A/N: It's a bit... teen soap-opera-ish... but hopefully it's ok.
Cho did her best to avoid Cedric, and being surrounded by a group of giggling girls started to have its benefits. But rumors started spreading again, and the news of their break-up was the hottest flame burning. It wasn't as if she wanted everyone to know. She had only told Marietta and their two friends, Erica and Whitney, who shared the same bedroom (they saw her crying and naturally wanted to know what had happened and everything had spilled out), but she did not give them permission to air her dirty laundry. Still, it eventually snowballed, and with the few people who had witnessed and guessed -both correctly and incorrectly- what had happened in the library - the fire was in full force.
Cedric tried -to his credit- to talk to her at first. But her friends either shielded her and pulled her away, or blatantly sneered at him. Once, he found her alone at the owlery one evening, but the conversation didn't go as he had hoped.
"Cho..." He blocked her exit as she tried to pass. "Can we just talk?"
"Not now." She didn't look at him, kept her gaze fixed at the stairs behind him.
"When, then?" His voice was raw and he stepped closer to her. She took a step back.
"I.. I don't know." She bit her lip.
"Please, Cho." He tried. "Just tell me a time, any day, and I'll meet you."
"I'm... I'm sor... sorry, Cedric." The tears she had been fighting started trickling down her face. "It... it just... hurts... so much... right now."
She pushed past him, and he didn't stop her.
He felt awful, and though the guys tried to wave it off as nothing, their words did not make him feel better.
"Oh, come on, Cedric." One would say. "It's just Cho. There are plenty of other pretty girls in Hogwarts."
"And lots of pretty girls from Beauxbatons." Another would chime in.
"Besides, she's just being unreasonable. It's not like she caught you two shagging or something..."
"Girls are too emotional."
"You're better off being single. More opportunities to snog pretty girls."
Cedric sighed. To top it all, the Ravenclaws and the Hufflepuffs were at odds. Not that their dating brought their houses unity, but their break-up seemed to add a little animosity to the atmosphere. And the Slytherins were loving it.
It wouldn't have been so bad if he could have moped around Hogwarts in silence. But one weekend, Fleur (and most of the Hufflepuff males) persuaded him to take her to Hosgmeade and give her a tour. And ever-so-polite and helpful, Cedric could not find an excuse to turn her down. He tried to tell her that he didn't feel well -actually, he felt quite miserable- but she said she'd do her best to cheer him up.
So, they went. And they talked. Mainly about Beauxbatons, and about France. Cedric pointed out the shops, made the appropriate replies to her questions and comments, but it was all automatic politeness. His heart wasn't into it and his mind was elsewhere. It was like a standard guidebook tour, completely uninteresting and uneventful. That was until they stepped out of Honeydukes. Just as Fleur started to bite into a chocolate frog, she screamed. He looked at her, startled.
She screamed again, pointing to her nose. It started growing larger and larger. She waved frantically, her eyes widening as she noticed warts popping all over her hands.
A crowd gathered, and everyone started to laugh. Only Cedric looked concerned and he looked from her to the crowd. Giving them credit, his fellow Hufflepuffs tried to look sympathetic, hiding their laughter behind their hands, but the other three houses were in hysterics, laughing so hard they were crying. He noticed Erica and Whitney high-fiving each other, and Cho trying to peer over their shoulders. She was biting her lip, trying hard not to laugh herself, when she disappeared from his sight.
He ordered Summerby and Cadwallader to take Fleur back to Hogwarts -and to the Hospital Wing- before taking to foot. It took him a while, but he managed to squeeze himself through the blockade of Ravenclaws and quicken his pace. Cho was somewhere in Hogsmeade, and maybe if he was lucky, he would be able to talk to her without her friends in audience.
Just a moment ago...
"There you are." Cho caught up to her friends, a bit breathless and pink from her run. Terrence Higgs was right behind her, not quite as flushed. She handed Roger his gloves, answering his surprised look. "You left them in the Great Hall."
Laughter ensued and Cho looked confused. Beyond Erica's shoulders, she could see Fleur waving frantically. "What's going on?"
"Fleur is discovering she's not so beautiful after all." Whitney laughed. She high-fived Erica.
"You guys... you didn't..." Cho was dumbfounded.
Both girls tried to look innocent, but then simply went for the justified look. "Well, she did diss Roger, too..."
Cho looked at Roger and he held his hands up. "I never said that."
Cho felt a tug at her elbow. Terrence's voice was low. "Come on. Let's get you out of here."
"Good idea." Roger approved. "Cedric looks steamed. And Fleur looks ready to kill. Get her out before they think you had something to do with this."
"But I didn't..." Cho's voice trailed off as Terrence pulled her away.
"You knew that was going to happen, didn't you?" Cho asked Terrence after they managed to slip into one of the narrow alleys and farther away from the crowd. They sat down on a bench on the outskirts of town, bordering the snow-covered glen. "That's why you dragged me to Hogsmeade."
"I had an idea." His eyes twinkled.
"They're your friends, Cho." He said. "That's what friends do."
"I didn't ask them to..."
"Which makes them want to do it more." Terrence said. He looked at her seriously for a moment. "I don't know what he sees in her."
Cho was startled. "What do you mean? She's gorgeous." Her tone turned wistful. "And she's smart. And she's got that sexy accent the boys rave about. She's perfect."
He snorted. "I suppose you think you're chopped liver then?"
She sighed. "How can I compare?"
"Cho." Terrence looked at her seriously. "You have to snap out of this."
She didn't say anything, merely gave a sad shrug. She placed her elbows on her knees, and her cheeks in her hands. He looked at her for a moment, and then copied her posture. He turned to her.
"Cho," he said. "There are plenty of guys waiting in line just to have a chance with you."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
He rubbed his chin in mock-thought and chuckled. "Considering it's you we're talking about, probably not. But you and Cedric are - excuse me, were - the bubblegum couple. He has friends who are girls, you have friends who are guys, but neither of you were jealous about it. I guess, I'm just surprised that you haven't just forgiven him."
"I want to." Cho murmured. Tears started to swell again, and she watched them drop into the snow under her feet. "But it just hurts when I think about it."
"And you want him to hurt as much as you do?"
"Would I be a Slytherin if I said I did?" Cho grimaced. She wiped her face with the back of her hands. "At first, I did. But now, I... I just want the pain to go away."
Terrence abruptly stood and pulled her up. "I have an idea. Come on."
She didn't protest, but she dragged her feet with each step towards the clearing. He set her in the center and took a couple steps back.
"Take out your wand." He commanded. She raised an eyebrow, sighed, but followed suit.
"What is this for?"
"You should know that your wand responds to you." Terrence said. "This way, it'll help you express those feelings you have bottled up inside. Releasing those feelings will help you feel better."
"If you say so." She didn't seem quite as convinced. She kept her wand pointed down at the ground. "Why are you helping me, Terrence?"
"Because I like you, Cho." He answered. Before she could ask, he continued. "I won't play second fiddle to Cedric, and I won't wait forever and a day for you, but who knows what will happen in the future?"
"Cho, I didn't tell you that to give you more to think about." He waved it off. "Right now, our friendship suits me just fine. Though, I do think Cedric isn't worth your time."
"I don't want you to hurt him."
He laughed. "You give me too much credit. I'm not as chivalrous as a Gryffindor, and you wouldn't need me to be. Not when you could whistle for your quidditch team and they'd gladly pound Cedric into the pitch for you."
She hiccuped on her tears. "I don't want them to do that."
"What do you want then?"
"I already told you." She took out a handkerchief and dabbed her nose. "I want the pain to go away."
"Hogwarts discourages the use of memory charms for trivial matters..." Terrence said slowly. "But what they don't know won't hurt them."
She looked at him, a bit of fear yet desperation in her eyes. Light blue sparks flickered from her wand, freezing the snow on the ground into shards of ice. He saw her Ravenclaw mind frantically debating the idea. She resigned with a slump of her shoulders. "No, that wouldn't be right."
"If you don't want revenge, and you don't want to forget, then maybe you should just forgive him." Terrence said. "Then, you can move on."
"I... I don't know how to." Her wand sent the snow swirling around her feet. "Everything that... everything that I believed... about him... It feels like... everything was a lie."
The tears that fell from her face transformed into snowflakes as the light from her wand sparkled. She choked back another sob. "I don't know... what to believe. Cedric... he's... not... the type that would do this. But... but he did."
Her knees gave way and she fell to the ground. She didn't pay attention to the chill under her legs, or the snowflakes floating around. She stared at the immense white field ahead. "It just... hurts."
Terrence sat next to her and put a comforting arm around her shoulder. She didn't say another word; she didn't want to think. She didn't want to feel. So, she stared at the blank nothingness. She didn't know Cedric had followed. She didn't know that he had heard and seen everything.
to be concluded...