The shortest of the fragments, this is also the most obviously reworked. Passages of the manuscript have been removed or altered, others added—by whom...? What really happened, we wonder? What is it that we aren’t meant to know? Maybe it doesn’t matter. It is a happy story out of a dark time, and that may just be enough.
Cho Chang and Ginny Weasley: why shouldn’t they have been friends? They had so much in common, after all. The way it happened was like this.
Even after her place on the House team was secure, Cho Chang maintained the habit of practicing on her own. Occasionally, for old times’ sake, I went along to watch. It was on such an evening, early in my fourth year, that we came to the pitch only to find it occupied by another solitary flier. A blazing comet of red hair identified Ginny Weasley.
At the time, I knew Ginny only at second hand. She had achieved fleeting fame in her first year as the prisoner of the Chamber of Secrets, but had largely lived that down through subsequent years of studied obscurity. She was the sister of the infuriating Ron, of course, and had notoriously carried the torch for Harry the-oblivious-one Potter for years, although she seemed to be over that now. She did, after a fashion, have Ravenclaw connections as one of the few people able to put up with Luna for any length of time. I gathered that they were neighbours at home and had known each other as children.
What struck me at the time, though, as we watched her run through Seeker drills with single-minded concentration and fierce determination, was the resemblance with someone much closer to home. I turned to Cho.
“Remind you of anyone we used to know?”
“I know how she must feel.”
Without further comment, she mounted her own broom and took to the air. When they met high over the pitch, they were too far away for me to hear what they said, but moments later I caught a gleam of gold and knew that Cho had released the practice Snitch she always brought with her. The two of them streaked off after it.
They flew for two hours that evening, occasional peals of laughter drifting down as one of them executed a particularly clever move. Only the gathering darkness eventually forced them to stop. When they finally landed, breathless and flushed, I remember thinking that I had never seen Cho look happier.
Several more times that autumn, the two of them arranged to meet. This was, after all, the Year of No Quidditch, and Cho was keen for any opportunity to keep up her skills. To my considerable amusement, she took to coaching her new friend, something she had never been able to do with me. (I like watching Quidditch well enough, but have never had any desire to play; it’s very possibly the only thing I ever refused Cho Chang.) Now she had a Quidditch-younger, as she put it, and took gleeful pride in Ginny’s rapid improvement.
Had it been anyone else, I might well have been jealous, but I soon found that it was impossible to resent Ginny Weasley. Watching her fly with Cho, it struck me one afternoon in late November, was like seeing Hermione in Arithmancy; it was the one time when she could be altogether herself. That was the afternoon the two of them finally convinced me to bring my own broom along so that they could practice passing and Chaser manoeuvres. Ginny Weasley was nothing if not a realist.
“Long as Harry’s around, I’m not likely to be Gryffindor Seeker, am I? Chaser, though, you never know.”
Neither Ginny nor Cho noticed that the other blushed slightly at the mention of Harry Potter. Meanwhile, of course, there was the prospect of a more direct rivalry. I brought it up only half in jest as Cho and I walked back to Ravenclaw.
“You’ll be sorry if you ever end up playing against her.”
“You heard her; it’s not likely. It would be interesting, though....”
I had to agree that the prospect was remote, and then for a long time we didn’t think of it at all. November turned to December, the Yule Ball burst into our lives; for Cho Chang, the Year of No Quidditch abruptly became the Year of Cedric Diggory. Quidditch coaching vanished from her schedule along with everything else. Cho did manage, nevertheless, to perform one last favour for her pupil. Near the end of the Ball, she introduced her to Michael Corner.
This was not an altogether disinterested move, of course. Michael had long been one of Cho’s greatest admirers, and she may well have seen the need to distract him. For all that, Michael and Ginny seemed to get on well enough. He was clever and pleasant, and she clearly enjoyed the attention. I couldn’t help but think, though, that on the rare occasions when Ginny allowed him to kiss her, he was probably thinking about someone else. And as for her... well, we all know who was on Ginny’s mind.
I tried very hard indeed, when Cedric met his absurd and tragic end, not to rejoice at the prospect of having Cho to myself again. In the event, though, it didn’t matter. Even in the midst of her mourning, Our Girl had another goal in sight.
It was Harry again. It would be.
There was a silver lining. As only she could do, Cho managed to combine her pursuit of the Boy Who Lived with a renewal of our friendship with Ginny Weasley. They started Quidditch practice again. We even arranged for Ginny to have a password to Ravenclaw House, ostensibly so that she could visit Michael—although not even he really believed that.
Instead, young Ginny Weasley became a fixture of the Ravenclaw common room that winter. She talked Quidditch with Cho Chang while holding hands with Michael Corner, listened with grave sympathy to Luna’s latest lunatic theories, or just brought her homework to do in a place where such activity was actually encouraged... and she could be assured of an environment altogether free both of her brothers and Harry Potter. I expect she found it all very restful.
On evenings when Our Girl was away, we were treated to Ginny’s sardonic commentary on the non-progress of Cho and Harry’s mostly imaginary romance. It was a wonder to me that those two, so graceful in the air, could be so painfully clumsy with each other. Naturally, I blamed Harry. He may have been the Hero of the Wizarding World if all he had to worry about was You Know Who, but when it came to dealing with the Fair Flower of Ravenclaw, his fear was so palpable as to be contagious; she ended up as tongue-tied as he.
Awkward as they were, though, nature eventually took its course, and it didn’t look to end with kisses under the mistletoe.
“Cho, why are you doing this?”
Against the combined and collective judgment of her friends—and her own for that matter, had she but stopped to consult it—Cho Chang was going to Hogsmeade with Harry. On Valentine’s Day, no less.
“Well, he asked me... and it’s been a long time since I had a real date.”
She had ulterior motives, of course, and I should have realized it at the time. But I didn’t; I thought she just wanted romance, and who could blame her? But did it really have to be Him? Marietta and I—allies once again in a common cause—recruited Roger to ask her out, ‘for old times’ sake.’ She turned him down. She wanted Harry, and this time she got him.
Only Ginny, of all of us, looked beyond the sweet coffee and paper hearts, and saw any good in it at all.
“Look, sooner or later, she has to get this out of her system. It might as well be now.”
Not that she had any doubts as to the outcome: she offered the common room 2 to 7, in Galleons or Gobstoppers, that it would all end in tears.
There were no takers.
I ended up going with Ginny and Michael once again. Each of them, I suspect, was secretly glad to have a third along. Marietta joined us at the last minute. It was a silent group as we trudged through the soggy winter landscape. Our chief common interest, after all, was not an appropriate topic of conversation in mixed company. We were, as Ginny put it to me in a private moment, the Cho Chang Memorial Lonely Hearts Club and Marching Society.
I didn’t ask whether she counted herself in that number. We marched on into the village.
We found Cho sooner than anticipated—alone, of course, and crying. Ginny’s snort of triumph at winning her non-bet was, to her credit, very discreet. She looked sternly at Michael, who seemed perilously close to desertion, but she needn’t have worried. Cho in her self-inflicted distress had suddenly reverted to her Ravenclaw childhood, and it was Marietta who scooped up the prize, leading away her younger with faint clucking motherly sorts of noises.
Ginny looked vaguely revolted. Michael was resigned.
It started raining harder. I went home.
Soon enough, we had more important things on our mind. Against all expectations, Ginny had been made the Gryffindor Seeker, and inevitably there came the day when Cho Chang would play against her erstwhile pupil. Both of them made light of this, but I knew each one well enough to realize how much winning meant, in this match more than ever.
My own loyalties, of course, were beyond question. I resigned myself to losing Ginny’s company once more. As it happened, though, I needn’t have worried. The youngest of the Weasleys was also the wiliest, and she had worked out a way to ensure happy endings all around.
My doubts were quieted on the morning of the match as Cho and I walked by the Gryffindor table, only to see Michael sitting next to Ginny. Cho, as Ginny had guessed, couldn’t let this pass.
“Consorting with the enemy, eh, Corner?”
Startled, Michael looked up to see Cho, glaring at him, arms akimbo and eyes blazing. Reeling as if from a slap in the face, he turned back to Ginny, next to him at the Gryffindor table. She returned his gaze silently, clearly waiting for him to make his own choice.
“Right. Er, Gin, would you mind? You know. Maybe just for today... eat with Ravenclaw. You don’t mind, do you?”
Through what seemed a heroic effort, Ginny kept a straight face.
“It’s all right, Michael; I understand.”
She nodded gravely and sent him off with a vague pat in the general direction of his left shoulder. Only as he was beating a hasty retreat did she allow herself to look up and meet Cho’s gaze with an ironic look of her own.
“Just keeping everyone’s priorities straight.”
Ginny’s expression did not change. Only her eyes now twinkled with wicked mirth, and only I knew how to see it. She got up and walked around the table. Standing in front of Cho Chang, she held out her hand and spoke loudly enough for all to hear.
“Good luck this afternoon, Chang, and may the best team win.”
Cho returned the grip, delighted at the edifying spectacle they were putting on for the benefit of the diners assembled in the Great Hall. She matched Ginny’s tone with a fulsome one of her own.
“Thanks, Weasley, and I have no doubt that we will.”
Only now did Ginny allow a predatory smile to spread over her own features.
“Want to make it interesting?”
“What do you have in mind?”
Ginny cast a lightning glance at the Ravenclaw table and then looked Cho straight in the eyes, dropping her voice so that only we could hear.