The Seekers

"…Metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love."

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Chapter 1

Cho sat at the far end of the Ravenclaw table in the Great Hall. This was as close to isolation as she could get. The din of a hundred different conversations echoed from the ancient stones that made up Castle Hogwarts. Several different strains of laughter could be made out coming from various directions. It was a happy cheerful noise. It was completely inappropriate to Cho's mood.

"Are you okay, Cho?" asked a concerned voice.

Cho did not even turn to see who had asked, but simply nodded. She was so tired of people asking her that question. She was okay. She wasn't good or great. She wasn't bad or terrible. She was okay, and all things considered, that was more than enough. She really wanted to move on from all of this, but that simply would not be possible, until people stopped asking her whether or not she was okay.

She gazed around the Great Hall at her feasting schoolmates. They were joking, and laughing, and bringing their friends up to date on the experiences of summer. One might think, from their expressions, that absolutely nothing was wrong in the world. One might think that the previous year had ended just as every other year had ended. One might think that Cedric Diggory had not died. She did not have the luxury of that illusion. Every single 'Are you okay?' was just another reminder of that.

Feeling as if she were the only unhappy person in the world, Cho continued to scan the faces of those around her. She was sure there was not a single person in the entire room who could understand how she felt. As her eyes went across the Gryffindor table they came upon a small, pale, dark haired figure idly picking at the plate in front of him. She had been wrong. That one knew exactly how she felt.

Knowing it was pointless to continue scanning, she kept her eyes fixed on him. He looked terrible. He was emaciated and his skin was sallow. His eyes, which were normally his best feature, looked tired and dull. Looking at him, one got the impression they were looking at a very old man, much older than was possible for one with his features. On either side of him sat Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley, his constant companions since he had come to the school. Hermione was fussing over him and putting more food on his plate.

It wasn't unusual for Harry to come back to Hogwarts looking pale and malnourished, but he had never looked this bad before. Cho had heard rumors that he spent his summers with Muggles who beat him and starved him. She had no idea whether the rumors were true or not, and she rather doubted that Professor Dumbledore would allow such a thing to happen, but it was obvious that summers were not kind to Harry Potter.

He had been there when Cedric had died. Cedric's parents had told her the complete story. He had gone to great risk to bring back Cedric's body so that it could be given a proper burial. No one had ever doubted that Harry was brave. He had proven that to everyone many times before. Bravery seemed to have its price though. It was bad enough that Cedric was dead, Harry looked as if he were going to become a casualty too.

"Cho, are you all right?" It was another nameless voice. Cho once again answered with a nod.

She wondered if Harry were asked about his well being as often as she was. Probably more, she thought, because in Harry's case the matter was visibly open to debate. As if sensing her attentions, Harry looked up and for a second theirs eyes met. Cho gave him a thin smile. Harry instantly averted his eyes downward and seemed to sink even further into his chair, looking even more downcast than before.

'Survivor's Guilt', thought Cho. He feels guilty because Cedric died and he didn't it. She had read about it in one of her father's psychology texts. She had fought it herself. Cedric should not be dead, it had to have been a mistake, and Death had mistaken him for someone else. For a brief time Cho had thought perhaps it had been her. She had recovered though, realized how irrational the thought was. Harry had been right there. Such thoughts must not seem so irrational to him.

He had his friends around him. They surrounded him like bodyguards. Perhaps they could convince him that his life was worth living. Surely it would be difficult to remain depressed for long in the company of Fred and George Weasley. Those two were whirlwinds of good spirits. If those two couldn't break his depression no one could. And what if no one can? What then?

Cho shuddered at the grim thought. Again someone asked after her welfare. She wished she could go to Harry and comfort him. She wished that she could tell him she understood. But that would never do. Her role was that of the grieving girlfriend of the deceased Cedric Diggory. Harry was the rival. Harry had competed with Cedric in the TriWizard Competition. Harry had asked her to Yule Ball after Cedric. Harry had harbored a famous crush on her since his first year. Harry had been there when Cedric had died. She imagined the outrage that would be generated if she acted on her urge.

It was a house of cards, a large elaborate house of cards. She and Harry grieved for the same reason, but were unable to console each other. When everyone else had moved on, two of the people most effected by the loss were isolated, cut off from the one other person most capable of easing their pain. And why? Because the arbitrary dictates of their culture said so. It was a house of cards and she wanted to knock it down and expose if for the façade it was. She wanted to, but she wasn't going to and there was no use telling herself otherwise.

That night, as she lay in her bed, with drapes pulled tightly closed around her and a silencing charm cast on them to keep out unwanted interference, she continued to think. She was trapped again - no matter which direction she turned she was trapped. She thought about the poetry that described life as a series of forks in a road. Those poets knew nothing of her life. If her life was a road, it was an expressway. On her road, there were no forks, all of the decisions were already made. They were made by her mother and father, they were made by her friends, they were made by society. On the road of life, Cho Chang was a passenger.

Most young people her age were making plans for their futures. Cho didn't need to. Her future was already planned. Her profession was already chosen, her parents had decided when she was just a girl that she was going to be a doctor. Perhaps her future husband had not been exactly chosen, but there was a very narrow range of characteristics he was supposed to have. It was just a matter of finding someone to fit the silhouette her parents had already drawn. She might be allowed to name her children, but even that was iffy.

As if the expectations of her mother were not bad enough, she now had to contend with the overwhelming expectations of her friends and peers. Ellwyn had introduced her to Cedric. Who could be more perfect for Cho than another seeker? That he was very handsome hadn't hurt at all. Everyone had insisted they made such a wonderful couple. Cho hadn't even thought to argue he was after all the Champion of Hogwarts, or at least the Co- Champion with Harry. But what had he seen in her? What had she seen in him?

She knew what he had seen in her. Before she had come to hate the question 'Are you all right?' there had been a phrase she had hated even more: 'You're so beautiful'. It was a terrible, pretentious thing to hate, but she hated it anyway. It had its advantages of course, and she wasn't above using them in a coy, casual way. It was all any boy ever knew about her. It made them turn into blithering idiots. There were worse things that could happen to a girl of course, and she didn't want to trade places with that Slytherin girl Millicent Bulstrode or anything, but it would be nice if just one of them would bother to see the real her. Cedric hadn't.

So why had she gone out with him? Because he was the handsome, Quidditch- playing, champion of Hufflepuff, that's why. In the end she was as bad as the boys she made a career of ignoring. She knew nothing about Cedric except that he played Seeker. She had learned more of course. They had become friends. But that was it. His death had hit her hard. No one that she had known had ever died before. She had known of death, but never had to deal with it personally. It had been traumatic, to say the very least.

She needed to move on. She wanted to move on. She wanted people to stop asking her that question. She wanted to spend time with her friends and laugh. She wanted to be normal. She wanted to fly. She wanted to play Quidditch.

In her whole life, she had made one decision on her own, only one time had she defied the will of her mother. That decision to had been to play Quidditch. Her mother had been absolutely furious when she found out Cho had joined the Ravenclaw House team. In her mother's world, Quidditch was not a suitable past time for a young woman with Cho's future. Cho was adamant and convinced her mother that playing Quidditch might actually enhance her future prospects. Eventually she had triumphed, and in her second year she became Seeker for Ravenclaw.

Being a Seeker was the one thing in her life that she had chosen and accomplished completely on her own. It was the thing of which she was most proud. She was good at it too. She was one of the best seekers Ravenclaw had ever had. Gryffindor had overshadowed her accomplishments, but that did not make them any less impressive or any less important. The season would start soon and she was looking forward to it.

Quidditch was good for the soul.

Author's note: I have to apologize for any grammatical errors, I am posting this story un-beta'd. If you are interested in being a beta reader for this story, please drop me an email and we'll chat.