There’s a broomstick lying in the middle of the living room when Cho gets home after a long long shift at St. Mungo’s. A Cleansweep 9, to be exact. Cho’s Cleansweep 9. “Katie?”
“In the shower,” she gets back, the ending muffled.
Cho leaves the broomstick where it is, stepping over it as she takes off her jacket and kicks her shoes into the corner. They’re not tidy people. As she’s pulling her jumper over her head, she knocks at the bathroom door with her elbow. “Can I come in?”
“Sure, come join me,” which was always going to be the answer.
Instead she sits on the lid of the toilet, listening for a moment to Katie humming along to the Celestina Warbeck song warbling out of the radio perched on the windowsill. She knows that Katie doesn’t really like Celestina, not the way Cho does anyway, but she also knows that Katie can’t help but sing along to whatever’s playing around her. “Why’s my broomstick in the middle of the living room?”
Katie sticks her head out of the shower curtain. “I have that trial with the Harpies on Thursday, remember? I was just trying out your broom, see if it was any different.”
“Katie, you’re going to fly great on Thursday, no matter whose broom you’re on.”
“Maybe,” Katie says, ducking back in to rinse the shampoo from her hair. “Hey, do you want to eat out tonight? It’s a nice night -- shame to waste it.”
Cho props her feet up on the ledge of the bath, her toes curling over the edge, drops of water flicking on to them. “What about the Japanese place near the hospital? We haven’t been there in ages.”
"Sounds good to me. Can I borrow your blue dress?"
“That’s a bit fancy for there, isn’t it?” It’s a tiny little hole-in-the-wall place run by a huge family that know them by sight after Katie tried their salmon sushi and ate there for a week straight. The tables are always a little sticky and there's never more than a handful of people eating whenever they’re there but the food is incredible.
“It’s a date, Cho,” Katie shouts over the water. “I’m being spontaneous and so fucking romantic here.”
They’ve been living together for almost three years now, finding a place straight after they came out of the war that almost blew everything apart, and Cho still finds it hard sometimes to get her head around the fact that her and Katie have made it here together. That they’ve been given the opportunity to build a life when so many others had theirs snatched from them far too soon.
“You told me romance was overrated and needless,” Cho calls back.
The shower shuts off and then Katie is stepping out from behind the curtain, her hands grabbing for the towel Cho is handing her. She pushes her hair back from her face and grins. “Always keeping you on your toes, Chang,” and then she leans down and kisses Cho, her hand damp and soothing on Cho’s face when she cups her cheek. Maybe it’s psychological or maybe it’s magic but when Cho falls into the kiss, when she traces Katie’s lips and tastes a hint of coconut shower gel, she feels the weariness of her long hard day at St. Mungo’s drop off of her.
“How was work?” Katie asks when she pulls away. The scent remains overwhelmingly pleasant.
“Bearable,” she says, tipping her head against the wall as Katie gets dried. Her wand is in her pocket, she could make this task a lot quicker, but she can’t say she’s not enjoying the view. “Mrs Richmond was asking about you.”
“Ward eight. Blonde hair?”
“That’s the one.”
“Why’s she asking about me? Do you talk about me with your patients, Healer Chang? Do you swoon as you tell them what you love about me?” Katie grins. She jerks her head to flick the wet hair away from her face and then fumbles for her wand on the windowsill, Summoning her shorts and t-shirt from the bedroom and into her hand. She does all this without looking away from Cho, both of them knowing how much she enjoys the blush heating Cho’s cheeks.
“Yeah, I do,” she says, head held high. She tells her regulars about her girlfriend Katie who saved so many people during the war and how she’s a great Quidditch player, any team would be lucky to have her. The patients smile and talk about their partners, their children, their friends, and tell Cho how lucky she is to have found her Someone so young. The talk of love and happiness takes them away from why they’re in hospital and talking to Cho in the first place. “They know all about your trial on Thursday.”
“What if that jinxes it?” Katie asks, drying her hair with a flick of her wand and narrowing her eyes at Cho.
“Come on, you’re not superstitious in the slightest.”
“But you are,” she says, “and you talking to your patients about me is going to make me fall of my broom or something, I know it.”
Cho rolls her eyes, gets up to follow Katie through to their bedroom. “This is your nerves talking,” she says, and when Katie doesn’t reply she slips her arm around her waist and pulls her against her, resting her cheek on Katie’s shoulder. “Trust me. I’m a Ravenclaw and on top of that I’m a Healer. I know these things.”
Katie’s back remains tight for another few seconds before she sighs, relaxing in Cho’s hold. “After that Wasps trial -- I’m just stressed. I don’t know what else to do if I’m not good at Quidditch. Sorry for snapping.”
Quidditch for Cho was always something she never had to think about. When she could walk her dad got her on a broom and let her go and that was it, she could fly. At Hogwarts she had been quick and stealthy, impressing Roger Davies in his first year of captaincy and earning a place on the team easier than her housemates knew how. The first time she had had trouble with flying was after Cedric’s death, when it didn’t bring her the comfort and safety it so often had, instead she was associating it with her first love and the evil that murdered him. She had fallen into the rose thorns when she had practised at home that summer, her mum finding her with cuts all over her legs and a shaky hand gripping her broom. With patience and practice she had found her way back into the sky but it had never been quite the same after that. She won a few games for Ravenclaw and lost a few more and bigger things came into her life, Quidditch falling to the wayside, not quite as dependable and safe anymore, but there should she ever need it again.
She knows it’s always been different for Katie. That first time they really talked after the match where Cho had accidentally knocked Katie off of her broom she had seen the light in Katie’s eyes, how she had talked about the sport that she followed and played her whole life. Katie listens to matches on the radio, arguing with Cho when she rhymes off the Tornados stats that are far more impressive than any other team’s currently in the league. She talks about Gwenog Jones with a reverence in her voice that makes Cho nudge her and make her promise she won't run away with her. For Katie, Cho is everything, but Quidditch is a very close second, and Cho understands that.
Katie turns around to press a kiss to Cho's cheek, her lips catching the side of her mouth. She kisses her again, this time wrapping her arms around Cho's neck and wiggling closer. Her skin is still damp when Cho pushes her t-shirt and rests her palm on her hip, fingers stroking across the smooth skin. She breaks away from the kiss to press her forehead against Katie’s. "Come on. Let's get changed, go out, and have fun, okay?”
“Alright,” Katie agrees, smile slowly stretching across her face. She’s humming again, that same Celestina song she was always whining about when Cho had it on repeat a few weeks ago. “Let’s have fun,” she repeats, spinning over to the bed.
They Apparate to the alley beside the Japanese restaurant, walking through the door hand in hand, and they find their usual table in the corner. The owner’s a fantastic little witch who is always thrilled to see them; she’s always thrusting her new inventions at them and neither of them ever turn her down.
“Have you decorated since we were here last?” Katie asks Mrs Kimura once they’ve been served their starters.
“My son painted,” she says, gesturing to the pale blue walls. “He insisted on doing it without magic -- there are splashes of paint all over my oven.”
“It looks great,” Cho tells her, tilting her head back to look at the pale grey washed across the ceiling.
Mrs Kimura smiles at her and the next time she sweeps past she slips them a couple of extra Hamachis which Katie jumps on before halving them with her wand and offering Cho half of each.
“This is my favourite place in the whole world,” Katie says with her mouth full.
“Mm.” The Hamachi is warm and delicious in Cho’s mouth. She could eat a hundred more. “Mine too.”
Katie shifts her chair closer, her foot hooking around the leg of Cho’s chair until they’re as close as possible. Their table is concealed by the curve of the wall, only Mrs Kimura knows they’re here, and for the rest of the meal Cho is content to sit by Katie and talk about their day. It’s been a long day with a lot of draining patients and to end it this way is perfect.
“Let’s not go home yet,” Katie says when they step back out into the street. She reaches for Cho’s hand, pulling her against her as they cross the road. Cho leans into her, Katie’s shoulder the perfect height for her head. She hmms non committedly. “We could go to Spell Stix? They play your sort of music there.”
“I can hear the judgement in your tone,” Cho sighs but she’s full and she’s happy and she’s in the mood for dancing and so she shrugs. They do play her sort of music there -- loud and poppy and fun. It’s Katie’s sort of music too but she’ll never admit to that; too stubbornly fixated on the Weird Sisters and anything else that fits into that alt-rock genre. “Sure, let’s go.”
Katie kisses her quickly in the middle of the street, laughing when a disgruntled Muggle man mutters something as he pushes past them. “You’re the best, Cho Chang,” she professes loudly, and then she holds Cho’s hand tight and they Disapparate with a pop.
The bored looking witch at the door taps the back of their hands with her wand, a design swirling across their skin, and then she gestures towards the steps behind her. “Have a good night, ladies,” she drones, turning to the loud group behind them with a long sigh.
“You too!” Katie calls, pulling Cho down the stairs. The place is swarming; there’s a group of goblins in the corner that look uncomfortable to be here and there’s a gaggle of witches on a boozy night out taking up a large chunk of the dance floor, and over by the bar Cho spots at least five people in their year waiting to be served. It’s been awhile since the two of them have been out -- Cho’s been working long hours at St. Mungo’s and Katie’s been working in Quality Quidditch Supplies with trials every other week -- and now Cho is here she can’t wait to have a few drinks and dance.
"Cho!" Terry Boot shouts from across the railings surrounded the dance floor, not long after they've arrived, suddenly appearing beside her and clutching her arm. "Where've you been?"
"Working," she replies, catching his arm when it swings out wildly and almost hits a passing woman. "How are you?”
“Can’t complain,” he shrugs. It’s hot in the club, the cooling charm the bouncers are casting every few minutes doing nothing to combat the heat of the summer night and the crush of bodies across the dancefloor. There’s sweat clinging to the hair at the nape of Terry’s neck. Cho can feel a drop sliding down her dress. “You here with Katie?”
“She’s getting us drinks,” Cho shouts back. “Is Hannah here?”
“Nah, we broke up last month.”
Cho winces sympathetically. “Oh. I’m sorry.”
But Terry waves the condolences away. “Don’t worry about it,” and then Blaise Zabini appears beside Terry, arching his eyebrow and tilting his head towards the door, and Cho realises Terry’s fine. “See you, Cho,” he calls as he leads Blaise across the room, Blaise whispering close in his ear the whole way there.
“Was that Terry Boot?” Katie says, handing Cho her a rum and coke.
"Fleetingly." Cho takes a couple of gulps of her drink, wincing at the slight burn in her throat from the huge measure of rum. “Merlin.”
Katie laughs at the look on her face. “It’s so cheap in here and their drinks are strong enough to knock out a Hippogriff.”
“And the music’s great too,” Cho replies, tilting back her head to finish her drink. “Finish your drink, Katie, I wanna dance.”
Katie swallows the rest of her long vodka, scrunching her nose up much like the way Cho had. She shakes her head quickly, eyes tight shut, and then she grins and takes Cho’s hand, allowing herself to be lead out onto the dance floor.
It’s a Saturday night so the place is packed. Cho presses close to Katie, hands fitting on her waist, and moves along with her, avoiding the stretching hands of those around them. The beat builds getting faster and faster and Cho leans into, smiling when Katie attempts to spin them around and almost falls into a drink being waved around beside them. Katie’s body is hot underneath Cho’s hands, her hair is sticking to her neck, and Cho wants to put her mouth on her collarbone and taste her.
Instead she rolls her hips up against Katie’s, dresses getting caught between their thighs, and she lets her hands glide over Katie’s back. Katie’s eyes are closed as she dances with Cho and the hand not on Cho’s waist is tangled in her hair, nails gently scraping at her neck. It’s easy to forget, dancing close like this with the music pounding around them, that they’re not the only ones here. Cho used to hear things like that all the time, those cliches about love, and being a romantic she’d always hoped and wished for them, never really expecting to find that person.
But here she is in a crowded club and Katie’s the only one in front of her.
“I told you you love my music,” she leans in and says into Katie’s ear.
The lazy smile she gets in return makes Cho’s stomach flip over. “I love the way you dance to it.”
“You’re a flirt,” Cho laughs, and she tightens her grip on Katie’s waist as the music changes into a poppy Spellbound song. “I love you,” she says during a lull in the song because her alcohol tolerance is low enough that the strength of that rum and coke has slid her straight into tipsy and anyway, she loves this song, she should say what other things she loves.
“Love you too, lightweight,” Katie says, her hand sliding down Cho’s back and resting on her bum. The song comes to an end with a shout and the next one isn’t great and so Cho nods when Katie says, “More drinks?” and they fight their way over to the bar.
They stay until the music ends and the lights come on, spilling out onto the street to the sounds of laughter and shouts for chips at the Indian down the road coming from all around them. They’ve had too many drinks to Apparate home and so they grab a taxi and tumble inside, laughing into each other’s necks as they speed around corners through the dark London streets still full of life at three in the morning. The car grinds to a halt outside their block of flats and Katie giggles against Cho’s cheek as Cho fumbles for her purse, producing some Muggle money and paying the driver who’s watching them with a tired expression.
“I had a great night,” Katie mumbles into Cho’s mouth as she kisses her against their front door. Cho’s head is foggy and her ears are buzzing and when she kisses Katie she wants to stay here forever.
“Let’s get to bed,” she says instead, mouth moving across Katie’s neck. Katie’s a little taller than Cho and she’s a little bigger in the chest as well so the blue dress she borrowed in short and tight, straining across her boobs in a way that makes Cho think a thousand thoughts, none of them particularly clear. “C’mon, Katie, you need to take my dress off.”
“But I thought you liked me wearing it,” she replies, pulling her head back to grin at Cho, mouth stretched wide and eyes knowing exactly what she’s doing. “Don’t you want me to wear it to bed?”
“Come on,” Cho whines, unlocking the door with her wand and pulling them both inside. Once the door is locked Cho crowds Katie up against the wall, joining their mouths again in a kiss that has her trembling right the way to her toes, needing to get them both naked and onto a bed as fast as possible. They stumble through to the bedroom, heels thumping on the floor as they tug them off, and then they fall onto the bed and Cho loses track of where everything goes after that, all attention focused on the way Katie’s mouth is moving down her body.
She remembers when they were building their friendship, both of them so eager to spend as much time as possible with each other, and there were all these new and exciting feelings rolling around inside of Cho. She doesn’t think she ever have thought that she would be here with her, living in this flat together, coming home to her after a day at work. Of course she wouldn’t have ever imagined the war they had to get through first. She couldn’t have imagined that.
They had a few shaky months straight after the Battle of Hogwarts and they both still get nightmares occasionally but Cho’s lying in bed with Katie lying beside her, her arm slung over Cho’s chest and her hair tickling her shoulder, and to be here, to have peace, is more than anything Cho could have possibly wished for.
“It frightens me,” she had told Marietta once. “I’m scared to be this happy in case it gets taken from me.”
And Marietta had poured them both another glass of wine and shook her head, curls bouncing. “We can’t live that way anymore, Cho. It’s over. You’ve been through enough, Katie too; you deserve to be this happy. It’s not going to go away.”
"Cho?" Healer Sharp calls, sticking her head around the door of the room Cho is in a few days after the night out at Spell Stix.
“There’s someone waiting in your office for you,” and then she smiles and tips her a wink before she moves on.
Cho turns back to her patient, trying to fight the smile threatening to explode over her face. Katie dropping by to visit her isn’t a rare occurrence but it always makes Cho’s day a little better. “How are your legs today, Mrs Lynch?”
“Same as always,” Mrs Lynch shrugs. She’s been here for weeks now, a constant sharp pain in both of her legs stopping her from walking. They think it’s some sort of bite from an illegal plant that has been smuggled into the country but Mrs Lynch refuses to give them any information. Her husband and her son were both killed in the war and Cho can’t help but wonder if Mrs Lynch is happy to spend her time in here because she’s got no one missing her at home.
“And you can’t remember if you saw anything suspicious the day the pains began?” Cho asks, the same way she’s asked every day for the last five weeks.
“I’m sorry, dear, I wish I could.”
“We just want you to get better, Mrs Lynch,” Cho says, marking off her chart. “Nurse Quirke will be in a moment to give you your potion.”
“Thank you, Healer Chang,” she replies with a tired smile, sinking back onto the pillows. “See you tomorrow.”
Katie's flicking through the ragged paperback Cho keeps in her desk drawer and never reads when Cho enters her office, fingering two pages between her fingers until they become wrinkled and worn. Cho leans against the door jamb and watches for a second.
"Katie," she says softly. Katie looks up, smiles. "What're you doing here?"
"Can't I visit my girlfriend at work?"
"Sure, but I'm finished in an hour."
Katie pushes the chair forward until she reaches Cho, her hands reaching for her waist, pulling her so she bumps into Katie's knees. Cho leans down, kisses her. "I'm glad to see you. Today's been hectic."
"And here I am making it all better," Katie murmurs, pressing her mouth to Cho's cheek, right at the corner of her mouth. She needs to get back to work. Just one more hour. Sixty minutes. "Cho, the Harpies owled me."
Cho pulls back a little, heart thudding. Surely if Katie came all the way down here it must be good news. "And? What did they say?"
And then Katie bursts. "I got in!" She says something after that but Cho has leapt on her sending them stumbling across the office and into her chair. She presses kisses all over Katie's face, hands trembling with excitement as they cup her face.
"I'm so happy for you, Katie," she whispers, kissing her again. "So happy."
Katie looks slightly dazed when Cho pulls back like she still hasn't let the news sink in. "I'm only on the reserve team for now but they said even after a season I'll be on the first team."
"No more working at the shop," Katie sings, jumping to her feet. "Going to be a world famous Quidditch player."
"I'm very happy right now." Cho kisses Katie again, quick, smiling when their noses bump together and Katie hums. "I love you."
"I love you too. Now go save people's lives." She gently shoves at Cho's chest, her fingers light when they brush against the skin exposed at the top of her uniform. "I'll see you at home."
"How will we celebrate?"
"I'm sure I can think of a few ways while you're hard at work, Cho," Katie says, and then she winks.
"How am I supposed to concentrate now?" Cho says as she walks backwards out of the door.
"One hour!" Katie shouts.
Cho can hold on until then.