes. She had Quidditch practice that day with the Falcons. Hence, Harry's need of polishing his broomstick and ending up bursting in on them at that awkward moment. After preparing herself, she went down the ground floor of the Demeure and out to the street.
Once she was out, she readied herself to disapparate to Falcons' quarters but then decided against it. The day was wonderful. A bit of stroll wouldn't hurt. Besides, she was really in the mood.
The bright morning sunrays landed on Cho's long, shiny hair. She wore her usual training clothes and her broomstick was kept on its safety bag and the servicing kit was held in one of her hands. She was going to walk up to the boundaries of the French wizarding village. From there, she was going to apparate to the quarters.
Cho Chang walked with a bounce. Her lips were turned up in a smile. Nothing could tamper her good mood today, she thought. But she was proven wrong as she rounded a corner and passed a dark alley on her way to the boundaries of the village.
"Umph!" was the sound that Cho made when a hand was pressed forcefully over her mouth, preventing her to shout or even speak. Next, she felt burly arms wrap around her waist and pull her towards the dark alley. She was pulled against the body of a person pulling her deeper into the shadows of the alley.
After making sure that they were already hidden by the shadows, the person holding Cho loosened its hold on her waist.
Cho thought the person was going to let her go when the hold on her waist was removed but then she felt a cold sharp something pressed against her neck and her blood ran cold. A shiver went down her spine. Her heart thrummed against her chest. That was when the person talked to her.
"Hello, little girl." The man whispered. His voice was ragged and vicious. His breath hit Cho's ear and it gave her another shiver down her spine. "I wanted to talk to you but I can't let you shout. So forgive me for covering your mouth." Said the man but his voice suggested that he wasn't the least bit sorry for his actions. He sounded like he was incredibly enjoying Cho's fright.
"Hmp-mh-ghg" Cho yelled against the hand of the man. She told him to let her go but of course it didn't make any sense because her mouth was pressed shut.
"Don't worry, little lady. I'll make this quick." The man said as he pressed the sharp edge of his knife harder on Cho's throat. It was a miracle it hadn't cut her yet. But then again, she didn't want it to.
At that moment, Cho thought the man was going to kill her and to 'make it quick', he will just slit her throat. Her knees trembled and her whole body shook. She didn't know what she did to the man for him to kill her. She didn't even recognize his voice, let alone know his identity. What could be the reason for his capture of her? How did her wonderful night and great day turn out like this? She was just happy she had taken care of everything with Cedric and now she was going to die.
"I was thinking of killing you, sweetheart." The man paused dramatically. He took his hand away from her mouth and wrapped it around her waist once more. Cho started to shrug him away but he tightened his hold on her and pulled her body harder against his. As an added effect to scare Cho, he took the blade off her throat and showed it to her.
The knife wasn't long but it was sharp. It was nicely polished and it gleamed against the pale light reflected on it. The edge of it was as sharp and thin as a paper but Cho would bet: it was far from being as soft as paper.
"If you wanted to kill me, why not just use a nice, clear Avada and be done with it?" Cho yelled at him once her mouth was free. She tried to cease her shaking and make her voice stop shaking to sound more firm. She decided not to let him know how scared she was. She didn't want him to have the pleasure. Though she still didn't know why he wanted to kill her, she wouldn't let him have the knowledge that he had won and made her scared to death first before he let death take over her literally.
"Shhhh, sweetie." The man mumbled against her ear once more as he pressed the flat of the blade against her lips. That made Cho shut up. "I told you, I planned to kill you. But I decided against it."
The man took the blade from Cho's lips and trained it against her throat once more.
"What do you want from me, you bastard!"
"I just need you to deliver a message." The man said.
"Do I look like an owl to you?" Cho said. She wanted to tackle him, punch him and get away but the feel of the knife against her throat paralyzed her. She had planned to hit him in the groin just so his hold on her will weaken and she could escape but then she thought that before she even got away from his hold on her waist, her throat might already been sprouting blood. She shuddered involuntarily.
"Sarcasm isn't really a choice right now, my dear. I'm being pitiful by letting you get away. All I want you to do is send my message." The man explained. "I'll know if you send my message or not. So you better be careful. You shouldn't tell him about this little meeting of ours and just tell him my message. Don't let him know anything else if you value your life."
"Who are you talking about?" Cho struggled to ask without letting the break in her voice indicate her panic.
The man chuckled coldly. He took the knife from her throat once again. Cho decided to give her a plan a try and escape but before she could, she felt something cold against her right arm. With an agonized shriek, the sharp blade slit her arm. She felt blood oozing from the wound.
"Let that mark remind you of my conditions." The man said. "Remember what I told you. And for my message... Tell him, 'Be ready. It hasn't ended yet. We have only just begun'…" With that, the man released Cho. He threw her against the wall he was formerly leaning against. She slid to the ground.
The pain from the wound numbed Cho's arm. She looked at the limb and saw blood soaking the sleeve of her sweater. The blood trailed down from the wound to her fingertips. As she looked at her wound, the smell of blood entered her nose and she almost fainted. She felt dizzy and she felt her world spin around. She looked up at the man. She still couldn't see his face. She was aware of what he told her. She knew his conditions, his threats and his message. But the problem is… she didn't know to whom the message was for and who to warn.
The man looked down on Cho and whispered his last word to her. "Tell Harry Potter my message. Nice doing business with you, Ms. Chang." With that, the man left Cho on the dark alley – alone and bleeding…
Harry took the letter, which he threw on the top of his table the past night, in his hand. He was already dressed for his Quidditch practice with the Falcons. In short, he was ready to go. But before leaving, he would send the letter that his owl refused to send the past night first.
"Okay, Fledge. It's time to send the letter." He went to the cage of the bird and unlatched the door. He coaxed the owl out the cage and pushed the letter between its beaks. To Harry's delight, the bird didn't refuse anymore and just took the letter. "Looks like you decided to be a good bird today." Harry smiled approvingly at the owl.
Fledge seemed to have accepted the fact that Harry had won and that he couldn't refuse anymore. But even then, he still looked back at Harry with sad and scared eyes.
Harry regarded the bird's worried eyes and decided to cheer him up a bit to prepare him for the long travel he would soon be doing. "Don't be sad. I promise, when you come back, a delicious meal would be waiting for you. Now, come on and send that letter." Harry stretched his arm towards the owl. Fledge stepped onto Harry's arm and he took him towards the window. "Okay, Fledge, take care!" With that, Harry threw the bird out the window and the bird flew away towards the South.
Harry gave a sigh of relief as he turned around to get his stuff. When he did so, he missed the chance to see a huge vulture pass his window and go after his owl. He was left unknowing of this fact.
When he was all set and prepared, he went out his door – he heard the locks click – and from there, he disapparated to the Falcons quarters.
A pop sounded and Harry arrived outside the gates of the Quidditch pitch of the Falcons. It had long been dedicated to the training of the French National Quidditch Team and for months, it had been a second home to Harry. The gate was open when he got there and so he made his way immediately towards the boys' dressing room. He figured the other male members were already there. Due to some unknown reason to Harry, – or he was just late always – they seemed to always arrive before him.
From the gate, Harry had to turn right if he wanted to go to the dressing room. The one on the left led to their common room, where they always held their meetings. From there, there would be another couple of passageways the one on the left leading to the boys' dressing room (left) and the girls' dressing room (right) .
Harry took the right and then left passageways and from his spot near their dressing room door, he heard a male's voice from the room. "The Wasps!" It said. The voice sounded angry. He figured it sounded like Nick when he was cursing a bludger he couldn't hit right.
"It must be them!" Nick's voice sounded again from the inside. That was when Harry decided to enter.
"The Wimbledon Wasps, you mean?" Patrick was asking Nick when Harry entered the room.
Everyone was already there when he arrived but none of them were wearing their Quidditch robes, even the boys. They were still wearing their normal clothes and both Irish and Yihsa were standing in front of Cho, who was sitting on one of the benches there. Every eye snapped to Harry when he entered.
"Guys, what's going on here? Why aren't any of you dressed yet?" Harry asked his teammates.
"We have to report them." Joe said to their team captain, ignoring Harry's question. He was sitting on the floor in front of the bench where Cho sat.
"We can't just do that, Joe. We don't have any proof." Argued Ayihsa, who proceeded to sitting down beside Cho.
"Isn't that enough of a proof?" Nick frantically asked as he pointed towards Cho. He was leaning against the lockers.
"Whoa, whoa, wait. What's going on here? What happened? Who's going to be reported? And what happened to Cho?" Harry asked as he looked at Cho and tried to detect what was wrong with her.
Cho looked up at him and they locked eyes. When she looked at him, he immediately noticed the worried glint in her eyes. She was also unusually pale and her lips were pulled down in a frown. Her right arm was cradled in her left. "What happened to you, Cho?"
Harry made his way towards Cho. Ayihsa automatically stood up and gave her seat to Harry. She, in turn, sat beside Joe on the ground. Harry took Cho's right arm. She winced as he held it. Irish, who was now kneeling in front of Cho, – who refused to answer – started folding Cho's right sleeve. Harry helped her by holding Cho's arm carefully as she folded the sleeve even though he didn't know why she was folding it. But after the sleeve was folded up to Cho's shoulder, Harry instantly knew the reason for Cho's pale complexion. He gasped when he saw what was hidden under her clothing.
"What happened to this?" Harry exclaimed when he saw the long wound starting from Cho's shoulder and ending at the middle of her upper arm. The wound was already closed and no longer bleeding but its edges were a dark blue.
"She arrived here like that. The boys found her and brought her here. Her sleeve was completely soaked with blood when we saw her. We thought she got splinched but she said she wasn't." Ahyisa explained.
"What happened to you, Cho?" Harry asked her.
Cho looked at Harry's eyes worriedly as if he was the one hurt not her.
"Someone just pulled me into a dark alley and wounded me like this. Then he went away." Cho lied. She knew she had to warn Harry about what the man said, but there was no need to tell him at this time, not in front of everybody. She knew he wouldn't want the others involved in it. He would tell him when they were already alone. "After that, I apparated here and they saw me. They healed the wound."
"I healed her wound." Maverick said, his arms folded across his chest. His face was a mixture of seriousness and worry. He was seated at the other bench behind Cho and Harry. Patrick was seated beside him. "It was easy enough to stop it from bleeding. But even after I healed it, the edges of the wound remained blue. Nick and Joe checked it out and they said that whatever wounded her, it had poison in it."
"But no worries; the kind of poison on her wound is not the kind of poison that could harm her. The effect of the poison is just that it will remain like that. The scar would never be gone and its edges will remain blue. We reckon it'll be like that forever, like a curse." Joe continued what Mav started explaining.
"It's like a reminder of the deed forever." Nick finished with gritted teeth. He was apparently still angry.
"But didn't you see his face?" Harry continued interrogating Cho. Cho shook her head. "Who would do such a thing? And why Cho?" Harry questioned. He turned his head and looked at Patrick inquisitively.
"Actually, it's not only her." Irish was the one who answered for Patrick.
Harry turned his head towards Irish. "What do you mean?"
"We got attacked as well." Irish answered Harry.
Patrick continued what Irish started explaining. "Last week, we went to the fair and…errr… someone tried to give us a cursed necklace. Fortunately, I doubted the seller. He didn't look anything close to someone who would do a good thing. I pretended to trip and tipped the container of the necklace towards the seller. I was right, it was a cursed one, because he flew to the air the moment it touched his skin."
"We left after that because we reckoned if he was offering it to us, he couldn't be someone who has a good intention. He didn't deserve any help." Irish finished.
Harry was about to ask them a question when Joe interrupted.
"We were attacked too, Nick and I." Joe said, pointing to him and his brother, Nick. "We were at the pub the other night because a friend of ours was having a party there. We ordered firewhiskey. It was a good thing that our dad was a potioneer and we knew how to detect poison from normal liquids because the moment we smelled the liquid inside the cup, we knew there was poison in there."
"When we came to the bar and told them about the poisoned drink, we described the waiter who served it. We asked them where he was. Apparently, the bloke didn't work there. He was clearly someone who was there to do some dirty work." Nick finished for Joe.
"Why didn't you tell us about that earlier?" Yihsa, who apparently wasn't attacked, bellowed at her teammates. "Those things happened to you and you didn't even tell us immediately! What's wrong with you?"
Harry interrupted Yihsa's rant. "Who do you reckon did all this?"
"Who else?" Nick shouted angrily. "The Wimbledon Wasps, of course. They're trying to bring us down so that our match would have to be forfeited and they'd win." He emphasized his anger by banging his hand on the lockers.
Nick's fist hit Harry's locker and because of the impact, the door banged open. From the inside, a piece of folded parchment fell down to the floor. Despite his anger, Nick's face was apologetic when he stared at the locker door, which had the shape of his fist dented in the middle. He then looked at the parchment lying on the floor and bent to pick it up. "Sorry about that, Harry. I'll fix it later, I promise." He then brought the paper back inside the locker.
Harry was oblivious to the argument that followed Nick's accusation of the Wasps. He was busy following the piece of parchment with his eyes as Nick put it back inside the locker. He didn't remember putting that paper in there. If that was the case, how did it end up inside? He didn't know why but he felt like there was something weird about the parchment. "Wait, Nick. Give me that." He stood up from the bench after carefully settling Cho's arm down her lap.
Nick took the paper from the locker and handed it to Harry once he had reached him. "Why, what's that?" He curiously asked. Their other teammates had stopped talking now and were watching Harry with curious eyes.
"I don't know." Harry said as he stared at the folded parchment. He realized he was right and he hadn't seen that parchment before right after he unfolded it. Written on the parchment were the words that made Harry froze.
Nick, who was looking over Harry's shoulder and the parchment as well, stiffened when he saw the same words.
Right there at the middle of the brown parchment, written with red ink and in an unfamiliar scrawl were the words: WATCH YOUR BACKS…
AN: Who was the man who hurt Cho? What would happen to Fledge? Who was doing nasty things to the Falcons and why were Mav and Yihsa the only ones not attacked? What do those people want? You wanna know? Then wait for the next chapter. A bit of a cliffhanger there for you. I'll leave you with that for now. I'd like to thank those who waited patiently for this chapter and thank you as well if you stuck with this story even though the progress is very slow. And to my new readers, welcome and thank you for reading and reviewing. I hope you stick with me until the end of this fic.
To you, who has read this chapter, thank you and please review!