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Title: Wish You Were
Author: Twinkledru J.
Rating: PG for swearing
Disclaimer: Rowling's, not mine. Well, Nathara is mine, but if it weren't for Rowling, she wouldn't exist, so she's ultimately Rowling's too, if you want to nitpick.
Summary: Practice makes perfect, but not peace of mind.
Notes: Nothing to warn against, remarkably. A bit of swearing, this is kind of dark, and it's Cho-centric. And that's it.


I lean against the wind/pretend that I am weightless/and in this moment I am happy
-Incubus

On a hot evening in July, Cho Chang found herself going for a ride.

She'd gotten into trouble with the Ministry when a little Muggle girl had spotted her last summer, and so her Quidditch-buff mother had rented a summer place out in the country this year and, in exchange for all of June with Dad rather than July, convinced him to give up this month to Mum.

Cho had told only her closest friends the circumstances of her parents' divorce under penalty of death if they repeated the story --Dad had never been able to handle the fact that his wife was a witch. Oh, he'd loved her dearly anyway, and they were still close friends, but they just couldn't be married to each other. That Mum had been a Slytherin never helped Cho shake off those fears which had haunted her ever since the World Cup, and when Cedric --

She was here to fly. Had to remember that.

She went faster. Mum had shelled out the money for this isolated place (the nearest village was Hogsmeade, about an hour's fly to the north; if she'd cared to go an hour more, she could've reached the school), she was going to make sure it was worth it and bring home the Cup next year. Get her name on the Seeker plaque.

Beat Potter.

She swerved a bit at that thought, and steadied herself, again clearing her mind. She was here to fly.

Turned about sharply and headed back -- she was reaching the limits of Great-Aunt Meara's land. Practiced feinting a bit, then staying close to the ground, so close she could have dragged her fingers along the grass if she'd wanted to. Following the hills, this was no mean feat.

Saw a puff of green smoke from the chimney; Mum had company. Most likely the Professor, her godfather had been visiting more and more frequently this summer. Her mother, of course, had returned to her old duties as an Unspeakable, and had been corresponding with the Professor (no, she reminded herself, during the summers he's just Severus, your mother's best friend and your godfather) much more frequently than ever this summer. That was another reason for the vacation home, Mum could keep in touch with not just Severus and the school, but Hogsmeade as well.

Cho pulled a small wooden box out of her practice robes, opened it, and released the practice Snitch Dad had bought her as a gift the last day of June. "Best Practice Snitch in Europe!" the box boasted. "No need for Bludgers when you're training with Barrister's!"

She closed her eyes and darted in a few circles while she counted off a minute, then zoomed up above the roof to look around for the ball from the sky. As she passed the window, she caught a glimpse of Mum and Severus deep in conversation at the kitchen table. Pushed all thoughts of what they might be discussing from her mind and just tried to concentrate on the Snitch, and ignored the fact that she could catch snatches of what they were saying through the chimney.

'Nice job this time,' she thought to the Snitch, a look of lazily predatory enjoyment spreading on her face. 'But don't worry, I'll catch you.'

And, long after she lost track of time, she did, in a spectacular low catch. The golden ball had been hiding in a patch of wildflowers on the very edge of the property, and had zoomed along the ground, forcing her to fly steady and only a few inches up (almost as if the damned thing knew her broom had trouble with low flying). She'd chased it across the grounds, and had finally caught it as she slammed into the side of the house.

"Cho!" she heard Mum cry, and could tell that her mother was torn between worry and laughter. She also heard the all-too-familiar derogatory snort of her godfather, and pulled herself up with a smirk, to find that they were standing well outside the house, and had probably seen the whole damn ordeal, while she'd been so intent on catching the Snitch that she'd never seen them.

"I'm fine, Mum," she said.

At this, her mother permitted a chuckle. "Well, Cho, you've got spirit," Nathara Dalziel-Chang smiled, patting her daughter on the back. "And from what I've seen, you've got a bit of skill. Sev, you've seen more of her matches than I have, how is she?"

"I couldn't tell you, Nathara," Severus said, deadpan. "It'd be a conflict of interest."

"Meaning you make him nervous about Slytherin's chances," Mum snickered, dusting Cho off. "Because if you were bad, he'd be heaping fake praises on you like you were Harry bleedin' Potter."

Her godfather cast Mum a dark look. "Praise isn't the first thing that comes from the Professor where Harry's concerned, Mum," Cho smiled.

Severus merely harrumphed in reply to this, then looked over at Cho. "You don't have to call me Professor during the summer, girl," he said. She noticed how uncomfortable he looked in the heat and how out of place he was in the unconditionally warm sunlight.

She shrugged, hopping back on her broom. "Old habits die hard, Severus," she said, kicking off, then diving back down, pulling into such a sharp feint that Mum gasped, then laughed. "If you remember, I was afraid to raise my hand the first couple months at Hogwarts, for fear that I'd call you 'Sev' and get myself landed in detention."

"Well, in that case, perhaps I should marry Granger's mother. Maybe it'd keep the girl from trying to take over my class. Nathara, I should be going. Keep practicing, Cho. If nothing else, I'll see you in September." He nodded curtly at her and headed inside again with Mum. She pushed off, and in a moment, another green flash from the chimney told her that he would be back at Hogwarts momentarily. Or wherever it was Severus spent his summers.

Mum came back out then, and watched from the ground as Cho flew a few more circles, but didn't release the Snitch again. She hovered for some moments to watch the sun become a deep blood red in the west, then landed hard.

Her mother said nothing, but wrapped an arm gently around Cho. "Come on inside, honey," she said quietly. "I've got to go out this evening, and I don't want you outside while I'm gone."

She was no safer inside, but she didn't mention this to Mum, and Cho knew only too well what it meant that her mother hadn't sent her to spend the evening with Severus -- they were going to be in the same place tonight, and it was a place which scared Mum senseless.

Neither of them said anything through dinner, because neither of them wanted to upset the other. Cho pulled out a book and was reading up on the history of the Inseguiere Potion. Severus had recommended the text when he'd visited a couple of weeks ago, and she'd finally slogged through enough of her schoolwork that she didn't feel guilty about reading for pleasure. The text, as it turned out, was fascinating, and more than a bit unsettling.

About ten, Mum walked in, in the heavy hunter green cloak which meant only bad to Cho. She stiffened as her mother kissed her, trying to not remember what Moody had taught her the previous year, to just hug her mother.

Nonetheless, she turned back to her book and deliberately coughed loudly as Nathara enunciated her destination into the fireplace.

It wasn't a Dark Revel, she knew, but it wasn't something good, and the scariest thing was that that didn't really upset her. None of it did, anymore.

Dad had never called it "unnatural" or "disgusting" or anything of the like. He didn't hate magic, he just couldn't handle his wife being so inextricably tangled up in the parts which weren't all glass slippers.

But the parallels were there, and she had stopped caring about Mum going to anything short of a Revel itself.

Cho stared out at the July night, tempted to ignore her mother's admonition and go out to fly. If she were flying -- she had come here to practice --

('was Tom ever a Quidditch champion?' a part of her wondered)

She would practice tomorrow. Extra hard.

It would take a lot of practice to beat Potter.


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