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Challenge fic for ashtur (Cho Chang) - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Challenge fic for ashtur (Cho Chang)
Made it to 700 words, so I'll do a challenge.

ashtur suggested hearing from Cho Chang, when she found out what happened to Marietta.

Start 12:47




Cho Chang peeked out of the hangings around her bed, making sure that the dormitory was empty. Victoria and Lou were in the Common Room library studying, Claudia had gone off somewhere with Roger Davies, and Marietta had been gone since just after dinner. Cho was a little concerned about that--Marietta had been on edge lately, mostly from fear of being caught with Dumbledore's Army--but Marietta had a habit of wandering around the school and talking to the less-visited portraits, so she wasn't worried.

It was a pity she'd missed the D.A. meeting, though, even if they had been chased out of the Room of Requirement in the end. Surely, it would work out. Things always worked out for Harry; he always came out mostly unscathed.

Cho pulled out her wand, pointed it lightly at the door, and imagined Cedric, hovering around her, protecting her. "Expecto Patronum," she said, and a swan burst from the end of her wand, wings spread like a great shield in front of her. It took flight and flew around the dormitory, and Cho laughed, a sound that was too rare to her own ears, although it used to come easily. Maybe, if she found a way to patch things up with Harry after the disaster on Valentine's Day... he'd been nervous, and she supposed it had been stupid to make him think about that night in the graveyard, at least if either one of them was going to do any laughing.

But she'd thought it would be good for him to have a cry about it. She herself had bottled it up all summer, and it was only when she came back and Marietta talked her into letting it out that she'd really let herself feel it, which had to be healthier than just shutting down in the traditional English way. Or the traditional Chinese way, Cho supposed; it wasn't as if her parents had encouraged her to cry.

Of course when Marietta had offered her a shoulder, the floodgates had opened. And she'd been there all year, encouraging Cho to talk about it, to let herself feel it. Marietta had hugged her and stroked her hair and kissed her forehead as her mother should have, and just let her cry, and promised her there was nothing wrong with it.

The world needed more Mariettas.

The swan Patronus flew over to her and settled at her feet. It was starting to fade already, but Cho thought it still had some strength. "Fly," she said, smiling. "Be free."

The swan took flight toward the door, but was abruptly dissipated when the door flew open and someone screamed.

"Get it AWAY!"

Cho dropped her wand and ran to the door, where Marietta was standing with her hands blocking her face. Her curly hair was wild, and her voice had the harsh, whipsaw quality of someone who had been crying. Cho knew that sound very well this year.

She put her arm over Marietta's shoulders and led her to the bed, sitting her down on the edge then wrapping her in a hug, almost glad for the opportunity to repay the kindness.

"Shh, Marietta. What happened?"

Marietta just sobbed, not even returning the hug.

"What is it?" Cho reached over to her nightstand and picked up a comb. "Here," she said, "let me get your poor hair untangled."

Sniffing, not moving her hands from her face, Marietta nodded convulsively.

Cho moved around behind her and started to comb her hair as gently as she could, starting at the bottom and moving up to keep the snarls from tangling down on themselves. "What happened? Where did you go after dinner?"

"You'll... you'll... hate me... everyone will... hate me."

Cho stopped combing long enough to give her a quick hug. "I won't hate you, I promise."

"You will. It's about... Harry..."

Cho frowned and went back to combing Marietta's hair. "Harry?"

"I always... thought... he was... " Marietta sniffed. "I didn't lie to you about that. I don't like him."

"I know. You're wrong though."

"Am I?" Marietta took a deep, uneven breath. "I thought that you all were going to get into trouble. I didn't want you to get into trouble with the Ministry, and he... he was making you break the law."

A cold sliver of a thought formed in Cho's mind. She started to push it away, but didn't let herself. Ideas were not meant to be pushed away. And if it was true, then there would be a reason for it. "Marietta... did you tell someone about the meeting?"

She nodded miserably. "I had to, Cho. I... I thought you would get into much bigger trouble if I let it keep going. Someone had to make him stop before he got all of you into trouble." Her shoulders grew still as Cho continued to comb her hair. "Do you hate me?"

"Of course I don't hate you," Cho said automatically. A part of her wanted to shove Marietta away, scream at her, call her vile names. But she was the one who had sat and listened while Cho cried, and Cho would not treat her that way. She'd have enough trouble with the rest of the D.A. if they found out. "I think you were wrong--"

"My mother could lose her job if knew about it and didn't tell. So could your father. And everyone could get in so much trouble, Cho, please, you have to understand..."

"I do." Cho hugged her again and kissed her temple, it being the only part of her face that was currently accessible. The part of her that was furious tried to rise up, but she stomped it mercilessly and went back to Marietta's hair. "I don't agree, but I understand. Really. I'll help you make sure that no one finds out it was you--"

Marietta wailed suddenly, bending forward at the waist. The comb tangled in one of the nests of snarls in her hair, and jerked out of Cho's hand. It clattered onto the floor with a skittering sound.

Cho moved and sat beside her again, patting her back and making the same kind of comforting nonsense noises that Marietta had made all year for her and refusing, absolutely refusing to be angry. When the fit of crying calmed down, she asked, "What is, Marietta? What's wrong?"

Slowly, Marietta dragged her hands down her face. Just under her cheekbones, Cho began to see a pattern of red marks, slightly raised. They looked like spots, but more... settled. Like they planned to stay awhile. When her hands were halfway down her cheeks, it became apparent what the problem was.

Cho took her wrists and pried her hands away from her face.

SNEAK.

Marietta just kept crying, her eyes closed, her nose running. The tears ran over the word, but didn't blur it at all. "Everyone will know!</i> she wailed, and tried to cover up again.

Cho hugged her tightly, any anger at her completely swallowed up by anger for her. "Who did this?" she asked. "Was it Harry? Did Harry do this?"

"No. It just... showed up. When I told. I'll bet we're all hexed, so that no one would tell."

Another idea came into Cho's mind, this one not icy cold, but white hot. How could they all be hexed?

Simple.

They weren't.

But they were all subject to the terms of a magical contract, to which they'd signed their names without quite checking what those terms were.

And who had written that contract, disguising it as nothing more than an attendance list?

"Hermione Granger," she said. "That little bitch." She let the word hang in the air, letting all of her anger coalesce around the concept. A part of her was tempted to amend it to "Mudblood bitch," but even in a rage, she was disgusted with that urge. No matter what one Muggle-born tart had done, it was no reason to ideologically align herself with the people who had killed Cedric.

But it was very much time to disalign herself with anyone who still followed said little tart around. She would have to talk to Harry about this. Surely, he would have sent the girl off, or would make her come and apologize.

Oh, will he? This is the girl Harry left you in Hogsmeade for. He listens to every word she says and does what she wants. He'd no more denounce Hermione Granger than he'd write secret love letters to Professor Umbridge.

That was an argument for another day. Harry was a concern for another day, and maybe he would surprise her and say that he'd had words with Hermione about it right away. Right now, there was just Marietta, and Cho owed her a lot.

"What have you already done to get rid of it?" she asked.

"All the counterjinxes in Professor Umbridge's books that looked like they might work. And then I went to the library to see if I could find something else. And that's when she came to get me--Professor Umbridge, I mean--and I had to go to Dumbledore's office, and, and..." She began to breath in a shallow, rapid way that disturbed Cho. "Something happened. I couldn't talk properly. Everything seemed different. Harry was there. And Aurors, and Minister Fudge, and Percy Weasley. And Dumbledore is gone."

"What?"

"He said it was his group and they sacked him." Marietta wiped her nose with the back of her hand. "And everyone's going to know. Everyone."

The anger at Marietta came back, fighting for its place, seeming to punch at the back of Cho's eyes like a Bludger hit by the world's most manic Beater. She refused to let it out. "Why don't we see," she said, forcing her voice to be even, "if we can't find something between us to make it less visible? Appearance charms, maybe. Or... I don't know. There has to be something."

Marietta looked up through wide eyes. "Then you'll really be on my side, Cho? Really?"

Cho thought of the D.A., of kissing Harry under the mistletoe, of seeing Cedric's body sprawled on the ground outside the maze and swearing that she would make whoever killed him pay. A part of her wanted to scream, No, I'm not on your side, you stupid girl! You've ruined everything! You betrayed Cedric, and me, and Harry, and...

But she wouldn't. That's what everyone else in the school would do, and maybe they had some right. Cho Chang didn't have that right. Marietta had been there for her. Maybe if she hadn't already been punished in such a horrible way (and by such a horrible girl), it would be different, but it wasn't.

"I'll be on your side," she said, rocking Marietta slightly. "I promise."

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Comments
ashtur From: ashtur Date: November 16th, 2004 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whoa :)

It's always amazing you can take an idea like that and come up with something so good, so quickly. I beat my head into the wall for weeks and don't do half that. Bravo
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2004 11:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. Honestly, the little challenges are helpful, because I don't have time to expect anything of myself. I've started doing "challenges" for myself on my original NaNo piece, too, to get to know the people in it. Saying, "Okay, I'm going to write for an hour and what comes of it, comes of it" seems to break through a lot of the writer's block.
(Deleted comment)
ruxi From: ruxi Date: November 17th, 2004 03:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Definitely agreeing with this! I've had afew troubles with Hermione myself, and in particular in concern to her attitude towards the contract. All nice and friendly, really now -- but Marietta and everyone else should have well known what exactly they were getting into. Hermione's doing was more than writing the last warning in small letter <- it was basically writing it in invisible ink.

Very beautiully written out pice, I'll have to say. And while I can't pronounce myself on Cho (I've never read all that much about her) I just love your Marietta. From her insecurity to her devotion to her outright fear. The poor girl was Imperio-ed, and yet no one seems to take notice. She's been through a terrible ordeal, and I'm very much thankful to you for presenting us with an accurate account of just that, the other side to the fence.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 17th, 2004 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)
That was just a function of Cho's POV--we know from the text what she thought about Hermione's action. Myself, I think that a kid going to a magical school the year after a tournament in which magical contracts were explained should have thought a whole lot more carefully about something after signing her name to it. I don't, as a writer, have any particular sympathy for Marietta--the challenge in this piece was trying to figure out why Cho did. (And to be perfectly fair, when I was writing, my thought was, "Because Marietta has been emotionally manipulating her all year, deliberately prolonging her grief in order to make herself (Marietta) emotionally indispensible to a popular girl." Cho, of course, doesn't feel it that way.
meredith_eats From: meredith_eats Date: November 16th, 2004 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
What an interesting story! It's cool to see something written about Marietta as well as Cho. I've always admired and felt sorry for Marietta -- she let her friend pressure her into doing something that frightened her and then she told because she thought it was the right thing to do. That must have taken a lot of courage.

I don't think Hermione was precisely wrong to put the hex on the contract, but it was a tactical mistake not to tell people about it -- wouldn't you want people to know the consequences of breaking the contract so that they wouldn't do it? I suppose it's another example of how the children, however precocious and talented, aren't really good strategians.
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meredith_eats From: meredith_eats Date: November 18th, 2004 01:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah some of the things the kids did in OotP freaked me out too. I was really surprised/upset that they left Umbridge in the forest with the centaurs where she might have been killed -- I thought they were going to dump her in the room of requirement, which they could easily have made a jail...though I suppose as soon as they left it would have turned into whatever Umbridge required. But surely there was a solution that didn't leave Umbridge in mortal peril?
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: May 3rd, 2005 07:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I know this makes me a horrible person, but after the previous six hundred pages, the thought of Umbridge in mortal peril makes me laugh until I weep tears of joy. Especially since they're centaurs, and, you know, half-human and all.
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: November 17th, 2004 08:32 am (UTC) (Link)
she let her friend pressure her into doing something that frightened her and then she told because she thought it was the right thing to do.

I agree with the first part of this statement, but have my doubts about the second part. How is telling on everyone else (which will presumably get them all expelled) the right thing to do? If Marietta was concerned about being expelled, and about her mother's job, she could have stopped going to the DA. Unless you assume she'd completely bought into the Ministry's propaganda about Harry, in which case she might feel it would be better for 25 of her classmates to be expelled rather than remain exposed to Harry's influence.

I've always been amazed by Cho's defence of Marietta. Cho brought Marietta to the group, basically vouching for her character, and Marietta let her down. That's why I really like your story, Fern - you give a very plausible reason for Cho to be so supportive of her friend.
meredith_eats From: meredith_eats Date: November 18th, 2004 01:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Bah! My time at the internet cafe is running out -- but, in short, I think she believed that her friends were being led into danger by Harry and that her obligation to her mother was greater than that to her classmates. I think that Marietta's position as an outsider lets us see how difficult it must be for people who don't know Harry distinguish the truth from the propoganda spouted by the ministry.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: November 17th, 2004 03:35 am (UTC) (Link)
This story really amazed me; you've gotten both of them down very well, and I really felt sorry for Marietta and Cho. I also am pleased to see a fic putting them in a positive light - I really do get bothered by the people who've decided that Cho and Marietta are stupid b__es. Both were under a lot of pressure, not to mention young.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 17th, 2004 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)

From: Shloz

Very nicely written as usual. You describe the conflicts of Cho and Marietta very well.

About Marietta in particular, I'm not sure I can see her as someone doing what she thought was right, as much as someone who was scared and felt she had no choice. With a mother working closely under Umbridge and Fudge, I assume the Edgecombe household had a general air of either toady-ness to the establishment or at least total fear of it.

As to Hermione, I think her rather ruthless attitude is the major aspect of her being a Gryffindor. When she thinks she's right, she stops at nothing (e.g. SPEW). I guess we can see thru this fic exactly the difference between a Gryffindor and a Ravenclaw when it comes to right and wrong (and by extension, which outlook is compatible with Harry's...).

One problem with the fic: as far as I understood the scene in Dumbledore's office, Marietta was Obliviated (not Imperiused, obviously!) by Kingsley, and therefore should have been rather fuzzy on exactly what she did, and what happened afterwards. Unless, being a Ravenclaw, she re-figured it out and beat the Memory charm after continued failed treatment by Umbridge after the scene. Whatever, we do see that Cho knows exactly what happened the next day.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 17th, 2004 10:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: From: Shloz

Yeah, I had that problem, too, but the fact that Cho later knows pretty much what happened (and from Marietta's viewpoint) seems to suggest that she remembered enough to try and defend herself. Kingsley's not an unethical man; he may have used a jinx that wasn't permanent, or was strictly tied to talking to Fudge or Umbridge or something.
fionaphoenix From: fionaphoenix Date: November 17th, 2004 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Wow!...

... if this is the kind of writing you do off the top of your head... I'm impressed. I've gotten the impression that you tend to end up with writer's block from overanalyzing things. This piece flows so naturally, I'm betting it didn't have any analyzing in it's way. Good work! :)
From: finmagik Date: November 17th, 2004 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that was so touching I'm crying now. It is a beautiful story, it majkes me think of my old friends in high school. I miss them.
mafdet From: mafdet Date: November 17th, 2004 11:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. You rule. This is terrific. And all by the seat of your pants, too.

I don't like Marietta at all, and think she's a snivelling little quisling, and wondered why Cho is so forgiving of her. You have given Cho (and Marietta) the backstory that makes their actions, if not admirable in Marietta's case, at least understandable. And Cho is admirable, in a way, she feels she can't betray Marietta after Marietta has supported her, no matter what. Even though she does have that flash of "how could you, b**ch!" which is very plausible. Poor Cho. I feel sorry for her. I don't especially like her, but I pity her.

Great work!
sophonax From: sophonax Date: November 17th, 2004 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not a big fan of either Cho or Marietta, but I really liked this...Cho's loyalty is admirable and yet perfectly consistent with her earlier and later imperfect behavior. The bit with the Patronus was especially nice.
verdenia From: verdenia Date: May 23rd, 2006 10:09 am (UTC) (Link)

cho learns about marietta

Wow. This was really well-done and interesting!
You make a very plausible case for Why Things Happened As They Did. ;D

I did find this: "My mother could lose her job if knew about it and didn't tell." {if I knew}
Also, there is an extra [/i] sitting in the text.

Great story!
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