Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
The True Meaning of Loneliness
"Ohhhhhh, it's so romantic!"
"Ahhhh, aren't they just adorable together?"
"Oh she's so lucky, I wish he'd look at me like that."
The talk and gossip had spread through Hogwarts like wildfire, as it always seemed to do. Cho Chang was sure that in every house's common room, the students exchanged their opinions of the golden couple, and the talk would continue for the remainder of the school year. No matter where Cho went, she couldn't escape the news that Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley were dating.
And now, she had seen it with her own two eyes. As she'd been making her way to class alone, as she always seemed to be these days, she had come upon them in the corridor. They had been walking hand in hand, and their faces were full of life and vitality; the happiness they felt was simply radiating off them. They were together, and they were glowing.
Now, as Cho lay in her dormitory with the curtains drawn, secluding herself from the rest of the world, she allowed herself to do the one thing she was very well-known for during the past almost two years; she was crying. Tears of grief and envy streamed down her face and soaked into her pillow, and she hugged herself for comfort. She knew if any of her dorm mates saw her, everyone except Marietta would call her pathetic. Well, to hell with all of them, she thought viciously. None of them understand what I'm going through. None.
Some of the students, if they looked at her now, would misunderstand the reason behind her tears. They would think that the sobs shaking her body were due to the fact that Cho had let Harry get away from her, that she couldn't have him for herself. They'd think that she was stricken that she'd missed her chance to be with him, and that he had pushed her aside to be happy with someone else. But those people, she thought with another stab of sorrow, would be dead wrong.
The fact was, Cho's fixation on Harry the year before had been a huge mistake from the start. In her heart of hearts, she hadn't been able to separate Harry Potter from Cedric Diggory. What she'd felt for Harry had been an obsession, while what she felt for Cedric was real love. She found that she couldn't look Harry in the eye anymore; she was too ashamed. Cedric's death had left her insides torn open, bloodied and battered, and she'd looked to Harry, the survivor, to heal her. But Harry was living through the trauma of that night too, and they were extremely bad for one another. Cho knew she owed Harry an apology, but didn't know how to even begin.
It had almost been two years since the boy she loved was murdered, and the gaping hole inside of her was still wide open. She had begun to see a grief counsellor the summer before, and she had started to think that each day without Cedric was not as hard as it used to be. But on days like today, her bitterness, her hatred of the cruel world around her, and the pure anguish in her soul reappeared, stronger and more unbearable than ever.
Why? thought Cho as rage consumed her, making the tears come hard and fast. Why did people have to display their love all over the place, rubbing salt into the wound of her loss? The logical part of her mind screamed at her to stop thinking so selfishly, because after all, who deserved the right to be happy more than Harry, after everything he'd been through? It was truly a wonderful thing that he'd found someone to share his burdens and troubles with, and someone to share the happiness and good times with, and someone he could even explain the mundane happenings of his day to.
But Cho couldn't stop the venomous stream of thoughts that flew through her mind. She thought of all the couples she had seen holding hands, hugging, kissing, and exchanging secret smiles in the corridors over the past two years, and this was just one more cut to her heart to see Harry and Ginny happy. Of all the people in the entirety of Hogwarts, why was it HER who had to be separated from the one she loved? Why did she have to see all the other couples content, loving each other without restraint when her love had been ripped away from her forever? She'd seen Harry kissing Ginny this morning before he left her at her classroom, saying, "I'll see you in an hour." He got to say that, when Cho would never see Cedric again. It struck her like an axe to the gut every single damned time; Cedric's warm, honest gray eyes would never light up again. He would never plant a kiss on her forehead while they were holding one another, and never gently rub her back to soothe her when he realized she was stressing about some grade or exam. Cedric would never hold her again, never kiss her again, never fly wither again, never dance with her again, never laugh with her again, never say "I love you" to her again. Never again. They would always be apart now. These other couples got all the time in the world to be together, yet Cho Chang's boyfriend was rotting six feet below the ground in a cemetery in Ottery St. Catchpole. The unfairness of it made her sick to her stomach.
She thought of the many derisive comments that had been made behind her back regarding her grief, and anger pounded through her veins like acid. They may not have been made to her face, but they were said loudly enough that she could hear every word. "Jeez, she was dating him for six months. Six months out of the sixteen years she's been alive, and she can't get over him. It's truly pathetic. Crybaby. He was just a stupid, eggheaded Hufflepuff anyway."
Those people, the ones who walked around with their noses in the air and scorn on their lips for her sorrow, were the same hypocrites who were now ooooohing and aaaaaahing at how "absolutely perfect and meant to be" Harry and Ginny were. And how long had they been together? A week? They were the pathetic ones. Just because it was Harry Potter, a celebrity hero, meant that he could do no wrong, and he and Ginny Weasley's romance was the love story to end love stories, and yet Cho's loss meant nothing to them at all. In her worst moments, Cho thought that those people must think Cedric a spare too, just like Voldemort and his vile group of Death Eaters, because he wasn't as important as Harry bloody Potter.
And that was the crux of it, wasn't it? Cho had no doubt that if something happened to Harry during the war, his story would be published in all the history books, his heroic sacrifice for the wizarding world cherished and thought about by millions every single day. And Cedric? Cedric, the boy with a heart of gold, the boy who taught her how to enjoy life and to let go of the expectations her parents had of her, Cedric, the boy who told her that he loved her just the way she was and to stop worrying about silly little things like whether she had acne on her face, wore the right amount of makeup, or wore her hair in a ponytail or not, Cedric, who didn't need to speak any words at all to convey his love to her, would just be a statistic on a piece of paper, an unfortunate casualty of war. Harry Potter would always mean much more to the world than Cedric Diggory ever would, and this angered Cho more than anything else.
And so what if they'd only been together six months? Within that short time they had shared so much. Because of Cedric, Cho experienced the true meaning of life for the very first time. He taught her that there was so much more to life than appearances, grades, and books. With Cedric, Cho tasted life, and it had now been torn away from her for eternity.
And as Cho Chang cried herself to sleep that night, she realized that she was now experiencing something she knew Cedric would have never wanted for her; the true meaning of loneliness.