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.