Bleeding Heart – Chapter 8
Room of Requirements – Day 4 Morning (Hermione's POV)
To awake at her side was a wonderful sensation, to know that Cho had been sleeping better because of me. The first
night had been full of bad dreams; the second night she had been in shuddering pain. This third night, while not a completely soothed one, had been considerable better for her. For hours we had been speaking about Fleur; the whole afternoon and evening the beautiful dark-haired witch had told about the up and down in her relationship with Fleur. And with every sentence, with every anecdote and every confessed emotion a little weight seemed to have been lifted from her shoulders.
I knew that her trouble wasn't over yet. It would be expecting too much that within a few days I could have healed her. But I was sure that it had been a great first step, perhaps even a few great steps in the right direction. And I was willing to go on, to help her further, not only in the last two days we would be spending in this room but also afterwards.
Cautiously I unwrapped my arms and legs from her, missing the soft warmth of her body instantly. For several minutes I stood still beside the bed, watching Cho in her sleep. The leg of her pajama was rode up, hints of tears were visible on her cheek – to my relief much less than the days before – and her long hair was a totally mess, cloaking most of her face. Gently I pulled the pajama over her ankle again and put the comforter around her shoulders before I kneeled near her head, staring intensely at her. To see Cho a bit more at ease with herself meant much to me and I wasn't completely sure how to go on. But that would be a riddle to be solved later. Arranging her hair a bit, stroking lightly over her head I hesitated a moment before – after a last look at her face to be sure that she was deeply sleeping still – I put a kiss on her cheek. Smiling softly I stood up and left the room to prepare breakfast.
Room of Requirements – Day 4 Midmorning (Cho's POV)
The night had been a splendid change to the ones before. Never would I've assumed that speaking about Fleur would cause this assuagement in my heart. Hermione obviously had been really interested in my stories. Not only did she listen to help me but I sensed her willingness to learn something about Fleur, her willingness to change her point of view about her. In spite of the shame the brunette witch seemed to feel about the prejudices she had held before, Hermione had been determined to admit her error and correct him.
Sitting at the breakfast table and watching her clean the dishes – she had pushed me down on my chair again as I wanted to help her – my mind wandered back to the days before she carried me off. How would I be in this moment without her intervention? Seconds later I would have finished the Obliviate spell, unable to remember Fleur and the moments I had told Hermione yesterday.
Fleur gave you her love. Thru her you learned and matured, learned about these other sides of you, be it your attraction towards a girl which certainly surprised you in the beginning but also …
Cho, you made an error back at the Quidditch pitch. If you erase this moment, perhaps you'll repeat this error some time. And I'm sure that these memories will help you later. If you start a new relation in the future – and you will because doing otherwise would be kind of betraying Fleur's love – you hopefully will be more tolerant, more willing to work on the relation, more … sorry, Cho, I'm really bad at expressing these things, but I'm definitely sure about one fact: you're better now than one year ago; Fleur made you a wonderful present with the time she spent with you. It would be terrific to cast that away.
Startled I watched her coming back from her room. I must have passed out for a few minutes because I totally missed her finishing her work and leaving. Smiling at her I opened my mouth, wanted to thank her again, and wanted to explain to her that I wasn't planning to repeat the spell, but she interrupted me.
"You don't have to say it, Cho. And my offer still stands. I hope you'll never call it, but if you ever change your mind again, I will be there for you." She put a legal pad in front of me together with a well-worn fountain pen, the one I saw her using many times. "But I have another request, another task for you."
Not quite sure what she wanted me to do I tried to cover my anxiety with humor. "I knew I had to pay for your help somehow. What is it, doing your assignments in potion crafting for the next month?"
Smirking slightly Hermione stared pensively at me, her fingertip playing with her lower lip. "That's an idea I have to think about." Taking a seat at my side she pointed towards the legal pad. "You really changed my opinion about Fleur with the moments you shared with me yesterday. And I am of the opinion that she deserves … look, Cho, I think you should write down what you shared with me. Write about Fleur so that others are able to see this side of her too, to understand her and to like her as she deserved."
I paled visibly, not about the duty itself, the problem of expressing these things and how to order the stories. But … the thought that others would read these sentences scared me. Would I be able to describe her as I should? And how would the other students react if I revealed my inner self? Outing me as gay was the least of my fears. But I still thought my behavior towards Fleur to have been repulsive.
I looked up as her hand pressed mine. "You're able to do it. I'll help you with the writing but I'm sure if you're willing to open your heart everyone will understand. And nobody will judge you, at least nobody you should care about. And asses like Draco we'll kick together in their groin should they try something stupid. I know how much I request from you, but I'm sure that it will help you, that it is something to honor Fleur's commemoration and perhaps it will even help others out there." She shot me a lopsided grin before she ended: "Perhaps it is difficult to believe for you now, but there are other girls out there with similar problems of the heart."
Halls of Hogwarts – Day 5 Evening (Cho's POV)
Surprisingly I felt sorrow as the door opened at last. Certainly I hadn't expected this emotion five days ago but so much had changed since then. Leaving it to Harry and Luna to drag our bags back to our rooms, I walked thru the passages of Hogwarts with Hermione at my side, our hands clasped. For a moment I had wondered about the rumors that could spread once the other girls heard about my outing, but Hermione didn't seem to have reservations about that. She wanted to be my friend and no stupid rumors would cause her to change her behavior. I adored her for this stubbornness, her being a great Gryffindor.
Two days we had been writing and rewriting the stories about Fleur – only skipping the part of where we had been these five days – and now I was holding the folder under my arm. We had decided that we needed to get the admission of Fleur's family before we published my novel and I likewise hoped and feared that they would allow it. And we had to explain our absence despite the cover stories Harry and Luna had told our professors. While I liked Professor Filius Flitwick very much I never had that connection and trust to him that Hermione shared with Professor McGonagall. So we had decided to go to her with our story.
My little hope that she would be away or somehow preoccupied died away as Minerva McGonagall responded instantly to Hermione's knocking. She sighed deeply, the first sign of her own anxiety, before she entered the room.
Minerva sat behind the large study desk she owned, quite a number of books and paper strewn around. Offering seats to us she glared at Hermione and her intonation made it clear that she didn't believe anything Harry might have told her about Hermione's absence. "It is good to see you back, Ms. Granger. I hope whatever caused your absence has been resolved by now?"
Hermione fidgeted around. I had allowed her to explain everything to Minerva but obviously she wasn't completely sure about that. "Yes, we … we had been able to find a solution." She hesitated for a minute before she continued with a heavy plea in her voice. "Professor McGonagall … Minerva … I know I should have told you before but I had to act very fast. And it was important, really important."
Not quite convinced Minerva asked back, at least switching to the more personal address: "You missed a full week of your studies, Hermione, a full week of your normal routine in the library. You're sure that this has been more important?"
Without hesitation Hermione responded. "I know what I missed and it troubles me deeply. I'll try to make up for it as soon as possible. But this has been more important than my studies or the time in the library." Locking eyes with Minerva and not flinching in the least she added: "More important than my O.W.L. It had to be solved and it had to be solved now."
Minerva gasped and I would have pondered about the question if I ever had seen her shocked like this before if I hadn't been too occupied with staring at Hermione and pressing her arm and hand like I wanted to crush them. How could she do this, say this and behave like it was nothing special? After a minute of silence Minerva only responded: "I see."
Pulling the folder with my novel from me she put it in front of Professor McGonagall. "I have a plea. We wrote this … mostly Cho wrote it, I only helped with putting the parts together. It explains what we did and why we … were away. We wanted you to send this to the family of Fleur Delacour with the request … we want to publish this and … Fleur's family … we need their allowance. It would be unfair otherwise." Minerva stayed silent, looking alternately towards Hermione and in my direction. "Please read it and … please send it to her family. We think it would be the right choice to let others read this."
Solemnly Minerva nodded. "I'll read it and if I share your opinion I'll send this to her family. You should go now to your rooms."
Shortly before we left the room Hermione addressed Minerva a last time. "I know that you have to mete out punishment but please consider that Cho had no choice. I abducted her. And you'll have to add a few points because I entered the Ravenclaw dorm."
Several times I tried to interrupt her, always held at bay by Hermione, but now I shouted angrily: "It is really enough, Mione, with you playing the hero. You have really done enough in the past days." She opened her mouth only to find my hand placed over it. "No, shut up." I turned to Professor McGonagall who stayed surprisingly calm. "If I hadn't been so out of my mind I would have accompanied Mione voluntarily. There is really no reason to put the penalty on her alone. And certainly she shouldn't be punished for entering our dorm. Without that she would have been too late to …" Now I hesitated despite my anger. To write about it wasn't as difficult as to speak loudly.
"She would have been too late to detain me from using an Obliviate spell … on myself." The last words were barely a whisper but the slight paleness in Minerva's face told me that she had understood. Composed she took the folder from her table. "As it seems I have something to read now. I'll decide about the proper punishment after I got an answer from Fleur's family. I suggest you'll use the next days to catch up on the missed lessons and try to make a good impression overall. Good night, young ladies."
An hour later I rested in my bed. The questions of the other girls hadn't stopped until I promised to answer them 'later'. How would Fleur's family react? How would the other students react and would they be able to see her like I did? I wasn't sure about the future, but I was sure that Hermione had a least reached a part of her purpose: for the first time in months I was able to think about Fleur without tormenting pain in my heart, was able to think about the girl with the eyes of blue.
This is the end of my alternative conclusion to ABCCJPTT's story "Eyes of Blue". I hope you liked it. I don't know if I ever continue with a sequel. As you certainly saw I laid the groundwork for a story about Hermione and Cho but I'm not sure if and when I'll be able to go on. I wish you many happy hours with stories about the girls of Hogwarts.