15 May 1998
Terry wondered whether the fact that the nurses on the Dai Llewellyn Ward all seemed to know him was a good thing or a bad thing. Well, to be fair, he knew them as well. As he walked down the ward corridor, he nodded and smiled at Jolie and Magda, two of the senior nurses on staff in the ward. He saw them nearly every day.
"She's awake, Terry, dear," Magda said, patting his arm as he passed.
"Thanks," he said, and Jolie winked at him, eyeing the bouquet in his hand. Terry blushed and hurried to an open door further along the hall.
"Hey," Terry said, smiling in the doorway. Cho looked up from the newspaper, her clouded expression clearing instantly.
"Hi, Terry," she said, pulling herself up on her pillows. Her injured right leg was wrapped in bandages and splinted to the knee atop a pillow, her hair was slightly disheveled, and she wore a hospital gown, but she was still remarkably beautiful, at least in Terry's opinion. Terry handed her the bouquet and sat down. He saw Fenrir Greyback's face glowering up at him from the newspaper, but didn't see the headline before Cho spoke.
"They're beautiful," she said, smelling the flowers and smiling at him. "Thank you." She reached for the vase on the table beside her bed, and Terry nearly leapt out of his seat trying to help her put the flowers in it. Cho smiled as Terry sat back again, blushing.
"How are you?" he asked in a would-be casual voice.
"I'm okay, thanks," Cho told him.
"I like the purple," Terry said, pointing to her toenails, which were peeking out of the bandages.
"Oh," Cho laughed. "Marietta came by yesterday, she did it."
"Really?" Terry asked. "Where's she been this past year?" Cho frowned slightly.
"She's been in hiding, protecting her dad from the Muggleborn Registration Commission," she said defensively. "After her mum got sacked, they weren't safe, so they all went to America."
Terry flushed. "Oh—I, uh, I didn't mean—er—"
Cho pursed her lips and shook her head. "I know, it's not a big deal."
"Right," Terry said miserably, looking down at Cho's blankets.
"So," she said finally, placing her hand on his shoulder, and Terry looked up. Cho was smiling. "Tell me how your appointment with Flitwick and McGonagall went."
"It was pretty good," Terry shrugged. "Trying to figure out if it would be better for me to go back and take my N.E.W.T. year over again, or just start on the Healer training here." He gestured around the room to indicate St. Mungo's. Cho nodded.
"Well, the way I've heard it, you sort of started your training last year," Cho said, lifting her eyebrows.
Terry shrugged. "Triage in a hidden room, with no medical records to back up my stories doesn't exactly count. But," he said slowly, "I don't think I'll go back to Hogwarts. I took enough practice exams to know I'd get E's at the very least. If I get recommendations from Flitwick and the others, I think I could probably start here soon."
"That's great," Cho said earnestly, patting his arm.
"Thanks," Terry said, smiling. He took a deep breath, steeling himself. "And that's kind of what I wanted to talk to you about, actually."
Cho blinked. "Okay?"
"Well, if I start my training, I'd probably get a place of my own. I've got enough gold saved up to pay for rent in a place in Diagon Alley for—well, for a while, since rates are so low there right now—and my parents said they'd help me if I needed it badly—but—" Terry closed his eyes and took another deep breath. "D'you—I mean…would you maybe like to come and move in with me?"
Cho stared at him, and for a brief moment, there seemed to hang in the air between them a memory of a very passionate kiss shared beneath a blue-and-gold ceiling, the night the Dark Mark had appeared above the Astronomy Tower and everything had changed. She started to smile softly, sadly.
"Terry," she said slowly, folding her hands in her lap and taking a breath.
"No, I know," he said. "It's completely mad, but—I—Cho, I really, really like you. And—well, we never got a chance to see how we really felt about each other—I just want to know if we could make it—you'll need a place, anyw—"
"I'm going to America," Cho interrupted gently.
Terry gaped at her, his mouth opening and closing several times.
"But—but—" he spluttered, shaking his head. He pointed to her leg. "Y-you can't!" he insisted. "You're hurt!"
"Injuries heal, Terry," Cho answered, taking his hand. "And when this bite gets better, I'm going to pack up what's left of my parents' things, clean out their bank vaults, and go somewhere that's far, far away from all of this."
She picked up the newspaper and held it before Terry's face. He took it and stared at the picture of Fenrir Greyback, snarling as he sat in a chained chair before the Wizengamot High Court, but this time he saw the headline.
GREYBACK SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT FOR WAR CRIMES.
Terry sighed. "He's going away," he said in relief.
"He's still too close," Cho said bitterly, and Terry looked up at her to see tears in her eyes. "I don't want to be anywhere that would let a monster like that live after what he did."
"Cho," Terry said in surprise.
"Oh, Terry, come on," she snapped. "Look what he did to me!" she cried, pointing to her leg. "Have you seen Lavender Brown recently? And what the bloody hell do you think happened to my parents?" she growled.
Terry's eyes widened. "I—Cho—n-not—you didn't say—"
"Because I thought I'd get my chance at him," she said angrily, wiping her tears away. "And I almost did." Cho folded her arms and looked away from him, towards the tiny window.
Terry sat back, feeling nauseous, confused, and completely miserable. Cho wiped a few more tears away, still not looking at him.
"It's okay to hate me," she said in a dry voice after a few minutes. "I know I'm pretty disgusted with myself."
Terry didn't answer for several long minutes. Then—
"No," he said firmly, looking up at her. Cho stared at him. "I don't hate you. If—if it had been my mum and dad, I would have done the same thing."
"What, gotten your leg half torn off?" Cho asked sullenly, adjusting herself and wincing horribly as she pulled her leg onto the pillow a bit more.
"No, I'd have tried to kill the one that did it," Terry said. "I don't know if I could have done it, but I would most definitely have tried."
Cho watched him, the last of her tears drying on her cheeks.
He sighed. "Look," he said slowly, reaching for her hand and holding it. "You're not going to be walking properly for a while," he told her, gesturing to her leg. "You should stay close to the hospital while your leg gets better."
"As soon as they give me the brace—" Cho interrupted, but Terry stopped her.
"There are a lot of reasons you should stay, Cho, at least for right now, and I'm trying very hard to give you one that's not personal," he said forcefully, and Cho was taken aback.
"Give me a year," Terry said. "One year, and we'll see how it goes. In a year, things will be different. In a year, your leg will be better, my training will be halfway done, and we'll have had a chance to really be together. I know you wouldn't even be listening right now if you weren't interested, so give me this chance. I don't know if it's going to work, either. But I think it's worth a shot."
Cho's lip was trembling as she stared at him.
"Please, Cho," Terry said, squeezing her hand. "You need a place to stay, and I'll have a place by the time you're out of here." Terry could feel blood rushing in his head, and it seemed to make his vision black out in time with his heartbeat; it was as though life was happening in freeze-frames. This moment, this yes or no, was the one thing for which Terry had been waiting for almost two years.
Cho pulled her fingers out of his, her hand covering her eyes, and she gave a little sob. Then she put her head back on the pillow and stared at the ceiling, tears spilling into her hair.
"Cho?" Terry asked gently, when she did not answer. Please, please, please, he thought desperately.
She raised her head and met his eyes with her beautiful black ones.
"Let me think about it," she said softly.
Terry blinked. "Uh—"
"Please, Terry? Come back tomorrow?" Cho asked pleadingly. "I promise I'll have an answer."
"Right," Terry said a little stiffly. He got up and walked to the door, waving his hand foolishly and not looking back at her. "See you tomorrow, Cho."
He didn't wait to hear what she answered. He was halfway out of the ward when he heard someone calling his name, and spun around. Cho was leaning on one leg against the wall of the corridor just outside her room, her face contorted in pain.
"Terry," she gasped, out of breath. "Wait."
"Cho!" Terry cried, hurrying over to her and glancing around, trying to find Magda or Jolie; the nurse's station was busy, but no one seemed to have noticed Cho's plight.
Terry threw his arms around Cho and helped her hobble back into her room.
"Just—here—" she said, pointing to the armchair in the corner of the hospital room. Terry helped her into it and drew his wand to conjure a footstool. He reached for the pillow on her bed and gently helped her lift her leg onto it atop the stool, then flopped into one of the visitor's chairs to glare at her.
"What did you do that for?" Terry snapped.
Cho had gone very white and was holding a shaking hand over her eyes, breathing heavily. Slowly, she looked up at him, her expression sharp. "You don't need to come back tomorrow," she said.
"Going to America?" Terry asked grouchily. "Well, bon voyage, it's been nice." He got up and walked to the door, not looking back at her.
"Terry," Cho said, so gently that Terry turned around. She was wiping her cheeks. "Come here." He did not move. "I'm not going to be getting up to chase you again, Terry, so come here," she said a little more insistently.
Reluctantly, Terry walked over to her. "What?" he mumbled.
Cho pushed herself up in the chair and reached for his shoulders, pulling his face close to hers.
"One year," she said seriously, staring into his eyes. And then she kissed him.
Fireworks exploded, sparks flew, walls fell, worlds collided, and Terry Boot was kissing Cho Chang, and everything was okay, if just for right now.
Two weeks later...
"It's like the street's waking up after…hibernation…or something," Cho commented, staring out the upper window onto Diagon Alley. She smiled slightly. "It's nice here," she told Terry, turning around to face the wide living room and kitchen area of the flat. "Really nice."
"Nicer than you thought it'd be, you mean," Terry chuckled as he set down her last suitcase by the coffee table, and he looked around, dusting his hands on his robes. He frowned around at the little flat from the kitchenette, which was where the front door stood. The living area was small, but comfortable, complete with a sofa, coffee table, and half-filled bookshelves. A tiny corridor led off the living room to the two small bedrooms and bathroom. "Me too, actually," he said with a shrug.
Cho smiled and she limped over to him, leaning on her walking stick. A metallic clink sounded on every other step, but the brace on her bad leg was invisible beneath her robes. "That's not what I meant at all."
He smiled and put his arms around her waist, and she did the same, but whacked the back of his leg with her stick.
"Oh," she said, chuckling a bit. "I'm sorry!"
Terry laughed. "You're a menace with that thing," he said. "First that poor, unsuspecting Healer—"
"That was an accident!" Cho laughed.
"—Then that witch out on the street—"
"She had it coming," Cho insisted, still giggling. "She was looking at you all wrong."
Terry grinned and kissed Cho's forehead. "Fair enough," he said. "After all, I might've gone with her."
Cho's mouth fell open, and she shoved his shoulder playfully. "Shut up, Terry," she advised him.
Terry nodded. "Yes, ma'am," he said obediently, and leaned in for a kiss, which Cho returned ecstatically. When they broke apart, Cho limped over to the sofa, leading Terry by the hand, and sat down, stretching out her legs. He put his arm around her shoulders and they both gazed around the little flat.
Cho sighed contentedly. "It's brilliant, Terry. I love it here." She leaned her head against his shoulder, and he stroked her hair gently.
"Me too, actually," Terry said, just before Cho sat up and kissed him again.
Round Six for the Thirty-Four Prompts Challenge! :) A Terry/Cho story! Once again, I feel the need to explain this. These two characters are not breaking canon by being together; Cho still marries her Muggle, just later on. Don't worry! :) Hope you enjoy!