The Night of Sorrow
Who may it be that grieves her heart?
On her face one sees only the wet traces of tears.
- Poems ‘The Night of Sorrow’ by Li Bai, translated by Shigeyoshi Obata
Cho tied her hair back with a blue rubber band. She spread out her cream-colored apron, which had been neatly folded, and put it on. She washed her hands and dried them. And then she set up the coffee maker, allowing a single coffee cup of boiled water to be dispensed at any time for brewing. She could use magic to do it, but she didn’t carry her wand with her. She was determined to say good-bye to the magical world. She leant against the counter. From that spot, she had a good view of the courtyard of the university. The weather was nice, and the clear blue sky could be seen from the open front door. Water was spraying from a fountain and a few students were sitting in their favorite spots on its marble rim.
The inside of the shop became saturated with the aroma of coffee. The first customer, an old man, entered and approached Cho. He took off his flat cap and ordered weak coffee. From his serene manner, Cho guessed that he might be a professor. She remembered her tiny professor, Flitwick. He used to praise her at least once in a day. She was one of his favorite students. He used to call her “Lady Luck”, saying she would bring victory to Ravenclaw’s Quidditch team.
Thinking of Quidditch brought back bitter sweet memories. Two talented wizards; one was killed and the other survived. Both of them were infatuated with her once. She loved both of them, too.
One sweet memory in Cho’s fourth year couldn’t be forgotten easily. It was when she recognized the golden boy. He was a lean third year, but once he mounted his Firebolt, he turned into a bullet. His agility and braveness in doing a bold dive ignited something in her heart. She felt a kind of connection. Though her team lost against Gryffindor, she couldn’t forget him. After that day, when she sat at the long table in the Great Hall for breakfast, she used to follow him with her eyes towards the Gryffindor table- until she was noticed by Cedric Diggory, who sent an owl to her.
Cedric wrote that he was happy to see her injury was healed and she could play again on the pitch, and told her how he had been watching her from afar. He had had crush on her for so long. When she had her first date with Cedric, she was mesmerized by his gentleness. He would wait every morning at the entrance of the Great Hall to escort her to class. It was heavenly; she was filled with happiness knowing that she was loved by the most popular and handsome Hufflepuff.
One morning, as they were walking hand in hand to Cho’s next class, she asked him, “For the next Quidditch season, what’s your tactics for playing the Gryffindor team? I mean, against Harry Potter… ” She was excited just remembering Harry’s sharp reflexes.
Cedric’s mood instantly changed. He had been calmly listening to her chat, but now he didn’t hide his rivalry, “You know I beat him last year.”
Cho could see the blood rush into his face and felt happy to know he felt in the same way as her. The Gryffindor Seeker had something which ignited fire in every player.
“It was lucky that I won. It was really only because of the Dementors,” Cedric said with a small sigh. “To my disappointment, there’ll be no Quidditch next year. Professor Sprout informed us Prefects that there’ll be a big event on instead.”
“What event?” Cho was disappointed to learn she wouldn’t be able to play against Harry.
“I can’t tell you yet. Dumbledore will inform everyone in the next semester.”
All the prefects were excited, and they had been talking about entering the Triwizard Tournament. Cho could remember the moment when Cedric was selected as a Hogwarts champion by the goblet and the excited cries from the other students. But she had to hide her true feeling towards Harry at the same time. She got more excited than any girls at Harry’s dramatic success in the first task, when he captured the golden Dragon egg, reminding her of his excellent Seeking skills. And she felt disgusting thinking all the unfortunate incidents were caused by the Dark Lord. After she had lost Cedric, all what she could do was to believe Harry. She should have.
Here again, the wound ached deep in her heart. She suffered twinges of guilt whenever she thought of it. How many nights had she cried? Harry’s clear green eyes pierced her conscience every night after the incident in the Room of Requirement. She loved him. She still loved him and she couldn’t help fighting for him in her own way. She should’ve told him her real feelings even after he dismissed her. She desperately studied hard for her N.W.E.T.s to conquer her complicated feeling towards him. Even if her devotion wouldn’t reach him, she couldn’t stop loving him. She wanted to prove her worth to him by getting a license to be a Healer.
Cruel words from her friends became a hindrance even after the war. She knew they were envious. They felt jealous of her Quidditch skills, her wit and her beauty. She had never been conceited about her looks. She happened to be gifted with beauty by her parents. Only Marietta Edgecombe understood her and became a close friend. She had been delighted when Cho became Cedric’s girlfriend. When Marietta told Cho that Umbridge had threatened her mother with dismissal, she couldn’t stop her treachery. She couldn’t believe her eyes when her true friend had the ugly pustules, “SNEAK” on the face. She couldn’t believe that Hermione Granger really used the jinx on her friend. And she believed Marietta deserved forgiveness. She even begged Harry to give her a second chance. The consequence was their complete break up after a quarrel. At that time she was more loyal to her Ravenclaw friend than Harry, which she would regret. After the war, she avoided Marietta. She was groping about in the dark, trying to get Harry’s trust back even though she knew it was too late.
If the war hadn’t occurred, she might have had a chance to try out for the professional Quidditch League. But the chaos after the war prevented the British League from recruiting new players for months. Instead, she continued her Healer training. The biggest reason that urged her to take care of patients than selecting the other careers was that she wanted to do something to amend her conduct in the past. She should’ve chosen justice over friendship. Harry wanted her to, but she couldn’t. She shielded her friend from accusations by members of Dumbledore Army. She didn’t regret what she did for her friend but she had suffered for it when Harry despised her. She sensed then that he would leave her forever. It was easy to see they had different values.
She knew keenly and painfully that he had found someone to love forever. The connection between Ginny and Harry couldn’t be severed. They were really a good couple. There was no room for her to get in between them.
Still, she didn’t hesitate to go back to Hogwarts to fight against the Death Eaters for Harry and her friends. After the battle, she continued her Healer’s training and got her license. She had a few chances to convey her secret feelings to Harry; he became an Auror and was regularly admitted to St.Mungo’s after dangerous missions. Every time she found out he was being brought in, she volunteered the night shift. Her colleague, Parvati Patil, sensed what was going on and she indicated that it could cause a trouble with Ginny. Cho didn’t mind. She dreamed that a miracle would happen between them.
In a private room that contained a neatly made bed, he was sleeping. The cream-colored walls gleamed white in the moonlight. She loved the quietness of the night at St. Mungo’s. Everything was silent except Harry’s quiet snoring. She could see the old scar on his forehead through a fringe of jet-black hair. Tonight he was hers. They were alone in the room. Even though she knew he wouldn’t awake from his slumber, it didn’t matter. She wondered what dream he was having. Was she in the dream? She smiled wryly at the thought. He would never dream of her. If he was having a dream now, Ginevra Weasley would be part of it. She shook off the image of Ginny and pulled the soft duvet up to cover his shoulders. And then she spoke to the sleeping man,
“Now Harry, I’ll change your bandage,” she said, pulling the duvet up around his knees. Knowing he would not wake until the Sleeping Draught wore off, she kept talking while she was removing it from his left leg. “You must have acted impulsively again, Harry. How many times have I changed your bandages? I still remember when you were carried to the Hospital Wing after that disastrous Quiddich accident.” Examining the nasty injury, she cast a cleaning charm. Carefully, she poured three drops of dittany on the wound. She watched, relieved, as the cure-all potion was absorbed in the skin and it scabbed over. “There, now all you need is to rest.” She covered his legs with the duvet again.
She didn’t have to watch him all through the night, but she remained in the room anyway. She wanted to stay with him as long as she could, although she was expecting another patient, an old witch whose left arm splinched when she tried to Apparate, to call Cho to give her another drip of painkiller potion. Then she was surprised by an unexpected voice.
“Thank you.” Harry said, his voice rough.
“Did I forget to give you a Sleeping Draught?” Cho’s stared at him, her eyes wide.
Harry blinked several times. “No, I don’t think so. Maybe I’m resistant to sleeping potions after my Auror training.”
“You can drink a lot, can’t you?” Cho felt her heart beat speed up over this unexpected midnight conversation.
He kept staring at the ceiling. “Hmm, I may have high alcohol tolerance.” Then he chuckled, “I remember Seamus kept drinking after Ron dripped Sleeping Draught in his glass. Ron hated doing pub crawls with him.”
Though she had already taken his pulse on the wrist, she said, “Harry, may I check your pulse?”
“Yeah, go ahead.” He tried to hold his left arm out of duvet.
“No, it’s okay. Stay still. I’ll feel your neck.” She sat down on a stool beside the bed. She touched her fingers on the warm skin of his neck saying, “Sorry, my fingers may be cold.”
When she touched her hand, he blinked his green eyes twice and kept staring at the ceiling.
“I’m sorry. I should’ve cast warming charm on my fingers.”
“No, you don’t have to say sorry.” His beautiful eyes tried to focus on hers. “Where are my glasses?”
“On the side table. But I thought you don’t need them anymore? You take a clear vision potion, don’t you?”
“Yeah. But the glasses have a special function for investigation. I thought I’ve lost them during my mission.”
“You were wearing them when you were brought in. The other Healer removed them before the surgery.”
“How long did the surgery take?”
“An hour. Nicolas told me you broke your own record.”
Harry chuckled again, and Cho smiled widely. She like his laugh. It was like they were back in the front of the owlery at Hogwarts, when she was in fifth year and he was in fourth; they’d arranged their first date there, back before she’d made mistakes. She hadn’t been strong enough to be his girlfriend, or to fight with him against the Ministry.
Nodding, she told him, “Your pulse is normal. You’ve recovered smoothly.” She passed him his glasses. “Now, sleep, Harry. You need rest.”
He put on his glasses and said, “I appreciate you taking care of me. Do you enjoy working as a Healer?”
“Yes, I like my work,” she replied, smiling at him. “Sometimes the night shift is hard- oh, I didn’t mean you!” Cho grew flustered as Harry quirked his eyebrows, and added, “You don’t bother me at all. You’re special to me…” The words flowed from her lips before she could stop them and she felt her face turn red.
There was a sudden awkward silence. The pause in the conversation spoke volumes to her. Harry’s kind nature was expressed by the sudden silence; he was trying to figure out how to let her down lightly. Cho coughed lightly and stood up, wanting to leave before anything more was said. But Harry stopped her,
“Wait, Cho. If you couldn’t get over me, I’m sorry.”
Damn, he knew. She glanced back at him. “You don’t have to say sorry, Harry,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes. “Call me if you need anything. Have a good rest, Harry.”
She decided after that day that she would stop seeking Harry out. But she couldn’t break off her connection to him. One day, she received an owl from Luna Lovegood.
Luna had loved Dumbledore’s Army more than anyone. She had planned the reunion party. Cho noticed her DA coin was calling her during the night shift, but she ignored it. She smiled bitterly as she thought of how she always kept it in her pocket. The coin was a symbol of her connection to Harry. She should’ve returned it to Hermione Granger.
Watching the hands on the clock tick to eight p.m., Cho started her rounds. When she turned the corner to the West wing, she noticed Parvati was standing in front of the bright yellow double-doors.
“Cho, why didn’t you come to the party? We’ve been waiting for you. I volunteered to come drag you over there,” she said.
“I can’t, Parvati. Night shift, you know.” Cho was walking pass by her.
“Roisin will cover for you. Come with me.”
“But I don’t have dress robes.”
“You look just fine in your Healer’s robes. Come on!”
She could guess what would happen if she went with Parvati. When they got to the party, she felt that she shouldn’t have been there. All the members of DA got together to share the same emotions; missing their glorious days at Hogwarts and catching up with their friends. She felt like an intruder.
Then she found Harry among the crowd, and her heart sped up.
“Hey, look, Cho came! Look at the beautiful Healer!” Seamus said playfully, nudging Harry.
How deeply she longed for his green eyes, the color of spring leaves. She knew the perfect jet-black hair was soft, as she happened to touch it many times while tending his wounds in the private ward. She knew all his scars which showed how many times he managed to survive. To help him to recover made her feel that she was fighting with him for greater things for the world.
“Cho. Your robes suit you well,” Harry said gently.
“Thank you,” she smiled at him, feeling supreme bliss; but the moment was broken suddenly, like a glass falling and shattering, when Ginny stepped forward and steered him into the platform. Cho heard her tell him, “Come on, Harry. It’s time to make a speech.”
She’d prepared herself for this. She could behave as if nothing had happened, as if seeing Harry look happy with Ginny didn’t hurt. She even found a new conversation partner - Michael Corner. He confessed her that he couldn’t forget her after the war and had been waiting for the right moment to ask her to go out with him again.
She chose him. But her nightmares started that day. She had sealed the memory of Cedric away in her mind, but he came back to her in her dream that night.
Cedric was carried into the ward. His body was covered with blisters and nasty wounds. Cho tried to speak to him, but no answer came from the stiff body. She put sterilized gauze on one of the gaping wounds and stitched the other. As soon as she finished, another wound was found. He looked nearly dead, but she had to bring him around. She pulled out her wand to make sure his pulse was normal. When she pointed her wand at his neck, he opened his eyes and stared at her. She got startled as his face morphed into Harry’s. His green eyes were cold and angry as he stared her down.
“Why didn’t you fight with me?”
“I did, Harry. I did. I went back to Hogwarts.”
“Yes, you did. But you didn’t believe me. You are not strong enough.”
Tears welled up in her eyes at his furious declaration.
“Don’t cry again. I’m warning you,” Harry reproved her, standing up from the bed.
“I won’t,” she shouted, and left him. She walked out of the hospital and started running down the hill. The ground was slimy and covered with moss; her lime green robes became stained with splashes of mud in an instant. When she reached the bottom, she was standing on a cliff which rose sharply out of nothingness. Beyond the edge, there was nothing but endless black space.
When she awoke, Cho wiped the wet traces of tears from her in the early morning light. That was the day she left the magical world.
The coffee shop was getting crowded. Her bitter memory was laid aside as she served coffee and snacks. The old man with the flat cap stood up from his seat and left for his lecture. It might be a good idea to study in the Muggle world to start a new life, Cho thought.
Maybe next spring, She told herself, and wiped up spilled coffee from the counter.
Author’s Note Cherry blossoms started blooming here and there. I hope the spring will bring happiness to Cho Chang soon. Many thanks to my beta, Kayla.