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Company in Darkness

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After the explosion and his sudden appearance, Cho doesn’t see Harry again for another nine months but at least that isn’t as long as before. His visits are like footprints in the sand after that. At the time they are so real and there and then he leaves and everything fades away into rumours and whispers again. There is never enough left behind to let Cho convince the others he was even there and they start to accuse her of making it up. Zach says he gets it, because they need a morale lift but this isn’t the way. Inside she screams. Three times she hears that he is dead and twice he turns up a couple of weeks later just long enough to remind her that he isn’t. Sometimes it is just a flash of his eyes across a darkened street at night while she moves stolen supplies, and others he intervenes when the Death Eaters look like they might be overpowering them.

Cho wonders if he is hanging around now to protect them or if he just never left in the first place. She sees him now because she’s looking so carefully every time she leaves the safety of Headquarters and her mind stars to whisper that he was always there and she just never noticed. Maybe she hadn’t wanted to. Harry Potter is their great hope and if he is still around and yet they are still in this mess it doesn’t bode well. Zach’s words plague her dreams and she wonders if he stays away because that is what lifts their morale. There is the idea that he might return and so a reason to keep fighting, keep losing, keep taking the curses hexes and blows to the head.

She concludes that he must live alone, because surely if he was with anyone it would be the Weasleys and there is no way they could hide everything so well for so long. Cho can easily recognise the look of loss in Ginny’s eyes and no one can fake that, not even for a war effort and of that Cho is sure. Harry never says much but somehow Cho feels that she is closer to him than some of the others. Maybe it is because he is like her little secret in many ways.

“You’re doing that thing again. The one where you don’t pay attention and I have to stop you from getting yourself killed,” Harry says in her ear very suddenly, snapping Cho out of her thoughts as she drifts down Knockturn Alley at 1AM.

“Merlin’s balls Harry! Don’t do that!” Cho splutters, clutching her chest and burling around in a circle with wide eyes. “The place is deserted!”

“Yeah, but I’m here to see if the rumours are true and I bet you are too. Now if I can hear the rumours and you can hear the rumours I’m betting that they can too. So, it isn’t exactly safe for daydreaming is it?” Harry says quietly, slipping into step with her and smiling from under his cloak hood.

“I’m not here for that,” Cho replies. “There is another team seeing if Bulstrode is willing to defect. I would never be out alone for that. I am just….walking home from the pub. Alone.”

“Starting to see how clever that is?” Harry teases, something of a boyish spark appearing momentarily in his mostly lifeless eyes.

“Point taken. But hey, if I never go anywhere alone doesn’t that make me look like I’m up to something?” Cho says. Her feet hurt and she wants to go home and forget about everything for once, hence the visit to the pub. While it is wonderful to see Harry again and have him in one piece and smiling for once, she doesn’t really need nor want any of this.

“I just don’t want anything to happen to you,” Harry replies softly.

“So you’re stalking me to make sure I don’t get hurt?”

“I wouldn’t go that far, Cho. I’m just trying to help. You’ve started to get into more trouble,” Harry mutters, blushing as Cho meets his eyes. She can’t help but feeling that even though so much has changed the fifteen year old that couldn’t talk to her properly is still in there somewhere.

“So you are keeping an eye on me,” she breathes. “It isn’t just my imagination, is it?”

“No,” he admits softly, as they turn down the corner and head down towards Cho’s flat, “I was busy for a long time. I had things I had to do before I could…do more. I can’t explain. You don’t know how to protect your mind.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t be having this conversation in the street. Come back to mine?”

“We can’t really have this conversation at all, not the one you want to be having. Like I said, you can’t protect your mind,” Harry murmurs, reaching out to tuck a loose strand of hair behind Cho’s ear. It irks her because she is the one being labelled as crazy for saying he is back, alive, helping and now he won’t even explain why or more importantly why it seems to be a secret from the people on their side. Ok, so they might talk but still. It isn’t fair that she knows and they don’t and of all people it had to be her, the one who still carries a torch. She shivers, blinks, and then meets his gaze with determination.

“Still, come back to mine?”

“Cho-”

No. You wanted to make sure I was ok? Well, make sure I get home safely then. You can’t…you can’t just keep appearing and disappearing on me like this. It isn’t fair. I need to…I need to know that you’re real,” Cho says quietly, already walking backwards in the direction of her flat, turning on her heel with a smile when Harry sighs and starts to follow her.

“I know they say you’re making me up. I’m sorry. I am. I just, I can’t let people know I’m around just yet. That is all I can give you right now.”

“No Harry, it isn’t,” Cho half-whispers, reaching out to take his cold hand in her. “That is my point. You can give me something. Even just for tonight.”