a/n: This is far from my best writing. I was inspired by the quote Cho uses ("Now is the time..."), which is from One Tree Hill. There are probably too many grammatical errors and even tense mistakes, but whatever. I'm just happy to be pumping this out. I'm not very fond of Cho.

This was written for the Back to School One-Shot Competition by EpiCat on HPFC. I got Cho Chang and a few prompts that I didn't use.

disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognise.


She decides that a war is more of a sacrifice than anything else. It is more about who dies and goes to heaven than who is defeated and graces the steps to hell. A war is always more about the evil tormenting the good than the final act of the good condemning the evil. A war is many things, but to her it is only a sacrifice that the good make in hopes that their death will make the earth a better place.

She hates wars.

It has been over for nearly four months since the defeat of You-Know-Who, but this contempt in her hasn't gone away. She doubts it ever will, because this war is responsible for taking away everything she had once cherished.

Cedric had left first, and it had been more than just a bad blow to her. She had then lost her first kiss, first boyfriend, first love all with one killing curse. Then just when she had begun to adjust with life without him, it had been her cousins - all brutally murdered, with torture marks on their hands and blood in their hair.

She had attended the funeral and come home to find that the Ministry had fallen. That's when she'd known that nothing was ever going to be the same again.

The year after that had been slow and fast. Cho had spent it in hiding with her mother and father, listening to Potterwatch and waiting for everything to be normal again - she had never been a big fan of change.

Then a fateful night; Snatchers and her father. They'd taken him away on the account of being a Muggleborn and she'd never seen him again. She had never even thought she would.

The Battle of Hogwarts had come and gone, and with it so had so many of her friends. Padma Patil's parents had decided that England was too unsafe, so they'd taken the twins back home to India. Marietta had argued with her mother regarding the Battle, something she refused to talk about, and taken off to the States. Katie Bell, one of the only girls of her year she was still in contact with, was working with the Department of Magical Games & Sports and she was hardly ever seen again.

Cho's mother had herself retired to quiet farm life in China. "It's just so much easier than the Ministry," she'd said. With that, she'd left Cho completely alone.

Memories of the war haunt her and would always do so, and Cho doesn't know exactly why she has accepted this job which is definitely going to bring back all of them.

She needs the money and she loves the kids, but she is so young! No nineteen-year-old has ever gotten a job at Hogwarts. Ever.

Cho is only going to be the Flying Instructor and the Transfiguration Professor for the first three years, but she still tenses up when she imagines chaos in her classroom. Madam Hooch has given her a lesson plan and so has McGonagall; they have guided her a lot throughout the summer, but Cho regrets ever being there during their conversation.

"I'm so sorry, Minerva, but I need to be with my son and his wife and spend time with my granddaughter for as long as I can. Life's too short to miss the beautiful details," Madam Hooch had said some time after the Battle of Hogwarts.

"That's all great, Rolanda. Your family deserves your attention. My only trouble lies in finding a replacement for you."

"I'll take care of that for you before I go, Minerva. You needn't worry about that."

Then Hooch had seen her, and called her to them.

"Here's a great candidate for you, Minerva. Cho Chang. She's very accomplished in flying; I recall her almost being made Ravenclaw Captain. With a bit of training and a teaching warrant from the Ministry, she'd be a good person for the job."

McGonagall had been reluctant at first, but she hadn't found anyone by the end of the school year. Cho had been roped in, and after gaining her warrant she'd been taught everything about being a Flying Instructor and Quidditch Referee.

One day, the headmistress had arranged a meeting at Hogwarts and asked her if she was interested in playing the part of the Transfiguration Professor for the first, second and third years. Cho had agreed without giving it much thought as she needed the money.

She'd later regretted it, because there was no way in hell that someone like her could handle third years! At least McGonagall was still teaching fourth year and up - Cho would be unconscious in the hospital wing by the end of the day if it'd been her teaching them.

Cho enters Hogwarts from Hogsmeade; apparently that is how all Professors do. She's just in time for the feast and it is all a blur until McGonagall introduces her.

"Madam Hooch has retired from her post so she can spend the rest of her days with her family. The position of Flying Instructor will be occupied henceforth by Madam Cho Chang, who will also be teaching Transfiguration to the first three years. I will continue to teach the remaining years," she says. Cho waves lightly amidst a chorus of claps and then disappointment, because no one thought McGonagall would still be teaching.

Cho sees familiar faces among the students - Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley, Harry's best friend and girlfriend. There are some of her ex-Ravenclaw teammates who seem delighted to see her. Some she recognises from Dumbledore's Army and some from Quidditch.

She decides that maybe this whole teaching thing will be good, and not only for the money.

It's her first Transfiguration class the next day, second years from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. She's happy that there are no Gryffindors and Slytherins because then she would be sure of having a bad first lesson. Maybe teaching well in her first class will inspire her to do better in her second. Hopefully, it will.

"I'm Cho Chang, as all of you will know," she says as the second years look wide-eyed towards her. The enchanted chalk scribbles her name on the blackboard behind her. "I graduated in June last year and got a teaching warrant in August this year. I'm really excited to be teaching here."

There's a brunette Ravenclaw sniggering at the back and she realises that maybe this isn't the perfect first impression. She isn't well-prepared for a class like this.

"I was a member of the original Dumbledore's Army, the one led by Harry Potter two years ago," she says. She thinks that this will catch their attention - anything regarding Harry Potter seems to make heads turn these days. "I fought for Hogwarts in the Battle in May."

The students seem interested now, but some look like they don't believe her - after all, who would believe that a weak girl like her was a warrior? She needs to make them believe, so she takes a deep breath and removes her locket from under her blue robes. It is the coin forged by Hermione Granger, enchanted with the Protean Charm. Cho removes it from her neck.

"This is one of the Galleons used by the original D.A. - I'm passing it around so that you can have a closer look."

A blonde Hufflepuff sitting at the front examines the Galleon and gives it to her partner before raising her hand to ask a question.

"Is it true that you were Cedric Diggory's girlfriend?" she asks. Before Cho can respond, there's the brunette at the back raising her hand.

"No, Landworth, she was Harry Potter's girlfriend. What, did you grow warts in your ears to prevent you from hearing properly?" she says. The class starts laughing, though Cho thinks it isn't very funny. Not funny at all.

Cho hushes the class. "Five points from Ravenclaw for that absolutely unnecessary remark, Miss…" she trails off, not knowing the name of the brunette.

"Paxton. Eleanor Paxton. I nearly became a Slytherin, Madam Chang, just so you know."

Cho decides that she hates Eleanor Paxton.

"Well, five points from Ravenclaw, Miss Paxton," Cho says, hoping that her face looks neutral. She looks over at the class, at every student that is either glaring, laughing, or rolling their eyes at her.

"Well, without much ado, we will be starting with our first lesson, which will be theory-oriented. I want you to open your textbooks to page number 124 and read carefully," Cho instructs the class. Only some obey her, though. Cho thinks that she will have to take more class control lessons from McGonagall.

"What's the use, Madam Chang?" a boy shouts from one of the middle rows, and Cho wonders what he means.

"The use of Darrick's Analysis? It is clearly written in the text, Mister -"

"Thatchery, Professor."

"Yes, Mister Thatchery, if you'd take the pains to read the text then you'd understand the use of the Analysis."

"I don't mean that, Madam Chang," he says, making Cho raise her eyebrows. "I mean...you've been there for the war. We barely saw it. Is it all worth it, Ma'am? I mean...do we really need all this Darrick's Analysis and Gamp's Law and other things taught in school? We're going to face a war at the end, right? This whole dark wizards thing is not gonna stop. We're going to die. Then why do we even learn? I don't know, am I even making sense?"

Cho sighs. It feels like the entire class is waiting for her answer, even Paxton. She feels conscious all of a sudden. Thanks, Thatchery.

She runs her hands through her straight black hair, and leans against her desk. The students have stopped reading; they're all looking at her.

"Thatchery, I understand what you're trying to say. I used to wonder the same a few years ago when the threat had first been acknowledged. We were all like you, you know. Scared, alone, waiting to be free. We fought in the battle not because we had to, but because we wanted to. And we wanted to fight because we wanted that freedom. We wanted that freedom, and we worked towards getting it. Maybe Darrick's Analysis didn't help, but whatever I learnt in my years at Hogwarts did.

"Hogwarts didn't teach me so much about Transfiguration and Potions as it did about friendship, loyalty and sacrifice, Thatchery," Cho states, reminiscing. "They weren't the best days to study at Hogwarts but they were enough to make me what I am today. What I'm trying to say is, eventually it doesn't matter but if you want you can make it. The war got over and so many of us were depressed because we just expected another war to come at us like it happened the last time. But we got over it, because you have only so many happy days in your life that you can enjoy. I envy all of you, because you will know a Hogwarts without the darkness."

The class listens. "Never for one minute think that it is not worth it, because it is. You have time, make the most of it. Now is the time for you to shine, the time when your dreams are in reach and possibilities, vast. Now is the time for all of you to become the people you always dreamed of being. This is your world. You're here. You matter, and that should be enough. The world is waiting."

The bell rings a few seconds later, and as the students leave the classroom one after the other, Cho decides that maybe it wasn't so bad a lesson. She did have to take class control tips and conquer Paxton sometime, but if she made a lasting impression in the minds of students with that speech, it was enough.