He is Always with You
Cho Chang ran desperately through the halls of Hogwarts, tears streaming down her face. She could not, just could not, believe this! Harry Potter, the boy who had been with her boyfriend when he died, had not told her a thing about what had happened to him! She had asked him, practically begged him, to tell her of Cedric's last moments, but Harry had refused to say a word, telling her they should talk about something else and then changing the subject to Quidditch!
As sorrow and rage pounded through her veins in equal amounts, Cho's thoughts flew through the last few months. God, she had been so confused! She had loved Cedric, truly loved Cedric, and he had taken her heart with him when he died. The look of his honest gray eyes staring wide, wide, wide into nothingness haunted her nightmares and her waking thoughts, the look of shock and fear on his face frozen in her memory, replacing all those looks of joy and love he had held. Why did she have to remember him like that? It wasn't fair! Cedric had loved life so much, and it had been brutally zapped away from him.
And when she had met Harry Potter, honest and brave and willing to tell the truth, the truth of what had truly befallen Cedric on that terrible night, Cho had been so proud of him. She was now terribly, terribly ashamed to admit that when she had succumbed to that kiss in the Room of Requirement, when she had said yes to him for today's Valentine's Day date, she had pretended, for those moments, that she had been with Cedric again. Harry had been the last one to see him alive, after all, and Cho would do anything to be close to him again.
But now, she had to admit that being with him, kissing him, talking to him, going to Hogsmeade with him ... it had been so wrong, so, so wrong. This was not Cedric, the boy she loved with every fiber of her being. This was Harry, a confused teenage boy who looked as though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
But now, even though she knew Harry was grieving Cedric in his own way, too, the mutinous thoughts towards him continued. He had told Ron and Hermione what had happened to Cedric ... couldn't he spare a thought for the girl who loved him? Cho was still left with no answers to the questions she had: How long had Cedric suffered before he was killed? Had he begged for help? Had he screamed for her to help him, to save him? Was he cursed with the Cruciatus? To think of her love in so much pain ... the thought was excruciating. I wish it had been me instead, she thought as more tears poured down her face. Why did it have to be her who lost a love?
She could still hear the whispers, in her mind's eye, of the students of Hogwarts as they passed her in the hallways. "Stupid girl, she's so young. She doesn't even know what love is. She never loved him. Crybaby. She's just seeking attention. She should just get over it. Why is she still pining for him? It's pathetic. It's ridiculous. Stupid girl, her tears won't bring him back. He's dead, dead, dead. Dead."
A scream of pure, animalistic rage and grief left Cho's lips as she kept running. It had been almost eight months since his death and the wound was still as raw as the night it had happened. Every night she was plagued with memories of the entire school screaming, "He's dead! Dead! Dead! Cedric Diggory! Dead!" and the look of his beautiful gray eyes lifeless, all the light having left them. When she had shaken him, when she had screamed, "Ennervate! Ennervate! Baby, look at me! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME, BABY! TELL ME WHAT'S WRONG! PLEASE!" nothing had happened. He had just kept staring, not even the tiniest spark of recognition in those eyes.
Without even realizing it, Cho had reached her destination: Dumbledore's office. This was her last resort. No one would tell her what Cedric had been through, so she was going to find out from the Headmaster himself, even if she had to get on her knees and plead for him to tell her. For Cedric, she would do anything.
When she reached the gargoyle, it asked politely, "Password?" as if it had no care in the world, which it probably didn't. Never mind that there was a heartbroken, sobbing teenage girl who felt completely unloved standing in front of it.
"I don't know!" Cho screamed, all common courtesy flying out the window. "I just need to speak to the Headmaster! Please!"
"You cannot get in without a password," the gargoyle persisted, smirking.
"HE'S DEAD, AND I WANT TO KNOW WHY! WHY! WHY! WHY!" Cho shrieked hysterically, the pain of the last eight months culminating in a tremendous loss of control. All she wanted to know was why this had to happen to the boy she loved. Why her? Why, out of everyone in the school, did it have to be her?
Then, suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder. "Miss Chang?" a soft voice whispered. Cho whipped around and looked into the serene, understanding eyes of Albus Dumbledore. He must have heard the terrible commotion she was making all the way from his office. "Do come with me."
Numbly, still sobbing uncontrollably, Cho let him guide her up the spiralling staircase into his office. She had heard before from other Ravenclaws all about the little spindly instruments and knick-knacks all over Dumbledore's desk, but she didn't bother to examine them. The Headmaster led her to the chair across from his at the large desk, and Cho, her body still heaving, sat down in it, her head in her hands.
Dumbledore waited a few minutes until Cho had calmed down a little. Then, he said very, very gently, "Miss Chang, please tell me what happened."
And so she did. In a choked voice, Cho told him everything. She told him of how the nightmare of Cedric's death had shattered her, how she had to see his body in her dreams every night and be haunted by the image of it during the day. She told him of getting closer to Harry, of how her feelings for him had become so muddled and confused. "I thought I liked Harry, but I was wrong," she hiccupped. "I liked Harry as a friend and nothing more. I never, ever stopped loving Cedric! I still love Cedric, but he's gone ... he's gone ... and I don't know how to go on. Life isn't worth it anymore, Headmaster. I'm dying without him. AND HARRY WON'T EVEN TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM AT THE END!" she ended on a raw, guttural shriek, beginning to sob anew. "Did he suffer? Did he scream? Was he hurt before he died? Was he tortured?" The endless questions flew out of her mouth, and she pounded her fists on the desk with each one, causing her knuckles to hurt but she didn't give a damn.
Dumbledore stood up, and moved closer to the chair where Cho was sitting. He knew that some people might think it was wrong to do this, that it wasn't professional behavior, but he didn't care. He put an arm around Cho, letting her sob into his robes until she was spent.
After she had finally vented out all her fury and grief, Dumbledore spoke very quietly to her. "Miss Chang," he said sorrowfully, "I know that nothing I can say to you can ease the pain right now, so I will not even attempt to soothe you with my empty words. As for Mr. Potter and how he behaved towards you ..." He sighed deeply, scratching his beard thoughtfully. "It has been my experience, that in times of grief and loss, some people react differently to others. You wish to talk about it, to release your emotions and to gain comfort from others. Mr. Potter, however, has a lot on his shoulders. Do not think of what he did as a slight towards you. I will tell you, from what I know of young Harry, he is consumed with guilt. He may not show it outwardly to you, but inside, he does not wish to explain the details of what happened because he wishes he could have done something to save Mr. Diggory."
"B-but he told Ron and Hermione," Cho choked out. "Why could he tell them and not me?"
"Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger are very close to Harry," Dumbledore answered, his eyes sincere and kind. "And you, Miss Chang, loved Cedric with all your heart, and Harry knows that. That, I am sure, is why he is uncomfortable with telling you. Ron and Hermione were never close to Cedric; you, however, were."
Finally, the cogs in Cho's numb brain began to turn, and she digested the Headmaster's words. She tried to put herself in Harry's shoes - if she had watched one of Harry's friends die, how uncomfortable would it be to tell him of their last moments? A level of understanding arose in her, and she suddenly felt a huge bout of immense guilt. "I understand, sir," she said in a tiny voice. "I-I was terrible to him today. I accused him of wanting to be with Hermione instead of me, and insinuated that they were in a relationship."
"Miss Chang, you made a mistake," Dumbledore said gently, "and you are honest enough with yourself to realize that. Let it go for the moment, that is my strong advice to you. Maybe later, once you and Mr. Potter have cooled off from the day's emotions, you can approach him and you can sort out your misunderstandings."
Cho nodded, still very tearful. "I realized today that I'm not strong enough to get into another relationship," she confessed. "I still miss and love Cedric so, so much."
"I know," Dumbledore whispered, his own look of sorrow seeping into his eyes. "I know there is nothing that can make you feel better at this time, but I will tell you a piece of information that Harry personally told me, after it all happened. Mr. Diggory's passing was very quick, child. He did not suffer, not at all."
A sob of relief burst from Cho's lungs as the answer to her biggest, most desperate question was finally revealed. "Thank Merlin," she breathed through her tears. "Thank Merlin. Thank you so much, Headmaster."
"You are welcome," Dumbledore said, patting Cho's hand. "I am sure you have heard it before, and I know it will not sound very consoling at the moment, but perhaps someday, it will. He is always with you, Cho. He is with you in everything you do, and he would want you to be happy again. He would want you to move on."
"I know," Cho sniffled, her face still buried in Dumbledore's robes. "But I don't know if I can. I don't ever see myself falling in love ever again."
"I understand," Dumbledore replied quietly. "But I am sure, in time, that you will come to find those words to be wrong. Mr. Diggory would want your happiness, Miss Chang. He is not far away, I promise. He will never, ever leave you."
And suddenly, for the first time in eight months, a spark of hope entered Cho Chang's heart. Looking into the kind, wizened face of Albus Dumbledore, his honest, twinkling blue eyes radiating a sureness that Cho had never seen before, she felt the hole in her heart fill up a little. The grief was still there, as raw as ever, but sitting there in that office, she felt that maybe, just maybe, she could heal.