Fast. I am a fast girl. Brief, efficient, concentrated, shocking. Like a well-aimed hex hitting its mark. Some might call me a slut or a whore, a scarlet woman.
But not George.
He understands my sense of adventure, my need for unbridled excitement and competition.
He understands me. He understands my need to wear one mask during the day away from him or around others and he understands what happens when that mask comes off.
And he still wants me.
“Fucking gods!” I scream when he shoves himself inside me. The penetration, it is the penetration I crave. The orgasm is only the bonus. It is the fucking I want, always has been.
“Such a foul little mouth you have, Wonton,” George purrs as he rams his body firmly up and into my crotch. “Do you kiss you lover with that dirty little mouth of yours?”
“I suck his cock with it too,” I gasp at his invasion and he grins wickedly at my reply. “Suck him off, all the time, with my dirty…,” he thrusts, pulls back and freezes at my words, “Little,” I gasp at another thrusting blow from his hips before he nearly retreats completely from my cunt.
He reaches down to one of my nipples and pinches viciously.
“Say it, say it dirty or no more fucking for you,” he orders me and pinches down again.
“Fucking mouth!” I shriek in pleasure and pain as George slams into me with such force that my arse inches up the desk. But he will have none of that.
“Oh no you don’t,” he says as he releases my throbbing nipple to hook his arms under my knees and hoists my bottom off the desk’s surface again. He yanks me back toward him so that my arse hovers past the edge of the desk, the hard wood digging into the small of my back.
Pleasure, pain, pleasure, pain…
Then he lets go, pounding relentlessly into me, almost brutally. I love it. I love it. Fucking like this…I have no physical control over him but he does exactly what I want him to do.
“Oh Merlin, George, fuck me, please, oh god, fuck me,” I cry, and for a bit of dramatic flair that I know will drive him to a crazed frenzy, I arch my neck stiffly, the muscles in strong enough to lift my shoulders off the polished wood.
“Oh fuck, that rules,” he groans in response.
I can see the office, its white walls and over-large window, inverted, swaying back and forth in my topsy-turvy sight. “I surely do spend a lot of time fucking George while I am upside-down.” I think before an airy giggle escapes me. I reach blindly for George but our upper bodies are too far apart.
“Cho, fuck, you ought to see this,” he groans and I feel him hunch his arms more tightly in the soft behind my knees. “Down,” he gasps, “Reach straight down.”
And when I do our hands collide and our fingers lock around each other’s wrists. A jostle, then two later our grip on each other is firm and unbreakable. I release the tension in my neck and lower my shoulders to the cold, sweaty surface and look up at George. He stare intently, wildly down at me as we pull and push at each other, our bodies slapping together where we are joined.
The sound of us gasping for breath echoes through the mostly empty office, great gulps of air escape my lungs as I watch George biting his bottom lip.
“You are biting your bottom lip again,” I say with a soft laugh.
“Fuck!” he growls and licks his lips, “I hate that.” Now he clenches his jaw and closes his eyes in concentration. “I look like a fucking chav when I do that. Shit!” I giggle and our hands grip and pull on each other’s arms for a tighter position.
“Shut up and come!” I shout but fear it only comes out as a desperate growl.
“You first,” he says frantically.
“No, not me,” I whisper, “Not this time. Just wanna fuck.” The hold we have on each other keeps me from slipping up the table and away from him; it also adds amazing depth to George’s penetration. “Just fuck,” I moan, “George, oh gods, please!”
Frenetic, hysteric, mad, fevered, our coupling continues, the beat a driving song in a hot smoky room. Again, again, again, again, a drum beat, repeating, repeating in a crowd of delirious dancers. All focus falls on us and our movement, our pulse, our pull, our push.
Then it snaps.
“Oh my fuck…oh shit, coming,” I cry as a fist of pleasure punches through my body and seizes me…shaking me like an animal shaking its prey in murderous jaws, breaking, snapping every bone. I am screaming and howling and I hear him, he cries back, an echoing shout, deep and desperate as his movement stops. He clenches me to him to the point of pain, his muscles clutching, taut, a low guttural moan issues from his core. He is coming. His face a mess of distraction and release.
I wait, watching as he slowly calms and the steady beat within me brakes and pulls up. In the haze I feel his iron grip let go of me, his shaky hands fumbling up the skin of my arms. He takes my shoulders and lifts me until I sit on the surface of the desk.
George is still inside of me, gradually softening as he slips arms around my waist where he finds the wrinkled muddle binding my middle. We sit like that, breathing coming slower and easier as the minutes pass.
“Wow,” I whisper, “That was….”
“Pretty damn hot, don’t you think?” he asks.
I feel George turn his body a bit as he looks around the room.
“What?” I ask.
“Think Whizzy’ll notice the muck on his desk if we don’t clean it up?”
“We have to clean up or he will know it was us,” I reply.
“How would he know it was us?”
“Because we are the only couple he knows horny enough to do something like this,” I say.
“You’re right,” he replies and hesitates, “Let’s leave the mess anyway.”
He sits there quietly watching me although he does not want me to know. He never says a word and hardly even moves when I meditate for a half hour every evening. He does not even look as if he breathes as he tries to casually watch me, pretending to read the newspaper. It is as if he is scared that he may break my concentration if he distracts me or stares at me and I smile inside knowing that he waits for me like an eager puppy.
I have asked him to join me while I meditate but all my fiancée can say it that he would not be able to sit still for an entire hour. But he still waits in silence for me every evening after work, afraid to move a muscle. In his own way, he is learning to master himself with patience.
The thought of George sitting across from me on his own meditation mat forces me to stifle a giggle. I think it will happen soon and even though he has many questions about Buddhism, he has always accepted my practices and come to embrace its customs.
My eyes peek open and I peer at him, not allowing George to see that I have ended my session. I never thought I would be with one like him when I was growing up. I imagined myself with a man of culture and distinction. Now, I am not saying that my love is not cultured but he does not care about conventionality and will always choose to live life to its fullest. It is not that he has done nothing to make himself distinct, but he has chosen to take the path less traveled in his route to wealth and fame.
That is one of the many reasons I love him. He has taught me much about myself and how to let myself be free. He has taught me to love life and never let anyone tell me that I cannot do something. But most of all, he has taught me that love does not have to be painful and wrought with fear…instead it is something to cherish and share with that one special person.
For me, that will always be George. The ginger-haired, immature, infuriating man whom I woke up next to after a night of extraordinary sex when I was intoxicated has now claimed my heart. I would have bet a fortune that after Hogwarts, I would not have ended up with him, but then again, I would have given a fortune just for the chance to be sitting on the floor of our flat, gazing at him.
“I see you watching me,” George snickers as he cranes his neck around the newspaper in front of him. His infuriating smile still irritates me, but at the same time it melts my heart and I cannot help but open my eyes and grin in return.
“You only saw me because you spent the last half hour watching me,” I smirk while I rise to my knees, place my hands over my head, and arch my back lazily.
“I’m just going to get all horny if you keep doing that,” George replies before he folds the paper and places it on the sofa next to him. He chuckles sharply before he continues, “Hell, I get horny sitting here watching you, but one of us has to fix dinner.”
I look at him begin to rise before I command, “Stay.”
George does not question my order and I can see the breathless anticipation in his eyes. I study him as he licks his lips when I take the bottom hem of my tank top and peel it up and over my head. The combination of the air against my naked bosom and George leering at me brings goose bumps to my flesh and I shiver slightly as I think of what he surely wants to do to me now.
“Gods, you’re beautiful, Wonton. I can’t get enough of you…you’re, you’re beautiful,” George babbles as he leans forward and I notice a prominent tent in his trousers.
“No trousers, George,” I reply firmly before I drop to my hands and begin to slowly crawl over to him, pleased to see him gulp deeply at my actions. I would never do this for another man. I trust George to never hurt me and as I make my way cat-like over to him, I know that this simple act drives him wild.
I lift my hand and point at his slacks before I begin to crawl again. George’s eyes widen when he recognizes my gesture. He lifts his bottom off the sofa quickly while he blurts, “Oh shit.”
He nearly slides off the cushion as he removes his trousers and boxers with incredible speed before he flings them across the room. His erection stands proudly as he sits down again and I place my hands on his upper thighs while I lift my head and bring it even with his hardness. I smile, hoping to tease him further, but when I see the mixture of desire and impatience in his blue eyes, I realize that I want to give him what he needs willingly.
“What a good boy,” I whisper huskily before I bend my head and take the tip of his length between my lips. My right hand grazes his skin as I let my hand wander up his leg before I wrap it around his cock, feeling him shudder when I run my fingers up and down the smooth length.
My mouth opens and I plunge down onto his hardness, hearing George groan loudly before I feel his fingers weave through my hair. His body stiffens as I begin to set my pace, the steady rhythm of my head bobbing on his cock causing him to buck his hips.
After a moment, I pull my mouth away and lift my eyes to him my hand still working along his length. He sighs in protest, the fingers in my hair trying to push me back to complete what he desperately needs before he whimpers, “Please Cho, I need you.”
I smile at his words, knowing in my heart that they will only be said to me for the rest of our lives before I dip my head down again and resume my ministrations. My tongue teases him, brushing lightly along every ridge and crevice as I feel his body begin to shake. I love George and I want to give this to him, so I lose myself in the sheer sensation of his cock sliding into my mouth, the tilting of his hips urging me back down when he feels my lips upon his tip, the pulsing of his erection and his joyful moan every time my tongue touches a sensitive spot on his smooth skin.
He deserves this for being my light in the darkness, the one who brought me out of the moroseness I felt for so long after Cedric…the one who I thought would be with me forever. But happily, I was wrong, and I know in my heart that I would have found George even if Cedric had survived because he is the only man I have ever truly loved.
My eyes lift up to meet his as I remove my lips from him and through the fog of desire which I know grips George, I see his undying love for me and I know it is reflected in my soul. My hand moves slowly along his length as I lick my lips and whisper, “Come for me, love.”
I could not stay at work any longer. It started this morning as a tickle in the back of my throat when I woke up. Once I got to the Ministry I knew I was coming down with something, probably a cold or the flu. By lunch time I knew I had to go home. I told Campbell Bullfinch and Parker Chestnut, the two gentlemen with whom I work in the Portkey Authority’s Field Agent Section, I was feeling under the weather and they insisted I go home and rest. Campbell told me if I needed an extra day to mend not to hesitate to stay home tomorrow or Wednesday if I felt bad enough.
The bell on the door of the shop jingles happily although I feel anything but happy and cheerful. Verity, who has returned to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes at Diagon Alley, smiles and welcomes me, thinking I am a lunch time customer before I greet her and George number two.
“Where is George?” I ask. “I thought he was supposed to work down here today.”
“Yeah,” George II groans. “He said he was starting to come down with something so he went upstairs to get some sleep.” George and I did not talk much this morning before I left for work. I had no idea he was sick too. I nod to Verity and George II before I try to clear the scratchiness from my throat and go upstairs.
I push the door to our upstairs flat open with a creak and call out, “George, I am home.” I am answered with silence. I wait a few seconds. Then George groans from the sofa.
“Over here, luv,” he croaks, his voice raspy and gruff. “I’m sick. Started this morning when you left.”
I walk over to the sofa and peer over the edge. “Me too, honey,” I smile down at him. He has been sleeping. “Did I wake you?” I ask and George shakes his head. “Yes I did, sleepy head. What do you think you have?”
“Just a cold,” he clears his throat. “It’s not anything life-threatening, just makes me feel like shite.” He rubs his eyes and looks up at me. “You too, huh?” he sounds like a frog. I nod and lay my head on the back of the sofa. “Come around here and join me for a nap,” he beckons me and I walk around the arm of the couch and kick my shoes off before I crawl next to him.
“You sure you would not prefer the bed?” I ask as I snug down next to him.
“No,” his voice breaks. “It’ll be just as cozy here.”
“We will sleep the afternoon away and then we will make some chicken soup for supper,” I reply. “Or better yet, we can get the Leaky to deliver some soup and bread so we will not have to work.”
“And then we’ll get naked and crawl into bed,” he hums against my neck. I reach up and grab a blanket draped across the back of the sofa, then spread it over us. We settle in and become still. I listen to George’s breathing level but I notice he is a little congested.
“You feel warm,” I say as he presses his cheek to my forehead.
“You do too,” he replies and laughs softly. “Merlin, aren’t we pitiful?” His question makes me laugh but the laughing causes me to start coughing.
Once the coughing fit stops I just lie there in his arms, pathetic. With a deep breath I sigh, “I feel so rotten, miserable.” George hugs me to him.
“We’ll be absolutely miserable together then,” he chuckles softly and clears his throat again.
“Just like an old married couple,” I reply and George exhales another quiet laugh.
“Shite, GEORGE!” I yell across the lounge of the flat above Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. “GEORGE! Ohmph!” George is right there when I turn from my work in the kitchen. “We are out of fresh ginger
and I have already started braising the chicken. Supper will be spoiled without it. Can you run down to the market to get some, chop, chop?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he catches me by the arms before I very nearly bounce off him. “Can’t you use dried or powdered ginger
? It’s supposed to start to snow
any moment now.”
“I do not need a ludicrous excuse, George,” I snap. “I need fresh ginger
“But I’m telling the truth, luv,” he replies with a smile as he soothingly rubs my arms. “Snow
is predicted this evening, really. Promises, Wonton, I promises.”
“In May?” I stumble in surprise. “It is late in the season for snow
, wow. I knew it was cold today, but snow
. That is amazing.”
“Quite amazing, actually,” he leans down and whispers in my ear. “I say we go to bed right away and take advantage of the chilly night.”
“That is a marvelous idea,” I sigh. “We should go to bed as soon as we can.” George perks up at the possibility...but then I dash his hopes. “After you go get me some fresh ginger
for dinner…”THIS JOURNAL HAS MOVED TO:
and has become a part of the role-playing game called
Ginger and Snow
- Location:Ginger and Snow
- Music:George whinging about having to go out in the cold...
I sit quietly, anxiously, while George opens his birthday presents. One-by-one the paper is torn or peeling away from each box to reveal a collection of gifts. All of them are opened but the last one and George sits in the middle of the lounge in our flat, his eyes passing over each item with great longing. Finally, he sits still with the last package resting in his lap and looks at me. Confusion is quite evident on his otherwise happy face. He slowly lifts his hand to the back of his head and scratches his scalp.
“Um, wow,” he stutters, “I appreciate all of this, Cho, I really do, but you do know that I can’t use any of it, don’t you, luv?”
I grit my teeth in response. I was afraid this would happen. I cannot hide my bewilderment as I look at the collection of presents: a new Bludger bat; leather shin, knee, arm, and elbow guards; weatherproof hooded red Quidditch robes; dragon hide gloves; padded chest guard; indestructible goggles; reinforced Quidditch boots; a shiny set of brand new Quidditch balls; and a bottomless shrinking equipment duffel. I knew all this was a mistake but I wanted to get him something I knew he would want for himself.
“You’ve spent way too much, Cho,” he shakes his head in amazement. “Why did you get me all this? I can’t use it.”
I just stare at him. I had hoped he would understand. My eyes begin to brim with tears and George places the last present aside and quickly crawls forward to where I am sitting on the floor in front of him.
“Oh Merlin, Cho,” he stammers, “I’m a complete git. I’m so sorry.” He enfolds me in his arms and holds me as if I were a small child. “I’m so sorry. I’m an insensitive prat.”
“I only wanted to give you something I knew you would want,” I sniffle. “I thought about not getting you these things because of the sacrifice you made for me and my mum and dad. But I know they will come back soon, George; I just know…and, and,” I hiccup, “You will be playing again in no time at all and when you do you will have brand new equipment. The best anyone could own.” I fight back my tears but I am so prone to cry when I get emotional. George leans in and kisses my cheeks where the tear stains remain.
“I know, luv,” he whispers, “I know.”
I turn toward his body and bury my face in his shirt. “I just miss them both so much and I wanted to give you something special to thank you for what you’ve done for me. I love you so much.”
“I love you to, Wonton,” he pets the side of my head as I gaze up at him.
“I have been thinking about the other time that you could not play Quidditch. My sixth year when you and Harry pummeled the shite out of Draco Malfoy and that Umbridge woman banned you from Quidditch for life.” As I talk, George furrows his brow at the memory of that day long ago. “I was glad you pounded his arse. I guess you could say I took serious notice of you that day but I was too caught up in my own life to do anything about it. I was pretty messed up back then, anyway.”
“I was pretty messed up too,” he says as he ducks his head, “Leaving school like I did. Kind of cursing my nose off despite my face.” I feel his arms tighten around me. “But I happen to think things have worked out for the better now.”
“But you got to play Quidditch again,” I remind him, “And it will be the same this time too.” I lift up and kiss him softly on his lips. “I thought that we could put the equipment somewhere where we could see it and it could remind us of all we have to look forward to, all the wonderful things that are going to happen to us in the next year.” George turns and studies the new Quidditch equipment, a thoughtful expression on his face.
“That’s true,” he replies as he looks back at me. “This is the most thoughtful birthday present I’ve ever gotten, Wonton. You and your Ravenclaw mind are remarkable; I never would have thought of this.” I suddenly remember that there is one more present to open and I reach over and grab the box and hand it to George. He smiles and waits a moment before he rips the wrapping paper from it like a rabid Niffler locked in Gringott’s. When the box is open, he carefully lifts out his last present: a red Quidditch jersey with the name ‘Weasley’ across the back.
“Whoa, this is nice,” he beams as he admires the work on the jersey. “Any particular reason for the red? Gryffindors usually wear burgundy.” He holds it up to his body. “You don’t think it clashes with my hair, do you?” He makes a silly show of running his fingers through his hair while he rolls his eyes.
“In China, red represents good luck and good fortune.” I smile brightly. “It will be the color of my wedding dress; it’s tradition.”
“Better tell my mum before she sees you walking down the aisle in it,” he laughs, “She’s likely to faint.” We each have a good chuckle before George sees that there is something more in the bottom of the box. He reaches in and pulls out another jersey, one identical to his; only this one is much, much smaller. “Luv,” he pauses as he holds up the garment. “You left Fred’s gift in the bottom with mine and I don’t think it’s going to fit him.” George turns the jersey around to look at the bold ‘Weasley’ stitched across them back.
“That is not for Fred,” I smile proudly as I reach out and take the shirt from George’s hands and place the jersey against my chest with the ‘Weasley’ side facing him. “This one is mine.”
“There really is no set marriage ceremony or ritual that Buddhists follow other than receiving a blessing from the monks in the temple shrine, and that could happen at any time,” I tell George as he sits across the table from me in our home above the Weasley. We are having left over Peking Duck, as this dish is one of his favorite Chinese meals. I look down at my wrist, at the gift he gave me for Valentine’s Day, one week ago today. He gave me the most precious jade frog scarab bracelet
. He always gives me the best presents, even when I am not expecting anything. Like him giving up Quidditch so Master Do could generate enough magic to scry so we could see Mami and Baba. George is like that…
“I didn’t think we would end up having a church wedding,” George replies as he wraps a few pieces of duck into a pancake. “But I know very little about Chinese wedding customs.”
“Well,” I begin as I wrap vegetables into another pancake, “Chinese wedding traditions are very different and have little to nothing in common with Buddhist practices. Chinese wedding traditions are very family and home-oriented and most take place before the actual marriage ceremony is performed.” George chews thoughtfully.
“I won’t know where to begin,” he says.
“Well, one of the things you will need to do right before the wedding, the day before, actually, is buy us a new bed,” I inform him.
“What’s wrong with the bed we sleep in now?” he protests.
“It is bad luck for a newly married couple to sleep in an old or used bed.” He looks exasperated as I speak. “We have to or our marriage will have bad luck.”
“I guess it makes some
kind of sense,” he complains, “But it’s a shame to discard a perfectly good bed.”
“We can put it in the guest room.” I spoon rice onto George’s plate when I see he wants more. “And something else.” He looks up when I stop speaking. “On the day before the wedding you must install the new bridal bed in our room with the help of a ‘good luck woman’ and a ‘good luck man’.”
“What is a ‘good luck woman’ and a ‘good luck man’?” His brows knit together.
“They are a man and a woman with many children and living mates,” I say with a smile. “The three of you put the bed together and place new linens on it.”
“That’ll be easy, I think
I know where I can find a couple like that.” George grins.
“Molly and Arthur?” I ask, and he nods. “That is not all you have to do when it comes to the new bridal bed.”
“I’m beginning to think that marrying a Chinese girl is going to be too much work,” he says between bites. “What else needs to be done?” he feigns exhaustion and irritation.
“Well, after the installation ceremony, the three of you will need to scatter some things on top of the bed.” I pick up my chopsticks and take a bite of rice.
“Like what?” he asks before he takes my hand across the table and adds, “You do know I’m just joking about being exhausted, don’t you? This stuff you’re telling me is absolutely fascinating.”
“I know, love.” I pat his hand before I continue, “Well, you and Arthur and Molly will need to spread dates, oranges, lotus seeds, rose petals, peanuts, pomegranates, apples, candies, and such all over the top of the covers, so we will have a prosperous and abundant marriage. Then the fun part comes,” I say and he raises his eyebrows in interest, “You must invite children of all ages to come and sit on the bed and enjoy the sweets and treats, the more children, the merrier. The confections that the children do not finish are put in a bowl and placed on a bedside table for the bride and groom to enjoy the following night. And then the children get to jump on the bed.”
“Now I like the sound of that tradition,” he chuckles, “I highly approve of any culture that encourages children to jump on the bed and eat candy!” He laughs outright, a deep and happy sound. “Really, Cho, I’m so lucky to have you. I take it the children are an omen of fertility?”
I nod shyly. “Yes, fertility and abundant happiness.”
“I think Mum and Dad are going to have a grand time partaking of this tradition.”
“I have never known anyone who fits the rolls of ‘good luck woman’ and ‘good luck man’ better than your mum and dad,” I say, “With their good fortune you and I should have a very blessed and long and happy life together and the Weasley family tree will blossom and grow tremendously.”
“I’m counting on it,” he whispers to me as he kisses my hand.
“Yes, that’s exactly what I said,” George insists. “They’ve split up. Whizzy said so.”
“And Tonks is staying with him, for now?” I ask.
“He said he kissed her and then she and Charlie had a big row about Whizzy’s ex-wife?” I inquire. “Do you think Tonks and Whizzy are involved?”
George shrugs his shoulders. “Couldn’t say. But it all seems strange, doesn’t it?” I nod absently to his question.
“I think I will Owl Tonks and suggest a girl’s night out. This whole situation worries me.” I look up at George. “But it is good news about Whizzy investing in Wheezes. Ten stores, you and Fred will be Galleonaires before you can wave a wand.” I watch George as he gathers his Quidditch gear and puts everything in a duffel. “You have practice today?” I ask. He looks over at me seriously.
“No.” He takes a deep breath before he shrinks the duffel and tucks it in his trouser pocket.
“Then,” I look at him. I am confused but I sense that something is going on, something George has not told me about yet. “What are you doing, George? Is something wrong? What has happened?” I am unable to conceal the slight panic that rises within me.
“Nothing has happened,” he places his hand on my arm to assure me. Then he turns around and grabs his broom before he speaks again. “But, well, I need you to go somewhere with me right now. Will you?”
“I don’t want to tell you everything until we get there,” he says calmly. “I have a surprise for you.”
“A surprise,” I perk up. “Oooo, I like surprises!”
George leads me downstairs and we garner out cloaks before we step out onto Diagon Alley. I thought I would not like living in such a busy district, but in the short time that I have been living with George above the store, I have found that Alley life suits me well. I get along with the other merchants and the customers and the location is closer to the Ministry than Mami and Baba’s house. Mami and Baba…I try not to dwell on them too much.
Soon our walk takes a sharp twist and I realize that George is taking me to Knockturn Alley. I pull my cloak closer around myself as he slides an arm around my waist, a welcome sign of protection.
“You are taking me to Master Do’s, aren’t you?” I ask and he replies with a solemn nod. We do not speak again until we have reached Master Do’s retreat. The little bell tinkles as we enter the shop and immediately the smell of Nag Champa and Joss sticks invade my nostrils. A full shot of Fire Whiskey sits in front of the jolly Buddha, along with a fried dumpling and an almond biscuit. It is difficult to find oranges this time of the year, but I know Master Do would offer the Buddha the best citrus if he could find some. I should have brought something for Master Do’s shrine.
“Ahh, Mr. Weasley, Ms. Chang, so good to see you again,” Master Do greets us as he moves effortlessly toward us. “Come in, come in,” he motions for us to follow him to one of his back rooms, a primitive kitchen with an open fire hearth and heavy block counters that are covered in a multitude of glass bottles and basins of varying sizes. Containers of herbs and mysterious ingredients line the walls and shelves. “Are you ready to see what the waters say of your loved ones?” He takes a wide, shallow basin and places it on a square table in the center of the room.
“Yes, sir,” George replies and I look from him to the older man. I do not understand.
“And you have the appropriate sacrifice that will empower the magic to gaze across the continents?” Master Do asks and George places his broom and the shrunken duffel on the table. I reach down and stay George’s hand.
“Wait,” I say. “Master Do, what is happening here? My beloved has not told me of his intentions. Will you?”
Master Do looks at George, who nods again. George turns to me. “Cho, I came to see Master Do last week because I’m worried about you. You get so sad sometimes and I can’t seem to reach you and help you. Master Do said that if I could find something that I love, something that I cherish, that I could give it up, make a sacrifice, so that you could somehow find your parents and see if they were alright. So that it could reassure you. And I’ve decided to sacrifice Quidditch, to give it up, so you can find out about your parents.” I stare at George in disbelief.
“I do not like the sound of this, George. I do not want you to pay such a price,” I tell him. “It is too much.”
“But I want to do this. I’ve made up my mind, Cho.”
“Master Do,” I turn to the grey bearded old man. “I do not want him to do this. I could not live with the knowledge that he gave up such a precious thing just so I could have peace of mind for a short time. Please, do not take his offering,” I plead.
“I am sorry, daughter,” Master Do begins, “But he freely gives this.” I tense, caught between my desire to know about my parents and my anger at George for making this offering. “But daughter, I do not need the broom, only the kit. Flying is something the two of you share and I cannot take it from you.”
“Then let me make the sacrifice,” I suggest, “Let me give up something so George can still play Quidditch.”
Master Do’s dark eyes fill with pity. “That is not the way this particular magic works, little one. The sacrifice must come from another, as it is in the giving that the magic is empowered, not in the taking. But since the gift is given with great love the sacrifice need only endure until your parents are returned to you. Then your beloved’s price will be paid.”
“Then he can play Quidditch again?” I ask.
“Then he can play Quidditch again,” Master Do replies.
I turn to George. “Then let me give you something in return, at least until Mami and Baba are returned to me, no arguments.” I stop his protests before he can even voice them. “What can it be?” I ask. George thinks as his eyes dart back and forth. Then he raises his eyebrows in realization.
“Play on my team,” he says. “You play Seeker on my team and not the Chinatown team, until then. Charlie can play Beater for me, but you have to play Seeker until Mami and Baba come back.”
Ouch…I will have to play with a bunch of smug Gryffindors. “Deal,” I nod.
Master Do carefully takes the small duffel and places it on a curio shelf, in a space of honor above all the other tokens housed there. When he returns to the table he carries a black vial, from which he pours clear liquid into the shallow basin. The liquid turns a luminous black after a few seconds, then Master Do pokes one of his long fingernails into the elixir and swirls until a smoky mist rises from it.
“Watch,” he instructs us.
George moves to stand behind me and looks over my shoulder as we both look down into the black waters in eager anticipation. As the smoke clears we can see a shimmering image become focused. It is Mami…and she is sleeping on a mat in a small house. Baba sits on a pillow beside her bed and wipes her brow before Mami’s eyes open and he offers her a cup of dark brown tea. The pungent odor of forest mushrooms invades my nostrils. The smell comes from the tea. It is bitter because Mami winces at the taste, yet she swallows all of it. When she reclines again Baba rubs a yellow salve at her temples and upon where her third eye would sit in the center of her forehead. She smiles up to him before the image fades and I find that I am weeping with quiet joy. George’s hand rubs the small of my back.
“They’re ok,” he whispers. “Ok.”
I turn and look at George. “Thank you,” I say. “I promise you will not regret this.” He bends down and kisses my brow.
“Never could,” he says before Master Do leads us into the entry room.
“You come back in twenty eight days. One cycle of the moon, and I will let you gaze into the seeing waters again, and then every moon until your parents return. No additional sacrifice.”
“But,” I begin before Master Do silences me.
“You gave a gift in return, and besides, your parents are old friends of mine. The magic is more than powerful enough with the love that sustains it.”
After many thank you’s and hugs, George and I leave Master Do’s shop and walk home hand-in-hand.
George leans toward me and holds on to the wobbly Muggle grocery cart as we weave our way up and down the aisles, avoiding an open cardboard box of what I am sure he thinks are strange-looking vegetables. The narrow lanes of the Asian Grocer are an obstacle course in and of themselves, but I am certain George is somewhat intimidated, even though he is trying to be brave. He stares wildly at the skinned and plucked animal carcasses hanging from the butcher’s counter.
“Do not worry, my love,” I rub his arm reassuringly, “They do not prepare dog or cat at this market.”
He turns to look at me with wide, frightened eyes. “How did you know what I was thinking?”
“I could see it in your face,” I entwine my fingers in his hand while we wait for our order of fresh chicken breasts. “You usually only see that in the old country.” George looks at me with an expression of horror on his face before his brows knit together and he glances at the floor below my feet. When he looks at me again, I understand. “No, George,” I squeeze his hand, “I assure you that I have never in this life, eaten dog or cat.”
He breathes a visible sigh of relief.
Moments later I am picking through a bin of Mizuna greens, trying to find one with little sand caught in the bundle.
“Now, what are you going to fix for us tomorrow?” he asks.
“It is called Ozoni
; it is a traditional soup served on New Year’s day in Japan,” I explain as I locate a clean bunch of bright verdant greens.
“But you’re not Japanese, you’re Chinese. Aren’t you getting a little mixed up here?”
“No,” I respond, putting my hands on my hips after I place the package of green leaves in the cart. “I know I am Chinese. Mami and Baba have friends in the neighborhood, the Yashimoto family. They are Japanese, and since we would share our celebrations of the Chinese New Year with them, they would share their customs with us as well. That is where I got the recipe for Ozoni, or New Year’s Good Luck Soup.”
George scratches his head. “Yashimoto,” he pauses, “I know that name from somewhere.”
“Well, you should,” I scold, “Tatsuo Yashimoto?” George shakes his head absently. “Tatsuo “Kamikaze” Yashimoto? Great Merlin, George, he was only one of Charlie’s best friends in school! Remember? Charlie, Whizzy, Paddy, and Kamikaze? I believe you and Fred lived in their dorm room with them in Gryffindor Tower during your second year, via Dumbledore’s orders?”
“Oh yeah! That was great fun!” George begins, “I mean, yes, I remember now. But I didn’t know you knew Kamikaze.” George takes a parcel of dried shitake mushrooms from me.
“Tatsuo was the one who taught me to fly when we first moved to London,” I reply. I grab a can of bamboo shoots from the shelf and look around for some fish sauce.
“No wonder you’re such a great flyer,” George says as he picks up a box of chocolate-covered Pocky sticks
. “These good?” he asks and I nod.
“These are too,” I say as I hand him a bag of White Rabbit candy
. “They are very creamy and sweet.”
George slips his arms around me and an older Chinese woman standing across from us in the aisle clucks her tongue at our public display of affection.
“Not as creamy and sweet as you,” he whispers as he nips my neck and the old woman clears her throat. We turn to her and smile.
“Anything you want, luv, anything at all,” George replies when I ask him exactly what I can and cannot do when it comes to rearranging and redecorating the flat above Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
“Are you absolutely sure, George? Because I am only going to ask this once,” I inquire hesitantly. “I just want to make sure.” He shrugs his shoulders and nods his head in reply and I set to work, arranging the furniture the way I have always thought it should go. Magic really does come in handy for moving and cleaning.
I quickly replace the off-balanced dining room table (I hated that it constantly rocked with one short leg) with my own Asian-style low dining table
. How I love the dark wood and simple lines of this unique piece of furniture. Comforting, homey.
“Luv, you do know how much I enjoy eating at this table with you. The pillows and how low it is to the floor,” George says and he nibbles my neck as we look at the table. “But I don’t think we’ll be able to invite Bill or Ron over for dinner. Their long legs won’t allow it.” I giggle as I try to picture the two of us entertaining some of the ‘lankier’ Weasleys. “Now Charlie, he won’t even need to sit down,” George adds with a grin as he imitates a gorilla and walks around the pillow seats, beating his chest while grunting and bellowing like an ape. He decides to run around the table with his arms hanging down, chasing me while I giggle and shriek before he leaps on the table with a growl and shouts, “I’m King Dong!”
“Get down, you oaf!” I cannot stop my laughing as he jumps to the floor in front of me and puts his arms around me.
“Fine, you’re no fun,” he pouts as he kisses me. I slink my arms under his and around his back, caressing his ribs through the material of his shirt. I trace the lines of the bones and flesh through the cloth and tickle the skin as I sink into him and he hums with pleasure. “I think I’m going to like having you here all the time,” he murmurs into my lips with soft smooches as I back us to the edge of the dining table. The top of the table hits George behind the knees since it is so low to the floor...a traditional Asian dining table of heavy hardwood.
When he reaches the edge he stops and resists losing his balance, but I push against him gently and soon he sits on the surface. He wraps his arms around my waist and presses his cheek into my stomach. The warmth and reassurance of his body comforts me. I have been trying very hard not to let Mami and Baba’s absence affect me greatly, for fear I might break with the sorrow of it all. Having George here with me, his constant love and support filling me and holding me up, gives me strength where I would otherwise be weak and afraid. I bend forward to press my lips against his, concentrating on repaying him what he has given.( With a gentle shove I lay him back against the surface of the table...Collapse )
George has insisted on escorting my parents and me to 1509 and a ½ Knockturn Way, the home of Quan Do, one of my father’s oldest friends. I am not entirely certain, but I think Quan Do had something to do with our escape from China all those years ago. When I was younger I used to wonder if Mr. Do had legs, because he always wears floor-length traditional Chinese robes. When he walks it looks as if he is floating and hovering from one place to the next.
The airy chime rings as we open the door and step inside the small space. There is a low wooden bench to one side with jars and pots lining the shelves behind it. A counter is on the opposite side of the shop and behind it are more shelves filled with herbals, trinkets, and bottles. The smell of burning joss sticks draws my attention to a small shrine next to the entrance. The Buddha sits happily behind a shot glass of whiskey and a plate of small cakes. A tiny Chinese Fireball dragon statue made of jade is next to the Jolly Hotei. I bow to the happy Buddha and Mami and Baba follow suit. George looks around nervously before doing the same.
“Welcome, welcome to my humble dwelling,” Mr. Do gestures widely with his arms. “Are you ready Mei, Han?”
I squeeze George’s hand and he returns my grip. My stomach feels as if it is about to drop from my body. Up until now I could pretend that the past few months had not been real, that Mami’s illness and my parents leaving was a bad dream. But not anymore. In a few short moments Mami and Baba may be gone from my life forever. This could be the very last time I see them. The thought hits me like a Bludger to the face.
My mother and father turn to me and I refuse to cry. Every time something bad has ever happened to me I cried. Not this time. This time I will be strong.
“We will meet again soon, my daughter, in this life or the next,” Mami whispers to me when we embrace. “Learn from the lessons your soul has chosen to study in this life and do not be sad, beloved daughter. We will be together once more.” I nod at her words and look at her wizened face as I try to preserve this image, this moment.
“Thank you for all you have taught me and given to me, Mami,” I say as she releases me.
“Stay well and be happy, Cho,” Baba hugs me to him, “Promise us that you will not forget to live your life.”
“Yes, Baba,” I tell him as I feel George’s arms move to hold me. My parents look at him and nod and he returns their gesture. Soon they are lead by Mr. Do to a back room. Mr. Do turns and draws the curtain that serves as the room’s doorway, shutting my parents from my sight. I know without being told that I should show myself to the door.
Out in the dark street George huddles protectively over me as we quickly make our way to the light of Diagon alley.
“You didn’t cry, Cho,” he observes.
“Because I felt like if I started I would never be able to stop,” I whisper as we turn and walk toward George’s shop.
“Hey Tonks, thank you for having lunch with me on such short notice.” I stand in the doorway of Tonks’ new office as she finishes signing and stacks a parchment in her ‘OUT’ box.
“No problem. What are friends for anyway?” She stands and grabs her coat, a brown cow-spotted, thigh-length fleece with blazing-pink, fake-fur edging. I must admit, it is so very Tonks. I stare at the fake fur, hypnotized by the diversity of the color to the brown cow-style spots.
“How does the Leaky Cauldron sound?” she asks, snapping me back to reality.
“Sounds great,” is all I can reply. The truth is, her jacket makes me speechless...
A few minutes later we are in the alley behind the Leaky and it seems we left early enough to beat the lunch rush. I ask the hostess for a more private booth in an isolated corner. I do not want to take any chances on anyone overhearing what I have to tell Tonks.
“So what’s up, Cho? What did you need to talk to me about?” she asks me after she waits for our waiter to leave. I look around to make sure no one is within earshot.
“It is about my mother and father,” I begin. I find myself staring intently at the roughened finish of the dark wood of our table. I watch as a drop of condensation trickles down the side of Tonks’ water goblet before she takes a sip. “You see, my mother’s health has taken a turn for the worse and my father is going to take her back to China very, very soon...for more traditional methods of magical medical therapy. It is her only chance at survival. If they do not go, she will die.”
“I’m sorry this has happened, but she can get help back in China, can’t she?” Tonks' expression is one of concern. “Then that’s a good thing. Isn’t it? They’ll be back before you blink and she’ll be completely cured.” She is trying to make me feel better about the situation. It has always been her cheerful way of doing things. I look up and finally meet her eyes.
“It is not as easy as that. This is why I have asked you to meet with me. I need your help, Tonks, and no one can know about this or my parents’ lives could be put in danger.”
“What do you mean? What’s going on, Cho?” All the optimism seems to leave her as she reaches for my hand and takes it.
As our food arrives and we begin to eat I tell her about the protests in China and how my parents were labeled political dissidents after the Tiananmen uprisings in Beijing in early June of 1989. How the three of us fled to London when I was only nine years old. Over crisps and roast beef sandwiches I confide in her my fears for them, how I am scared I may never see either of them again after they leave. How ironic that the only possible cure for Mami lies in the heart of a country whose government is just as dangerous to her as the cancer.
Cancer...I hate that word...
“Merlin’s beard, that’s some story. You know that was at the end of my fifth year, right about the time Charlie and I started seeing each other the first time.” Tonks gazes into the basket of crisps in the center of the table. “I was snogging a Weasley and you and your parents were fleeing for your lives. It’s a hell of a world we live in.” But then she looks back up to me, determination set in her eyes. “How can I help you and your parents?”
“All of the Portkey arrangements have already been made,” I tell her. “What I need now is to obtain false documentation for the two of them. They need fake ID’s and traveling papers.” I feel bad for asking so much of Tonks but this is my family...I will do anything for them. “I wish there was something I could do to help them more but Mami is too weak to take Polyjuice Potion and Baba refuses to disguise himself if she cannot.”
“I think I can help you, there,” Tonks leans forward intently. “I’ll talk to Alastor about the documents. With his help that should be no problem. Your mum and dad need to procure new wands with their new identification cards, before they leave for China. If they use the wands that are registered to them now, signatures could be recognized and traced back to their real identities.” She becomes more animated and excited as she vocalizes her plans. And she begins to talk with her hands. “I may be able to procure permission for you to use some spells strictly regulated and used only for law enforcement purposes...like fingerprint and voice alteration spells, maybe a magical signature-weakening spell. Hey, we need to talk to Charlie...did you learn any of the Dragon-Hunter spells when you were with him in Tibet?” I nod at her question. “I’m sure some of those might help your folks if they get themselves in a tight spot.”
Our planning continues for the better part of the next thirty minutes. I begin to feel much better, more relieved than I have in weeks. Before we get up from the table Tonks extends her right hand to me as if to shake it, but stops as she curls her four fingers and extends her thumb, her hand now imitating a claw. “Intelligence and Fidelity,” she whispers as I mimic her gesture with my own right hand. My fingers hook together with hers and our thumbs overlap.
“Acumen and Honor,” I whisper the answer. The secret greeting of all Ravenclaw. A promise has been made, more meaningful and powerful than any unbreakable vow.
“Wotcher Cho! How’s your mum doing?” Nymphadora Tonks joins me in the lift at the Ministry as a bustle of passengers disembark and the doors close, leaving the two of us alone in the compartment.
“She is doing much better. I am going to meet my father and her at St. Mungo’s. She needs some final testing to see if everything is going to be alright.” I look above us at the hovering memos as they fight for airspace. I will have to pick up lunch on the run so I can be back at work after Mami’s appointment.
“That’s good to hear. I know you had quite a scare there for a time. I’m glad her health has improved.” I look from the ceiling back down to Tonks and am struck by her cheerful demeanor. It is infectious and I smile at her in return.
“Me too. We were all so worried it was going to be the...,” I cannot seem to bring myself to complete this sentence. Blame it on superstition. “Well, you know what I mean.”
“But now things are looking up.” She gazes at the fluttering papers above us as she rocks from her toes to her heels and back again.
“And things can only get better from here.” I jump up and snatch one of the memos as we both burst with laughter and the lift's doors open once more...
“Cho Chang?” the receptionist outside the Healer’s office calls my name out into the crowded waiting room. A child behind me shrieks in impatience. “Please go into Healer Merryweather’s office. They’re waiting for you.” I walk down the sterile, artificially-lit hallway to the awaiting office. The door is already open and waiting for me and when I enter the smart and spartan space I notice that the Healer will not meet my gaze...and father’s hands are folded in his lap as he sits and watches the floor in front of the Healer’s desk. I suddenly feel sick as I shut the door behind me.
“What, what is going on?” I demand.
“Please, have a seat, Miss Chang.” The man motions for me to take the chair beside father. “We have the results of your mother’s brain scans.” Healer Merryweather, a thin man with an abnormally upturned nose and salt-and-pepper colored hair, opens a dull brown folder and thumbs through its contents.
“And?” I ask impatiently, my voice rising slightly.
“The prognosis is not as good as we had hoped.” The Healer’s voice is flat.
“Why, what, what do you mean?” I ask as I turn to father, but he still watches the floor.
“Miss Chang, the mass in your mother’s brain has not reduced in size as we would have hoped with the potion therapy,” Merryweather continues. “The reason for her false recovery is that the mass has shifted, taking pressure off of the areas that were causing her prior problems.”
“So what does this mean? What’s going to happen now?” My voice has now betrayed my full panic.
“Calm down, Cho. It is not this man’s fault.” Baba breaks his silence, his even voice attempting to redirect me.
“What is not his fault? What do you mean?” The nausea I felt just moments ago has ended and now my vision starts to blur as my throat constricts. “What is going to happen to Mami? She was supposed to be getting better!”
“As I said before,” the Healer begins, “The prognosis is not good. Surgical Apparation of the tumor is not an option and potion therapy has been unsuccessful. I will make arrangements for Mrs. Chang to have pain relief and anti-swelling potions when her time comes. I will do everything within my power to make her as comfortable as possible.”
And just like that...
My mother is dying.
“That is it? That is all? So what you are saying is there is nothing more you will do for her?” I feel the need to find some way, any way, to strike a bargain for my mother’s life. There must be something this man is not telling us.
“There is nothing that can be done to stop or reverse the growth of the mass.” Healer Merryweather stands and walks around my father and me as he moves to the door of his office. “I am very sorry, Mr. Chang, Miss Chang. I’m going to give the two of you some privacy. Please feel free to stay as long as you need.” I do not turn to see him leave. I only hear the swish and click of the door as it shuts behind him, leaving me and my father alone in this cramped room.
“He is wrong!” I turn to my father, my hero. “Baba, please, there must be something more we can do for her. We can’t just sit back and watch her die!” Even after my panicked urging, Baba remains calm and thoughtful. He controls his emotions in a way that Mami and I never could. After a period of silence that only spans a few minutes, but feels like years, my father speaks.
“The medicine in this country, in this culture, is substandard. Even the medicine that is available to the Wizarding community.”
“What are you saying, Baba?” The hair on the back of my neck rises in apprehension of his next words.
“What I am saying, daughter, is that it is time for me to take your mother home.” Finally, finally, my father looks up at me and meets my eyes. His jaw is clenched in his decision. “The potions and therapies available there are much more ancient and guarded, more effective than this Western Wizarding medicine.”
“But if you go back there, you will be arrested as a political dissident.” The tales of how my parents fled their mother country after my birth flood my memories. But he cannot go back to China. He is a wanted man.
“I would rather rot in prison knowing I did everything I could to save the woman I love than live forever without her by my side.” At his words I am silent because I know they ring true. I would do this for George. George would do this for me... Still, the pain and fear of losing both my parents is unbearable.
“Will you help me do this thing, daughter? I cannot do this alone. I will need you to help me plan and organize this journey for your mother and me.”
“But I’m going with you.” I cannot let them go back alone.
“No, child, you cannot.” He extends his hand to mine and I take it. The skin on his hand is darkened with experience and age. “You know what I tell you is true.” I cannot speak for fear that my own emotions will overcome me. I am afraid that once I start crying...I will never be able to stop.
“Will you do this thing for me, daughter?” He asks again, calmly, heroically.
“Yes, Baba, I will.”
“So what do I do, just break it open?” Mami asks George as she carefully opens the box marked Conversing Fortune Cookies. George has been excited about this new invention of his for a while now...something that he has done especially for Mami to cheer her up since she became ill.
“No, all you have to do is open the packaging and it will do the rest for you, Mami.” George shows her the side of the box as his face beams with pride and hope. He cuts his eyes at me and winks. I am very proud of him.
“I do not see anything special about them. They are just plain fortune cookies.” Mami squints at the box and places it back on the kitchen table as Baba, George, and I wait anxiously for her to rip the packaging to one of the cookies.
“Be nice, Mami! George created these especially for you, to cheer you up.” I tell her as I can barely wait much longer. She is doing this on purpose, taking her time and making us all wait to see George’s new invention. In her own way she is playing hard to get when it comes to Mr. Weasley. For some reason she does not want him to think she likes him now, but I know better. I know she does.
“Just open the packaging and see. Go ahead...go ahead.” Finally Baba speaks and Mami looks up at him from the overturned box of fortune cookies, each individually wrapped. She selects one and looks at each of us in turn before she grips the edge of the clear covering to remove the traditional mouth-shaped crispy biscuit. She holds it in her hand for a moment after George instructs her to wait and listen. But then she suddenly drops the cookie on the table.
“It moved!” she gasps. “It moved in my hand.”
All eyes turn to the little cookie on the table and we watch in awe as it rolls upright on its side and begins to speak, the sides of the cookie moving and imitating a human mouth. Its voice is that of an old man, thick with a Chinese accent...
“Treat everyone as a friend.” Mami, Baba, and I sit gape-mouthed in surprise and turn to George. But before any of us can speak, the cookie begins to talk once more, having only paused a moment before finishing its task, “...Between the sheets.”
“That is very funny, ha, ha!” Mami chides George as Baba and I laugh loudly. Even though she pretends to be insulted, Mami has trouble masking her amusement.
“Oh, good. I’m so glad you like it.” George chuckles.
“Your turn, George.” Mami shoves a second cookie into George’s hands. He looks around the table before he opens the wrapping, places the cookie on the flat surface, and waits patiently.
“You are talented in many ways...between the sheets.”
“Well then that explains why Cho likes you so much.” Mami answers while she stares at the now still and silent confection. “I was beginning to wonder what she saw in you and now I do not have to be concerned about this anymore.” Then she begins to laugh at George as he looks at her in confusion. “Got you, George!” she laughs.
“Mami! I cannot believe you!” I scold my own mother, only to burst into laughter myself as I finish speaking. I turn to look at George and see the delight on his face. I know it means the world to him to be able to make my family laugh and be happy together during this time in our lives.
“Your turn now.” Mami places a packaged cookie into Baba’s hands. “Do not think you will be able to avoid it.” She smiles and pats his hand. Baba quickly opens the wrapper and places the biscuit on the table top just before it begins to speak.
“A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains...between the sheets.” There is silence at the table for a brief moment before Mami speaks.
“Yes, you always were a patient man.” The look that passes between my parents is a tender one, but one that transforms into gales of laughter in a matter of seconds. I cannot remember the last time my family sat together and had such fun. As soon as everyone catches their breath Mami directs that it is finally my turn. I make short work of the wrapping of my cookie and wait patiently for my fortune to begin.
“You will reach the height of success in whatever you do...between the sheets.”
“Well that’s a relief.” Mami’s voice precedes another roar of merriment. When the laughter dies down Mami gives her regrets and Baba helps her to bed. He thanks George for the thoughtfulness before he retires with my mother. George and I walk hand-in-hand out to my flat.
“It was good to see her laughing like that. It felt good to sit together as a family and laugh like that. Thank you, George.” We undress in the glimmering candlelight and ready ourselves for bed.
“It’s good to see you happy and smiling again. I have a surprise for you.” He tosses me another fortune cookie and I catch it in one hand, even in the dimness of the room.
“Nice reflexes!” he replies suggestively. “Open it,” he refers to the cookie, “It’s specially made for you.” I open the wrapping and place the cookie in the palm of my hand and wait for it to begin speaking my fortune.
“You will be taken to new heights of pleasure by your lover’s enormous cock.” I smile and look across the bed at him. “X-rated talking fortune cookies?” He nods, a smug grin on his face before he opens a package for himself. He gently places the cookie in his hand and pauses in anticipation.
“You are about to receive the most splendid blow job.” As the cookie becomes silent George looks up at me lasciviously.
“George, I think I like these new inventions of yours...”
I sit at the window in the parlour of my little flat behind my parent’s house. I stare down at the house as it sits in silence. It is quiet in that house now and has been for a while. Before, it was bustling and often loud. Even though I have been grown and out of my parent’s lives in the capacity as a dependent child for many years, they continued to be extremely active.
Mami constantly cooking and meeting with her Chinese Witch’s Club, Baba always downstairs working in his woodshop...or the two of them laboring in their garden, enjoying each other’s company. Since Mami became ill, the house and the garden are eerily silent.
“Knut for your thoughts?” George asks as he stands behind me. “Cho, what’s wrong...what’s happening to us?”
I have not told George about Mami yet. It is like if I do not tell him, then it will not come true. The second I tell him I will have no choice but to accept that my mother is sick and the Healers cannot help her. My chest hurts with the weight of my situation.
“George,” I whisper as I touch his hand at my shoulder. “Please don’t be angry with me...but...we can’t see each other for a while.”
At first he is quiet and I can feel his hands clench my shoulders in reaction to my words.
“What...why?” He tries to keep his voice even but I can feel the irritation in it. “Cho, what the bloody hell is going on? You haven’t been yourself lately. What’s going on?” He walks around and stands in front of me beside the window. How thoughtful of him to not block my view...
I slowly look up to his face. His expression is one of hurt and confusion. “Cho?”
“We just can’t see each other for a while. Something has come up that will be demanding my attention and I won’t be able to spend any time with you.” As I speak he crosses his arms. His jaw sets and he has no humor about his expression. Odd...to see George looking so serious...
“You’re going to have to explain yourself more than that. You’ve been pulling away from me for nearly a week now. What’s wrong? Don’t you love me anymore? Is there someone else?” Panic rises in his voice.
“No, it is nothing like that,” I whisper as I look back to the window at the house below. “I love you more than ever. It’s just that I’ve been neglecting some of my duties and I need to spend more time away from you so I can dedicate myself to them.”
“Is it something at work?” he asks. “Because we don’t have to break up about something like that.”
“No, it’s not work,” I look back at him as I fight to control my emotions. “It’s just that, that I, I have to...”
“Have to what?” he drops to his knees in front of me and puts his hands in my lap, holding my hands between his. “What’s going on? You’re scaring me...are you sick...are you going away?”
I find that I am staring at him. His face a contortion of confusion and fear...so much concern. I have to admit this to myself, to him...even if in the admission, it is made real. My eyes glisten with tears and I fight to keep from crying.
“My gods, Cho, what the fuck is going on? Tell me...tell me now!” He pulls me into his arms and I feel safe even if my heart is breaking.
“It’s Mami; she’s sick.”
“What...what do you mean, sick? Cho, what’s wrong with you mother?”
I tell him. I break down and tell him. About the illness, the tumor. How she is not getting better. How I am scared to death of losing her. How I cannot waste anymore of the precious time I might have left with her.
“I can’t,” I hiccup, “I can’t be away from her. You have to understand. I can’t be away from her to be with you. You have to understand. I can’t be away from her.” I bury my face in his neck and he waits with me until my tears pass. I can feel his gentle hand running up and down my back as he tries to comfort me.
“I want to be there for you.”
I look up to him when he speaks.
“I know you’re going to be spending more time with your mum and dad, but I want to be there too...for you, for them. Don’t chase me off. Let me help you?”
I do not know how to respond.
“I won’t let you go through this alone, Cho. So don’t ask me to. I don’t care what happened between me and your mum. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m right here for you and your family...the way you were there for me and my family. Understand?”
I stare at him for a moment before I nod as he embraces me to him again.
“Now,” he begins as he stands and offers me his hand. “Let’s get you cleaned up before we go down to see Mami and Baba.”
“Mami is not doing well,” Baba’s words send a cold shiver down my spine. “The Healers are having difficulty discerning what is wrong. They are having trouble diagnosing her.”
I sit in the darkness of the kitchen in my parent’s house. I feel as if some unseen hand has jerked my chair from beneath me. I look at Baba’s hands through the shadows of the room. He grips his sturdy Oriental tea cup with a hold that would shatter a delicate English tea cup. He is fighting to control his emotions. He does not wish to break in front of his daughter.
“Have they discovered anything at all about what is ailing her?” I ask, tamping down the panic I know could seize me at any moment. With both hands, I tilt my own thick-rimmed cup to my lips and sip the hot liquid from it. I swallow back more than just the hot green tea.
“They have discovered a mass, a growth, inside of her brain, near the center,” he does not expand upon his words, I believe for fear that his voice may catch, or that he may cause me to cry.
A mass...a growth...
Inside her brain. Even those of us fortunate enough to benefit from magical medicine know the meaning of a diagnosis such as this. For it to be lodged in the center of her brain bears negative implications on treatment and recovery; even I know this.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep her comfortable while the Healers are working to find what is wrong,” when my father speaks I reach across the table and take his hand. “She is too young for this and we are Wizards. Things like this only happen to very old people and Muggles.”
We sit in silence...
Bring me to my knees
All the times
That I could beg you please
All the times
That I felt insecure
But I leave
My burdens at the door
But I'm on the outside
And I'm looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
'Cause inside your ugly
Your ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you
All the times
That I felt like this won't end
Was for you
And I taste
What I could never have
It's from you
All the times
That I've tried
Full of pride
But I waste
More time than anyone
But I'm on the outside
And I'm looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
'Cause inside your ugly
Your ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you
All the times
That I've cried
All this wasted
It's all inside
And I feel
All this pain
Stuffed it down
It's back again
And I lie
Here in bed
I can't mend
But I feel
Tomorrow will be OK
George and I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling. We are looking for patterns and faces in the surface above us.
“Look, a monkey,” George laughs and points while he grunts.
“Look, an old woman,” I indicate a spot below the monkey and to the left.
Our search goes on for a long time. We have already made love, twice, but the urge to sleep has not come. We continue to giggle and point.
“Look, there is the two of us, shagging in Neville’s greenhouse,” I say as I motion to the area above the oil lamp.
“No way...well bugger me! It is us.” After a moment of silence George speaks again. “Hey Cho, aren’t you even the least bit embarrassed about what happened Saturday night?”
“How come? I mean, I’m a bloke; things like that don’t really get to me. Geezers are always congratulating each other on conquests like that. Not, that I would do that...rot, I didn’t mean it like that.” He covers his face with one of his hands.
“Truth?” I ask as he peeps over and nods. “Well, actually, I really don’t give a flying fuck what people think about me anymore. Not since my sixth year at Hogwarts. I won't let myself care what others think of me anymore.”
“Oh really, now? And what, pray tell, happened during your sixth year that changed you forever?”
“That was the year that Umbridge woman was about. You remember...the year you and Fred flew the coop?”
“Oh,” George chuckles, “I didn’t realize she has such an effect on you...yeah, I remember that year quite well.”
“But no, not really Umbridge...it was not her so much as it was Harry Potter that changed me. After we were through with each other I swore I would never again worry about anything that anyone might think of me for any reason whatsoever.”
George looks at me with a slightly surprised and interested look on his face. “The two of you did shag after all! I knew it! I knew it!” He points a finger very close to my nose and I cannot keep myself from joining his laughter.
“We did NOT shag, you daftie! One very slobbery kiss beneath the mistletoe does not a shag make. I’m talking about the whole deal with my friend, Marietta Edgecombe.” George becomes silent as I continue. “He did not, in so many words, approve of my choice of friends, so to speak.”
“Well, can you blame him? She did sell all of us out.”
“That is just it. I know she did. But you know something, George? I will tell you like I told him; everyone makes mistakes. Everyone breaks the rules at some time. Everyone can become frightened and intimidated by parents, teachers, ministers, headmasters, friends...by anyone...into doing something stupid and selfish just to save your own neck. For Merlin’s sake, Marietta was a sixteen-year-old girl whose mother was pressuring her into a Ministry career. You Gryffindors really get my mad up. You are such hypocrites.”
“Hey there! We are not! She’s the one who was the sneak!”
“Well the lot you ran with back then were,” I retort. “And she was not the only sneak running around at the time. Everything was fine and dandy as long as we were sneaking around for Harry’s sake, under Harry’s tutelage. Gryffs boast about how brave they are and your lot of Gryffs were loyal to each other to the very end. But he lied, and Hermione Granger did too, when they kept the jinx a secret and let us sign that parchment. Marietta was no better or worse than Hermione and when I chose to defend my friend, I was censured for it. My involvement in Dumbledore’s Army made me realize that it is all right to break the rules, as long as you don’t disagree with those in charge over exactly how those rules are to broken. It turned out to be the same with the Order of the Phoenix too. I just felt I had to choose the least of those evils present in the world at the time.”
“Evil, you’re saying that we’re evil? I’m not going to defend Dumbledore’s Army; Fred and I were too caught up in our own little battle with Umbridge...but I lost a brother in the war because I stood with the Order of the Phoenix. You stood with us as well. Don’t tell me you believe that all we gave, all we sacrificed was to fight an evil that was only a bit worse than our own,” he answers in exasperation. I roll toward him to touch his arm and he looks at me with no expression.
“I am sorry. I did not mean to insult you or your brother. My words were too harsh and dogmatic. What I meant to say; what I should have said was that it hurt my heart to know that even the side that is good...many times must achieve its purposes through unethical means and in a similar fashion to that which is evil. I hated the part of me that knew I had to choose to do deceitful things in order to help insure that good was triumphant. It was a means to an end for me...an end that is better than if You-Know-Who had prevailed.” When I finish speaking, I close my eyes and wish that I did not feel this way, that I was not bitter about these things I have done.
George turns toward me. I can tell he is confused and still a little bit hurt. “What do you mean, Cho? What are you talking about?”
I am thinking about that year in school and how insulted I was when Marietta betrayed us. How I defended her and quickly learned about the double standard by which ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are judged. How in the end, I myself chose to live by that double standard.
“Well,” I begin. “I was hurt by Marietta. She betrayed the D.A., yes, but she was my friend and her duplicity cut me in a way none of the other members had to tolerate. Yet I chose to remain faithful to her and our friendship because I know why she did it. She was afraid. She was a coward who would rather follow the rules instead of doing what is right. Have you ever known anyone like that? Someone who follows the rules so closely that it affects their relationships and the people who love them?” I ask.
George will not look at me and I can tell he understands. “Yes, I once knew and loved someone who had that same fixation for following the rules...no matter what the cost.” He finally looks up at me. “You just described my brother, Percy.”
“The one that was killed in the war?” He nods at my question. “Oh, George, I’m so sorry. I didn't realize. It must be hard for you?”
He nods at my question as I take him in my arms. “Go on,” he whispers.
“A few years ago, toward the end of the war, I took part in Obliviating Marietta because she discovered my involvement with the Order and my work for them concerning Portkeys. She threatened to make known my unauthorized work for the Order. Moody advised me that she would jeopardize the cause if she revealed my work and my involvement in the Order, so I volunteered to be the one who performed the charm to erase her memory of that discovery.”
We grow quiet in our thoughts...
“I’m sorry, Cho. I’m sorry you had to do that.” George strokes my hair and gently lifts it around my shoulder so that it lies across my chest. He continues to look at the ends of my long black mane as he softly plays with the tips. He swallows hard and takes a deep breath.
“I’m sorry about Percy. I didn’t know.” I kiss George’s cheek and nuzzle my nose against his.
“Neither did I,” he whispers as he kisses my lips.
George decides to sleep at my flat tonight. He says he feels guilty about all the times he has put Fred on the look out for us at the flat above Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.
“After Bill last night, that makes two of my brothers who have seen you naked and I am the jealous type, you know,” George laughs as we shut the door to my flat behind us.
“Fred has seen me naked too? How do you know?”
“Come on, Cho, you don’t like to wear clothes that much. We’re lucky only two members of my family have seen you starkers.”
“Well then, maybe I need to start putting on more clothes more often,” I say with a grin.
“Oh dear Merlin,” he grabs me and slides his hands around my waist, “You can’t do that. It would kill me.” George then makes a big show of choking and I push him away.
“You silly goose!” I chastise him. Then I change my demeanor as an idea comes to mind. “So, you think I should wear clothes more often and not go naked so much?”
“Now, I didn’t say that, Cho. You misunderstood my meaning.” He is a bit panicky, as he realizes I have something planned.
“Why don’t you stay right here and I will show you just how I can go about putting on more clothes?”
“What, what, where are you going?” he asks in nervous confusion.
“You’ll see…” With those words, I leave him in my lounge, sitting on the sofa, to wonder what it is I may be up to. I race to my bedroom, shut the door and cast a locking charm on it to insure he does not peak. Then I turn to change into something more comfortable…I mean…temporary.
I rifle through the bureau, looking for something, anything that could be considered sexy and I come to the shocking conclusion that most of my intimate wardrobe is on the professional side. Yes, my brassieres are nice, some cute…some very flattering…bordering on sexy…but nothing risqué. I shall have to go shopping and remedy that situation…
After what seems like an eternity and I am about to resign myself to the fact that yes, I will have to go naked for this particular encounter with George, I find it.
The knickers and bra I wore to the Yule Ball in fifth year. The material a very innocent and warm floral. The top demure and tasteful. The bottoms are tiny with just enough cloth to leave something to the imagination. I spent the night for the first time with Cedric that night, and I remember he liked these very much. I can only hope that George enjoys them as well. I change as quickly as I can and grab my sheer gauze dressing gown to add more of a hint of innocence and youth. I cannot recall with whom George attended the ball…
In a rush, I lie down on the bed and assume as sexy a pose as I can muster while trying not to burst into laughter.
“George, you can come in now.”
He reaches the door and of course, it will not open.
“Still locked,” he whines.
“Damn it!” I jump up and run across the room to grab my wand and rush back to the bed, trying to arrange myself as best I can before I remove the locking charm. The door slowly drifts open and I see George standing there, staring at me while I try to recover from my recent burst of energy and keep myself from panting at the same time.( 'And here is what he sees:'Collapse )
Morning comes early to my little flat above Baba’s workshop. I slip away from George, leaving him to sleep some more as we stayed up later than we should have last night. When I walk to the kitchen, past Bill, he is stirring to life and I greet him. He offers to help me with breakfast and I tell him that I am making breakfast fried rice. Enough for his whole family, two woks full, to take with us to the hospital. That is a lot of fried rice. I will put it in two large containers for when we Apparate to St. Mungo’s. After I toss the first ingredients in the hot pan, George wakes up and joins us. The two of them convince me to let them eat before we leave so they will not have to fight with the rest of the clan for their fair share. Strange, I have never thought of such things as I am an only child and never had to worry about sharing with so many siblings. In spite of the competitive impression that each of the Weasleys carry, they overcome that edge when it is time to care for one another. I enjoy being around that very much.
And besides, I know Molly likes my breakfast fried rice as she said so that morning long agowhen she found out about her son and me
. I am relieved that she accepts me and does not act like my own mother as far as George is concerned, although sometimes I wonder if my own Mami is putting on airs about my George, as she says little things every now and then that make me wonder if she secretly does like and accept him.
Yesterday George and I spent most of the day at St. Mungo’s with his parents. It felt good to be able to support them and help them, even thought it does sometimes feel kind of strange. I mean, the way things ended so badly between Harry and I during my sixth year…and we did not even speak during my seventh. It is a wonder how small the world actually is, at least the Wizarding world. Who would have thought that Harry and I would eventually end up in the same circle of friends so many years later?
I now know that I was trying to make him replace Cedric in my heart. It was unfair of me to expect Harry to become someone he was not…someone that I needed instead of being himself. Not to mention the things that were happening to him during the time. It just was not meant to be. We were extremely incompatible anyway, and besides, he is rather boring in comparison to George. Ginny can keep her Snitch.
I am just glad that George’s brother Ron and their little sister’s boyfriend are back in safe arms. I cannot imagine the pain my love’s family would be going through if something tragic had happened. I do not want George to have to go through that. I do not want him to suffer the pain of that kind of loss and heartache. No one I love should have to suffer like that, for it is a terrible and dreadful feeling, the feeling that comes after the death of a loved-one.
Before we leave for St. Mungo’s, George and I walk across the garden path, to the back door of my parent’s house, with a container of the rice for them. Baba sits in the kitchen, drinking green tea by himself. The kitchen is quiet. Mami is not there. Baba tells us that Mami is still sleeping and I think it odd because I have never in my life known her to sleep past dawn. George asks Baba if Mami is alright and Baba tells him that she has not been feeling especially well lately. Next week she is going to see our family Healer to find out if she is suffering from something more than the fatigue of becoming older. When I say that I want to stay with Mami and Baba, Baba insists that I go with George to the hospital, that George’s family is in greater need at the moment and that I should not even consider leaving my love’s side during such a time. Besides, Mami is only getting to be an old woman.
I take Baba’s advice and leave with George, although the shadowy thought of my mother stays with me throughout the day. George envelopes me in a tight embrace when the door to the big house shuts behind us.
“Baby, I’m sure it’s nothing. Besides, she is seeing a Healer soon and everything will be alright. I promise.” George’s words are comforting, although I do wonder how he can make such a bold guarantee. I know it is only his love for me that makes him so daring with his assurances.
Not since the War have I felt fear and desperation the way I have felt it since arriving in Haiti.
And the battle we just fought was one that nearly rivaled that of the last battle of the War.
When I entered the compound, I could not allow myself the luxury of letting that fear possess me. After all, this was George’s little brother and Harry we were rescuing, no matter what connected me to them in my past, life was precious, no matter what the differences between those lives may be. Besides, I do not want George losing another brother to the evil in this world.
I hated the moment I heard Fleur fall and shriek, not in pain, but in anger, as she stunned the man who grabbed her around the ankle as she toppled to the ground beside the hut we used for shelter from the onslaught of the guards. Poor man…after she stunned him, she started beating him even as she lay on the ground, shouting curses at him in French and occasionally kicking him in the face with her good foot. He was pretty bloody by the time Tonks and Neville got to Fleur to help her walk.
“Just wrap ze fucking ankle and go. I can do more zan enough to protect myself from zese bastards. Go!” She shouted at Neville, who I am sure worked as quickly as he could so he could leave her as soon as he could. I did not think the French language contained so many expletives…she is not so perfect a French lady as first I might have thought…
But now the battle is over and we are left to search what appears to be an abandoned compound, for Harry and Ron. I have a nasty feeling that we are not going to find them here…but I do not let on as it would crush everyone’s spirits. George and I break away and I begin casting Portkey signature spells, trying my best to determine whether or not a Portkey has been recently activated. As we slowly walk through the camp, George stays close by me, watching out and looking in all directions as I concentrate on the task at hand.
Then my fears are realized as my wand passes over and indicates that indeed, a very large Portkey had been activated, one that carried multiple travelers an exceedingly long distance. A string-style Portkey.
“George, look,” I point out and collect my findings as his expression falls in disappointment.
“They’re not here anymore, are they?”
“No, sweetie, I do not think so,” I whisper as I slip my hand into his with a squeeze. “A group of people Portkeyed out of here less than an hour ago. A big group…and they used a long-distance Portkey string.” He stiffens at my words and fights to control himself.
“Come on, let’s keep looking.”
In the area we are responsible for searching we find a cage of bamboo stakes. There is no roofed shelter to the bamboo cell and the stakes are connected with twisted vines. Poppets hang from the posts and vine-ropes, dozens of poppets. George grabs one. A bucket full of waste sits in one corner, two buckets containing some type of leftover food paste and rancid water sit in the opposite corner. A set of rusted shackles lie on the dusty ground near the center of the cage.
George grabs my arms as I falter at the smell.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” I whisper as he pulls me away from the scene back toward the center of the compound. As we hike past a palm tree, we notice a pile of robes, the scarlet robes of Aurors, beneath it. George bends to retrieve the garments with an oath on his lips before grabbing my hand again. We run to the center of the camp, finding Fleur sitting on a stump, favoring her ankle while she waits. We show her the robes and poppet and another slew of French curses falls from her mouth.
“Zis, zis is a Voodon poppet. A cursed trinket, designed to keep zose who can perform magic from doing so. Zey were placed around ‘arry and Ron to keep zem from performing ze curses and escaping,” she throws the poppet to the ground in frustration as we tell her of the activated Portkey.
Soon the rest of the troop returns from their search and Bill carries Ginny in his arms until they reach us. She is uninjured, but obviously distraught. Bill, Charlie, and Ginny found a second bamboo cell, identical to the one George and I discovered, on the opposite side of the compound. I had hoped it would not be Ginny to make such a gruesome discovery.
Once the entire camp has been searched, evidence collected, and everyone is together once more, I inform everybody of the Portkey activated prior to our attack. Ginny chokes and heaves a heavy sob as Tonks and Bill try to comfort her and keep her from physically harming herself in her disappointment and rage. Susan and Neville stand behind Fleur as the couple cling to each other in disbelief. Fleur leans forward, her head in her hands as she whispers to herself. George is leaning on me solidly and I try my best to steady his weight.
“MERLIN FUCKING DAMN IT!” Charlie screams as he punches the wooden siding of one of the buildings. I hear a small crack as his fist connects with the surface and I am sure he has broken his hand. He does not flinch. We all stand silently for a few moments.
“Come on, everyone, let’s get out of here,” I say as I pull out the shrunken Portkey I made to take us all home. I hold it out in my hand and with a wave of my wand, it returns to its normal size…an umbrella. One by one, we take hold of a portion of the length of the object. Charlie is the last to touch it and the instant he does, it activates.
I have been working on the Portkey that Tonks brought to me
, the one that Susan and Neville found in France
. It has been a non-stop process, trying to figure out to where these bloody things lead and if it weren’t for George, Bill, and Ginny, I don’t think I would be able to physically stand on my own.
But Ginny is worse off than I. She is trying desperately to hold it together, but I see her coming apart little-by-little. George and Bill have taken to passing knowing glances back and forth and at times, I am the recipient of one of those glances. Glances full of concern and pessimism. I know what they are thinking: it is too late, Harry and Ron have been gone too long. Ginny won’t allow herself to think such thoughts. She would go mad.
Bill pulls me to the side when George and Ginny go to pick up some take away.
“You don’t look as if you’re holding up too well,” he says.
“Better than Ginny, I’m afraid.”
“Is it too late, Cho?” He is the oldest of the entire clutch and has been the one to show the greatest strength. I instantly shake my head violently. If I let on about my own doubts, Bill’s strength my dwindle. And then where would the rest of his family stand?
“No,” I insist against my better judgment. I cannot show any sign of doubt or weakness; George’s family is hanging on by a thread and I have to remain resilient.
With a wave of my wand, I cast another projection charm on the Portkey. An image, very much like the image from the other Portkey, the String-Style Portkey that had a jumping off point in the Canary Islands
“Dear Merlin, it’s the same place as before!” Bill barks as he and I exchange the first hopeful look my team has had in the past forty-eight hours.
“I’m willing to bet my wand that both of these Portkeys were made by the same Portkey Master and have the same final destination point,” I reply. “I need to check the creation signatures to see if they were made by the same individual.”
Another wave of my wand and the magical signature appears.
“Shit! Different signatures!” I snap as I bang my fist on the plane of my workstation. “Shit.” I look up at Bill, who is extending his hand out to me with a small smile on his face. “What?”
“Your wand, please?” he asks and I glare at him in confusion. “You did bet your wand not a moment ago that—“
“Fuck off, Weasley,” I retort as I snatch my wand away from his reach. Then we laugh for a moment.
“We needed to break the tension somehow,” Bill answers as he examines the signature. “We’re beginning to go around the bend a bit. That’s odd…look at this…”
We inspect the signature closely. It is not entirely human, although there are some traces of human magic. “This is new…didn’t Tonks and Charlie find magical traces at the crime scene that were not human?” I ask and Bill nods.
“We should compare them,” he says. “I’m willing to bet they have the same signature as this one. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to do that right now.”
“But it is on my list of things to do after this investigation is over. Let me try one last spell. Bill, would you levitate that other Portkey here? I’m going to try to decipher the final destinations.”
Once the Portkeys sit side-by-side, I cast the charm and an identical image appears above each. Lush green, jungle-like foliage. Trees with gnarled trunks and roots. A rocky waterfall. Two young black children in tattered clothing, only cut off trousers and no shoes, walk across a dirt road.
“Looks like a third-world country,” Bill whispers. “The children look malnourished and poor. Look at the buildings; they look like shacks.”
“And it’s hot…tropical. The plant life and the lack of clothing proves that,” I add as I nod my head in exhaustion. Ginny and George return with sandwiches and crisps. Bill and I show them our discoveries. While explaining the destination to George and Ginny, I stumble a bit, but recover quickly.
“Let’s knock off for the day. Cho’s got no energy…the spell work has taken it all away from her,” George’s voice is comforting and his hands rub my sore shoulders. Merlin, that feels good.
I think even Ginny is beat as we have been working constantly through the weekend. We agree to meet at eight in the morning tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep and George and I give the take away to Ginny and Bill before they Apparate to their homes to rest. George wants me to go to his flat with him, but I decline.
“I need to spend a bit of time with Mami and bà bà and you know if I go home with you, we will not be getting any rest tonight, no matter how tired we may be,” I smile as I kiss him goodbye and promise to see him early tomorrow morning. He reluctantly leaves me, but I know that he needs to spend time with his own family tonight.
I am sad to leave him, but we both know we need to rest in order to have enough strength to finish our tasks. I wonder if I will be able to sleep without George. It has been so long since we slept apart…we are always at my flat…or really, mostly his. It is almost as if we are living together without really living together. I am surprised by the thought that I would like that very much, living with George. As different as we are, I am amazed at how easily we get along with one another and compliment each other. I wonder if he feels the same way. He tells me he loves me all the time and constantly shows me his love through the thoughtful, little things he always does.
I just don’t know how mami and bà bà would react to something like that…George and I living together. Mami could not make it through one meal; I am sure she would not approve of George and I living together. Given time I think they both might accept us, because that is what George and I are now, us. It would be nice to come home to him every day and not have to worry about the technicalities of two flats…
When I get home, bà bà is in the kitchen, drinking tea with mami at the table. They seemed surprised and happy to see me.
“It makes me proud to see you working so hard and becoming a success, Cho,” mami pats my hand before she covers her mouth to cough.
“Are you all right, mami?” I ask. She and father look at one another for a moment.
“I have not been feeling very well for a few days. But this will pass. I am only getting to be an old woman,” she answers before she asks if I will be staying for supper. Baba has made a large pot of Turkey Jook Soup
for the evening meal. As I sit and eat with my parents, I think about how much I miss these times with them. I am sad that mami has not accepted my relationship with George
, but I do not broach the subject. Instead I enjoy this time with my parents.
After dinner, mami brings me a large air-tight container of Jook and hands it to me before I leave for my flat. I stand on the steps of the back door in the near-darkness, looking at her.
“Take this to your young man. I think he will like it. He too skinny for my taste, need some meat on his bones.” She shuts the back door before I can respond to her.