Lily bit her lip as she looked around the platform. A kaleidoscope of butterflies beat their wings inside her stomach, and her grip on her travelbag tightened. She couldn't believe she was really here; Berlin at last. It had been a long day of travel (well, mostly it had been a long day of waiting at the Ministry, bloody bureaucrats) preceded by an even longer stretch of planning and preparing for her relocation. But she was finally here, and she had the anxiety to prove it.
Of course, Lily had plenty of legitimate reasons to be nervous. She had just left the country she'd grown up in—not to mention all her friends and family—to start fresh in a completely new city. The move was precipitated by the job offer she'd received from Professor Heidelberg, one of the leading names in experimental research into the theoretical mechanics and origins of magic. It was a dream job at an extremely prestigious institution with one of Lily's idols, and she was desperate to prove herself worthy of the position. None of that was why she was nervous, however.
No, the reason why she was nervous had just turned the corner and was walking towards Lily now, looking polished and perfect and making Lily's heart gallop like a herd of thestrals.
Cho Chang looked even better in person than she did in the glossy moving photos that always appeared before her articles in Magical Ethnology. Her sleek, dark hair was cut into a slanted bob that served to accentuate her high cheekbones and flawless complexion. She didn't wear much makeup, but that suited her, the gentle highlighter and pale lipstick softening angles that could look severe on a different woman. Her gaze lit on Lily, and even though they'd never met in person, it was obvious she knew exactly who Lily was. Her abundance of wavy auburn hair probably helped identify her—it wasn't exactly Weasley red, but it was a close enough approximation that blending in was never really an option. A genuine smile spread across Cho's face as she moved towards Lily, and Lily felt a flash of self consciousness. She tugged the hem of her shirt down, making sure it was fully covering her stomach.
Lily had been corresponding with Cho for close to ten years now, and it was a little surreal to finally see her in the flesh. She could still remember that first letter as a Hogwarts fourth year, the unimaginable excitement, that little thrill in her belly when she'd seen Cho's swoopy signature at the bottom of the creamy parchment. Her dad had set it up after she'd spent an entire afternoon that summer babbling at him about Chang's latest article on the radioactive decay of magical signatures. Her dad knew Cho from Hogwarts, and he'd written to her, mentioning his daughter's enthusiasm in her work, and asking if she wouldn't mind sending Lily a letter.
Looking back, Lily was sure it was only supposed to be a one-time thing, not a correspondence that spanned nearly a decade, but Lily was immeasurably grateful for everything Cho had done for her. Lily had always felt like the odd one out growing up, and having somebody who understood her interests and who was able to give her solid career and intellectual advice had been beyond helpful. Sure, she had her Aunt Hermione, but as smart as her aunt was, she had always been more public-service minded. She could never quite relate to Lily's desire to devote herself entirely to the theoretical, and she was forever trying to encourage Lily to join the Ministry.
Not that Hermione and the rest of her family wasn't supportive—of course they were—but Lily, with her full figure, had always felt a little out of place among her boisterous and athletic cousins. She'd preferred reading indoors to flying about on brooms, and with Grandma Molly's cooking, not to mention all the delicious food at Hogwarts, well, she'd never look like her cousin Dominique, that was for sure. Most of the time, Lily was happy enough with her body, though it was hard not to feel like a bit of an ugly duckling in the Potter household, considering how trim and fit they all were. Even her mum, who'd been retired from the Harpies for years, still looked like she was in peak Chaser condition. It was hard not to feel like a bit of an outsider when her parents and brothers wanted to spend family bonding time on long hikes and camping outdoors, when Lily would rather be doing almost anything else.
When she realised she liked women, well, she supposed she shouldn't be surprised. Of course she would be a fat, Ravenclaw, lesbian in a housefull of straight, fit, Gryffindors. Her family all tried their best, but it wasn't really any of their fault that they couldn't relate to one another as well as they wished. Still, they'd all seen her off at the Ministry with tearful goodbyes—even James's eyes had been a bit damp—and Lily really had been sad to leave them behind.
Lily tried to shake off the somewhat depressing thoughts. She always felt particularly self-conscious about herself when she met somebody for the first time, and Cho wasn't just anybody. But there wasn't any reason to be nervous. She was wearing her favourite blouse, the one that cinched in at the waist and flattered her breasts—one of her best attributes—and she was having a particularly good hair day, despite the Portkey exhaustion. Besides, Cho was just a friend, a mentor, it wasn't as if Lily wanted Cho to be attracted to her or anything. That would certainly be awkward, considering Lily would be staying with Cho for the next few weeks. Lily stifled a nervous laugh as Cho finally reached her.
"Lily, I presume."
Lily smiled broadly. "I can't tell you how good it is to finally meet you!"
Cho's smile revealed a row of small, perfectly white teeth. "Likewise. And what a lovely young woman you are. I know it's silly, but I think I was half expecting to greet that inquisitive fourth year I started writing letters to all those years ago."
Lily laughed. "Definitely not a fourth year anymore, but still very inquisitive, or so I've been told."
"Ah, well, then we shall get along wonderfully." She gestured at Lily's bag. "Is this all you've brought?"
"Yes, but it's been extended. My Aunt Hermione gave it to me as a going-away present. She thought it would make travelling easier."
Cho looked at the bag thoughtfully, something like appreciation mingled with a remote kind of bitterness. "Clever. Hermione always was a talented witch."
Lily looked at her curiously. It was obvious that there was something Lily was missing. But Cho only shook her head dismissively, and her earlier smile lit up her face once more.
"Shall we? I'm sure you must be starving."
Lily's stomach nodded eagerly, but Lily only shrugged. "I could eat."
"Well, why don't we head over to my flat first. You can get settled in, wash up if you'd like, and then we can grab something to eat. There's a wonderful café down the street, so we won't have to go too far."
"That sounds wonderful."
"You don't mind Side-Along, do you?" Cho held out her left arm, and it took Lily an embarrassingly long time to realise that she was offering to Side-Along Apparate her. She blamed it on the fatigue. Blushing, as much from the feel of Cho's strong, warm forearm beneath LIly's palm as from embarrassment over her slowness, she nodded her ascent.
Cho's flat was large and warmly decorated, with a big fireplace in the front room, several comfortable looking chairs next to big bay windows, and wooden bookcases covering almost every inch of wall space. It was perfect.
"You're just down the hall," Cho called out, as she disappeared down the hallway. "I'm in the master right across from you, and there's a bathroom for you right next door."
The room was a good size, nothing lavish, but perfectly suited for Lily's modest needs. She dropped her bag on the bed and turned to face Cho, surprised by the intent look on Cho's face. Once more, she found her skin heating as she said, "I wanted to thank you, again, for letting me stay with you."
"Of course. It's my pleasure. I know from personal experience how stressful moving to a new country can be, and working with Professor Heidelberg is a rigorous, though certainly rewarding, experience. You're welcome to stay here as long as you like. Take your time to find a place that you really love."
"I—" Lily felt her face heat, and dropped her gaze to Cho's feet. "Thank you."
"Anytime. Now why don't you freshen up, and when you're ready to go, I can show you that café I mentioned."
"Alright." Cho left the room, and Lily couldn't help but watch as she walked away. She wasn't large by any means, but she wasn't extremely slender, either. Cho seemed solid and sturdy, though there was a softness there that Lily found unbearably alluring. Her curves weren't as pronounced as Lily's were, a subtle suggestion of a rounded edges instead of the obvious jut of Lily's own arse and chest. Still, despite the fact that she was thinner than Lily and only an inch or two taller, she had an undeniable presence that seemed to fill up the room. Maybe it was all that intellect, adding invisible mass until it seemed as if Lily was dwarfed by it. It wasn't an uncomfortable sensation by any means. Lily was used to feeling like the biggest person in the room by now, and it was nice to feel smaller for a change, like physical size wasn't the only thing that mattered.
The café was clean and quiet, and the food was simple, but tasty. Lily loved having an opportunity to practice her rusty German with the cheerful waitress—she hadn't had many opportunities to use it these past few years. It had been awhile since Lily had felt so content, sharing good food and good conversation and she spoke about her upcoming work with Professor Heidelberg and listened to Cho discuss her most recent project. Cho's work lay more in the anthropological and archaeological aspects of wizards and magical communities, while Lily was mostly focussed on the roots and sources of magic itself, but it was all incredibly interconnected (and fascinating) in Lily's opinion. It had actually been Cho, of course, who had recommended Lily to Professor Heidelberg, and while Lily wouldn't have received the position if she hadn't worked her arse off in University and in her last research posting, Cho putting in a good word for her had certainly helped.
It was yet another reason Lily wanted, no needed, to do well. Cho was so clever and interesting and she believed in Lily, had personally vouched for her. Lily's performance would reflect not only on Lily, but on Cho as well. The last thing Lily wanted to do to repay Cho's kindness and support was make a mess of this amazing opportunity.
Of course, Lily was starting to think she may already be well screwed—and not in the way she wanted—given the way her heart hadn't stopped stuttering and skipping all throughout dinner. It was like being on a first date, all that jittery nervousness and delicious anticipation. Lily found herself waiting with bated breath for Cho's answers every time Lily asked a question, found herself thrilling whenever Cho asked a question back and looked at her with that open curiosity. She knew she hadn't stopped blushing throughout the entire meal, and with her pale, freckled skin, blushes had always been painfully obvious. Lily took another gulp of wine, and hope Cho would blame Lily's flush on the alcohol instead of the company.
Lily couldn't remember the last time she felt like this, the last time she'd felt this burning want settle beneath her skin like an itching hex. She'd dated a few women at University, but it had been over a year since Bridgette, and desire felt foreign on her tongue. Cho turned her head to catch the waitress's eye, exposing a patch of pale skin below her left ear, and Lily wanted to press her nose just there and inhale the sweet scent of her.
Cho began to discuss a recent dig she'd been on in Cambodia, uncovering a lost wizarding village more than fifteen centuries old, and Lily's chest grew tight. Liquid heat pooled in her belly, tingling out to her fingers and toes, dripping hot and sticky across the back of her neck. Rowena, Lily didn't know how she was going to last even another day in Cho's presence without losing her mind, let alone weeks. Lily should have more control than this, should be able to master her emotions and cloak herself in reason and logic, but it was impossible. All she could think about was Cho fucking her blind on one of those comfortable sofas in her sitting room, those long fingers that danced through the air as she spoke sliding over and inside Lily and—
"Lily? Are you alright?"
Lily snapped back from her glorious daydream. Cho's mahogany eyes looked at her with a concern that warmed Lily from the inside out. It had been a long time since she'd been the focus of so much undivided attention, and for a moment, she pretended that Cho was looking at her with more than just mentor-like concern. It wasn't hard. One of the things she liked best about Cho was that she'd never treated Lily like some dumb kid, not even when she'd been one. Cho was older and wiser and unbelievably knowledgeable, but she still acted as if Lily was an equal. Another jolt of arousal shivered through her, and she tore her gaze from Cho's with an embarrassed cough.
"Yeah, yes, I'm fine. Just tired, I think. It's been a long day."
"Yes, of course. Why don't we get you into bed." Lily's stomach clenched. Oh, if only Cho meant that a little less innocently. "I thought I could spend tomorrow showing you the city, get you acquainted with some of the best haunts around the University, the best place to get tea and scones, that sort of thing."
"That sounds brilliant."
The early autumn air was cool and invigorating as they walked back to Cho's flat, and Lily was glad for the shock of cold against her overheated body. Throughout the entire short walk back, Lily was hyper aware of Cho standing next to her: the occasional brush of their arms, the subtle spice scent of her perfume, the click of her modest heels on the pavement. In no time at all they were back at Cho's flat, and Lily didn't know whether to curse or thank her luck.
"I'll let you get some rest, but please let me know if you need anything at all."
Merlin, why did everything Cho said have to sound so suggestive? She met Cho's smile with one of her own, before bidding Cho goodnight and escaping into her room. Her skin still felt flushed and sensitive, and her groin throbbed with a persistent ache. Lily glanced at her wand, thankful that she'd long since mastered the art of the silencing spell, and grateful that her first lover, Samantha, had been eager to demonstrate a number of very useful, very satisfying spells.
It wouldn't be as good as feeling Cho skin to skin, but it would have to do. With any luck, she'd get over this inconvenient crush in no time at all.
If anything, her feelings for Cho only grew stronger with each passing day, until she felt like she might actually burst. She'd been living with Cho for six weeks, and every moment was a lesson in exquisite agony. Lily was grateful for the rigor of her new position with Professor Heidelburg, not only because the work was fascinating, but because while she was focussed on her job, her brain didn't have time to daydream about Cho.
Cho had her own work to do, of course, but it seemed to Lily that she always made a special effort to spend some time with Lily every day. They ate dinner together most nights, talking softly together about work, yes, but also politics and philosophy, about family and friends, about their experiences growing up. Lily found herself fascinated by Cho's talk of her childhood and her perspective on the wizarding war. Growing up with Harry Potter as her dad, Lily was well acquainted with the events of the war, but she'd only ever heard about it from people that were right in the thick of things. Hearing about what things had been like for somebody who hadn't had such a large role to play made things feel more real somehow, and she felt heated all over that Cho was willing to share those experiences with her.
There was a kind of comfort in living with Cho. Lily had lived alone for the past few years, and it was surprisingly nice having somebody sharing her space. Cho was a night owl, and she often stayed up until well past midnight, curled up in the living room, rifling through books and manuscripts by the light of several flickering candles. Lily liked to leave her door open, and she couldn't count how many times she's fallen asleep to the sound of rustling paper and the gentle glow of candlelight from down the hall.
The thing was, sometimes there was this...look in Cho's eyes. It was never there for long, winking out as soon as Lily met her gaze, but it seemed almost appreciative. Or it would have, if it were anybody else. As it was, Lily was sure she was imaging things, imaging that little thrum of interest that seemed to buzz between them. It was just that she wanted Cho so damn much, and it was starting to mess with her head. Sure, Cho had made no secret of the fact that she dated women, but Lily really couldn't imagine Cho would ever be interested in her. She probably went for women her own age, women with life experience and who were smarter and more cultured than Lily.
It was alright, though, because Lily was content just to spend time with Cho. Want lingered beneath her skin like an itch she couldn't scratch, but it was a small price to pay for the intellectual harmony Lily had found with her.
Of course, she knew it couldn't last forever. As kind as Cho was to let Lily stay with her while Lily found her feet in this new city, Lily knew she could only encroach on Cho's hospitality for so long. More than that, the longer she stayed with Cho, the more unbearable it become not to touch her.
She found a small and cosy flat close to the University that was well within her budget. It was also less than ten minutes away from Cho's place, but Lily didn't let herself linger on that detail. Cho took her furniture shopping and helped her move in, and afterwards, insisted on cooking Lily one last dinner at her flat.
"Berlin seems to suit you," Cho murmured after they'd finished their dessert and had moved to those comfy sofas, glasses of wine in hand. "Not everybody acclimates so quickly."
Lily smiled, cheeks heating at the compliment. "Well, I had a good mentor."
Cho gazed at her for a long moment, tapping a finger against her lips thoughtfully. "Is that what I am to you, Lily? A mentor?"
Lily's stomach squirmed. No, that wasn't all Cho was to her, at least not all Lily would like her to be, but it was a title Lily was content with. But now Cho was looking at her with a strange kind of intensity, making Lily's insides feel liquid and her thoughts feel unsteady. "What do you mean?"
"I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable, so please tell me if my comments are unwelcome, but I find you to be a rather incredible young woman, and I'd quite like to kiss you."
Lily's mouth dropped open. "Really? But—but why? You're amazing, you could have anybody you want."
Cho smiled. "I think you're overstating my assets and greatly underestimating yours. Why shouldn't I find you attractive? You're passionate and vibrant and you have such a joy for what you do. We have great conversation, connect on an intellectual level, and, of course, I think you're beautiful."
Lily's heart was in her throat. She could hardly believe what she was hearing. Surely this was some kind of dream, a glorious, beautiful dream. She gave a subtle pinch to the underside of her forearm and jolted at the slice of pain. Alright, reality then.
"Why now? If you...if you find me so attractive, why wait?"
"I didn't want to take advantage. You were staying at my flat, dependant on me for the roof over your head. That's hardly a circumstance that informs full consent."
"Oh," Lily murmured. She couldn't help but think of every moment she and Cho had shared over the past several weeks, that flicker of interest she thought she sometimes saw in Cho's gaze, the buzzing desire that Lily had wondered if Cho felt too.
"I'd like to kiss you now. Would that be alright?"
Lily nodded. "Yeah, I'd like that."
Cho leaned over and fit her mouth over Lily's. Immediately something exploded in Lily's chest like the dancing pinwheel fireworks she always begged Uncle George to set off on her birthday. Tingles like wild magic danced across her skin and all the way down to her toes as she opened her mouth beneath Cho's. She wanted to reach out, wanted to feel the straight silk of Cho's hair beneath her fingertips but she held back. This moment, this kiss, was everything she'd been waiting for. She didn't want to ruin it by moving too fast.
Thankfully, Cho didn't have such reservations. One of her slim hands tangled itself in Lily's thick, auburn hair, the other cupping her face before sliding down to map out the contours of her body and setting on Lily's waist. The heat from her palm burned straight through the thin material of Lily's dress and she wanted. She wanted to feel Cho's hands on her for real, wanted to work off some of this sexual tension that had been driving her to distraction for weeks.
"Hmm?" Cho asked. Her normally pale skin was flushed pink, and her gorgeous brown eyes seemed to glow. Lily's heart tripped all over itself as desire made itself known in a dizzying rush.
Cho's smile was a pleased and wicked thing, and it hit Lily right in the gut. Merlin, it had been far too long since she'd gotten off with another person, and her body was practically vibrating with anticipation and need.
They stumbled down the hall to Cho's bedroom, a nice, if sparsely decorated, space done up in dark blue and rich cream. Lily felt a little out of place in such a tidy place, with her wild wavy hair and now-rumpled dress and out-of-control lust, but she only managed to feel that way for a moment before Cho was on her.
Her thin lips were smooth and skilled as they took Lily apart, while her nimble fingers slid to the back of Lily's dress.
"May I?" Cho asked, her voice low and smoky-sweet.
Cho chuckled. "Your dress, can I take it off you?"
"Oh, yes, please."
Lily blushed as Cho slid the zipper down with frustrating care. This part always made her nervous, the first time getting naked with a partner. She preferred to get it over with quickly before moving on to more pleasurable activities. But Cho seemed determined to take her time, slowly lowering the zip, and then peeling the fabric off of Lily's body one inch at a time.
Lily waited for the self-consciousness to set in, for that shameful instinct to cover her rounded stomach and thick thighs, but it never came. Cho was looking at her with such open appreciation, such reverence, that Lily couldn't find it in herself to feel nervous. She felt kind of sexy, actually, as Cho exposed the heavy swell of her breasts in her black lace bra. Cho's hands brushed against the skin of Lily's waist as she worked the dress past the wide flare of Lily's hips, and Lily couldn't help but shiver with want and excitement.
The dress dropped to the ground and pooled at Lily's feet, and even that was sensual, the feeling of silk against Lily's bare feet as Cho looked her over. Lily could practically feel Cho's gaze like a burning caress, the way it lingered on the curve of her throat, the expanse of her belly, that hidden juncture between her thighs. It felt surprisingly nice, being looked at, being admired, but Lily wanted more.
"Your turn," she said boldly, as she stepped out of the circle of her dress and made her way over to Cho.
Cho smiled. "As you wish."
Lily wasn't as patient as Cho was, and she removed Cho's clothing with a rapidity that made Cho giggle. "Whatever happened to foreplay?"
"What do you call the past several weeks?" Lily countered as she yanked Cho's skirt down, and herded her towards the bed. "You can draw things out next time."
They kissed on the bed for a while, shedding their bras and rolling around on the comfortable mattress. Cho's hands were constantly exploring, though she seemed to have a particular fondness for Lily's breasts. She constantly returned to squeeze and massage them, to roll Lily's nipples between her fingertips until Lily writhed and bucked beneath her. Lily was hardly a passive participant herself, and she finally got her hands on Cho's silken hair before mapping out the flex and play of muscle in Cho's lovely back. Cho's body was sturdy and soft beneath Lily's hands, her skin salty-sweet. Lily liked the solid weight of her pressing Lily back against the mattress, the way she seemed to fit so well between Lily's thighs, rocking down against her as they traded slick, hungry kisses.
She liked it even better when Cho kissed her way down Lily's body, taking a long, thorough detour to explore Lily's chest before traveling south. Lily nearly screamed when Cho slid off her knickers, spread her legs, and began to lick at her without so much as a by-your-leave. The intimacy of this act had always driven Lily wild, and this time was no different. It was clear Cho had plenty of experience, and she seemed to be calling on all of it now to make Lily fall apart. Cho pinned her thighs down to the bed with her strong hands, and it was a good thing she had, because Lily couldn't help but thrash and twist on the sheets as Cho's tongue danced across her clit over and over again. She gasped and panted as Cho worked her over, pushing her higher and higher until Cho finally catapulted Lily to a dizzying, bone-melting end.
Lily blinked up at the ceiling, her chest heaving and her body liquid. Cho made her way back up the bed, half draping herself over Lily and kissing her deeply. Lily could taste herself on Cho's tongue, salty and tangy, and it made her cunt throb with the memory and the promise of more.
"Just give me a minute to regain the use of my limbs and I'll return the favour," Lily mumbled into Cho's mouth. She didn't think it would take too long. As orgasm sleepy as she was, the desire to get her hands and mouth all over Cho was far stronger.
"No rush, we've got all night."
Cho gazed down at her thoughtfully. "That's up to you. I like you, Lily. I think you're funny and clever and beautiful, and I enjoy spending time with you. I would like to see you exclusively, but I also know how long and stressful a new research position can be. If having a significant other would add to your burden, I would be fine with something more casual. It's entirely up to you. Though I would definitely enjoy seeing you again." Her hands trailed over Lily's exposed breasts to tweak a nipple. Lily gasped and Cho grinned. "All of you, if possible."
Lily bit her lip. Cho's offer was so much more than she was expecting. Perhaps because it seemed so reasonable and adult, and her last lover, Bridgette, had been far from reasonable. Still, Lily liked Cho, she liked her a lot, and the thought of seeing anybody else, of Cho seeing anybody else, needled at her. Cho had a point, though. Her research position would only become more intense and time-consuming, and trying to start and maintain a new relationship might add additional stress.
"Can we...can we see how it goes? I don't want to see anybody else, and it will probably be a little more difficult for us to see one another now that I have my own place, but I think it'll be manageable. I don't want to mess anything up between us, but I know I'll regret not trying more."
"Alright, we can do that." Cho leaned down again, and this time the kiss was slow and sweet. Lily felt a giddy happiness sweep through her, brushing away her body's drowsiness and making her feel like bouncing on the bed in sheer joy. She smiled against Cho's lips as her hand brushed through Cho's hair and slid down her back. Lily couldn't imagine a more fantastic evening, but it wasn't quite over yet. Without warning, she rolled, flipping her and Cho's positions so Lily was the one on top.
"I believe I said something about returning the favour?"
Cho lay back against the mattress and grinned that sexy, wicked grin that made Lily's insides turn to goo.
"Please do. It would be my pleasure."